Thursday, April 26, 2012

Our last Manggahan

This year for Guimaras’ Manggahan (Mango) Festival, we wanted to make it extra memorable since it would be our last as volunteers. Stacey had the idea of having a PC booth where we could showcase some of our projects and spread awareness. The five of us volunteers on the island had many meetings leading up to the festival, discussing what the booth would focus on and searching out funding. The Governor was able to give us 10,000 pesos (a little over $200) and the Mayor of Jordan let us use half of the LGU booth. We decided to have two focuses: an environment one and a sexual awareness one.

Our PC booth at Manggahan Festival

The environment half of the booth showed how to make and use bottle bricks, also called portable landfill device. (For more information on bottle bricks, visit Our goal was to spread awareness about using bottle bricks and how they can be used to make an earthbench. We collected plastic trash throughout the festival week and hope to make an earthbench for the island. There were fliers to explain the steps of making a bottle brick and a Decomposition Game, informing participants the length of time it takes for some ordinary household waste to decompose.

J helping a kid play the Decomposition Game

D explaining how bottle bricks work

The second half of the booth was dedicated to sexual health awareness. It explained about HIV/AIDS and other STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and where locals can go to get a free STI test. It also listed ‘101 ways to make love without having sex’ and the ABCDEs of STI prevention: Abstinence, Be faithful to your partner, Consistently use condoms, Don’t use drugs, and Educate yourself and others.

S assisting in a challenge to explain STIs

But the highlight of the booth was the  “Wheel of Knowledge” that was out front. Participants spun the wheel and the color they landed on determined the topic of question they were asked. Topics varied from environment, STIs, Peace Corps facts, and Guimaras fun facts. All of the answers could be found inside the booth so everyone was a winner and the prize was candy! There was also a special DARE spot on the wheel. When someone landed on the DARE they were given a challenge. If they completed the challenge they were given either a bracelet or t-shirt advocating volunteerism. Challenges included bringing a stranger to the booth to explain to them about STIs, stuffing a bottle brick, or picking up three pieces of litter and disposing of them properly in the segregated trash bins.


Guimaras volunteers

Lots of excitement centered around the wheel with people not believing it was for free and trying to land on a DARE spot so they could win a bracelet or tee. Each day of the week-long festival there were more and more people there. On the last day there was almost a constant crowd around the wheel. Most were too shy to spin but they looked on as others spun the wheel and tried to answer their questions (as always the PCVs helped to answer). It was amazing how interested and interactive people were in answering the questions and learning about our projects.

a crowd gathering to spin the wheel!

my friend, Yetyet, came to spin the wheel!
The booth was so much fun but we couldn't have pulled it off without the help of some very special community members and co-workers!

Our amazing crew! Wacky face!

Every day we ran the booth from morning till evening. Then we watched the evening festivities while eating and drinking at the nearby vendor stands. There were bands, talent shows, dance competitions and, on the last day, a fireworks competition! And of course it's not a festival without lots and lots of food!

Fried fish balls! yum! one of my favorite festival foods!

Eat all you can Mangos! I ate 2 kilos!

I love ube flavored ice cream!

I borrowed a vendor's snack collection... just a few of the munchies we enjoyed during the festival.

And of course there may have been some drinking....

The event was a huge success and already some are talking about trying to make the “wheel of knowledge” a part of the festival next year! People were generally interested to learn about our projects and even start their own bottle brick project at their place of work or school. When I came into work the following week one of my co-workers had already began placing all of her plastic waste into a bottle brick! Success!

Although the week left us all exhausted it was lots of fun and we hope it will start a trend of interactive and educational booths for the next year’s festival even with us volunteers gone. But either way it was the best Manggahan yet!

Peace Corps Philippines - Guimaras crew!

In other news, I am still working on my marine protected area project and am planning the trainings for MPA management and an enforcement crew. But we have another joint project coming up to put on an environment camp next month! Stay tuned!