Friday, August 10, 2012

Odds and Ends

We have another weekend coming with no electric and no no computer work unless I take a van to the nearest city for the day. It's not too bad really, especially if you know in advance so you can charge everything you own with a battery and collect water in trash cans and buckets.
Before I came to the Philippines I thought there was just a few kinds of rice but take a look at this photo!!

I am still amazed at the variety of fruits here, there must be 50 I never heard of before. This tree is called Rambutan, the fruits have large soft spikes sticking out, it is a reddish ball, you eat the inside.

Rambutan tree

Filipinos also love getting their picture taken. When you are done everyone screams "wacky" and you take a second picture with everyone doing a wacky pose. These guys were at a street vendor, there are a lot of them selling grilled chicken and other unusual things like chicken intestines on a stick.
Check out the ads.....
The BIG news in our town is we got a 7 11 store, I have yet to go in. Open 24 hours, wowee we have arrived.

I spent the first few weeks of school in Grade 1 helping my counterpart, Ma'am Veron. There is this absolutely adorable little boy named Darck who ALWAYS raises his hand, wants to be a leader, etc.
Before lunch the kids say a blessing (remember a very Catholic country) and you can hear his voice way above all of the other kids. I tried taking a video of him while the class was saying it but he kept smiling too much. So here is Darck saying the blessing.

I think I mentioned awhile back the practice here called "Mano Po" - where a child comes up to an elder or respected person and takes the hand of the adult and placed it on top of their head, and the adult "blesses" them. Even adult kids do it. I must "bless" 100 kids a day, it is really humbling to have a child come up to you and bow their head and say "bless" - I am the one getting the true blessing being surrounded by these sweet children.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

July 25th Feast of St. James

Our town has two fiestas, one is December 30th where you absolutely must visit EVERYONES house and eat food. Last year I visited 10 houses, it took all day, finally someone told me that you eat just a tiny bit at each house. Whew! July 25th is the fiesta of the town patron saint, St. James. He is everywhere, on stickers, statues, you name it.....they say he is a hero because he is pictured on a horse with the front hooves in the air like he was charging....I am not 100% sure but I believe he was fighting the non-Christians....need to look that one up on the internet.
Each barangay (sort of like a subdivision here, but bigger) has it's own name, it's own mini-chapel and of course, it's own statue of St. James the Greater. So on July 25 there is a huge free feast in each barangay, rice and baboy (pig), several masses (of course) and then the PROCESSION. I did not join but took photos of all 42 began with the infamous woman who regularly says the Hail Mary prayer over the very loudspeaker, sorry but it is droning and annoying.....I am including a video just so you can hear her say the prayer. I am sure she has good intentions but it is like fingernails scrapping on a blackboard to me.....
Then each barangay and other organizations process through town with their statue.
The school mini-band performed, they are elementary remember.

here are some photos of St. James the Greater (my bunso's middle name is James.....)
Mini-band members

St. James

The Mass

More St. James

I love the faces of these men

Old fashioned way....

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Monkeys and St. James

Monkeys and St. James don't really have anything in common except that I have been wanting to share my monkey adventures and the town fiesta of our patron saint, James.
What do you think of this photo? Most windows, especially on the second floor, have metal grills on them to prevent people and stuff from falling out, remember most folks do not have screens. This little guy was having fun and I had to take his photo.

I also have been wanting to share where we eat merienda daily and lunch, this is the inside of our canteen at school.

At the end of June I traveled to another group of islands on the north part of Palawan. The main town is called Coron, the small island where I stayed is called Sangat Island. It was a piece of Eden, paradise, in an absolutely magical place. I haven't been that calm and relaxed in years! No roosters, no jeepneys, no tricycles, no loud church speakers.....gentle waves, gorgeous water, lush surroundings, and oh yes, the monkeys!!!
The small plane landed in a pasture surrounded by cows

The island staff picked us up, Coron has different shaped tricycles

The boat that took us to Sangat Island

My own little Nipa Hut, it was awesome!
View from top of Cullion Island
What do you think of the old cures??
Children separated from their leper parents
More beach at Sangat

The beach at Sangat, the walkway in the distance curves around the mountain to another gorgeous beach.

My nipa hut had a bed with mosquito net and spacious CR (bathroom) - big windows opened up to the beach. Honestly, it was so nice there I didn't want to leave. The staff are great, food was delicious, snorkeling trips really I said, it was a little piece of Eden.
We took a day trip to another island where there used to be a leper colony, very interesting. Lepers from all over the Philippines were required to go to this island and live, eventually lepers were allowed to marry and have children but the children were kept away from the parents. The museum was so so very interesting, a cure was eventually found and the colony was closed.
Sorry that the photos are a bit mixed up, they seem to jump around and have a life of their own.

Okay so now the monkeys, when we first got to Sangat everyone kept talking about the monkeys. Two days went by and still no monkeys.....the owner even joked and called "Hey, let the monkeys out now so Amy can see them....."
Finally they arrived and I saw them. They sat in the coconut trees and used their powerful teeth to break open the buko (new baby coconuts) and scoop out the coconut meat with their hands, so interesting to watch. They jumped from tree to tree just like in the movies, babies too.

I love the above photo......Sangat Island has a website if you want to check it out....I can't wait to go back.
There are salt water pearl farms all throughout this part of Palawan, we went by many in the boats. The oysters are in small cage like things at the bottom of a cable and a float. Workers from neighboring islands go to a barge type thing and shuck oysters and gather pearls, we were told the farms are owned by Japanese and the pearls shipped there. I did not buy any but plan to. These are called natural pearls as opposed to the freshwater ones, which are considered cultured pearls. To me a pearl is a pearl.....
Will have to share about the St. James fiesta in the next blog. There were at least 42 statues of St.James on the horse in the procession....I took pictures of them all.