Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My first Filipino baptism


Mom and baby

First Filipino I've seen with a full beard

Happy family

The food set up

After the baptism

  Sorry that this blog post is all jumbled.....the pictures at the top are supposed to go with the last paragraph but I can't figure out how to get them there and can't figure out how to rotate the photos....

We all eagerly awaited May 29 for two reasons, first it was Fiesta in the barangay of Luchsuhin and second it was the baptism of Maria Precious Anicka. I was one of 3 ninangs (godmothers). It was a group baptism after the Catholic mass celebrating the fiesta. Luchsuhin is a remote barangay, lots of trees and farms, very beautiful. Each barangay has it's own chapel and so the mass was in the chapel and the 8 babies to be baptised waited til the end. No Filipino event would be complete without mega sound system and huge speakers. Fiesta's also bring out the street vendors selling brightly colored dyed chicks (pink, green, yellow, blue), Dora the Explorer and Hello Kitty giant balloons etc. We all waited outside the chapel and the crowd blocked the road. True to my PC experience and being in the Philippines, a truck carrying pigs needed to pass by. The truck just sort of off-roaded it, the pigs all squealed and slid to the front, everyone held their noses because of the smell, the mass concluded and the pigs happily went on to their not so happy future.


Pigs on their way


Cute baby, can't figure out how to rotate sori


Okay so we proceed with the actual baptism inside the church, here the priest  carries a water bottle of holy water and sprinkles it on the babies (that is how they bless everyone here). My counterpart had put a red lipstick spot on the babies head, apparently a superstition of some addition to hanging a white shirt out side the day before so it won't rain (one outside the chapel also) and of course the tiny red bag of who knows what inside that is pinned to the babies diaper to ward off evil spirits, yep in a Catholic church. We proceed with the baptism, the priest did not hold the babies and then that was that. Everyone went back to the house for a huge party/fiesta celebration. I was the yaya again to watch the baby so everyone could tend to the guests. A pig had been killed in the backyard yesterday just before I got there to help with the preparations and luckily all I saw was hanging body parts.
Rice and pork, rice and pork, rice and pork.....with some fish filet just for the non-meateater Americana.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Catch up - Dumaguete at Easter

A few PCVs and I flew to the island of Negros in the Visayas region of the Philippines for Easter weekend. We stayed at a famous hostel called Harold's Mansion, run by Harold of course. Ate good food, went to Apo Island snorkeling and took a day trip to neighboring island Sigior.
We rented an underwater camera

Blue fish

These are everywhere

We finally got to see a sea turtle

Crown of Thorns starfish


Four lovely volunteers

Beach at Dumaguete

On way to Apo Island

Cool rock formations

Near the snorkel spot

Oh my God, a volunteer actually lives here!! Sigior

Tiny boat for two big Americans

Another version of the tricycle, Visayan style

While I have vacation days left I am really short on money, so vacations are not in the near future for me. I have been renting my home in America and have had no tenants for the past 2 months, no income means no money. New tenants arrive soon. Stress from home is really hard when you are on this end of an email. My mom has been in the hospital with hip replacement surgery and a few email lines from home are hard. You don't get to see facial expressions or body language so you just have to take the words as they are. It has been over a year exactly since I saw my family. I really miss them and the past 6 months have been hard. Yes we all chose to come and volunteer and serve our country and serve the people we are placed with, but it is still hard to be away from your family. Well, only a few months to go. Actually, PC says that going BACK to America is actually way harder that leaving, re-entry shock, reverse culture shock etc. So fam and friends, be patient with us. Our bodies may arrive in the US shortly but I bet our brains may be in the 'Pines for awhile.

Reflections on Election

It is common knowledge that there are "hotspots" within the Philippines that are prone to violence before during and after elections. Myself and about 20 other volunteers were required to leave our sites for a week during election and stay in Manila for safety reasons (yes, believe it or not PC felt Manila was safer that week, go figure..) - anyway, we were placed at our lovely home away from home (Pension) and treated to a bunk bed in a dorm room with an electric fan, yeah!! Because some of us were seriously afraid of melting away into a human puddle, we upgraded to an air con room, at our expense, of course. The heat in Manila was really unbearable and hiding out in air con made the days tolerable. We did a little sightseeing and went to the office to work. Here is a rambling list of things that will not mean anything to you readers but were significant: 2 large rats chasing themselves up a tree, another large rat being chased by the resident cat, the homeless families with naked children bathing on the street, having BLACK feet despite wearing sandals, permanent heat rash at your bra line, sweat cloths/handkerchiefs tied onto yourself, eating at Swarma and trying the hookah, your patience being tried by giggles, I am sure I am forgetting a lot and that is probably a good idea. Let's leave it at that for now.
Before the election we were treated by early morning and all day loudspeaker campaigning. Jeeps/cars had huge speakers strapped onto the roofs and slowly drove through town with deafening campaign songs and slogans. For example, one candidate picked the Gangnam song and changed the words to reflect his/her name, it is really hard to describe actually. Some songs will never be the same to me again....oh and did I mention the gazillion posters EVERYWHERE.....some are actually amusing, big smiles, nick names like "Dong" or "Boy" - again, words cannot describe the election carnival. Seriously, I really admire the locals who campaigned daily going door to door advocating for their candidate. It was true democracy in action. I don't think I have ever seen as many people working so hard every day in American for their candidate of choice. Vote buying is rampant here and what they call "dynasty" families tend to prevail. Yes of course it is illegal but it happens. Fear is a huge motivator.
So we survived the election, summer is coming to a close (not the heat though..) and school starts again June 3rd. I am excited to be back in our library!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Fast Forward to Today

Okay so I finally get time to update my blog and the keyboard in the internet cafe sucks....argh!!
Every thing we do in PC seems to just be longer, harder and more difficult...getting to an internet cafe to use a computer and internet is an adventure in itself. Oh well, here I am. My personal computer is dead and so now I must rely on others.
I had intended to write about my visit in Bali with the famous Ketut of Eat,Pray, Love fame but I can't find the photos....maybe on the dead computer.
After my amazing journey in Bali I went to the island of Palawan in the Pines. If you saw the last Bourne film, the ending scene where they sail off into the sunset was filmed there.
Anyway, seems like so long ago. Here are some interesting photos to give you a glimpse.
Some big 'ol starfish there!

And seriously big clams!

The water was really that color

Looking west towards mainland Asia

Since this is fast forward just know it was gorgeous.
So what did I do all of Jan, Feb. and March? Our school got grant funds to build a library and reading center and yes, we were very busy!! I learned a lot about project management, how things work (and don't work) in the Philippines and about myself. We managed to transform an old dilapidated building into a library and created a cute traditional reading center next to it.
Before - back of building

Old Bahay Kubo

Before - Front view

Before - Inside

Before- left side

Before - Right side

I share these with you and want to you look hard at how awful things looked. You will truly appreciate the transformation that we accomplished.
AFTER - back

AFTER- Our new Bahay Kubo Reading Center

AFTER - new roof, new paint!!!

AFTER - left, door goes to health clinic side

AFTER- Right side of building

So yes, it was truly a transformation! My hands hurt from literally banging on this keyboard, so until next time when we explore the interior!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Bali part 3

Here are a lot of photos for the next day
Ubud's famous artwork

Famous stonework

Home of silversmith where I took a class

Beginning of my creation

Hammering my design

Welding my ring closed

The silversmith washing my ring

My finished product

view from my Ubud hotel room

My bed

Kecak Fire and trance dance

Walking on hot coals

Typical offering

ducks in the rice fields outside my room

And last but not least the monkeys and my visit to Ketut, another blog....