Wednesday, December 1, 2010

So You Think You Can Dance

As seems typical of the average PCVer, I have not posted much since I got to site.... 

Things are good though, the host family is nice and allows me to be independent. I have a language tutor, Sheila, who used to work for PC in the past, there is another PCVer who works in my office. We have become good friends, talking about our adjustment at site and supporting each other through it all. Things at the office are slow but that is to be expected considering I am still new here and it is now December and into the holiday season. So far I have met the Mayor, Vice-Mayor, SB/ Council members, the Governor and many FARMC (Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Council) members from my town and coastal barangays. I even have set the dates in January when I will be having community meetings with each coastal barangay. So I am well on my way at site, but I am also getting used to the much slower pace of the workday.

Most of my time spent in the office is socializing with my co-workers and the various people who stop by, we also eat a lot and have numerous snack times throughout the day. After lunch, we have an hour of rest time or we play cards, and we take turns checking our facebook on the one computer in the office with internet. Amidst all this work is done though. The Filipino culture is much more focused on the community and spending time with each other, strengthening community bonds. This is especially important for me since I am a foreigner and I am working with the community at a grass roots level.

A couple times a week I have field days which involves me meeting people in the community, visiting and assessing experimental fish ponds, and going to the marine sanctuary on the coast of Jordan. Last week I was able to ride around with the Bantay Dagat (type of local coast guard) and fully see and appreciate the beautiful coast of Jordan, Guimaras. It is truely breath-taking! The coast is lined in rocky cliffs alternatig with coves of white sand beaches. The water is a clear blue-green and you can see the lattice of coral reef below. Also along the coast are small rocky islands covered in thick jungle. Looking up along the trees of these islands you can see fruit bats and monkeys. This really is an island paradise!

Today I went to tag some of the sea turtles that are at the rehabilitation center in Lawi, a coastal barangay. This is in preparation for the release we will have next week!

I am also often invited to many fiestas and events. I take it as opportunities to be involved with the community I live in and be seen as part of the community. This week was the Fiesta of Bulan Bulan. Bulan Bulan is a sitio within my Barangay (sitios are smaller village-like areas within a Barangay). Many of them hold yearly festivals that usually correspond to the saint’s day for which the Sitio was named.

I still had to work during the day but was told I could leave for the lunch time fiesta and evening Disco Dirby. So at lunch time I left for the Bulan Bulan and had lunch at a community member’s house. It was typical Filipino fiesta food: rice, baked fish, pig lechon (roast), and spaghetti! We ate and moved from house to house meeting all the relatives. However that evening was the main event, the Disco Dirby, for which I was asked to be a judge for. Oh boy.

It turned out to be really fun. I got there early with Sheila, who was also going to be a judge. When we arrived they were finishing up the crowning of the new Mrs. Bulan Bulan (kind of like prom queen). The girls were all dressed in gowns and the newly crowned winner had a sparkling crown atop her head. As is customary, a member of the community was giving a speech about how wonderful the new Mrs. Bulan Bulan was, complimenting each of her features. This guy was a little long winded and as he was comparing her nose to some kind of pointed object (it was in Ilonggo so I lost some in translation) a little girl in a white dress walked out in the middle of the arena and in front of the stage. At first everyone just ignored her and kept the program going. Until she made her move. She proceeded to lift her dress, pull down her panties, and squat. Yes she was attempting to relieve herself right in the middle of Mrs. Bulan Bulan’s crowning. Among the audience’s laughing and gasping, the mother finally came to claim her child. Sheila just whispered to me, ‘well she is just a young girl, she is used to relieving herself whenever she needs to.’

Yes, in the Pines, small children squat alongside of the road and men of all ages stand to relieve themselves pretty much wherever they are. I probably see at least three men standing along side the road or water every day, with their backs to me and a stream between their legs. It is a sight you just have to get used to.
But back to the fiesta and dance contest.

It was really fun. There were three dance teams made up of all guys. They had matching dance costumes on and did real dance moves and lifts, and even had little skits in between. I felt as though I was on Randy Jackson’s “So you think you can dance” show. In the end we awarded our winner their cash prize. I will add it was a tough job being a judge. It was hard to grade and judge the teams when they all had worked hard on their routines and all were very entertaining. But there was one group above the others that really moved like a dance group in sync with each other and were simply the most entertaining, so they came out the winners. I wish I had pictures or video to share but my camera is still broken so its left to your imagination.

I hope to attend more fiestas like this one and am sure I will. However maybe next time I will remain in the audience and not at the judge’s table.

Halong from the Pines!

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