Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas!!!

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Well I hope everyone is checking this on Christmas! Specially my family! I can just see you all gathered around the computer, reading this blogg....probably very cold....or at least it is outside. If its at my parants house I'm sure the fireplace is stoked to the max, with Dad to hot, and Mom still to cold. That is one of the things I miss the most, but I missed it when I was living in Milwaukee too. The fireplace. Believe it or not I miss the cold also. No, not the brutal cold, but just being able to cuddle up in a blanket or where a hoody sweater, and be comfortable.

For my Christmas I will be spending it in my Barangay, Damilisan. I'll be eating dinner at friends house Christmas Eve than at my Landlords house on Christmas Day. With the Cockfights in the afternoon. Yes, for Christmas I will be going to watch chickens kill eachother (If you have an issue with this refer to the blog titled Miagao Site Visit). I'm very much so looking forward to the Bulang (cockfight). There is no sarcasm there, I really am! I am also looking forward to hearing from all of you late on my Christmas night or the morning of the 26th. I'll keep my phone charged!

While I've been here for these 9 months thus far. I have probably already changed more than I know, and definatly learned more than I can define. One of the things that I have seen here that has had a hugely positive affect on me is the since of family. Its impossible to define. I know that each one of you is thinking "yes, we know, the Asian since of family." Yet it is so much more than that. I have said this to a number of people already, but it shows a lot about the Philippines that while I have been here for these 9 months I am a fully welcomed member of not just one but three families. Imagine a person coming from abroad to America and meeting that same can't. Its not a bad thing, its simply a differance between and individual culture and a community based culture. Yet its somthing to keep in mind. It has been very warming to have that welcome here. It has taught me a lot as well, and made me realize each or yours importance to me, much more so than I ever realized before. Its been a realazation of the sorts of carrying around gold for years not knowing its worth. Than one day, a person comes up to you and tells you its true value. Even 15,000 miles away that is what each one of you is to me. Gold. I just keep it stored in my heart instead of my pocket.

Its my hope that for the remainder of the day you can all realize how great it is that your all together, and really enjoy eachothers company......fully. How often is the Family really all there, or at least mostly....hehe. I miss you all so much, my friends too! I hope you all have the best and Merryest of Christmas's and a Great New Years. I will be thinking about you all!

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 12, 2005


It is almost Christmas, but here is my Thanksgiving! I hope Christmas or New Years can be half as fun as Thanksgiving was! It was nice to meet up with a bunch of other Americans for thanksgiving and share our holiday. Most Philippinos don't know about it or understand it, but I just told them it was the closest thing in America to their Fiesta. They then told me "Dapat makadto ka!" Or another words "You have to go!" So I went down to the same island I was at at a couple of months ago, Bohol, with the Chocolate hills and the Tarsier (See Side Trips). We stayed at really nice tucked away resort, right on a river with a rainforst overlooking it. We had turkey (pinoy style), mashed patatos, cranberrys, cheese, and even yams! Oh it was so yummy. It may have been made even yummier because I managed to find all the "real" ingrediants to make "real" bloody marys. It took 3 island to get them all, but I got them. Thus when I woke up at 7 a.m. that day, I was preparing them....and drinking them......we ate at 4 pm. I was feeling good by then.

There were 24 of us, from all over the Visayas (central philippines), both my batch and the batch before me. Everyone stayed at the resort that night, some people stayed the next day, but by sat eveyone had left to head to the city on bohol or to Cebu city. I didn't want to go to either, so i stayed a 3rd night their. I had the whole place to myself and really enjoyed it, it was nice and relaxing after 2 fun nights filled with food, beer, bloodys, and Eucher! Yes there are 4 of us volunteers from Wiscony and we all play the loved game. We spent HOURS playing it those two days.

Alright enough....onto the pictures (By the way, Erin Stotz, a fellow volunteer and Wiscony took these pics, I wasn't to concerned with pictures at the time, to many bloodys and to much food kept me destracted). This first one is one of our 2 tables all set with Beautifal Thanksgiving Decorations, thanks very much to Shawnas mom!
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These next two our us us siiting down to our grand meal. Like I said before it was GOOD!
(Table 1)
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(Table 2)
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This last picture is of me and Kyle preparing round ?? of Bloodys. He is one of the pre-said Wisconsin Eucher freaks and was my kickin' partner. In two days and over 20 games we only lost 3. Our opponants, Melissa (Kyle's wife) and Erin took it rather bitterly.......
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Meet the People I'm Working With

Hello all this one will be brief, just giving you some pictures of me out at work. The first two pictures are of me and some of the people I have been working with. Both were taken in early December. The first of me at a school I'm working with on Solid Waste Managment. They organized a great event, "Miss Kalikasan" (Miss Nature). In the morning the school did an area clean up and in the afternoon had the contest. The contestents dresses were made of all recycled material (they were truely amazing) and the criteria was on the Dress, amount of recycled goods over the past month, question, and than the regular presance and beauty. I was one of the judges. The picture is before the clean up.
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The next picture is with the women I am working on organizing into a cooperative. It was during one of the trainings I had organized. I brought in a professor from the University of the Philippines to do a two day training on basic business, managment, and financial skills. Followed by a third day on the technical skills of banana chip making. I'm not the most thrilled about them producing banana chips for a number of reasons, but it was the training they wanted, and it is thier group. (the picture is from the banana chip training) There have also been some leadership trainings as well as a co-op formation training. On January 4th it is the goal to register them with the National Co-op offices and obtain an account at the local bank for there savings program.
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This below picture was taken durning one of the trainings. Its the daughter of one of the women in the group. I am not conducting the trainings so I read, listen, or take pictures during the day. I found her to be rather cute and loved the picture so here she is.
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I should be a few bloggs this week, I really have no work at the momment. The schools are on break and the women are not meeting again till the 4th of Jan. I am planning on going camping next week for 3 days then heading to Boracay for New Years. I was going to spend Christmas with my first host family but I was just there last weekend for the fiesta in the nearby city (which was a ton of fun). It would be to difficult for me to camp and visit them, and I really want to go camping. So i'm staying at my site for Christmas.

(Oh and a note, I made it possible to leave comments now without regestering, so leave your comments! It may take a couple days to post cause I have them sent to my email first than I will approve them to post. The reason I do this is because of a lot of "SPAM" postings that occur if i don't moderate it.)

The Unexpected Disco

So upon coming home from Thanksgiving I was tired. I had what was to be the most busy week of work yet in front of me (it was that busy, but it left me with nothing to do the following weeks). All week I had to wake up early for trainings and meetings. On Monday, while I was coming home from the office, I was just thinking of how I was going to cook dinner, read and go to bed very very early.

A little bit more than a kilometer from my Barangay I heard it. My head dropped. I wasn't angry but I was upset with myself for forgeting. My weekend away eating turkey had lead me to forget that this Monday and Tuesday my Barangay was haveing a Disco, for the National Holiday "Benifacio Day." (That, and up until 5 years ago these were the days of the Fiesta till it got changed.) So are you asking yet "what did he hear?" Look below. It is the Philippino sound system, with all the shake, rattle and distortian of the car of a 16 year old with to much money. But this is way way way louder, and located less than 30 meters from my house. Did I mention discos don't end till 2 or 3 in the morning, if i'm lucky. So what was I do reading could be done, no relaxing, and surely no sleeping. Ear plugs have the same effect against that sound system as a of a flyswatter against a dragon.

So I joined in the fun, I figured I would be tired for my meetings regardless, I might as well go knowing I had fun the night before.
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Below is "uncle Eddie." He is one of the guys in my barcada (group of friends). He had a grand ol' time, mind you the multipal bottles Tanduay wiskey may have helped. He may have even been seeing those trails at that point.
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Now I would much rather have a filipina than a filipino sharing my hammock with me, but I can't begin to explain the differance in culture between the philippines and the states regarding male friendship. As I type that I can hear some of you laughing already. Its true though. It is nothing to see two guys walking down the street, either holding hand or with ones arm around the other. They are not gay, its just a much closer culture. When I meet other men often they will just hold my hand through the whole begining of the conversation. Anyways......the guy in the hammock with me is my neighbor, Jo Jo. He has borrowed my hammock almost every night since the Disco, and uses it for his bed now....(yes, without me)
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This last picture is of Mike. Mike is very very funny. Doesn't speak the best English but he is funny. He has a crippled leg and is always about town, I give him some cigs or money once in a while, as does everyone in town when they can afford it. If you havn't gathered up to now, I like Mike. He was one of the first guys in town I met, and he sits at the waiting shed by my house all day, almost everyday. So its a bonus that one of my friends is always there to watch my place. If you look behind Mike that is were my barcada sit, drinks, and eats most nights. The house on the right is Jo Jo's and to the left is where mine is.
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Well I think that is all for today. I am heading to the market to get some food for dinner and will probably go home to start cooking and mabey do some reading. I'm currently reading "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. I have had the book for a long time and was intimidated to start a 1100 page, small print book. I was mistaken. It is great thusfar. I have had a good string of reads. While I am talking about books I will suggest two more for you all. The first I rate as one of the better books I have read, "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver. The other is good as well, I found it theraputic. I think it would give you a good idea of some of the concepts of my experiance thus far. It was written by a Peace Corps Volunteer in China in the late 90's about his service. Its another country but many of the themes are eirily similar to what I have experianced at times, its call "River Town" by Peter Hessler

Halong Kamo Permi!