I don’t really see my host family that often since I have moved out. I thought I might see them often since I live in the same barangay as them, but I am at the other end of the neighborhood and between my schedule and theirs just haven’t seen them that much.
But the other day I received a text from my host mom, Helen, telling me that my host cousin, Casey, just passed her Accounting Boards and there would be a fiesta celebration in her honor. Helen invited me and any friends I had around to come over for lunch. So my friends and I walked to her place prepared for some good Filipino food. As we walked, my dog, Turtle, followed us.
|Turtle as a little puppy|
|A grown Turtle dog thinking she can sleep on my chair... little does she know.|
Turtle has gotten much bigger since I first got her. She has also calmed down much more and is such a sweet dog. She follows me everywhere and plays with the local kids. They all know her by name and feed her and play with her in the street. Sheila (my landlord and neighbor) even told me the other day that Turtle has become like the Barangay mascot, everyone knows her. Although Turtle is a native dog (I found her behind my office as a small puppy) she does not act like the typical local azcal, which means “street dog”. The other dogs wander around, usually they are emaciated and have lots of scrapes and missing hair patches from disease and being in dog fights. But since I raised Turtle, she is very much domesticated. She doesn’t bite and she is friendly and loyal.
So as the friendly and loyal dog that she is, Turtle followed me and my friends to Casey’s house for the fiesta lunch. However, Turtle had never been in this part of the Barangay before. I lost track of her and (after eating way too much) I couldn’t find her as I turned to go. But I assumed she would find her way home later.
Well it got later and later and no turtle. Then it got dark and was her usually dinner time (which she never misses) but still no Turtle. So I texted Sheila to see if she had seen her, and then armed with my flashlight, I went looking for her. I had barely started my walk when Jasmine, Sheila’s cousin, saw me and asked me the usually Filipino greeting, “Diin ka makadto?” (which means “where you going?”). I told her I thought Turtle was lost and had she seen her. Jasmine talked among her companions quickly in Ilonggo and then replied that no one had seen her. Then Jasmine offered to come with me.
I was surprised she wanted to come with me and very thankful for the extra help. In the Philippines, it is not normal for a female to be walking around alone at night, or any time of the day for that matter. I have noticed that it is almost always this way, but it’s not due to safety in numbers, rather, it is due to their social nature. It is normal to see girls with other girls and guys with other guys all the time. You don’t often see someone walking around alone. I suppose they often think I am weird going around everywhere with no kasama (companion). When I am at the office and mention that I might be going into the city later, someone immediately asks me ‘who will be your companion?’ Filipinos are much less independent in nature and more social, and they always look after each other. So, as a resident of that community, and as a friend of Jasmine, she accompanied me to find my missing puppy.
After walking towards Casey’s house and calling Turtle’s name, who should happened upon us but a cute little black dog who was so excited to see me! So the happy ending to the story is that Turtle came back with me and had her doggie supper. And, thanks to Jasmine, I had an evening of feeling that I (and Turtle) are really part of the community.