Catch up - before we leave for Mindoro
Trip Start Jan 25, 2008
11Trip End Feb 12, 2008
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When we arrived in Manila we all had been at least 24 hours without a shower. Standing in the airport waiting for our bags we all kind of said that we felt like we might be smelling a bit. Rich stated that he smelled like "Trucker's A**". Now, being from Canada we could only imagine where he got to know that smell - but we all felt the same.
After our first night of just sort of getting our feet back on the ground we were up early - our cook Paring made us a fabulous breakfast and we left for SIDC - this is our host co-operative. When we arrived at SIDC we were just not prepared for all that was waiting for us. As soon as we got out of the van there was music and each one of us was welcomed with a ring of flowers around our neck. Then - the SIDC choir, which is made up of employees, sang us a special welcome song. Then another song and we shook hands with everyone. It seemed like everyone that lived close by was there to see the "Canadians".
I was overwhelmed by the welcome and a few of us ladies had tears in our eyes. Good thing I was wearing my sunglasses! When we went into SIDC we were led to the boardroom for an orientation and overview of their co-operative.
The SIDC choir sang the national anthem of the Philippines and their SIDC hymn, we then did a somewhat credible job of O Canada. It was pretty good - at least we all knew the words!!!!!!!!!!!!
We had introductions and lots of questions and answers.
We then went out to the communal co-op farm. They are doing biogas which means that they burn the pig manure and use the methane for power. They are trying hard to be environmentally conscious within the co-op as there are many backyard farmers. This means that the pigs are literally a cement wall away from the people in many cases so you can imagine the health issues that could arise.
Our next stop was back to the Guesthouse for a quick lunch. It was great as Paring made us a fantastic meal once again.
We then split up - some people went to the feed mill, I didn't I went to the meat packing plant. This co-op really does many things right as they manage the product right from feed to marketing within their stores.
The meat packing plant was good - but it's all done by hand - so it's slow and labour intensive.
Alexis and Rich got to go on the floor and see all of the production.
It was kind of funny because Alexis is about 5' 3" and dark skinned - so she just looked like a worker. Rich, however, is pretty fair and 6' 2". The coat they gave him went down to his waist and the sleeves ended at his elbows - he looked like a government inspector!
We went to the Artificial Insemination facility next and it was a good tour. We had a lot of fun when one of the more agressive male pigs decided that he needed to show off for Alexis and Liz - the single girls!
It was really interesting when they let us look at a sperm specimen under the microscope - they were all swimming around in circles because none of them were stopping to ask directions!
We went to the SIDC store and bought a few things - we used one of the employee's co-op numbers as it was 2008 - so it was easy to remember.
We went back for dinner and Paring out did herself! We then had a great swim in the pool and off to bed because we have another long day. Marilyn and I discovered that we had a gecko in our room - he hides behind the clock in the kitchen - but that's ok because we don't cook anyway! Trouble is that he's always asking us to buy insurance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (jk)
Thursday morning we got to go and meet the founder of SIDC - which was really cool - it Beryl's words this is a Mahatmi Ghandi type man. Even though he didn't speak English we enjoyed that experience very much as we were able to ask questions through an interpreter.
We then went for a late lunch and David King, our guide of sorts and logistics coordinator, took some of our cash and changed it for us. I have traveller's cheques - but Rich tried to cash them and he had nothing but trouble so - note to the Credit Union staff - I have had to use my debit card twice to take out $5,000 pesos - I'm not sure how many dollars that is but if I get overdrawn - I'll be back on February 12th!
After lunch we were broke up into pairs and went to some of the co-op members hog operations to see them and ask questions. I was paired up with Rich - I'm now nicknamed Stretch and he's Shorty!
Our first visit was kind of tough as they didn't speak much English and we didn't have an interpeter with us but it was ok. Our second visit was really good - the fellow spoke good English and is an astute businessman. Although the land belongs to his wife as she inherited it from her family so it is not his land. The first operation had 308 hogs and 600 square metres of land. There was also a house on it and a little store as well.
We then had a quick notice that we were welcome at a school which was having a celebration of some sort. Some of us went and it was awesome! It was a dance/choral recital - but nothing like we have in Canada - it was like a broadway show! They put us in the very front row so we had a great view. The only problem was that it was 3 hours into the show and it still wasn't over. We had an early morning and our drivers needed to get some rest so we had to leave before it was over but we had a great time.
This morning had us out the door at 6:30 and went to Palangas Agrarian Reform Co-op in Cabite. It was a few hours drive and we really enjoyed being there. The co-op's General Manager is an example of a humble man with heart and character. We then had a great lunch with them and toured some fields. We did one member visit, again in pairs and we got a young couple with 2 children. Their English was very good and we learned a lot from them. They think all Canadians are rich - in some ways we are but I don't think that these people realize the richness that they have with their family. Only have 6 minutes left will send and try to connect soon - we are travelling tomorrow on the ferries to the Island of Mindero and don't know the internet connections.