Hanging out in Lezo

Trip Start Dec 28, 2011
1
9
11
Trip End Jan 30, 2012


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Flag of Philippines  , Western Visayas,
Tuesday, January 24, 2012

After Ati Atihan and Boracay we had a few days where we just hung out around Lezo, and did some shopping trips into Kalibo. 

Lezo is a small town separated into several BarangaysLezo has 12 Barangay and in total about 12,000 people. The area we stayed in was the town proper or Poblicion.  Its been fun to see the progression in the town since my first visit in 2007.  Then the town all was just rubble, now they have a shiny new town hall.  The town library now has internet and three stations, and they recently built volleyball courts beside the plaza.  They are building something new where the temporary town hall was, either a gym or a hotel...not sure- both were described to me.  They are also working on repairing the concrete roadways, but that is a slow process.

Much of the town is farmland and in particular rice fields.  Some of the outlying baragays are really quite remote and only accessible by paths. Even in the towns I have always found it facinating that beautiful modern homes are often right next to bamboo, or bare concrete structures.  And everyone gets along.  There are some class separations but these are not overt and usually are bases on the area of town people come from.

The center of the town is always the town plaza and the church.  Most towns I have been in these are usually right next to each other.  Each Barangay has a plaza of sorts, and usually a church too. There is also a street of potteries near the river.

This trip we didn't stray to far into other Barangays, except to visit Andoy's home, which I'll get into shortly. 

Pobicion is laid out on a checkboard pattern, and as well as the town hall, plaza and church includes a town market near the entrance to the town.  As mentioned on previous visits, many of the house have small stores in front, either in little stands or in small attachments in the front of the house.  Allan's parents have a small stand where they sell BBQ and their neighbours have a small store/internet shop/tailor shop.   Anything to make a bit more money.

Day to day life is a bit different than your typicaly North American is used to.  Up early...most days I was up by 7 am.  The crowing of the roosters were the biggest issue, but in the morming cool is the best time to get things done.  Up early for a coffee and a snack of bread (usually pan de sal).  By about 830 or 9 its time for breakfast, and then off to do what needs to be done for the day.  Lunch is around noon, and is often reheated dinner from the previous night.  Afternoon is usually a nap time - too hot to do much else)  Often there is a late afternoon snack...usually something light like any left over pandesal, and dinner is usually after dark, or around 7:30.  It is always dark by about 6 pm here.  In January it starts getting dark by 5:30 and is completely dar at 6 pm. 

Toilet facilities really run the gamut here.  In most places the toilet is a bowl and you flush by using a bucket of water.  In hotels and more modern homes though there is usually a full flush toitet and most toilets I saw in more modern places included a host and nozzle for cleaning yourself (like a manual bidet)  Again modern homes and hotels have shower facilities, but the hot water tank is usually one that heats the water as it is being used, as opposed to North American homes where we usually have a tank in the basement that stores hot water.  The entire bathroom is usually the shower stall, and the drain is in the middle of the room. Poorer or country homes usually just have a bucket and tap and you soap up and rinse manually.  Colder mornings can be a bit of a challenge.  Again, more modern homes have washrooms like in North America.

Laundry in the country is usually done by hand by the hand pump.  Washing machines are available but quite expensive. Dryers and pretty much non existent....clothes lines are all over the place. 

Houses typically have a kitchen, and a back cooking kitchen. While many meals are cooked over propane stoves (and the propane is in tanks) most meals are cooked over open fire.  The family eats in the kitchen, although richer homes might have a dining area.  Guests always eat first, so I ended up eating a lot of meals alone.  The thought is that guests should get the first choice of all the servings...I ended up eating a lot of meals alone, especially before Allan arrived.

Those that know me, know I have been helping Andoy with his school over the last year.  Andoy is a cousin of Allan's, and spent a year living with Allan's family going to high school.  His family lives in the barangay of Tayhawan, which is not far from Poblicion, but is very rural. On the highway between Lezo and Mailnao, just before you get to Santa Cruz is a dirt road that you turn down.  Several miles down the road, past many small houses, we reached a turn off that was not passable by jeep, so after about another 1/4 mile walk we met with Andoy on the path, and then took a much smaller foot path for another 100 feet or so to the house.  This is rural living.  The house is a bamboo structure up on stilts in the middle of the jungle.  Because we were up a hill I don't imagine the stilts were to protect from flooding as much as it was to protect from animals.  There was a side house where the grandmother lived, and under that house is where they kept the chickens.  A small field next to that house was a smal field where they keep the carabao, a mother and a calf.

Andoy's family consists of his mother, a strong woman who is obviously a hard worker. Dad is a farmer who lost one of his hands in a machete fight some years ago.  Andoy's other brother is in his mid twenties, and works the farms with dad.  Lizet is the older sister.  Recently married she and her husband live with the family and she works as a teacher in the barangay school.

I was invited over to thank me for helping with the school, and for the clothing gifts I had brought for Andoy. It was a rainy night so I didn't get to explore much around the outside area, but the house was fascinating.  We climbed a ladder to get in, and there was a small front porch area leading to a living room.  Off the living room is a huge bedroom, and beside it is the largest room in the house, a kitchen dining room.  There is electric power, but cooking is done over an open fire in the back corner.  Dinner was chicken soup from a freshly slaughtered chicken and fried fish from fish that Andoy's dad had caught that day. Again, Allan and I ate first and then the family afterwards.  As we went to leave, it was after dark, and there were no streetlights. At least it had stopped raining.  A long dark walk through the jungle back to the jeep and off to home.

Over my past two visits, to keep in touch with the town, I have made facebook friends with many in Lezo, most of who are in Lezo Integrated School.  This is the same school that Allan attended in elementary years, and where some of his classmates still work as teachers.  We have kind of decided that we want to help support the school, now that it has developed into a high school as well with a special Science Curriculum.  Visiting the school to donate some books we found that while they have a small computer class, their library is very understocked, especially in reference materials for the high school years.  Many of the books are more than 50 years old.  Now our project is to try and find reference books for the school. Donations in Toronto area welcome, or cash is also a good thing....

We took one afternoon and toured the school with the principal and took pictures of many of the classes.  We also spent an afternoon with the computer teacher explaining the difference between Mac and PC's. 

I also got to spend one evening playing chess with a few of the students on my Ipad.  It was quite fun, and they beat me soundly!

Those that read my blog last May might remember my fiesta posse that followed me a around, a group of young kids that were fascinated by the guy from another land.  They dropped by again one day with their mom, and were gone within minutes.  We went out for a bit, but when we returned so had they.  We had an enjoyable day trying to communicate and playing.

One of our last days in town we visited the town market.  While the market is open everyday, the big day is Wednesday, when more vendors show up.  The front is a dry market with clothes and toys and things, while as you move further back you find vegetables and further back is the fish and butcher sections.  Everything is fresh, the fish are from today's catch and the meat was slaughtered same day as well.

There are small restaurants and even snacks like spaghetti in a bag or spaghetti on a bun.

We of course took lots of walks around town, and the pictures reflect pictures of many of the homes there.

We also did a fair amount of shopping in Kalibo, mostly for stuff the family needed.  We took a quick tour of the museum and bought a plow called a turtle or a Kuligig for Rudy to use on the rice fields.  We did some walking around town too, and we got lots of Kalibo pictures too.

Lezo is a nice town, very friendly and really a nice place to visit.   We had one quick visit to New Washington which will be outlined in the next blog.




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Comments

Nancy Bennett on

I love this blog, Kevin. I wish I had known about the school when I was moving. I gave away so many books, mostly reference books. I guess I'll have to give money. Email me on how to do this.

Lillian Blalock on

wow kevin, your trip is just amazing. and what you are doing for the schools is very heartwarming. you and allen are two of the most unselfish people i know. i know your trip is almost over, so safe travels to you both!

<a href="http://www.infohub.ph/">belladonna</a> on

This is very informative blog. Thanks for sharing.

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