GS Fiesta and 1st days in Tublay!

Trip Start Mar 21, 2006
Trip End Oct 05, 2008

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Flag of Philippines  ,
Thursday, May 4, 2006

Greetings and love to all! As always so much has happened since my last update so I will do my best to not make this entry a novel. The fiesta in Gusing Sur was indeed a new cultural experience for me. In classic Filipino time the event was scheduled to begin at 8 pm and did not start till at least 9:30 pm and the various higher-ups did not arrive till nearly midnight. I am typically in bed not later then 10 pm each night tired from the extreme heat and many varied day's occurrences so this was a late night. There were many long speeches that we could not understand (in Ilocano of course) and then long breaks between with the same five songs playing and only five or six pairs out dancing on the b-ball court. It was very fun to dance though!! The low-lands of North Luzon is a much more formal environment then the Mountains (as I am learning this week on my site visit) even at a party, the role of the various politicians takes precedent over the length of the event. Relationships are the important thing here not time! Our dancing of tinkling was not until 1:30 am and by then we were exhausted and ready for bed... It went well until some of my fellow PCT's stepped on the bamboo and tripped in front of the crowd, needless to say a bit of an embarrassment but they all appreciated us trying to participate and attempt a native dance.

We facilitated our first community activity last week, a community map! The purpose was to gather members of the various groups within Gusing Sur, so men, women, seniors and kids together to draw a map of the community and highlight and discuss the assets as well as areas for growth within GS. It was very interesting to watch the dynamics of the various groups, the women were the most vocal and active and had the most ideas for change, where the men's group was entirely run by the Barangay Capitan ( again the political ladder here is very important). Interesting cultural dynamics, for a country that is still very male oriented the women are the strongest and center of every family. And as this activity proved the most motivated for change within the community! It is very different to facilitate an event like this in another country I learned a lot! And it is a wonderful way to help a community come together and discuss their assets as well as ides for change.

I arrived to my site in Tublay a municipality of Benguet Province on Tuesday morning and as I have shared with some of you hit the ground running. My Supervisor the Provincial Director of Tourism, Ms. Claire Prudencio arranged for a courtesy call to the Governor that morning. Feeling very nervous and overwhelmed I was glad to have a warm greeting from Claire and the Governor. While the Ibiloi Culture here in the North is typically not has friendly as the low-lands the Governor of Benguet is an exception to the rule. He is very funny and was cracking jokes right and left which completely calmed my nerves. He invited me to dinner that night along with Claire, my host sister Marlyn
(An organic agriculture specialist in the area) and other members of his staff. We ate at a very nice Chinese Restaurant in Baguio and after visiting my beautiful pine wood, and mountain surrounded home it was quite a shock to travel 30 min. down the mountain to the big city of Baguio. I am so happy Tublay is a lot further from Baguio then I initially thought. The Governor told me his nickname is " Bonjo" meaning friendly and I proceeded to tell him he could call my " Bonjo Jr." he loved that and made the entire dinner party laugh.

Yesterday I went on a long, winding and beautiful ride through the Mountains of Tublay and visited one of the eight caves in the area that I could be working to preserve and promote. Sadly I did not bring my camera but their will be many photos to come. The steep trek down to the cave was amazing and so nice to feel the mountain breeze and hear the sounds of Philippine nature. I know this was just a taste of the continued hiking and outdoor experiences I will enjoy here and combine with my work. The mountains of Tublay are filled with farms and beautiful gardens and while there are many challenges facing the local farming industry do to the importing of vegetables and various water shortage concerns ( due to earthquake in early 1990's) the people are wonderful and work very hard to support their families. It looks like I will be doing quite a bit of traveling with my job which will be wonderful. The only was to reach many of the Barangay's in Tublay is by sketchy dirt roads, so breathtaking mountain views will be in abundance throughout my time here. It is traditional in Ibiloi culture to have homes far apart from each other especially in Mountain regions this is part of their quieter and shyer side!

While I have "been wined and dined by the local politicians" which I am still trying to process, the dichotomy of existence is very prevalent here. Yesterday on our drive many of the Barangay's consisted of steel shacked nipa-huts and small dirt roads. While my host family has a huge compound with at least five homes and beautiful gardens filled with plants, avocados, bananas and papaya trees. I think it is going to be a large initial challenge to observe the lack of many basic human needs and trying to see where promoting Eco-Tourism will help the people. I have a lot to lean which is wonderful. For now I am trying to soak in as much as I can and enjoying the cool mountain air and quieter spirit of the Ibiloi people!!

All my love to everyone and Congratulations to all those soon to be graduates!!


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dianao on

Yah know I was thinking about you yesterday and I asked myself: 'how long will she be gone again?' Then I looked at your post today and realized it will be a little while longer :) ... Either way I miss you lots, be on the look out for your 23rd b-day present ... I hope you get it ok!!!! Take care Bear!


lba123 on

thanks for the details!

Thanks so much for sharing the details of the trip with us . .. all the way down to the type of ground you're walking in to the smells that your nostrils are experiencing, I can really get a feel for what you're experiencing down there! Wow, how blessed you are in so many ways! I'll remember you in my prayers tonight and I anticipate reading your next update with all my senses tuned! Love you Bear, we'll be in touch!

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