Hi everyone! If you’re reading this that means you have stuck with me in to the beginning of my 4th week in the Philippines. Some days it feels like time is flying by here, other days not so much. I am feeling just a little bit home sick, but a big part of that is my desire for some American food! I ordered cheese fries the other day in hopes for a taste of back home, and what I received instead was fries with cheeto powder on them and mayonnaise over the top. Not my idea of cheese fries, but you live and you learn.
This past week was dedicated to the beginning and the completion of our compost project. Coming here, it was certainly not in my plans to be spending a decent chunk of time scooping poop and pulling weeds in order to make compost piles. I am pretty proud, though, of how everything has turned out. We really worked hard on the project, getting up at 5:45 every morning to beat the heat. The process consisted of clearing a weedy field and then making piles of leaves. We made 15 total piles in 3 columns of 5. Then we added various animal poop (whatever was available: sheep, horse, goat.) We watered those piles down and proceeded to add sticks and then a greenery layer, in addition to more poop. I knew very little about composting coming in to this, but Katie had a previous internship which dealt with it and she was a huge help when specifying what needed to go where. The french intern we collaborated with even thanked us saying we are the most efficient bunch she has worked with while being on the farm…and she has been working here for 6 months!
On Tuesday after composting I wasn’t feeling well and wound up having a fever. I contributed approximately nothing to society for the remainder of that day in order to sleep off my sickness! It worked, because low and behold I was back at it the next day. Besides composting this week, we also found out more about our Azolla pond project. In my previous post I talked about how the Azolla would need to be transferred to a different pond. I was actually wrong about this, and I learned that instead, the pond needs to be cleaned and then the Azolla needs to be regrown. Both of these things are easier said than done, but I am grateful because it will be better than moving to a different pond. Another problem is the farmer who lives near by the pond has been known to steal the Azolla, despite being fully aware it is not being grown for his use. So another one of our jobs will be to discuss with him a possible trade-off: him being allowed to harvest a portion of Azolla in return for him supplying continued maintenance of the pond. We will see if we can work something out with this Tito.
Laurence and I have decided to move on from the natural pesticide project, as we have found something more exciting, feasible, and rewarding. There is a project here called EcoBricks that Laurence, Katie, and I will be well-involved with over the next 5 weeks. EcoBricks are centered around waste-reduction by taking plastic bottles that would normally be considered trash and stuffing them with non-biodegradable and non-recyclable material (so either plastic or styrofoam.) This stuffed bottle is the “EcoBrick” that is then used as the foundation for cement walls or other structures that are non-weight bearing. The bottle can’t support a lot of weight, but the idea of minimizing waste on the farm and through out the Philippines in general is very exciting and a huge reason why we are looking forward to taking this project on. We were asked to come up with a demonstration for the community by this coming Friday on what EcoBricks are and why they will be both important and helpful to the farm.
This past Friday, the plan was to visit more GK communities, this time in Metro Manila. The 30 mile drive took us around 3 hours due to heavy traffic and rough roads the entire way. It was miserable. I have never felt car sick before coming to the Philippines, but now it’s pretty much every time I get in a car here. We stopped for lunch in Manila, and then drove a couple more hours to the community. It was literally just a few miles away but the traffic was indescribable, resulting in the lengthy trek to the village. I do not think I could stand to live in a big city.
We made it to the community, called Munting Pamaynan, just in time for it to start down pouring. We didn’t stay long due to the inclement weather, but we did get to see the brightly colored houses they are in the midst of building. This community is currently holding around 30 houses but is soon to be home to 100 more. It plans to be a community specifically helping people with disabilities, which I think is great because I have not seen a lot of communities specific to issues like that. One of the Kuyas we met at the community will soon be living on the farm because he was recruited to be a student at the school for social entrepreneurship here. He was so excited to tell us that news, and I am looking forward to seeing him at the end of July.
As we were leaving and it was pouring, one huge thing I noticed is all the people showering in the rain. They had bars of soap and were washing their hair in the street, using the rain water as a faucet. It made me sad because I am certain this is because they do not have regular access to running water. I just cannot imagine, although I’m sure they do not know any different. And don’t get me wrong, these people seemed very, very happy. Having been here for 3 weeks, it is a daily occurrence, now, to be overcome with thankfulness for the life I’ve been given! I am a lucky girl, and even more so that I get to be shown first hand just how lucky.
In other news, our internship coordinator, Tita Teddy, visited us with her family on Wednesday. It was great to see her and talk with her about what we have been doing here so far.
One other random, interesting thing that happened this week is the tricycle I was riding in flipped over while going up a hill (I told you guys these things are dangerous, but don’t worry- everyone was fine.) I do not enjoy riding in those things, but it is really the only feasible option.
Also, today an adult woman told me my arm muscles make me look like a boy, which was less than thrilling. She said it with such seriousness and a lack of malice that I couldn’t even be upset at her. It’s fine though, I’m still enjoying myself despite moments like these!
I was sad that our trip to visit the indigenous tribe got cancelled for this weekend, but luckily it got rescheduled for a different day. I am excited for these little trips we’re going on over the next 4 weekends. This coming Saturday we are going to Cagbalete to lay on the beach, snorkel, and surf! Here’s to hoping this is one of my few plans that doesn’t get changed and/or cancelled last minute.
Thanks for reading guys! See ya in a week.