Fun times and Food with the Filipinos

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The Rice Terraces

With only two blog posts left, I have wanted to make sure I choose interesting final topics to write about. I decided my work week was just a little too boring to discuss for the entire time, so today I will also talk about one of my favorite topics in the entire world: FOOD.

Before that, though, I will give you all a quick recap of my last couple weeks of work just so you know that I have been attempting to stay busy. I have devoted some time to EcoBricks; collecting, cleaning, and stuffing bottles. We never heard back from the management team about our presentation, and with only a week and a half left here, chances are we won’t see the progress we were hoping to. Luckily, this is a project someone can easily continue after we leave, so any work we did for it was not for nothing. We will hopefully hang bottles and signs in front of the stores in the community prior to our departure which will be a good start. I helped one of our other interns, Jake, plant some seeds for his Need for Seed project. He told me today that about half the seeds sprouted, which is a good sign because they were seeds he collected from fruit in the kitchen and dried out himself.

As for the rest of the week, we have been participating in a lot of random activities. To be honest, the farm’s best use of us short term interns is to throw us anywhere they need a couple of extra hands. For example, we spent almost our entire day on Wednesday helping with construction for one of the enterprise’s new buildings. We scooped gravel and sand for many hours and it was the most strenuous labor we have done since our arrival. We also randomly got asked to participate in a photo shoot for a clothing enterprise here. They dressed us up in their designs, put makeup on us and then took different pictures for their social media sites. It was actually a lot of fun, and since we were helping an enterprise, it counted as work. Also , there are new students coming to the school of social enterprise soon (which will keep us busy for our last week here), so there has been a clean up taking place on the farm in preparation for their arrival. I participated in classroom clean up which was easy enough except I saw about 50 spiders. Just so everyone knows, the spiders here are not normal sized. They’re big. And I hate them.

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When you get asked to be in a Filipino photo shoot 

Our weekend trip was amazing. I have loved all of the places we have gone. This past weekend we went to Banaue to see the rice terraces; Sagada to see the Sea of Clouds, the hanging coffins, and the oldest tattooist in the Philippines; and then Baguio City for dinner. The van ride was horrible. I am being a huge complainer, but I mean it was really bad. We had 17 people in like a 12 person maximum van. Then it was an 8 hour drive in the mountains, with our driver maneuvering around recent land slides and roads falling apart with no railing. It was sketchy, guys, but we made it out all right.

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Okay, so now on to the food here and what all I have been eating for the past 6.5 weeks. I am a very adventurous eater, so I was really not worried at all coming to a new country. I definitely knew I wouldn’t go hungry. So first off, as for where I eat on the farm; I have a few options. There is a cafeteria called the Berjaya where all the interns eat, 150 pesos (3 American dollars) per meal. Bonus: it’s a buffet!!! It took me 5 weeks to realize we were paying too much for our food in the cafeteria and could get cheaper meals elsewhere on the farm. One of my other options is this place called Hamlet, a social enterprise started here that serves a variety of food for probably half of what I pay to eat in the cafeteria. My third option for food in the farm is eating at a community member’s home. This can be done cheaply depending on how many people we have splitting the cost of food. Often times, the community member who invites you to their home will prepare rice and then you will either bring other ingredients for them to make things or you will bring food that doesn’t need to be prepared such as chicken or fruit. I like this last option, it just is a bit more effort because you have to pay the money for transport in to town, buy the food, and then pay to get back to the farm.

Now, what all am I eating?? Well, most obviously, rice. Rice is present at every single meal, and a lot of it! I have always liked white rice, and the Filipinos pour the broth from the chicken or gravy or what ever over the top which makes it so much better. There is always some sort of meat, most commonly chicken, but also occasionally pork or fish. The chicken is prepared in a variety of ways, but a popular one here is called Chicken Adobo. The chicken pieces are marinated and cooked in some vinegar/soy sauce-like broth. It’s good, but it gets a little old. Another thing about the meat–it always has bone in it, and not just the chicken. It’s kind of a hassle to check all of my meat for the bone, but better to be safe than sorry. Coconut squash and string beans are a common side dish here. I have never been a fan of squash, but the way this dish is prepared, I do actually enjoy it. Fresh fruits and veggies commonly include pineapple, mango, tomatoes, cucumber, and sweet potato leaves. Another Filipino favorite is Pansit which are noodles prepared in soy sauce with sautéed vegetables. It’s pretty good, one of my regular choices. Sometimes they fry squash, or have spring rolls which are also fried, or they fry little vegetable patties…all of which is delicious. It may be me channeling my inner American appetite, but you can’t go wrong when something is fried.

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Boodle Fight: everyone eats with their hands

In the other spots on the farm, there are some unique things to eat. There is a chicken burger from Hamlet. It’s not a traditional Filipino food, it’s specific to that enterprise. All it really is is a breaded chicken breast sandwich, but I really like it! In the golden duck hut, they sell duck burgers which are also very good–but expensive in comparison to other options.

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Chicken burger (ft. My plush and play neck pillow) 

There is a flavoring from Yams here called Ube. It is everywhere. There is Ube ice cream, jam, cookies, and much more. It tastes really good and it is bright purple which makes it even more appealing. But as for other desserts, they are not as good in comparison to back home. A common one in the cafeteria is a ball of rice with brown sugar mixture in it. And then there is another one that is some white mass (I really have no clue what it’s made of? Similar texture to thicker jello?) but it has random bits of corn in it. Corn does not belong in desserts. I’m sorry, but it’s something I feel pretty passionately about after having experienced it. Bananas cooked with brown sugar are another popular dessert. I personally do not like bananas, but everyone else seems to eat them, so they must be good.

In short: I need some chocolate. And tacos. And maybe a horse shoe. Soon enough I will get to have all of these things again, and then maybe after that I will be craving some Filipino food? Who knows!

12 days and 1 or 2 blog posts left friends!! Hang in there with me!!

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