Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Balut Man

It has been very productive in the Municipality of Jordan lately! Right now the Ordinance to make the new marine protected area into law is at the SB office (town hall of sorts) waiting to be approved! I feel like this is the culmination of the past years work. We started last January 2011 when we did community meetings in all of the coastal barangays. One of the barangays said they wanted a reserve in their community. Since that time there have been coastal assessments, submitted funding proposals, countless community education and information campaigns about marine protection, and finally we have the ordinance ready for approval that officially creates this MPA (marine protected area). Of course the work is far from over. We will be creating a community run MPA management board as well as constructing a guardhouse near the MPA. We also plan on holding trainings on how to perform coastal assessments and deputizing additional Bantay Dagat (type of coast guard) personnel to enforce the MPA. All of these activities are set to happen in the next few months!

Community members voting on whether to establish the Marine Protected Area -  I think its a go!

And a few months is all there is left for me here it seems! Time has been flying by and you might think that counting down my last year in the Philippines means wrapping up projects instead of starting new ones… but that’s not how volunteers think. The five of us volunteers on the island of Guimaras are currently working on another project. The three municipalities we all work in have been establishing MPAs similar to the one I have been working on. We have been mainly working with the adults of our coastal communities on these projects so we all thought it might be nice to also include the youth. We submitted a grant to put on two three-day overnight environment camps for the youth of Guimaras, to teach them about marine protection and how they can be actively involved in their communities’ coastal management. Its crunch time so we are trying to finalize the project plans now but I look forward to working with the youth of my community.

In my down time, some kids from next door came over to watch Finding Nemo on my laptop

In other news the volunteers of Region 6 Philippines had a big weekend. The US Embassy has been putting on events in cities around the Philippines called “America in 3D: A roadshow in diplomacy, development and defense.” Last weekend this big event came to Iloilo and the PCVs were asked to lend a hand. The three day event was held at SM City mall and included a line-up of different information and entertainment sessions. Some of the sessions included information about obtaining visas or how to study in the US, while entertainment sessions included hip hop dance lessons and performances by local singers, and by the US 7th Fleet Band (they were a big hit singing favorites like Justin Bieber). PC helped out by standing near the “Peace Corps Story Board” to answer questions. We also did a 30 min presentation of sorts on what Peace Corps is. The presentation was all in local dialect and starred yours truly as the host along with three other PCVs. You can see us in action at: 
(how’s your Ilonggo? – the local dialect spoken in Region 6). We asked the audience questions about the three different PC sectors in the Philippines, followed by a volunteer from each sector explaining it in more detail.

The US 7th Fleet Band kicks off America in 3D in Iloilo

Some of my co-workers and their kids came to support me!

Some of us volunteers and our country director posing by the PC storyboard 

Since I am counting down my last year of Peace Corps service, I think its fitting that all further post will end with an aspect of my life here that I will surely miss once I am stateside again...

Things I will miss in the Philippines: the sound of the evening balut guy riding his bicycle and sounding his horn - like the ice cream truck of the Philippines...