Fair and Balanced

The past few days the song “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” has been stuck in my head-the CCR version. Not that terrible Rod Stewart cover, I hate Rod Stewart. But I digress. The reason, as you may figure, is because the rainy season has reappeared with a vengeance. I think I had forgotten just how hard it rains here, in the Philippines. It’s actually painful if you get caught out in it.  And the thunder, the thunder is astounding. I don’t know if its because I’m in the mountains, which means we are up here closer to the heavens- or if its because there isn’t anything unnatural to take away from the sound-but the thunder is startlingly powerful. Some claps roll on for upwards of fifteen seconds. I can feel their strength. But enough about the weather; I have so much to tell!

 
I recently returned home from a trip to Myanmar, which was unbelievable. I was part of a joint delegation of staff from Episcopal Relief and Development, the Anglican Board of Mission(Australian) and the Episcopal Church in the Philippines. We facilitated an Asset Based Community Development training and visited a few of their diocesan project sites. I also had the pleasure of getting to know the CPM’s(Church of the Province of Myanmar) Bishops and development staff.  This was/is important because they will be arriving in the Philippines in just a few days, and they will be staying in Tadian for the majority of their time in country. 
 
I want to continue on, about Myanmar, but I don’t want to elongate this anymore than it already will be. Maybe I’ll write another blog soon…..
 
In other news, the farm is in fantastic shape. We currently have 10 summer job workers, which are students, here to help us. They are a godsend. I was leery, at first;the majority of the work we do here is labor intensive; so, I was concerned with the amount of  work I would be able to get out of these kids. But, much to my pleasant surprise, they are incredibly hard working. We are now ahead of schedule, in all areas. We have chicken dung stocked and ready for sale, Mahogany seedlings have been planted, Coffee seedlings have been planted, both greenhouses have been planted,  what feels like 47 miles of barbed wire has been put down, new water pipes have been installed and we’ll begin preparing our rice fields tomorrow! Oh, and our open garden has been fertilized and planted.
 
I’m also going to be in a wedding next month. Cherry Ngislawan, a former Engineer for the EDNP (Episcopal Diocese of the Northern Philippines), has asked to me to be the candle bearer for her wedding. Metaphorically speaking, from what I’ve been told, it’s symbolic of someone lighting the soon to be betrothed’s path, along the way of love and life. Usually, it’s an older sibling-but this time it’s me! I’m deeply honored and very excited. 
 
Ah, I almost forgot. Chalikis Alawas, Bishop Brent’s (my diocesan Bishop here) eldest son, has asked me to be a groomsman in his wedding. I’m pretty stoked about that, too. What up bachelor party! 
 
Just kidding. 
 
Well, sorta.
 
I have also been working really, really hard, on a curriculum plan for the Tadian Demonstration and Learning Center.  Ill elaborate. The Tadian Center is a small scale model of ARI (Asian Rural Institute). At ARI, people of all ages and backgrounds go for numerous different trainings and skills development. Some of these trainings last for up to a year-and some are just a few days. The goal, in Tadian, is to eventually have the capability to accept students for a year at at time.  But, we take it one step at a time. I am but a few days work away from having what I hope to be a final draft of the programs which we can offer now. The longest of which being two months-the shortest two days.
 
I feel like this clarification is needed: Both ARI and the Tadian Center’s emphasis is on promoting healthy communities, organic agriculture and creating sustainable livelihood programs and opportunities. So, that being said, the courses offered range from organic pesticide production and forest management to strategic planning and financial literacy.
 
I want to give a big shout out to my Uncle Mike. I recently received a box full of sporting equipment. The kids at school absolutely lost it when I showed it to them; they appreciate it so much. As do I. Thanks, Mike. 
 
On a completely unrelated note-I saw Coors Light for sale, which surprised me. What didn’t surprise me was that one can was only 27 peso. That’s roughly 60 cents. Coors Light-disappointing men and women all over the world and riding that bottom shelf.
 
Lastly, we have a new puppy. However I’m not super in love with the name-Gringo. Hilarious, I know. But not liking the name will just make it that much easier to butcher him when he gets big!
 
Just kidding.
 
Well, sorta.
 
Be good, y’all!
 

Down Under

Does it seem completely wild to everyone that we are already in Lent? I simply cannot believe how quickly the time has gone. I have been here 7 months, and it feels like I arrived just yesterday. I suppose that’s how life goes when you stay busy. But, I swear, the years are going by faster as I get older. This past month and a half has been especially busy due to the amount of traveling I’ve done-both domestic and abroad.

The first bit of traveling was done with a delegation from The Episcopal Church, which included Sam McDonald, David Copley, Peter Ng and Mary Brennan-all of which work at 815, in NYC. I was also able to see Grace Flint, another YASCer, who is placed in Hong Kong. Even though she is working in Hong Kong, she has daily interaction with Filipino Overseas Workers; so, not only was it a blessing for me to see a good friend-but I think it will help her, too, in her daily works.  Anyways, I traveled down to Manila to meet them, and we then wound our way back up the mountains. We first stopped in Baguio City, which is fondly known as the ‘Summer Capital of the Philippines’ because of its pleasant climate and tourist attractions during the hot months, which drive people out of Manila. While in Baguio, we had a meeting with Bishop Joel Pachao, and his development staff, to get a feel for the growth and community of his diocese.  We then made our way to Bontoc and Bishop Brent. The group was able to have supper and then breakfast with the Bishop and had the opportunity to stretch their legs a little, while on a stroll through the bustling metropolis that is Bontoc. I think this was very important, the walk I mean. It allowed them to compare and contrast Baguio to Bontoc, and later to Tadian. Not only are they different in size-but in language and food and development. This is something that shocked me. The three places are only separated by a total of 6 hours; yet, somehow, they have developed and changed and morphed at, and in, completely different paces and ways.  From Bontoc, we traveled to Tadian, my home. This was fantastic-I wish they could have stayed longer. I was happy they were able to see what I’m doing, in regards to work, but I wish they could have been able to stay and interact with the people more. It is the people, the community, which has made me fall in love with the Philippines. I think in just the few days they were here, they were able to experience that as well. They also had the opportunity to partake of some of the local food and traditional dances, which I was very happy about, as the parish held a program and welcome dinner for them.  When we left Tadian, we proceeded back down to Manila and onto a plane for the Southern Philippines. We flew into Cotabato, which is on the island of Mindinao, and then proceeded to Upi, to visit a potential YASC placement for future years. The placement would be at St. Francis-an Episcopal funded and run high school. It’s a neat place. It’s a happy place. All you have to do is walk into the grounds and you can sense that you’re in a wonderful, welcoming and safe place. It seemed like it was everything that a school is supposed to be. The children were laughing and singing, playing and learning, and you could tell that they were actually glad to be there, at school; which, to me, is not a small accomplishment. I don’t really know how to describe it, but, it felt good. I think it will be a wonderful, fulfilling placement. Upi was the final leg of my journey with the Americans. We returned back to Manila and parted ways.

I then had a few days of recuperation before I was forced to climb into a plane, yet again, and jet set of to Australia. My life is tough, I know. It’s tragic. NOT.

Australia was phenomenal. Not only have I longed to go to Australia, it was actually all it is cracked up to be. It isn’t really very often that things meet or exceed my expectations; so, I was more than pleased with my time in Australia.

I did have a purpose for going, though. An organization called ABM (Anglican Board of Mission) is looking to develop a program like YASC. I was lucky enough to meet their Executive Director at an event earlier in the year; and we had several good conversations, about the YASC program. Because of those conversations, I suppose, he tendered the invitation to come and speak to their development committee and, to the ABM staff, as a whole. So, it wasn’t all leisure time. Although, to be frank, none of it felt like work; I was on cloud nine the whole time.  I was able to see the Sydney Opera house, at sunset, on a racing yacht, in Sydney Harbor. It was right out of a novel. We also visited vineyards and had tastings one day, we had fresh-harvested that morning- oysters, and I sampled the local night life with the younger members of the ABM staff. Needless to say, I could easily see myself residing in a place like Sydney. Top Notch I tell you, Top Notch.

It has been no less exciting in Tadian, either. We have been experiencing raging forest fires as of late. In fact, the fires last week came within 100 yards of my home. They burned some of my garden, which I’m pretty salty about. But, I reckon I am thankful my house didn’t burn down. I know common sense says, “You stayed away from the fire, right?” Of course I did not, in this situation that wasn’t applicable. The town of Tadian only has three “firemen”; so, it is left to the citizens to fight the fire. Since water is a rarity, at this time of year, our weapons of combat are green boughs of trees and shovels. If you weren’t swatting out the smaller flames to try and keep the fire from spreading-you were digging fire lines, which are both surprisingly tiring. Fire is an interesting thing. I, all at the same time, was absolutely terrified, mesmerized, enthralled and in awe. The power and heat of the fire were unlike anything I have ever experienced. Looking down at the fire, from the top of an unburned ridge, I imagine the inferno I saw-all hazy, hot and hard to breathe-is what hell must be like. Even the noise was new to me. Of course, we all know the sound of a crackling fire place; it allows us to reminisce of romances and holidays and happy things. Now, envision that small fire multiplied to an exponentially larger level, that soft cracking and popping becomes a menacing and frightening groaning and crashing. I’m more than a little bit happy that the fires have subsided; I don’t really want to deal with them again, nor anytime soon.

In other news, I may be looking at some more international travel in the near future. If it is given the final green light, I’ll be accompanying a delegation from the ECP to Myanmar (Burma), during the first week of April. I’ll keep you updated on that as I learn more. But seriously, Myanmar; how cool is that?! We have also added 6 new members to the family in Tadian. Four of them are human- they are men from Manila who have come to work on the farm with me. Thus far they have been nothing but a great help, I hope it continues that way. The other two members just so happen to be two baby goats. I am less than enthused about their arrival. I will admit and grant that they are ridiculously cute; but, it doesn’t change the fact that I dislike goats with a passion. You could even say that I loathe them-abhor them if you will.

I’ve babbled on now for too long, and you’ve probably already begun to just skim the entry. I don’t blame you. I hope you’re all being very penitent and pious this Lent- and that you’ve stopped saying alleluia during the services. Be good, Ya’ll!

Merry Kwanzaa, Everybody!

Season’s Greetings from the Philippines! I hope you have all had a wonderful Advent and are eagerly awaiting a new year! I am currently in Bontoc, at the Bishop’s house, which is where I spent my Christmas.

It is impossible to replace your own family, and the feelings you have when you are all gathered together for the holidays, but this was the next best thing for me. I find that I often times don’t realize how much I appreciate things until I don’t have them anymore-Christmas in Wisconsin is one of those things. I have always enjoyed going up there for the Holidays, but never realized how much it meant to me until I couldn’t go.  I’m not one to get homesick easily; but I felt a very real, very sharp, pang for the house and family gathered in Wasau, Christmas morning. However, that was quickly replaced; it is hard to feel homesick in a place where people treat you like you are one of their own, which is something I’ll never be able to repay them for.

 

I’ve been asked several times what Christmas is like, here in the Philippines. So, I’ll try and do it justice. The first major difference that I have noticed, at least here in the Mountain Province, is how UN-commercial it is. I found this to be exceptionally refreshing. Of course I like buying and receiving gifts, who doesn’t? But it was nice not to be constantly bombarded with adverts and sale papers. It also, I think, allows for the true meaning of Christmas to hold a more prominent role in the public eye-as it should.  The second thing I noticed was that the radio stations, just like home, play entirely too much bad Christmas music. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Christmas music, but the traditional stuff i.e. Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Nat “King” Cole etc etc. I CANNOT STAND contemporary music stars making Christmas albums and ruining classic, beautiful songs. The third thing I noticed, which is more of a reflection upon myself than the Philippines, but I found it hard to believe that it was Christmas time because it isn’t cold. I think of blustery and snowy days when I think Christmas. It was balmy and in the 80’s Christmas day. The fourth thing I noticed, which is similar to the States, is that people here also deem it important to be with their family during Christmas. I think that may play into why it’s less commercial-people would rather spend money on their traveling expenses to be with family than purchase gifts. And they come from a long way; the Bishop’s sister, husband and son came from London, the Bishop’s niece and her husband came from Poland, and others came from both ends and all corners of the Philippines. A fifth thing, which they share with the states, is the production of a Christmas pageant, which was hands down better than any I have ever seen in the United States. They took this thing seriously. The kids were well behaved, they executed the parts with precision and skill, the costumes looked authentic-it was quite impressive. But perhaps the most glaring difference that I have noticed, or not noticed, is the absence of Christmas trees and lights. I have only seen one building with Christmas lights, which was a Catholic Church. As some of you may have also garnered thus far, our cuisine is a bit different, it continued to be so on Christmas. We butchered a goat and had fresh Tilapia for Christmas supper. It wasn’t my ideal Christmas supper, but it tasted good and was filling nonetheless. Following that food line, I made fried chicken last night. I can’t remember if I mentioned this already or not, but, there are KFC’s EVERYWHERE. World Wide-seriously-it’s ridiculous. Anyways, the moment I tell someone I am from Kentucky I can see the little light bulb go off and they immediately respond with, “like the chicken!” So, last night, at the request of the Bishop and the boys, I made fried chicken. I was leery at first; I didn’t think there would be any chance of finding paprika or onion powder in the Philippines, much less Bontoc, but to my pleasant surprise both were acquired. I’m sure that it wasn’t as good as what my Dad makes, but I think it turned out quite well. I also made mashed potatoes; I hadn’t eaten mashed potatoes since I left the states, and I love mashed potatoes. I ate entirely too many mashed potatoes.

 

I suppose that is about all for now, folks. Keep your fires warm, drinks strong and family close; be good, y’all!

Tuna, Bees and Eel

Well, since I have once again dropped the ball and let too long go by without a blog post, I’ll save the apology and get write (get it-‘write’) to it.

So, in the past month, I have been from one end of the country to the other. I’ll begin my blog with the trip that was the longest ago and continue on chronologically until present time.

My first trip was to Bohol, which is an island in the Southern half of the Philippines. Even though it is a relatively small area of the country, it is one of the more famous areas of the Philippines. It is home to the worlds smallest mammal, the Tarsier, and the Chocolate Hills, both of which draw tourist from all over the world. Along with me, I was joined by all of the Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines. We were also lucky enough to have Cannon Peter Ng and Rev. Cannon Bruce Woodock join us. While we did attend one day of meetings, the majority of time, for me at least, was spent relaxing and taking in the beauty that is the Philippines. The country is remarkably beautiful. It is easy to lose oneself in the surroundings. It takes no stretch of the imagination to be transported back a few hundred years. You walk down streets that are walled by Spanish architecture; you hear the ocean, birds, and children instead of cars, and you smell grilled fish and coconuts, which I think smells the same now as it ever did. It was a wonderful trip.kids waterfall seaaa seaside tarsier church bruce n peter

The next trip for me was to Davao, which is also in the lower half of the Philippines. I, along with the whole Community Development team, flew down for the Ordination, Consecration and Installation of a new Diocesan Bishop. Bishop Jonathon Casimina was installed as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Davao. I had the pleasure of meeting and spending some time with him in Bohol; I think the Episcopal Church in the Philippines has gained an excellent leader in Bishop Casimina. I expect many great things out of the Diocese of Davao in the very near future.

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While in Davao, I was  introduced to John Deane, the director of the ABM (Anglican Board of Mission), in Australia, and to Philip Miller, one of the ABM board members. Besides being excellent companions for a few days, they have offered an invitation to me for February. If everything works out-I will be going to Australia with Attorney Floyd Lawlet, who is the National Development Officer for the ECP. While Floyd has other business, I will be giving a presentation of the basics of YASC, along with what YASC has meant thus far to me and the benefits that come from a program like this. Needless to say-that excites me.

The trip to Bohol was at the end of October; the trip to Davao was at the end of November; the time in between the two were just as busy as always. During this time, I attended the ordination and the baptism of which was mentioned in my previous blog.

The ordination went very well and as I said before, I am honored. It was a bit of a strange feeling for me, though, vesting someone. I felt a tad out of place. I also felt a little strange vesting someone who is only one year older than me; I do not think her age takes anything away from her accomplishment-if anything it makes it more impressive; I guess it is just strange to have to look at someone of my age in that type of position. Luz Tobe is a Deacon, which is a position that is given respect world-wide. She is directly responsible for the spiritual and financial health of a parish. The thought of that kind of responsibility is daunting to me. I am not one who is afraid of responsibility, in fact, I even search it out at times; but, that specific type of responsibility seems a little different, to me at least, than being able to produce a presentation or document by a deadline. Shoo-growing up is a weird thing.

luzzzzzz

We have also been busy in regards to the farm. We submitted two proposals, which have both been accepted. The first, is for the construction of a second, larger greenhouse. This greenhouse will be 20mx20m; the materials have been donated by the Tadian Department of Agriculture. Construction will be beginning within the following week. The second approved proposal was for a new water entrapment pool. This is exceedingly important to the continued growth of the farm; without this pool, the farm would be severely pressed for water in the coming months. The pond is also dual usage-we will grow and harvest Tilapia in it. Cool, right?

We also have begun the SRI, which is absolutely backbreaking work. My legs have been sore for dayssss. I don’t know if you all know this, but walking in shin-high mud all day is very tiresome. The fields have all been prepared, and the planting will be commence in 12 days. We have also just finished installing a net roof over the tree nursery, which will be harvested in late April and early May.

Bishop Brent and I are in the beginning stages of creating a youth in agriculture program as well. It will focus on organic farming and smart financial planning. As I said, it is in its fledgling stages, but I will keep you informed as we move along.

In my time, here in the Philippines, I have eaten several strange things. But, this past week, I ate the strangest. We harvested a Bee hive; I ate wild Bee. It was not good.

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I have also been given an Igorot name, which is Gatan. I may be wrong about the legend, but if I understood correctly, Gatan was this herculean type figure from one of the tribes here in the Mountain Province. Anyways, Gatan was said to be able to do anything and is single handedly given the credit for numerous battle victories and for bringing gold and water to the mountains. Naturally, I am flattered. The meaning of the name is nice, but its the meaning of them giving me one which is nicer. The Bishop said that by them giving me a name they have adopted me as a son into the community. He says it rarely happens to Americans and even less this quickly. So, that’s cool.

I also did the most un-American thing ever on Thanksgiving-we had tuna, river eel and squid. I felt like a traitor, but I think it would have been most difficult, if not impossible, to have found canned yams or a butterball turkey. Or, for that matter, an oven or stove by which to cook it. So, the Tuna sufficed.

Anyhow, I hope you have enjoyed this blog. I would say expect to hear from me again soon-but lets be real-history repeats itself-my blogging seems to be no exception to that rule.

Be Good, Y’all!

I know, I know,…

Aside

I know, I know, it has been more than two weeks since my last post-I apologize. Internet connectivity is a funny thing in the Philippines, it comes and goes on its own free will. But, ya know, it doesn’t really bother me as much as it first did. In fact, it is kind of nice not being constantly connected to 100 different things-certainly more peaceful.

Anyways, the past month has been a great one, and I will get to some of the events in a moment; but before I do, I want to give a few shout-outs and thank yous to some folks back in the US of A. First, a big thank you goes to Paul and Betty Young, through their generous donation I am being fed, watered and insured this week. Thank you thank you thank you! Secondly, I would like to thank the Brotherhood of St. Andrew for the package I received just this morning-everything will be put to excellent use. I, along with my companions on the farm, greatly appreciate it. I want to particularly thank Kevin Brooks and Skip Wirth for the reading material included; Wendell Berry is one of my favorite authors and I am greatly looking forward to reading something that a friend and mentor of mine has helped write. So, thank you much. Thirdly, I want to thank my parents. I also received a package from them that was much needed and appreciated. But it isn’t just the package that they deserve thanks for, they also deserve my thanks for their unwavering support and encouragement of me throughout this process. Heaven only knows that I made them go gray before their time, and I doubt that I say thank you enough. So, thank you guys for everything as well. Last, but certainly not least, I need to thank Jackie Webb. She also has been more than kind in her gifts to me thus far; I just today received two books and a card from her-not to mention a letter last Tuesday. Thank you, you’re the best!

Speaking of letters and packages, if any of you want to write or send something, my address is : St.Michael and All Angels, ATTN: Andrew Joyce, Poblacion Tadian, 2620 Mountain Province, Philippines. I am an avid letter fan and writer, there is nothing quite like receiving a letter. So, if you do write, I guarantee you a response.

As I said, this past month has been a good one. We have gotten a lot accomplished and had some fun as well. As far as work goes, we have just finished planting 3/4 of our open garden plots with beans and eggplant. The rest of the garden will be left for the planting of turnips, lettuce, cabbage, okra, and peas. All of the vegetables just listed will be new varieties in the ‘Pines and the Cordillera will have a little taste of Kentucky and Virginia introduced into their diet. The seeds were included as part of the first package that arrived from my parents; I, along with Avelino, was extremely excited to sow them. One of the three varieties of Peas are volunteer peas that have been in the Joyce side of my family for years. So, since we didn’t know the technical given name, we just labeled them ‘Joyce Family Peas’. I admit it is a bit self serving to name a plant after my family, but what could it hurt. The seeds that were planted in the greenhouse have already sprouted and will be ready for transplant soon.

Once we begin to harvest the produce, it will go to one of three places: The Spiral C Store (the diocesan fair trade shop in Bontoc), our farmers market booth in Tadian, or directly into mine and Avelinos belly. We are optimistic that with the new varieties, the increase of the production of produce and eggs, and the fact that the goods will be marketed in two spots that the farm in Tadian will go from the red into the black. Keep your fingers crossed.

I have also been greatly honored twice in the past month. Before I continue, I need to define what an intern is. An intern, in the way that I will use the word, is a seminary graduate who spends 1 to 3 years in a parish before being ordained A good friend of mine, Rafael, is an intern in one of the neighboring barangays to Tadian. He is a new father to a beautiful baby girl. It is the tradition here in the Mtn. Province that each child be given three God-Fathers and three God-Mothers. He asked me if I would like to be one of the child’s God-Fathers. I was, and still am, very moved and honored that he, after just a few months, thinks enough of me to give me that title and responsibility. I feel very privileged and am excited to be a part of his daughters life. The second honor I have been given is from another intern named Luz. She has completed her tenure as an intern and will be ordained on November 7th (the baptism is on November 9th). She, for reasons that still elude me, asked if I would be the one to place the collar around her neck and place the stole upon her shoulders. This is usually done by the parents or spouse, but this time it will be done by me! Whatever her reasoning may be I am deeply honored and am pleased to do it for her.

On another note, I am becoming quite good at saluting. The men, women, children and tweeners salute me constantly. I know its a holdover and respect thing from WWII, but I find it kind of amusing. I know it really isn’t funny, but I can’t help but be a little bit amused.

I’ve been typing for an hour now and my back hurts, plus its time for my bi-weekly facebook extravaganza. Thanks for reading. Be good ya’ll!

IT’S ALIVE!!!!

Hello folks, I am happy to say that I am surviving and thriving here in the Philippines. You will have to excuse the delay of my blogging, I am sorry and appreciate your patience with me. It is somewhat difficult to gain access to the internet.

I have been here for about a month and a half now, and I can hardly believe it, the time has really flown by. I will try and give a basic overview of my living conditions and activities and get you up too speed on my life, but I really do not even know where to begin. I have seen and experienced so many different things already that I could probably pen a book. But I will do my best.

As you can imagine, it rains a lot here, and its unlike any rain I’ve ever witnessed before. The force of which the drops fall is almost painful, and it rains every single day. By 3pm you can see the fogging rolling in notice a temperature change, and by 4 pm the rains have begun. Of course, there are days when it rains all day, but usually now it is just in the afternoons, which is nice.

As you may have seen on facebook, I deal with lots of creepy crawly critters. The spiders here are of the gargantuan size and I hate them. I can deal with snakes and monster cockroaches, but the spiders give me the heeby jeebies. We also have lots of gnats, biting flies, fleas and mosquitos. The first few nights in Tadian were difficult for me because of the bugs. The noise from them after dark is maddening. There is an incessant high pitched whine from the beat of all the mosquito wings, not to mention the other extraneous bug noises, that makes [d] sleeping a chore in the beginning.

I am now living a much simpler life; I do my laundry by hand, cook over an open fire, bathe with a ladle and most desperately need a hair cut. I am beginning to get real shaggy and curly and its too hot for all this hair. Oh! We have a pet monkey, his name is Garth. I say we, we entails myself and my companion on the farm, Avelino. He is the other farm worker, along with myself. Garth is about a foot and a half long, missing his front tooth, loves bananas (cliche as it is), and is deathly afraid of me. Like most people in Tadian, I am the biggest thing he (they) have ever seen. So, naturally, Garth is petrified of me.

Besides being stared at everywhere I go, the people here are incredibly amazing. Everyone is beyond nice and more than accommodating, but beyond that, they are patient with me and helpful. To say I experienced a culture shock would be an understatement, and I was having a little bit of difficulty adjusting to some of the new aspects of my life, like eating dog, but people took time to explain the culture behind these new things and I am slowly becoming comfortable with the Igorot lifestyle.

Igorot is the word specifically used to describe the people of the Mountain Province, much like using the word Texan or New Yorker. The Igorot people are fiercely proud of their heritage, and rightfully so. They are the only group of people in the Philippines who were never conquered by the Spanish or English or Dutch etc etc, which is why they have such a different language than the lowlanders. The language that I am learning is called Kankan-ey, whereas the lowlanders speak Tagalog. It does have some Spanish influence, but the majority of the vocabulary is directly specific to the Mountain Province. It is proving difficult to learn, a lot of words have an ‘ng’ sound to them, which is hard for Americans to pronounce. The ‘ng’ sound is the kind of sound you have when your nose is stopped up; So, it is very difficult to say without a stuffy nose. Also, many of the words have double vowel placements. For example, maawatan, which means ‘to understand’, is pronounced mah-ah-ah-wa-tan. I learned that word quickly, well, adik maawatan, which means I do not understand. Most people here actually speak English fairly well, so I can communicate with them well, but I feel it is very important for me to learn their language. It will aid greatly in my their acceptance of me into their culture, and I think it is my duty to learn it. I expect people to speak English in the US, I expect nothing less of myself in the Philippines.

I attend Church at Saint Michael and All Angels, which, Ironically enough, is also led by a married pair. Their names are Padi Archie and Padi Luk, and they have to children named Heran and Domi. Padi Archi and his family are absolutely incredible, they are some of the best people that I have ever met. They are the most sincere, kind, and loving people I have ever met. It also doesn’t hurt that Padi Archi wears cowboy boots and likes country music. It is a testament to how great they are by the attendance of the Sunday services; it is the kind of attendance CECBG only experiences on holidays, and it is like that every week. There is a large, Voluntary choir, an exceedingly large ECW sr and ECW jr and BSA group and an active youth program. For a place that is behind the times in a lot of things, it is light-years ahead of most of the churches I have have ever been to in regards to participation, reverence, attendance and tithing. People here gladly give, and give more than they probably should, its really quite inspiring. It is so nice to see and hear people in Church who are there because they truly want to be-not because they think it is what they are supposed to be doing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily think that’s what Church back home is, I LOVE CECBG, that is just what I think the American society as a whole has come to. It seems, to me anyways, that religion and faith has taken a back-burner in the lives of we American citizens. We are overstimulated, overworked, overbooked, too tired, and too afraid to offend someone with religion-and that is a shame. Faith and God are no longer a priority, they are an afterthought; whereas here, in Tadian, people actively live and work with God and the greater good in mind. It is incredibly refreshing.

I’ll get off my soapbox now.

The farm itself is coming along nicely. The first week and a half or so was spent doing book-keeping, organizing and planning, and we now are really beginning to work hard. I literally get up when the rooster crows, about 5 am, put on my boots and go to the Poultry house. On the way to the Poultry, I stop to pick up a bag of feed and carry it with me as well. We, at the moment, have 400 active layers. 600 layers were just delivered; so, in a short time we will have 1000 active layers, which will increase our egg production to close to 30 trays a day (30 itlogs per tray). Itlog=egg. After the eggs have been harvested and the chickens fed watered, I return home, put the eggs down, and begin to weed or break ground. Avelino during this time is feeding the broiler chickens and the hogs, which we have about 100 and 1 of. I weed or break ground until 8, which is when we eat breakfast. After breakfast, we weigh, clean and separate the eggs, which Avelino then takes to the market. I then either go back to weeding or breaking ground. As you can imagine, I am getting real good with a shovel and hoe. We will be planting 8 plots soon, which is why the breaking ground and weeding is so important. We will be planting different varieties of lettuce, squash, beans, eggplant, bell peppers, carrots, and potatoes. We also will be experimenting with some new vegetables in our greenhouse, those are to be determined. We also have an incubator and about 15 broiler chicks, with 40 on the way! So, anyways, I weed or break ground until 12-eat lunch and take a break until 1-115, go get another bag of feed and feed the layers again. Oh, I also feed the goats after the layers. We haD 10 goats, we now have 5 due to consumption-nom nom nom. The afternoons now, if it doesn’t rain, is spent preparing land for the a new rice production called SRI; which, as you may have guessed, entails more weeding and breaking ground-along with fertilization. I will explain the SRI process more next time-but basically it is a new process of rice growing that will allow us to grow rice during the dry season. This particular breed of rice has a smaller yield, but it a heartier stronger plant that needs only 1/3 of the water normal rice does.

That is my daily schedule, except for Fridays. On Fridays I am teaching English and Christian Values at the local High School, which I am loving. I have made several good friends thus far, I am becoming close with the Bishop of my diocese, Bishop Brent Alawas and also his sons. It is at their house that I am sitting right now. I am also close with a man named Gerald, who is a seminarian graduate and now an intern and Saint Michael.

I am also working on a separate project that will introduce canning into the Igorot lifestyle. One of the major problems here is food storage, transportation, and spoilage. Since a refrigerator is a rarity, you can imagine how much food goes to waste. I asked around and no one had even heard of the canning process; if I can get it planned well, and then executed, there is the possibility of really helping the people here with this skill. Not only would they be able to market products more easily, they would be able to create stockpiles for themselves and for selling. I really hope I get it up and running.

Anywho- I need to go shower and hit the road. I am sorry once again that it has taken so long, and I appreciate you for reading. I am sure that I haven’t answered all of your questions, and there is more that I want to tell you, but I promise you I will blog again in another 2 weeks, Scouts Honor. Also, you can post questions on the comment area and i will answer any and all! Be good, ya’ll!

In The Beginning

Hello from the Philippines! I hope this little ditty finds all of you well this blessed Sunday afternoon. As you are all aware, I departed last Tuesday morning; and I arrived Wednesday evening, here in Manila. The flights were long and crowded-but remarkably pleasant. Not only did I get to watch 6 movies uninterrupted by commercials, previews, cell phones or pre-teens, but the food was absolutely phenomenal. Korean Air is top notch. I digress.

Anyways, the past few days have been a whirlwind of culture shock and eye opening experiences. From food to formal wear, my expectations and assumptions have been exceeded and corrected-which has given me the realization that I do not know near as much as I thought I did-and that’s exciting.

It will be an adventure of a lifetime, of this I have no doubt.

I know that you all are anxious to here stories and see pictures of what all I’ve been doing thus far, which will come I promise; but at this point, I want to take a few moments of your time to just say thank you.

Each one of you who reads this blog has touched my life, in one way or another, that has helped and will continue to help guide me. Without your friendship, compassion, prayer and love-I could not do this. I garner much needed strength and resolve through the knowledge of your unflinching support. I hope that one day I will somehow return the favor to all of you.

So, thank you for all you have done; I will do my best to make you all proud.