Also thankfully Megi did not interfere with our weekend in San Joaquin either! We traveled a few hours around the southern end of Panay Island for our coral reef destination. San Joaquin, where one of our PCVs will be staying for the next two years, already has three MPAs (marine protected areas) established. So we visited each one to practice coral reef assessments. It was amazing! Each MPA was better than the next, with expanding coral reef and many colorful fish!
|All of us and our local counterparts outside of a MPA guard house.|
|A giant clam L and I found at our 2nd MPA. SO cool!|
We did two assessments Friday and one Saturday before heading back to Banate. But no one was ready to return yet! San Joaquin is a very beautiful and large town. They have many Barangays, including 18 that are coastal. They also have a lot of funding, which is where the PCV who is stationed there comes him. He will be able to work with the municipality to make sure funds are allocated and used in a way that is beneficial to managing the MPAs and increasing community awareness about why it is important to protect these areas. So far there is a lot of community support for these marine sanctuaries due to environmental education efforts. I hope to be able to use San Joaquin as an example when I go to my site as I attempt to raise awareness about marine conservation and protection as well as the management of an MPA.
This week we are finishing up our technical training and getting ready for our environmental project taking place next week (for my cluster it is mangrove training and planting). For our language training we are continuing to learn about local customs, practices and beliefs.
I have been living with my host family here in Banate for about 2 months now and have really become a part of their family. This has really helped me in getting to know the culture and language and becoming a part of the Filipino community. I never thought I would be so comfortable eating with my hands and taking bucket showers, but the local way of life has really become my way of life now too. I really love and appreciate the closeness of the family too, especially my host family. My parents are very close to their children, helping them with their homework and playing with them. Most of the men in my community seem to be a little detached from their families, usually spending time with other men in town, drinking and playing cards. However my host dad reminds me more of my dad in the states, he is more of a family man. He is always helping his wife cook items to sell in the market, working on household projects for other family members living in the compound, and making toys for the kids. I guess family life in the Philippines can be just as dynamic as it is in America. I will truly miss my family here in Banate though. I wish I could take them with me to Guimaras.
For now, my days as a PCT are quickly coming to an end and soon I will be sworn in as an official PCV!