Sunday, July 31, 2011

bathroom news, which means a random post

July 31, 2011
If I was the kind of person who relished in TMI and was a fiber freak (reader, you know who you are) I could probably do a bathroom post everyday. Luckily for you, I'm not so you just get them now and again. I've now got running water in the bathroom. Note: running water and shower are not the same thing. I'm not sure what sparked the change, but the electric pump is set up (Get it? Spark, electric?) So, if I have power, I can turn on the faucet, to fill the bucket, to flush the toilet. We've got running water in the kitchen also. This completely revolutionizes brushing my teeth and washing my face (yes, I do these both in the kitchen, bathroom doesn't have a sink) Moving on up people!
We've had typhoons moving on up through the Philippines, which for me means rain all night. Which means it waits to get super hot. Which means I don't have to wake up so early to run (on the weekends that is, when I don't have places and times to be). Which means when I get back from the run people are up and about. Which means kids our out playing games with their tsinellas. Which means I run the risk of getting hit with foot wear. Read: Which means I got hit with a flying flip flop. Which means I got the cutest apology ever. No complaints.
A quick complaint. On my phone I don't have a plan. I buy a load card and then just spend away until i need more load. It costs me a peso to send a text, but luckily they have promos. For 60 pesos I can buy unlimited texts for five days. Which is a great deal and let's me text with reckless abandon. However the system to sign up for promos never works. I shouldn't have to pay for texts when they wont let me sign up for promos. You're wasting my load Smart!
And now for something completely random. My Auntie has a niece from Las Vegas coming for lunch. She doesn't know when, just that she will come. Could be today, could be next friday. Would that drive any one else nuts? Or is that just a me thing? We've got a super clean house because of it though.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

all about the food

July 18, 2011
This past weekend we had big plans and they all revolved around food. The plans kind of all fell through, but the food was still there.
Recently in the mall a new kiosk opened with siomai and C and I went. We also finally tried the waffle kiosk. It was just recently we learned that hotdog wasn’t the only flavor.
spicy garlic, soy sauce, fresh kalamansi-win
We also took the idea of cucumber salad and turned it into an awesome meal. It has fresh cucumber, shallots, vinegar, rice, salt and pepper, and a Peace Corps splurge of olive oil. That was when we thought it was going to be picnic food. The picnic never happened so we upped the anti for dinner by adding Chooks Chicken-to-go, kalamansi, mango, and hot peppers. Amazing!
before the mango and chicken-win
Another something for the picnic was cookies. C has made them several times, but the stars have never aligned for me to eat them… until now. I had her add peanut butter and then was going to feel awful if they didn’t turn out. But they did and were amazing.

and a win for the toaster oven
I always liked food, and have always been able to eat my fair share, but I never knew just how food centric a person's thoughts could be. Probably 60 percent of my texting conversations are about food.
Such is life in the Peace Corps.

racing around bohol

July 27, 2011
I’m going to have to go back to Bohol. My trip was amazing, but I didn’t get to do any of those things that you do when you go to Bohol. I was too busy doing other amazing things.
I met L at the airport on Thursday and we flew on over to Cebu, checked into the pension, went to the mall and had dinner at this amazing Thai restaurant. I love Thai food! Friday morning we woke up, wandered and got on a slow ferry to Bohol, then took a trike to Panglao, an island that is a tourist destination and known for amazing diving. The timing was off with the other group so L and I went and found another Thai restaurant to eat at. Then we met up with the rest just in time to go eat Italian.
Saturday I woke up early and went on a run with L and C (it may or may not have been my first run this month). Then the rest of the day was eating and doing nothing. It was super windy and rain threatened all day long.
Sunday morning we woke up all early to go to our trail race. The race was to help get bathrooms at this high school on a little island in the area. It was something else. Straight up the first part on slick coral lined paths. Intense. It was one of those two-step forwards one-step back wards endeavors, but at the top it turned awesome. Other than the fact that my shoes are bald and flat I really got to loving my run. Just the motivation I needed to finish strong. The race rocked all of us, but I had so much fun.

After we slept the day away and then ate at this amazing bee farm. I had a real salad. I had all I can eat real salad. The whole meal was amazing all you can eat food: squash bread with spreads, a type of chips with a caprese dip, sea food soup, native red rice, sea food lasagna, marlin, sesame chicken, fall off the bone ribs, lemon grass tea. All so amazing but really just ate and ate the salad and bread, and finished with some tasty ice cream. Well worth the splurge.
Monday L and I took the SuperCat back to Cebu and went to Harry Potter for her birthday. I treated her to amazing gelato then we went on a hard-core search for shoes. Both of us decided that race was the last miles our shoes could do. Then we had one more dinner at yet another Thai restaurant.
Tuesday we wandered around the same mall before going to the airport and heading on back to site.
It was a great weekend, but not the way you are suppose to do Bohol. Next time I’ll do the Chocolate Hills and tarsiers and maybe the sun will even shine. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

the time the vice president came to town

July 15, 2011
This has been a strange week:
My teacher pulled an ear of steamed sweet corn out of her purse for meryenda. It was so tasty.
The desk I was sitting in fell over.
The Vice President came to town. That’s right. The Vice President. Of the Philippines. Came to town. My town. And they didn’t even cancel school, what’s up with that?

On Wednesday I got a text from D saying that her host family said that the Vice President was coming tomorrow at 10:00. To Alangalang? That is what they say. So of course we texted everyone looking for details. Supervisors, friends, volunteers (like they would know more about my site than I would), no one really knew any details, but he was coming. Or at least was invited to come. I'd noticed earlier they had been scrubbing the municipal hall and setting up tents.
On Thursday the motorcade came through as I was getting ready for school. Sure thing, he was coming. However, when I got to school nobody knew a thing about it. Then about 9:00 teachers started running around in a panic, not talking to me, shouting to kids. This could only mean one thing, they found out. They had all the students make flags to wave to Binay.
In true Filipino fashion, the flags had to be perfect.
After making the flags we marched on to the municipal hall only to discover they high schoolers had dibs on the good views. So we just hung out in the shade. Deb and I snuck to the front, because of my height all I could really see was umbrellas.
No one knew why he came, to be honest I still don't think they know. I know while here he was named an official son of Leyte and Alangalang. Yes, we have that authority. It started with a long prayer, as it always does. Then a lady yelled something into the mic that was set to too loud a volume already. Then the mayor got up and did what he does best, yell into the mic. Then the vice-mayor had her turn at yelling in the mic. She shouted out all the minutes for the meeting in which it was decided that they would name him a son of Alangalang. Then the Vice President spoke (not shouted) in Tagalog for about 20 minutes. And like that it was over.
Luckily I have long arms and could get a good picture.

My view was only slightly better than my students'.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

impromptu 5k

June 12, 2011

Here is the best way to run a 5k race in the Philippines: have a duffle bag, it doesn’t have to be heavy but make sure it is awkward, in the bag you can bring stuff like a camera, water, cell phone, umbrella, snacks; shorts that chafe, not a lot just enough to irritate; 2 shirts on; and a stomach full of bread and hot chocolate, the race will provide these; oh, and don’t bring an iPod or anything like that. Then just go for it.

Last Wednesday, not even a full week into school (post on school later) I was told there wasn’t going to be school on Thursday because of the parade to kick off fiesta (post on that later), and we would be participants in the parade (post on this much later).
I showed up bright and early and the teachers took me under wing and off we walked. During the parade I was asked if I would do the Walk for the Cause on Sunday (that is this post, today). It was from the farthest barangay to the municipal hall. A very long way they stressed. I said sure, why not. They said it started at 6 and I’d need to bring 150 pesos for the fee and shirt.
Saturday night I found out that 6 was a joke and I should leave around 5:30. I showed up at the municipal hall, paid my fee and found out that the mayor had the shirts. When he showed up the shirts he had didn’t have a print on them, which was fine with me. Especially since everybody’s shirt ran during the event. Then in true Filipino event style we waited and waited, then about 6:15 we piled into a vehicle and drove to the start site.
There they shoved pan de sol in my hands and Milo--chocolate powder drink served hot, think of Swiss Miss without the flavor. I started to look around and people were decked out for this walk. Which is surprising because, to be honest, Filipinos don’t do much walking. So we lined up just around 7, the mayor said something, and then started us. Everyone started running! Nobody told me about the running! Luckily I’d been doing a pretty good job of running (post on that later), so I got into stride and went with it.
Apparently the running was just something you do at the start, because everyone started walking very shortly after. However I was feeling good and thought why not. I quickly passed the whole police unit and any girls that had been in front of me, and there were just a few people in front of me.
One of the things I was most excited about this walk was the chance to really see what I always fly through on the jeep, so I had brought my camera with me. I stopped to walk and take lots of pictures (hopefully I’ll post them here, internet allowing). I said good morning to everyone and trotted along. I was glad I’d brought a water bottle because it was hot.  After it was said and done I ended up finishing with the running-old-man contingent, which was fine with me. They talked to me and kept tabs on me, then when it was over all introduced me to their wives and told about all their children living in the US. 
The main memory of this “walk” was how hot it was. It started almost a full hour after I’m usually coming home from my run. I sweated and sweated. Several people told me how beautiful I looked with my rosy cheeks and sat me down in a chair in the shade. I just wanted to go home and bucket shower, but no one would let me. Because, of course, there was a program. It was something to do with the Independence Day. There was a character talking slow-grandma Filipino, and then three adults pretending to be grandkids, talking in slow-baby talk Filipino, turns out baby talk is annoying in all languages. I tried to pay attention, but it was soo hot, and I was kind of in a glaze. Then I noticed everyone was staring and me and laughing and the Grandma was saying something about America. Then she was saying something about Abraham Lincoln. Then there was this girl in a shirt skirt, and tiny little top, wearing a paper hat with stars and stripes on it. Then New York, New York started playing (but not a good version) and she started dancing a burlesque-ish dance to it.  It was embarrassing, and hot, and I was so sweaty, and apparently my cheeks were still beautiful and rosy. The rest of the program wasn’t that bad, they had some traditional native dances and other things.
After the program, they still wouldn’t let me go home. We went to someone’s house and ate. Luckily the food was good, but it was hot. So very hot. We stayed for a couple hours then took a trike back to town. Luckily on the way home it rained and we all got pretty wet, and it cooled things off a great deal.
What a weird day.

why i didn't take first place.

Here are some pictures from the 5k. Sorry they are all over the place, I couldn't organize them in any order that made sense to me, but I'm sure you won't even notice and just be glad for pictures for a change. This is what it looks like where I live.
Some of my fellow runners a long the high way.

Some caribous in a rice field.

Add caption

Caribou on the highway.

Kids watching the race.
A teacher at my school. Note the bag I ran the race with as well as the multiple shirts. It was so hot!

end of summer?

June 15, 2011

Not sure what I expected last week, but what I got kind of threw me off. It is hard not to compare things, and I try to keep in my mind that what my ideal may not be the ideal for the whole world. That being said, I do think the first week of school, or heck even day could have been managed a little bit better.
I showed up, and I guess I thought all the kids would be wearing their uniforms and have full bags of supplies, and the teachers would have fun get to know you activities planned. What I got was a mass of parents, students, and teachers listening to the principal shout out names. They were just finding out their classes. None of the students had book bags. None of them were wearing uniforms. I just stood around in the way.
Once classes were figured out we marched to class and sat, and sat, and sat until recess. Which was a bust; there was no food, which upset all the teachers. Then we went back to the class and MH was called to a meeting to figure out her teaching schedule. I entertained the students asking them questions. MH came back right before lunch, told me Grade 6 would be right after lunch and sent me on my merry way. Got back from lunch and found out Grade 6 wouldn’t be until 2:40. So I sat and waited. Then in Grade 6 not much occurred, and MH actually left to work on the schedule. In the first week of school our schedule was changed 8 times through 3 different options.
The kids took a pretest, and were still working on finishing their oral reading tests. My Grade 5 students, whom I’ve taught just once on a random day last year, busted out amazing paragraphs about their summer break and best friends with just basic grammar mistakes kids their age at home would make. My Grade 6 students who are the same group of kids I had last year were writing long in depth paragraphs about their summer breaks and what they want to be when they grow up.
This cued the personal break down. These kids are smart. Maybe I could be used better somewhere else. I tried to talk to my principal all week about it, but she was not available much. However I did talk to her this week, and I’m not having the what am I doing here thoughts I was having. I’ve arranged a meeting with the principal at the high school to start a sports club. After fiesta I’m meeting with my library committee. I’ve convinced my teacher that I’d be really good at helping grade 5 and 6 remedial readings in the after noon.
This is week two of school, and you know what things are going to be ok.

July 9, 2011
Now we are going into week 6 (wow, how did that even happen?) and things have gotten better. I’ve still been struggling trying to really make the impact I want to make, but we are getting there. Library meetings are being had. I’m meeting with the principal at the high school any day now to get a project going there. I’ve had some good lessons with my students. My idea for a remedial reading program was liked, but nothing has happened since the first couple of pow-wows. 

fiesta, forever!

June 17, 2011
The past couple of weeks have been fiesta, but the actual real deal even is on Sunday. For school today there were very few students so my teacher had the students write paragraphs to tell me about fiesta. I chose a few to kind of let you know what fiesta is all about. They’ve not been edited, straight from the students’ pens!

Clara In every town there are some people celebrating fiesta. This coming Sunday Alangalang will celebrate 202nd town fiesta. Fiestas are important to the Filipinos to thank God for the blessing that we get every year. When fiesta comes in every town, people are busy preparing their foods. Some of their relatives from different town went to our own house to eat our prepared foods. Our foods that we have are from God that’s we have to show him some respect.

Den Vina Fiesta is fun. Whenever we starts fiesta’s here in alang, alang we are having first a program produced by our very own mayor, Mayor Entong Yu. In our town plaza we are having a pageant, search, singing contest and more. In plazza. There are so many barbecue bars, some peoples get drunk, buying barbecue’s, singing with the karaoke’s. Some peoples or vendors are selling flying balloons, 5 pesos worh pair of earing rings, 15 pesos worth necklace and some popcorn and manggo shake.
            When June 19 comes, It is our fiesta in alang, alang our families are busy cooking foods, to serve to our visitors, we serve: fried chicken, pork menudo, pork adobo, pancit (pansit), spaghettie, salad, manggo float, lechon and more.
            Sometimes we watch “Lingganay”in alang, alang because that is our festival here, the story about lingganay is about a big bell a golden bell, the bell rings louder, the bell ring up to kilometer place. Some people are so very jelous about the big golden bell when the jelous people try to get the bell the owner of the bell throw it away in the river so the bell cannot be seen by the jelous people in the river. So that is our story of “Lingganay” and why we have our happy fiesta.

Pamela Here in the Philippines one of the most  liveliest celebration is a fiesta. Every town has its own fiesta. People invite guests for the grand celebration. Rich or poor people can celebrate a fiesta. It is now time to tell you about the Philippine fiesta.
Before the fiesta or desperas as filipinos call it, people prepare and start decorating flowers, bells and other decorations. On the stadium, workers in the municipal hall prepare for programs and presentations. All people cook food so that they can serve buffets for the guests. At night the fun doesn’t stops yet, the presentations of the desperas still keep on going like Ms. Teen, Mr Teen and etc.
The main event has come, the fiesta has begun people pray at the church early in the morning, a marching band has parade on the way, music is everywhere visitors from other places has arrived. All the people are very busy & crowded, people walking back and forth everywhere. The noise doesn’t stops. Everyone is happy for the fiesta has begun. Everyone sings and dance until night has come.
After the fiesta or tapos some people still celebrate. Parties and presentation happens during a tapos. That’s why endless fun never stops.
Philippines is not only known for its people and landscapes. We also have traditions like fiesta that keeps us alive. That’s why I am proud to be Pilipino.

June 20, 2011
Fiesta was really great. I invited all my volunteers to come, but sadly only M could make it. I showed up the town and we talked to everyone about fiesta and refused lots of tuba offers. Then we ate some food at my house. Sat and talked for a while then headed over to the next house. The next house was D’s, but she was sick in Tacloban. Her host family was afraid we wouldn’t come with out her and were so glad we came. We ate a-whole-nother meal and sat and talked. Then we were informed that M should head home before the drivers got to drunk. Oh fiesta!



June 27, 2011
This week is Tacloban’s fiesta, which is kind of a reason for the whole region to celebrate. At a library meeting I discovered that our town was going to be performing in the pintados. My principal told me that I should go and the teachers said they’d take me.
All morning today I was asked what time we were leaving, 11:00, and then told that was way too late in a manner that made it sound like I was the one in charge of things and picked a bad time. Of course we didn’t leave at 11:00. We left school around 11:30 but stopped to eat lunch (my second lunch for the day). Then we stood and waited for a jeep. The event “started” at 1:00 and we had 45 minutes to get there.
We got there before 1:00, but so did lots of other people. It was so packed; we ended up just standing amongst so many people. Then we waited, and waited, and waited. I think the text I sent around 2:15 said it was the worst idea ever then complained about the crowd, heat, and the fact there was no start in site. I was getting super bad mood and maybe just a little light headed. I squatted down to give myself a rest. It is amazing how quickly 100s of people can find a seat for a crouching-white girl. So I sat, bought some water, found some candy in my bag and got my blood sugars back in check. To be fair, it was so hot. It also helps that after each performance a couple dozen people would leave and I was eventually able to breath.
Then what felt like hours later the event started and my mood was repaired and I was really enjoying myself. Pintados is a type of dance performance that each town prepares to kind of say this is who we are. It is old school. Lots of times when there are dance performances they are dancing styles that the Spanish brought. They are super enjoyable, but super Western. The pintados is traditional folk dances.
Not to toot my town horn or anything, but Alang Alang was amazing! I’m very embarrassed for the text fit assault I sent to my friends because it was so awesome. I think my favorite thing about it was that it was not Western at all. It was Filipino! I never see that. I’m going through all these thoughts of how awesome it is see the way things were 300 years ago and how just good it is that they still have that just blindly following my teachers through Tacloban and where do we end up but the penultimate of all things Western culture: McDonalds. Where I got the ultimate in Western influence an ice cold Coke!

July 29, 2011
So now I am tooting my own town horn. Alangalang won the pintados! First place over all! Half million pesos what?!

the parade left without me

July 4, 2011
I think if I weren’t sick today I’d be super upset that I’m missing one of best days of the year ever July Fourth. Being sick I’m missing everything.
This past week was fiesta in Tacloban and the Region 8 volunteers had a slot in the parade to celebrate 50 years of Peace Corps. We got candy, and bubbles, and t-shirts. All our counterparts and supervisors were invited. I was going to be able to see volunteers I’d not seen in awhile. Some I’d not even seen since August (which was almost a year ago, weird).
We got together and I get to see these people for about an hour, then it all went down hill from there. By the time I got home from the mall I was feeling so awful. I drank so much tea, and a bunch of emergenC (shout out to the V!), so much water, and made some Chicken Noodle soup (the real stuff, Campbell’s), and giving myself amazing good vibes.
I need to work on my good vibes, because Wednesday I woke up feeling fine, but as soon as I got out of bed and got over that rest high I felt awful. So I went back to bed and proceeded to get a fever. Meh.
Woke up on Thursday to the same old song and dance. D came over and talked me into going to the hospital in Tacloban. I peed in a cup,  had some blood drawn, and told to wait for results then I’d go to the ER. Apparently because of fiesta the doctors all decided to not do their job. So we sat and waited and watched the stray dog with no hair suffer from some fleas. Then a doctor came (I don’t know from where, and I never went to ER), and gave me some drugs and sent me on home. Stopped at mall, got worse then headed home.
Friday was just as bad and by the time I went to bed I had the added nausea, dizziness, anxiety, and was soon to discover the insomnia of those drugs.
Obviously it was a very long weekend. When I talked to the family yesterday they could tell I was not myself and I for sure did not feel myself. Today I’m feeling better. It is hard being sick, but it is super hard being sick in an environment so very different from home, but it all is making me stronger ya?

p.s. It could be worse. On Wednesday when I was missing the parade K, S, and B were on a plane to Manila for medical. K had been sick for weeks and had heard several things including typhoid fever. Turns out he had mono and it kind of affected his liver as it tends to do. B was super super sick but is already back. And S had her appendix removed on Friday. I was so afraid that was going to be me, but I guess she meets our batch quota (I guess each batch has had one person get an appendectomy. I told C how relieved I was it was S not me, but then she said maybe because our batch was double we’d have two.  I told her that was not funny at all.)