Thursday, August 31, 2006

Homeward Bound.....Temporarily

I'm leaving on a jet plane, I know I will be home again.....soon. I'll be setting foot on U.S. soil in less than 48 hours for the first time in 1 1/2 years. Yippy! I'm excited. I signed up for a pay as you go phone, but the cheeky fools have said "their network is busy, and it may take a day or two for my number to arrive." So stay tuned and I will post it up. Here is a more or less schedule for my time at home, once again this is subject to change. Many days I'll be in both Milwaukee and Kenosha (Kenosha till my parents pass out and than move up to Milwaukee for the evening fun) and some will be spent running to other family member's houses when time and schedules allow.

Sept 1' - Arrive (parents house), thank you Pete and Kyle for coming and picking me up!

Sept2- Dereks Bacholar Party, paintball, Brewer's game......than Jurassic 5 show.....than Derek's Bacholar Party continued(Milwaukee)

Sept3- Try to make to to bloody mary morning down in Kenosha, go to parents. (Kenosha)

Sept4- Labor day, Cookout at my parents for friends and family. If your free join me.

Sept5- ????---Parent's during the day and evening.....nights in Q.

Sept6- ????---Parent's during the day and evening.....nights in Q.

Sept7- Milwaukee

Sept8- Milwaukee (Rehersal Dinner)

Sept9- Derek's Wedding

Sept10- More celebration of Derek's Wedding at Brewers game than watching the Bears beat the Packers.

Sept11- Kenosha (night in Q)

Sept12- Kenosha (night in Q)

Sept13- Kenosha (night in Q)

Sept14- Milwaukee ("Sound Tribe Sector 9" show at the Rave, who's in?)

Sept 15- Milwaukee---Katie's party in the early evening followed by a semi-Persha-polluza bash.

Sept 16- Kenosha

Sept 17- Fly back to the Philippines.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Paradise Destroyed

I went. I saw. I stood. I felt as truly helpless as I have ever felt in my life. It was sickening. Not just the smell, which was so potent it nearly burned your nose, throat, and lungs. But also the site of it all. The destruction. The locals cleaning as best they could, knowing it was futile because with the next high tide all the work they had done would be replaced by yet more oil. Keep in mind when looking at these pictures that these were white sand and rock beaches. Beaches that supported the people who based there lives off of them. These are just pictures from one beach, but at the moment there are over 220 kilometers of beach front in the same condition.

Due to a lack of time I could only stay for a short while at the affected area. Myself and a new volunteer, who is located close to my site, had biked to the island from my site (minus the boat transfer of course). It was getting late and if we wanted any chance at all to get home before dark we had to leave after only a few hours. I spent a lot of that time just talking with the people there. I'm still so amazed at the resiliency of Filipinos. They all had that smile on there faces, making the best of it. "Bahala na" in the local dialect, Come what may. I was an outsider so they wouldn't show any grief to me, but I could see it in there eyes. I really don't know if they them selfs knew the scope of it, and really how long it will be to return to any semblance of normal. It turned out that in the mid 80's there was a volunteer stationed there, at that Barangay. They of course asked if I knew here, and shared their stories of her. I love hearing stories of past volunteers. They all still missed her, this was evident in the warmth of the stories. I was told when I go back to America if I see her to say hi, America's pure size is a mystery to most people here, even with all the Western media. I ask myself what the volunteer would say if she saw her past home in such disarray.

Upon arriving home, after biking nearly 150 k in two days, and seeing such heart wrenching scenes I was physically and emotionally in shambles. I sat and couldn't be bothered with reading, was in the mood for Radiohead's "Hail to the Thief," but alas didn't have it. So I sat in silence in my somber state. While doing so I dribbled this onto paper.

"Were Here" By Lloyd Banwart

Feeble. Were here to help
bare witness. To see
squandered beauty
for some
Shattered existences.

Were here.

of validation arise.
lacking sufficiency.
All measures having merit
all actions collapsing upon one other.

Were here

crawling out of the well
pulling at one another to escape.
Making escape
smiles on the faces, weeping within the eyes.

Were here

Waste of gifts.
awarded one, destroying too
many people.
those awarded.
destroyed by the few.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Agonizing Spectacle of Waste

By the title of this blog I am reffering to the waste of the enviroment, not the waste of so many peoples black gold.

This past weekend, off the coast of Guimaras (a small island located just next to the one I am located), occurred the largest oil spill in the history of the Philippines and one of the largest ever in Asia. This island is a short two-hour trip from my home here, and you can see it from the beach located in my Barangay. The very same area I took my family and friend Jen too to enjoy the natural beauty of the Philippines is now considered a National Disaster Site. For this small island, that only recently crawled out of the category of one of the poorest provinces in the Philippines, this a tragedy of epic proportions. The number one livelihood, for over 30 percent of the people, is fishing. Followed closely by tourism of its beautiful wide sand beaches, diving its coral reefs, and enjoying its rugged beauty. As you can imagine, after over 530,000 gallons (2 million liters) of oil are spilled into the sea, these are not very profitable livelihoods. It is already estimated that the economy of Guimaras will fall quick and hard, just as it's environment so suddenly has, and will continue to. The current estimated time for clean up of this oil spill is over 3 years, assuming that the Philippines can avail the proper assistance and needed amount of funds.

Why am I telling all of you this? I don't know. It’s so devastating to see. It makes me stomach go in knots when I see the pictures. Since it occurred last Friday, during one of 3 typhoons that hit the Philippines in 2 weeks, I have been searching, calling, emailing agencies to find out how I can asset. If anything, just donate my labor. My counterpart and I have already gathered a large group of people who are interested in donateing their time to assist in anyway. However there is yet a well-collaborated effort. I have friends living on the island and through them have contacted the local Municipalities and Provincial Capital. Its so frustrating calling and calling and every time getting a "waay ko kabalu," I don't know. Greenpeace is now taking note, but I don't yet know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. This next weekend, I'm going to see the result of this tragedy for myself. Also I will go to the Provencal Capital and Local Municipalities and ask in person about coordinating efforts.

The Philippines is requesting technical assistance from Japan, and financial assistance from both Japan and Malaysia. I have written my Congresswoman, Gwen Moore, to ask her to take note of this and see about America donating any kind of assistance to this disaster. I'm not soliciting any of you to do the same, however I wouldn't complain if you did.

Needless to say its so hard to see this, specially so close to where I live. I'm sure upon my arrival home I'll have more information to share with all of you. I hope it is good news; however on the topic at hand I highly doubt much good can come of this. It’s only another example of how devastating oil is to our environment. Whether it makes it into our cars and homes or not. I assure you all that during my time at home not one of you will hear me once complain about the high price of gas. It may be a bit extreme but I think, and thought before this disaster, that it should be higher still. It's the only way to change consumer habit, and the world is in desperate need of that change regarding its oil use. If your sighing and saying something profane under your breath at me right now because of how much you currently spend on gas at the moment, than search Philippines Oil Spill. Read the articles and take a look at the pictures and tell me if you can put a price on preventing that or other similar atrocities?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mabuhay Filipinas

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"Mabuhay Filipinas"
The Philippine's flag, at a local talent show in Sigma, Capiz.
To be honest I really have no topic at all in my mind as to what to write about. I picked these pictures at random and couldn't think of much of a general theme to accompany them. I'll say a little something about each and leave it at that. The next three get their own sub-title to this blog. At the end of the post I'll have a "very rough" schedule of what I have thus far planned for my trip back home.

"A night in the Bario"
By "bario" I mean barangay. By barangay, I mean the village I live in. Bario just means really rural basically, far from the city. Well I live in the barios. When I get home from work each afternoon my routine doesn't really vary that much, but here is an example of one possible evening in the bario.

Buy some fresh fish, right out of the ocean and throw it on the grill.

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Buy some 5 year old Tanduay. Which is the local Rum here. However everyone calls it whiskey. Sit down and eat the fish and drink the whiskey. A lot of talking about the weather and anything interesting that happened since the night before.

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Below is Alpy. She has adopted me against my will. She continues to break into the back area of my house and sleep there, no matter how many times I kick her out and fix what she broke to get in. However when people are around she is a respectful bitch. She is waiting here for the bones from the above fish.

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The rest of these pictures are all very random and have taken place over a fair span of time. Below is just one of many many islands I passed on my 24 hour boat ride from Manila home to Iloilo. It was a spectacular way to see the Philippines. I love boat rides, I feel like I am lost in translation on trips that long. The same on planes, buses, or even long walks. There is something about the act of "traveling" that is so relaxing. For that time, you have nothing else to do but wait. You are in transition. Boats are just the best way to do it. You get a bed, lots of space to walk around, but still it forces you to just be.

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Below is the church in Sigma, Capiz. The town were I stayed during my training. They have recently repainted done some renovations and I just really enjoyed this picture.

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The next two pictures are more of what has become an ongoing theme for me here in the Philippines. Cute kids. This is Iya. My host niece from my first host family in Sigma (place as the above church). No she didn't burst into tears shortly after this picture was taken. The next picture is of Lady. She is my landlords daughter and made great friends with my sister, Tricia and with Jen. She asks about them all the time. She was all dressed up for a Floras de Mayo in this picture.

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Next to kids, I have taken more pictures of "uncle Eddie" than any other person in my barangay. Maybe that is a mis-statement. More pictures of Eddie turn out well then any other person in my barangay. This is another shot from the Cockfight I mentioned a few posts ago.

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Just a nice, serine picture to end this post. My beach.

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This is anything but set in stone but so those of you that may want to ask off from work or want to have a rough idea of where I'll be. Here you go. Some of the days I'll be in Kenosha I will be there till my parents go to bed than head up to Milwaukee. Also I will be getting a pay as you go phone from best buy too (unless someone knows of a better place). Once I get the number I will post it on here as well, along with a more set schedule just before I come home.

Sept 1' - Arrive (parents house)

Sept2- Jurassic 5 show, out in Milwaukee afterwards (Milwaukee)

Sept3- Try to make to to bloody mary morning down in Kenosha (Kenosha)

Sept4- Labor day, Cookout at my parents for friends and family

Sept5- ????

Sept6- ????

Sept7- Milwaukee??

Sept8- Milwaukee

Sept9- Derek's Wedding

Sept10- More celebration of Derek's Wedding at Brewers game

Sept11- Kenosha



Sept14- Milwaukee

Sept 15-Milwaukee

Sept 16- Kenosha

Sept 17- Fly back to the Philippines.