Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Philippines

As I sit and stare out of the Fordham Library window at this...

....I can’t help but think about the stark contrast from where I was just a few days ago.

Sarah was kind enough to agree to allow me to take advantage of a great opportunity to attend a 2 week Project Assessment course in the Philippines. My first time in Southeast Asia was a wonderful experience.

The trip began auspiciously enough when I was delayed for a whole day. Now the reader may be thinking that this sounds terrible and it would indeed have been if I had been delayed someplace like O’Hare or JFK. Fortunately for me I was delayed here….

…In Guam. I eventually did make it to Manila.

We were hosted for the first week of classes by Ateneo de Manila. Outside of our classroom time we did get to go on some cultural trips and see the city. These included trips to the old city center known as Intramuros as well as Corregidor. This is the island where the Americans and Philippinos fought the last battle before being defeated (initially) by the Japanese in WWII. It was from here that McCarther’s “I shall return” comes.

While in Manila I also got to taste a local delicacy that I heard a lot about called balot. I thought I had eaten some challenging things while abroad in my past, but this one may take the cake. It is a duck egg that has been allowed to fertilize and so it has a nearly developed embryo inside. You break a hole in the top, drink the juice (which tastes a lot like chicken soup) and then proceed to eat the insides; hoping all the while that you don't taste feather or beak which is a sign that the egg has been allowed to fertilize for too long. Here's a photo of my particular egg.

It was rough getting it down, but it actually tasted pretty good.

For the second week of class we traveled to a rural fishing village in the south of Luzon island and spent time living with the local fishing folk. While learning about a local livelihood project (which we were there to assess) we got a chance to go fishing with them. Here we are traveling by boat out to a fishing site.
This was a highlight of the trip. The fishermen spread out these nets that then sink down in the water a few feet in a circular pattern.

They then use these tools which are kind of like large toilet plungers to smack the water. This hopefully startles the fish so that they scramble and get caught up in the net. The video below is of me taking part in the smacking. Our catch was pretty minuscule so perhaps my form can use some work.
videoAdd Image

After catching our fish we went to a white sandy beach, started a fire and ate our catch. It was a pretty darn neat experience.

The villagers in Baranguay Uno, Batangas were so friendly. It had been a while since I had stayed with a host family and I forgot how enjoyable and worthwhile it is to stay with locals while traveling; even if only for a few days, as was the case on this trip. here's a picture of the village:

I, as so many others before me, was very enamored of the artistry of the most common mode of public transportation in the Philippines: the Jeepney.

This particular Jeepney caught our eye. Not sure why Mike Tyson is associated with the Bronx? But nonetheless it's pretty sweet.

All in all it was a great trip and a worthwhile class. Hopefully Sarah and I will be able to visit Southeast Asia sometime in the future.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great pictures and stories Dom. I'm envious of that blue sky and the white sand and I'm sure the accompanying warmth that was there. We are enjoying nice white snow, and temperatures in the teens as I know you are in Bronx...at least we had the blue sky and sunshine over the w/e.
Maybe you and Allan can do a little fishing some time and you can try that technique again.

Kathy

Anonymous said...

BTW....I think there are feather on that egg you ate.............