I’ve been in the Philippines for a month now, the halfway point. The time is flying by! I’ve meet so many people, tried new foods, and explored new places. Here are some of the highlights of my trip so far.
Dinner at Tito Jun’s. Tito Jun is one of the most popular people on the farm. Every time you see him he meets you with a smile and, of course, a joke. One of my favorite jokes is “do you know what the difference between accounting and counting is? Counting is one, two, three, etc and accounting is a-one, a-two, a-three.” I’m guaranteed a joke like this every time I see him. Anyway, one night some of the interns and I had dinner at his house. We brought chicken, pineapple, and bananas. Tita Jenni, his wife, made rice and had mangoes. There were about 15 of us squished into his little living room. We all passed the food around and ate and talked. Eventually Tito Jun brings out his guitar and we all start to sing with him. He knew a lot of American pop songs which made it easier to sing-a long. We sounded horrible as a group, but it was one of the most memorable nights. It felt so comfortable and natural to be sitting around with strangers, who are becoming friends, eating and singing. It felt similar to home.
Harvesting Mangoes. I know I briefly talked about this earlier, but it is still one of my favorite things I have done so far. Just as a review, the mangoes are up way in the trees so we use a stick with a basket attached to get them down. I stayed on the ground to pick the mangoes. I was even able to hand pick some of the lower ones. Jake, one of the other American interns actually climbed up in the tree to pick mangoes with the other boys that live on the farm. There are tons of mango trees on the farm. During the harvest I would still be surprised at seeing people way up in the tops of the trees picking the mangoes. It really is crazy how high up they go and on such thin branches. It makes me nervous sometimes. The best part of the harvest though is getting to eat mangoes all the time! I had to take a break for a little while because there were so many but they are the juiciest, sweetest mangoes I’ve ever had.
Volleyball with the kids. I love playing volleyball. I’ve played for 7 years competitively, so when I heard that the kids here loved to play, I was in. I try to play every week with them. They are really good too! For not having a net or any coaching I was surprised how hard they hit the ball and that they could jump serve. I couldn’t jump serve until my last year in high school. Most of these kids are around 12 or 13 years old. They are great. Every time they see me they yell “Ate Kasie! Come play volleyball!” I do every chance I can. The kids in the community are as welcoming as everyone else on the farm. They always want to play, and I love that.
Kids camp. The last activity for kids camp one day was singing and games. Tito Jun was our guitar player and all the kids sat in a circle around him as he played. The MAD Travel team members all sang the song Hey Soul Sister by Train as Tito Jun played.I had a great day playing with the kids and working with the MAD members. We were all dancing and having a good time. The people I’ve met while I’ve been here are open-minded and fun-loving. They love talking about their job, listening to stories, and want to change the Philippines for the better. They have inspired me.
Photo: My wonderful MAD coworkers
Eri Silk. I know this is another place I have mentioned before but it impacted me, so I think it’s worth going more in depth with my experience. On one of my first few days on the farm I went to Eri silk to see what they do there. I walked in and was welcomed by Tita Michelle. She showed me how to spin silk into thread, which I was awful at. I kept breaking the thread and we would have to rework it in the machine. She was so sweet and kept telling me it was okay and would show me how to avoid breaking it. She also showed me how to weave a scarf. It takes about 3 days to finish one scarf. It also takes a lot of patience and skill. It would probably take me about a week to finish one. Tita Michelle has been working with eri silk for two years now, and she had no prior experience with weaving. Now she makes up her own patterns and various other accessories, like headbands. This was one of my favorite days/activities because all the Titas working there were very welcoming and talked to us about their job and themselves.
Make Peace Bakery. This isn’t really an experience, but it is probably my favorite place on the farm. I go here almost every day either for breakfast or an afternoon snack. They make the best chocolate filled pastries and banana bread I’ve ever had, and it’s usually fresh out of the oven! I always go in and see David, who is always in the middle of baking something. He lets me pick out exactly which pastry I want and asks me for coffee. I usually pass on the coffee so I’m not so awake in the afternoon. We exchange a few words before I leave and I tell him I’ll see him later, later usually meaning tomorrow for my daily snack.
I still can’t believe how fast the time is flying by. I have one more month of work, travel, and memories to make! Look out for next week’s post about visiting Cagbalete island