Sunday, November 27, 2005

Turkey Day

It is usually around the holidays when you start to miss the things back home. I mean, how do you explain a holiday that revolves around stuffing your face and sitting around watching football all day?

Filipinos know a lot about eating, so that aspect of it it wasn't so tough. This year, we had an unusual gathering of 40-plus people for Thanksgiving dinner on the beach at Katie and Anthony's house in Catanduanes. Fifteen American volunteers, give or take. A British retiree. A Filipino-American family with two small boys. And a jeepney-full of teachers from Katie's school!

Katie and Anthony were generous enough to open up their home and refridgerator to our crowd. We had a candlelight dinner on the beach -- and yes, there was a turkey, donated by the Mayor of Tobaco, where one of our volunteers is stationed.

We then spent a couple of days in a remote resort on Catanduanes. A much-needed break in a beautiful little spot:

This is a little surfing beach called Puraran

It rained but we went swimming anyway!

We stayed in these sweet little cabins

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Blessed Event?

Well, you can rest assured that my house is free of evil spirits...unless you consider a rat an evil spirit. Apparently my successful House Blessing persuaded a rat that it was okay to enter my new home. He scurried away though and I am hoping that he prefers the hut nextdoor. Ayaw ko!!!

So, yes, the house has been blessed in the local practice of a service, sprinkling of holy water and tons of eating! More than 60 people -- not including about 50 neighborhood kids -- attended the blessing last Saturday. Father George, one of the local priests, did the blessing. We all lit candles and followed him from room to room while he sprinkled holy water on the walls and floors. Even the bathroom got blessed. Phew! And just in case the rat comes back, the priest has agreed to throw in a cat for free! :)

Check out the party pics:

Father George is doing his thing during the blessing of my new hut in Punta, Dancalan.

Father George is sprinkling holy water around the hut during the blessing.

Kain Tayo! Let's eat. A Filipino House Blessing is not complete without a ton of food...6 kilos of Bihon noodles, 100+ lumpia rolls, 100+ sandwiches, 100+ puto muffins, etc.

Kanta Tayo! We sing. And of course, no Filipino party is complete without karoake....

Ma'am Jacinto (the librarian) and I yuck it up at the party...

Pictures of my new neighbors, hanging out at home:

This is the sweetest kid. His name is
Gerald "Tong" Lopez and he's really smart but his parents don't let him go to school because there is not enough money to pay registration fees and they want him to cook and clean and take care of the other children while they work, fishing and selling fish.

My new "sisters" -- Grace and April, 14-year-old twins, and Shyrell, 7 -- live nextdoor to me. Their parents, Ate Basing and Kuya June, own the hut I live in.

Ate Basing and Tong hanging out in the new hut...pretty classy for a hut, eh?

Punta English Club

I've started an English club in Punta for the kids who live right around me. It's especially good for the kids who do not attend school because of lack of pera (money). Last Sunday, I read a Filipino folktale in English about a girl who falls from the sky and the animals find a way to make a safe landing for her by building the island of Bohol out of soil from the bottom of the ocean. The little ones had a hard time...but the older kids enjoyed:

Me, explaining a story to the kids in my neighborhood class.

The members of the Punta English Club, ages 6 to 15. Some of them do not attend school because their parents cannot afford to pay a yearly fee of less than 200 pesos (less than $4) and daily transportation fees of 12 pesos (less than a dime).

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Life in a Hut

Okay, I know all of you have been sitting on the edges of your seats awaiting my very next post. So here it is. But I apologize in advance that it has to be short. I am in town just for a bit and have a long lists of things to do and buy for my upcoming House Blessing.

Yes, House Blessing. Complete with crucifix, candles, a lay minister (the priest is out of town), six kilos of noodles, 100 lumpia (egg rolls), 100 white bread sandwiches with sandwich spread and the entire population of school teachers and my new neighborhood, including maraming bata (many kids). Phew. But I am informed that a blessing is essential or something bad will happen to me. Okay lang, you only get blessed once, right? Oh, did I mention a live band? Kuya Benji, the security guard will bring his band to place for us. And Tong, a local kid, is going to sing my favorite Tagalog song, Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang? A good time will be had be all -- just hoping the typhoon headed this way holds off for a bit!

So da hut is great. Takes a bit of getting used to. The gagamba - spiders -- are meyshadong malaki (too big), the cockroachs crawl on posts above my bed while I hide under a mosquito net, and I was recently told that centipedes are fond of Anahaw roofs (just like mine!) Fun.

Aside from the creepy crawlers, the hut is refreshing and the wind blows through the bamboo, which is really cool. I've got my own CR now (bathroom) though I don't have running water. Buckets lang. So I have to haul water to fill up for washing myself and the dishes but I get some help from the neighborhood kids, who by the way, can't stop staring at me and my every move. Tong, the boy who will sing Saturday, helped me wish my clothes yesterday. So I have lots of help at the house and the neighbors are very friendly. It definitely feels safe even though the teachers (of a much higher class of folks) are concerned that I am living in a poor neighborhood. Hindi bale! (Nevermind!) Just cause your poor, doesn't mean your dangerous...

I will posts pics soon, possibly after this weekend's House Blessing. Stay tuned and sorry so short. And send those books!!!

Ingat always.