Off I go onto the next chapter of my life volunteering as a Peace Corps Coastal Resource Management Extension Worker

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Danajon Double Barrier Reef

 November 21, 2012

I was excited to go to a management planning workshop for the Danajon Double Barrier Reef (DDBR) in Talibon, Bohol. This trip gave me the needed experience on how to get around to different island regions; especially Bohol since I’m going there for a New Years get together with other PCVs.

Laura Mudge from New Jersey, right where
Sandy hit the hardest. She's a marine biologist and
 master diver and is the closet PCV to me,
30 minutes away in Baybay

Laura came from Baybay in a LGU vehicle and picked me up on the way. We caught a pump boat for the two hour trip from Bato to Ubay. When we were within view of Ubay we came upon a fisherman in his boat who seemed to be in distress. He was waving a shirt frantically. Our boat turned around to help him. I was happy we did because I’d heard stories of this happening to fishermen except no one stops to help them. He told us to go ahead because there was another boat on the way to help him.
guy in trouble

The Hair Had To Go

November 17, 2012
It is so hot having long hair makes it way too hot. My hair went bye-bye in Baybay where I found a hair salon that wasn't too scary.
This was a big deal. I haven't had short hair since I was 15 years old.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

SWM Waste Inspections

November 14 and 15, 2012 Waste Inspections
Barangay Guadalupe

T-Ting's smiling face.He works for the NGO Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation (CCEF)
and helped us with the evaluations
Solid Waste Management is managed by the Municipal Environmental and Natural Resources Office (MENRO) I work out of. One of the first things I noticed and was so happy to see is how clean and trash free it is here in Leyte. I was a member of one of two teams going out to do waste segregation inspections in our barangays. This gave me a very close up and personal view of how many people live. Mostly things are very nice. Many are living in what I would consider a great backpacking campsite where I'm planning to stay a week.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Farmers' Association Meeting

A jeepney in town is an unusual site
November 13, 2012
Today I went to a Farmers’ Association meeting with Cito held in baranguy Maljo.
I learned something about the way the association works.
Farmers can borrow money from the LGU at a low interest 3% interest rate. Is the money for seed I asked? No. It’s usually needed and used for medical bills.

Meetings are held monthly. Members come to make interest payments. Half of this is put into a savings account they get back at the end of the year.

Members also bring P100 to put in a pot. At the end of the meeting names are drawn and two people go home with P2000 pesos. The names of people who have won are not allowed to win again until everyone has won.Seems to me this is a good way to get a good turnout at meetings.
A couple of sweet little girls

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Bato Falls in Barangay Mara-o

November 11, 2012

I found out there was another place to swim with a waterfall about seven miles further upriver, in barangay Mara-o. Anita went with Mark and me in a tricycle as far as the barangay hall where Mark’s friend Liza joined us.
Anita went back home to help with preparations for Sheryl’s birthday dinner. Before she left she hooked us up with a couple of guides, the barangay treasurer and friend who were very nice.
With machetes they hacked the trail down as we worked our way through the jungle and along the river for a half mile to the falls.

This was great. I could hear lots of birds although I didn’t see them. The jungle is thick and lush with ferns, bamboo, palms and all sorts of vines; a perfect location for Tarzan, Jane and Cheetah.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Barangay Tinago

November 8, 2012
This is a pedicab or putput
A lesson in how the political boundaries work here:

Nation-Philippines, province-Leyte (like a state), Municipality-Inopacan (like a county), baranaguy-Tinago (like a county within a county). Inopacan has 20 baranguys, nine coastal with one of those being the three islands.

In every municipality the barangay where the municipal hall and Local Government Unit (LGU) offices are found is called Poblacion.
A nice nipa hut

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

River Swim

November 4, 2012

I went for a bike ride to see if I could find a place to swim in the river. Then a couple days later Mark was very excited to be my kasama and go back for a swim.
 The water is clean, cool and refreshing. I took the mask and snorkel. We could see many fish; five different species.
A woman passed through with a couple cariboucaption
 Some guys were swimming with caribou below the bridge.

This spot is a ten minute ride from my house so I can go often.

Monday, November 26, 2012

All Saints Day

November 1, 2012
Halloween isn’t celebrated here but All Saints Day is and after all, Halloween-All Hallowed Eve, the night before All Saints Day, is where Halloween came from in the first place.
This is a time to honor one’s deceased family members. During the days leading up to All Saints’ Day people are busy sprucing up the graves of family members in the cemetery.

We had an early dinner with extended family. A whole roasted baby pig, lechon, was ordered for the occasion
all wrapped up like a present
Anita unwrapping the leechon

Then we proceeded to the cemetery where hundreds of people gathered for the evening mass.

The street was lined with venders selling popcorn, cotton candy, snacks, trinkets and candles. The graves sites were freshly weeded and trimmed, decorated with flowers and hundreds of lit candles. The full moon rose as the priests conducted mass.
I sat thinking and remembering my own father, brother, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends who have passed on.

The Abandoned Baby Girl

October 25, 2012
Anita and I were walking back to work after lunch. As we passed a putput the driver excitedly told Anita what the big hubbub going on down the street was about. Someone had abandoned a baby on a doorstep. We saw a huge throng of people coming towards us crowded around another putput carrying a woman holding the baby. They were taking it to the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office. Everyone wanted to see the baby. She was about three days old, bundled up in clean clothes and blankets and still had the Band-Aid on her little heel from the blood testing prick. This meant she’d been delivered in a clinic but it could have been anywhere.

She was transported to the hospital in Ormoc where she’ll go through adoption proceedings. They have no system or procedures here for putting babies up for adoption. If the mom of this abandoned baby were caught she would be charged with a crime and put in prison. Anita said she felt pity for the baby. Yes of course but I also feel sorry for the mother. She is probably a very young girl in a desperate situation. The baby girl most likely now has a chance at a better life than she’d have if she stayed here in whatever desperate situation the mother was in.

Now You See It Now You Don't

October 23. 2012
the old building sitting in front of the new building
Within three days it’s been a now you see it, now you don’t. The Legislative building that is. This was where Chito and Benji’s worked out of the Municipal Agricultural Office. This was where the Sangguniang Bayan (City Council) held legislative sessions as well.

Now the old building is gone, those people and the mayor and staff, are moved into the new building even though construction work continues.

They mayor decided it would be a good idea to let children and any and all community members salvage the sellable metal out of the demolition debris. I think every hacksaw, hammer and mallet in town was being used to wrestle rebar out of the hunks of concrete. The tractor/backhoe thing was busy scooping, crushing, digging and dumping demolished pieces of the old building with people jumping in and out of its way.

The mayor was right about this being an efficient way to speed up the project. In two days every bit of metal was gone.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Apid Snorkel Trip and Lots of Time in the Office


I forgot to write about the snorkeling trip to the Apid sanctuary on the 9th. Benji and I were able to hitch a ride on a boat with nurses from the Municipal Medical Health Unit who were going out to administer vaccinations to children.


 We spent about four hours snorkeling and it was amazing. The corals were in pretty good shape and there were many fish. We were about 20 meters out where the coral shelf drops about 60 feet with great clarity. How cool it will to go down and explore.  I need to get certified in scuba as soon as possible so Benji and I can do new assessments on the corals, fish and seagrass in all of the sanctuaries here in Inopacan.
Such a cutie. Way cuter than the rest of the dogs on the island


Even though I’m still in the first six month ‘honeymoon phase’ of Peace Corps Service I feel like the honey moon is over. My time is becoming more about going to work, spending days sitting in the office, observing the goings on but not understanding much of what’s being said and waiting for directions that don’t come.

My first taste of 'tuba', yummy homemade coconut wine at Chito's house in the outdoor kitchen.
Lemin is on the right. He is one of the small statured Filipinos.
He's very small. His jeans must come from a children's department. 
 I’ve been spending the most time with Lemin in the office. He’s our Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Council (FARMC) Chairman. He speaks good English,Tagolog and Cebuano and its working out for him to be my Cebuao tutor. He asked if I wanted to accompany him to an evening meeting of the Tricycle Drivers’ Organization. These are the motorized motorcycle tricycles. Yes, sure I do! He thought it would be good for me to see how a meeting like this goes and how Filipinos conduct their business. He gave me a translated introduction speech to give and it went very well. I learned some things at this meeting. They have rules about who can operate when and where and consequences(fines) for not following the rules. There’s not enough business for all of them to work every day so they’re forced to take days off.