Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tom Terry

Last night there was a major storm. It woke me up at like 4am, and even came with a brownout. It's kind of strange when you think about it. In America you'd have a tv tuned in to the weather channel or your local weather guy, and you'd most likely be on top of the most recent updates. I mean you can tell exactly where every lightning bolt hits, but you don't have that here. Here though, there's not a lot of warning... except for our routine PC text to warn us of safety alerts.

I guess it's scarier because you don't really know what to expect, but I think it's also better in a way. I had no clue how long the storm would last, and really could only take things as they came, but I didn't get unnecesarily stressed out. I guess what I'm trying to say is you learn to take things in for yourself, and come up with your own opinion without having to listen to the media's hype. For example, when the the lightning struck inside my room practically and thunder immediately followed for 16.5 seconds afterwards, I came up with the "Wow, this is a bad storm!" thought on my own. I know... weather channel ain't got nothin on me.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tie up the Kid

I was sitting at the bus terminal, waiting for the bus to leave when all of a sudden I see a goat being hogtied in the middle of the terminal. Wow. And then it got better, the goat got hung upside down off the tailend of a jeepney. Double wow. And then it got even better, the goat's friend got tied to the top of the jeepney. Uncontainable wow.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The 100 Year Tale

So interesting story.

During the Easter holiday, the house where I live became a big gathering place for several well known families in town... I know, I make it sound like it's the gathering of the 5 Families or something, but so not like that in any way. Anyways, so I'm sitting at the table eating massive amounts of food, and the man who lives next door to me starts talking to me.

He is a doctor who grew up in this town, and is widely respected by all. I think he used to be the mayor, which is top notch here in the Philippines. He starts by telling me, "My father was arrested by the Americans." Oh boy, not sure how I should go about this.

He continues to tell me how in 1900 his father was selling fish when he was stopped by an American soldier. The soldier called him a monkey, and then told him it was the law for kids to go to school.

Honestly, my first instinct was to profusely apologize for the past. I mean this happened over a hundred years ago, and the story of being called names and giving orders is still being told. We kept talking though, and he eventually told me the rest of the story. His father did go to school, was one of the few to finish, and became a teacher.

I wanted to know his opinion, did he resent Americans for coming over and taking control? Honestly, if it were me, I'd have been ticked off. But he basically said that he appreciated that they made education a priority and improved the transportion situation.

During our conversation, I kept thinking, wow, A. If somebody called my dad a monkey, or any name for that matter, I'd be super mad. B. I could have been related to that American soldier that came over and arrested his father. C. This man, and his family and friends, have welcomed me whole heartedly into their homes and community... knowing that I could have been related to that man who arrested their loved one.

What a great man to learn from. I mean, no, I'm not related to the actual man who was serving in the United States Army in 1900, but so often the human tendency is to link people that are alike in one group, even if that's not the fair thing to do. This man didn't do that though, and has taken the positive from a difficult situation.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Highs and Lows

So during this past week I've been at our batch's Language Camp/Inservice Training (IST)/ and for the next few days we're having a Project Design Management (PDM) training. I guess you could say it's been a week of some really hi highs and some really low lows.

First off, to get to the conference center, which is a beautiful resort near Cebu City, I got to take the Fast Cat ferry. AMAZING. Crowded buses get old, but this ferry is like being on a mini floating movie theater for two and a half hours. They have air conditioning that makes you need a jacket, comfortable seats, life jackets at every seat, and microwave popcorn with Coke Zero to wash it down. I know, amazing right?! So that was a definite high.

Cebu City has also been a fun distraction to all the training we've had to do. It takes 2 jeepneys to ride into the city, but it's overall quick, and completely worth it. I went to the mall with some friends and ate Pizza Hut... not just once, but twice!! Hadn't had that in a while. One of the good things about living in a small town is that when you do get to the big city, you've got money to spend. And that is what I did. I bought the last of the Twilight books, which cost way too much, and saw a movie. The mall we went to was huge, and also had a movie theater. We saw Monster vs. Aliens.

It's amazing how many of the little things slip your mind after a while. Like the smell of mall air. It's amazing. All the bakeshops mixed with yummy restaurant aromas, and then combined with cleaning product smells. Again, amazing.

But of course when you have the highs, the lows are always lurking in the shadows. For one, somebody I really admired passed away back home. What an amazing lady. When something like this happens, it just makes me want to catch the next plane home. So I guess you've just got to focus on the positive. Fortunately, with Susan, there are tons of positives to think of! I know I'm a better person for knowing her, and I'm sure most people who met her could say the same thing.

So now comes our PDM training. I'm not exactly sure what my next project should be. My supervisor is coming from Leyte to work with me on it... so hopefully we can come up with a solid goal that will be sustainable. It's all about that sustainability!

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I like Easter. I'm sad to be away from home during my favorite holiday, but must admit, Easter in the Philippines is pretty cool. Today is Good Friday, and the entire day was a preparation for the processional at the end of the day. In the procession are floats, depicting the different parts of the crucifiction, as well as almost every person in town holding white candles.

To prepare, my host family is in charge of preparing the body of Christ, literally. The town has a hundred year old wooden statue of Jesus that's 6 feet tall. I'm told it's the biggest Jesus statue in all of Leyte. Yeah, it's pretty big time. I'm also told that at times, the statue snores. So to prepare the body of Christ, they wash it with soapy water, and then annoint it with oil and perfumes. I felt lucky to be able to watch two old women, who have done this ritual for years, carefully wash Jesus.

Next, Jesus was moved into a clear case and then laid to rest on a carriage that was covered with decorated metal. Then I helped them cut ferns that were used, along with white flowers, to decorate the carriage around Jesus. The carriage with Jesus was just one of many. Other floats showcased him walking with the cross, Mary, and Santo Nino.

It was great to see all these traditions, ones that you know go back for generations. I think Easter is definitely a great time to come visit the Philippines!

Monday, April 6, 2009

would you like fries with that?

It's been brought to my attention that prior to coming to the Philippines, I basically lived off of macaroni and cheese. I'd like to clarify... my diet also included grilled cheese sandwhiches with no pickle anywhere on the plate, an occasional cheeseburger plain, plain cheese sandwhiches, and spaghetti. :) Ok, really that was what I would eat between the ages of 3 and 15. I eventually started to branch out, but of course once I came to the Philippines everything has changed once again.

I usually buy my groceries at the big market in Baybay, which is usually like a 40 minute bus ride north. I saw "usually" because you can never tell with the buses here. They stop whenever there is somebody on the side of the road that wants to get on or when somebody needs to get off the bus. The market in Baybay is pretty big, and it takes some getting used to. They have a meat area, which showcases hog legs, hog heads, chicken feet, and all the usual slices of meat. I pretty much stay completely out of this area. I do always visit the fish counters. Clams, crabs, shrimp, and fish are readily available. I've learned that crabs are at their best during full moons, and rain can put a damper on the fishing all together. Clams cost about 40 pesos per kilo, except if I buy them from the lady at the end of the counter who feels she can charge me 50 pesos per half kilo. So far, my favorite fish is white marlon, and I love crabs.

A quick crab lesson, there's a lot of different kinds! My two favorites are coconut crabs and then crab with coconut. I know, they sound alike, but are totaly different. Coconut crabs are the crabs that look totally different from the crabs we get in America. Their tails almost look more like lobsters, and they climb up into the coconut trees and eat the coconuts. You can eat their claws, but the really good part of them is their stomachs, that am guessing is the actual guts and left over coocnut. I know... it sounds so appealing... The other type is crab with coconut. It is my absolute favorite. They take these little crabs, scoop out the meat and fat and then add spices and coconut with it. It has a fancy cebuano name for it, but of course I can't remember it. They stuff the crabs with the mixture, and also wrap the extra left over mixture in banana leaves. You eat both of these crabs with rice... of course!

So back to the market. It also has people selling fruits ranging from jackfruit, bananas, oranges, and melons, to kalamansi, pineapple, and apples. Vegetables are also everywhere, as are eggs. There's even one lady who sells tofu. She has big chunks of it, just like you would buy at Publix or any grocery store in America, but hers are made by a lady in a nearby barangay and sold in a big open bowl. It tastes great though!

Food has definitely been a new experience, but one thing that hasn't changed is my undying love for french fries. The only place that sells them here is Jollibee's, and you know I always make a special trip there whenever I go to Baybay!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Can you find similarities?

In the past 24 hours I've gotten to do two things that I've never had to do before, and I can't say I really enjoyed them.

1) On Friday I was told that I'm going to a wedding on Saturday afternoon. It was my supervisor's niece, so I went. Another teacher, Dovie, picked me up at my house in a trike and helped me find my way to the wedding. In the trike, she says, "This is my first wedding." Wait a second... Dovie's like 35 years old, this can't be her first wedding. No way. Then comes, "Yes, a civil ceremony." OH, ok, that's not very usual here. I mean almost everybody is Catholic, and that comes with the whole mass shibang. Then comes the moment of enlightenment, "The boy is white." My automatic first question, "How old is he Dovie?" It turns out that the guy was 69 years old. Cute story right? Finding love, no matter what age you are, is always romantic. Oh wait, how old is the girl? Frickin' 18! This was not the wedding I was expecting.

2) This morning I got to scrub all the mold off my bedroom walls.