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!