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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

PC Philippines CRM Training

This is a really cool video Zak put together. What a precious gift to enjoy for many years to come.

Thank you Zak!!!!

Heading to Manila for Swearing In

September 16th, 2012

It’s time to leave Sabang and head to Manila for swearing in. We are up and on our way at 5:30. The bus ride takes about six hours and we arrive at the Bayview Park Hotel across the street from the American Embassy. We have four more days of training and preparations for swearing in. PC paid for our entrance to a guided tour of Intromuros. It was pouring but we walked the 30 minute walk to the gathering point for the walking tour with celebrity Carlos, who in a street performance style gives a tour with much historical information about Manila.

The park and gardens are beautiful with the old Fort Santiago walls and dungeons next to the river.


that's the river through there

the guys in the boats are scavenging for plastic pipe that's been washed inot the river with the flooding

We learned about Rizal, a national hero who was imprisoned and executed here. There’s a museum housed in the building where he was imprisoned. We were taken by horse drawn carriage to the oldest church in Manila.

The tour ended across the street from the church where we were treated to a national treat, halo halo, a dessert made of ice chips and coconut milk and what seems to be everything but the kitchen sink thrown in including corn, red beans, sweet potatoes, noodles, and chunks of jello. Robinson’s Mall was walking distance to the hotel and a place where you can get anything, including hair salons, yes!
with Iris

All I can say is wow.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Our Hangdog Going Away Party

September 13th, 2012
Shane, Olive, Peter, Ernest and Litang. I wish Takazie, Arceli and JohnJohn could have been there but after Takazie made several trips delivering all the food with his motor/tricycle, he had to go and stay with Lola, his mom, and Arceli had to
(wo)man the sari-sari store and JohnJohn was working.
On the 13th we had our Hangdog going away party. It was held at Zak’s host family’s house where they have a nice place to gather.

Ning adjusting the necklace she and Karusty made for me. They were so sweet to make one for each of us. Each one has a shell from the Sabang beach.

Grand Opening of the Park for Kids

September 11, 2012
Our Barangay Captain cutting the ribbon
This was a very special day with a ribbon cutting ceremony, the ribbon being cut by our Barangay Captain, opening prayer and singing the national anthem.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Park for Kids Community Project

September 1, 2012

We traveled home to Sabang to begin ground breaking and work on our community project, the park for kids. The community has had plans to make this park for four years. In fact CRM batch 268 trainees are the ones who painted the mural as their community project four years ago.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Buklod Tao Livelihood Assistance Project

August 31, 2012
recycling and reusing tetra paks, sewing them into bags
After our snorkeling excursion the first day to that beautiful spot, the second day’s excursion was a stark contrast. We visited a livelihood assistance project site funded by a Christian non-profit organization, Buklod Tao, Inc. They are working to help poverty stricken people affected by the 2009 Typhoon Ketana (Ondoy). The barangay is in Manila and sits between two rivers that flood regularly. The people are squatting in what’s called the salvage zone of the rivers. Just like hundreds of thousands of people that live along the coasts in the ‘salvage zone’ as squatters. They’re not supposed to be there but they have no where else to go. What we saw was the aftermath of yet another flood from the big storm we experienced two weeks ago.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Snorkling Excursion to Batangas

August 30, 2012
Planet Dive, Twin Rocks Sanctuary, Bngy. San Mateo, Mabini, Batangas

We left the Lima Park Hotel and headed to Manila where we stayed in dorms on the university campus. We were able to take our two day excursions from here. The first day we went snorkeling and some rented air tanks to scuba dive. That is those who are already certified divers. They went out on a boat. Those of us who snorkled were amazed to walk in from the beach and with in several feet and being water only a few feet deep, we were already seeing many species of coral and hundreds of beautiful fish. Another thing we noticed right away was we were being stung all over our bodies. Apparently it was ‘stinging’ cells in the water and is common. Some people are more sensitive to it than others. It didn’t keep me from snorkeling for about two hours. The water is so warm you don’t get cold. There were so many fish I felt like I was swimming in a tropical fish aquarium. It’s a Marine Protected Area. The dive guides gave the scuba team rice to feed the fish. Since the fish are used to divers and being fed by divers they aren’t afraid and school around you.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Supervisor's Conference August 26-29th

                                                              I finally see Manila

The time came for us to leave Sabang and go to the four day supervisors’ conference where we finally found out where our permanent sites are and met our supervisors or counterparts, whichever came, who we will be working with for the next two years. This was the time we had all been waiting for with much anticipation. We stayed in the very nice Lima Park Hotel in Malver, Batangas.  It was a six hour bus ride from Sabang and I finally got a good look at Manila as we passed through it on the way to Malver. Yes it sure was nice to have flushing toilets, toilet paper, hot showers, to swim in the very nice swimming pool and be together with the whole batch, batch 271, of Peace Corps Trainees. We’ve lost four since staging in San Francisco but there are still 68 of us. It was so nice and refreshing to room with Sue and Mary, both education volunteers and both 50+, not that I don’t love all my fellow CRM volunteers, but hey, they’re all the ages of my children or even many years younger than my youngest.

green yarn indicates CRM sector, blue and yellow are Education and CYF

 My permanent site is in Inopacan, Leyte, which is in the southern region of the Visayas and close to the forbidden island of Mindanao. We’re forbidden to go there because of unrest. The person who will be my boss/supervisor came to the conference and went through the four days of training with me. We hit it off great and did a lot of laughing. I used all the Tagalog I know and he spoke some English. I guess I’ll be learning another language when I get there, Cebuano. Great, I’m barely at a basic level of Tagalog.  His name is Anecito B. Asencion. He says I can call him Chito. He is the Municipal Agriculturist in the Local Government Unit (LGU) of the municipality of Inopacan. He’s 54. We’re both parents. He has a 13year old daughter who loves math and wants to be an accountant. He likes to cook, swim and ride his bike, and neither of us can sing (laughter). Videokee is insanely popular here. You can pretty much hear people singing with videokee machines 24/7. People who seem to have very little but the bare necessities have big fancy videokee machines with hundreds of songs programmed on them. Chito says he plays guitar at his church.

I’m excited to start working at my job. Chito showed me pictures of the guy who will be my counterpart who is a fish examiner diver and will be training me to scuba dive (stoked). He also showed me pictures of the office I’ll be working out of and pictures of the new municipal office building that will be completed next year that we’ll be moving in to.

we had a little timed team competition to see who could build the best watch tower

 I’ll be participating in Coastal Resource Assessments, (including sea grass, mangroves, corals and fish), updating the Municipal Coastal Environment Profile, updating the Municipal CRM Plan, working on Marine Protected Area planning, assisting in the municipal fisheries registration, working to establish a fish catch monitoring system, networking within my LGU and with NGOs, schools, other LGUs, politicians, fisherfolk and their organizations, and facilitating Information, Education and Communication (IEC) for both youth and fisherfolk.