My German’s Weekend in the Farm

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The Philippines had always been just a “very hot country” to Chris before he flew in to meet me. Have I told you about his old neighbor’s Pinay wife who justified her whole wardrobe of micro minis and plunging necklines as a result of this tropical curse? (Ah, no, she was then living with her German husband in the Netherlands, to give you a hint. 😉 ) Going back, it is mostly about the weather, the people’s height and the delicious mangoes that he had in mind.

Then he came, and after some days realized that maybe this is one of the noisiest countries he had ever been to. Just hanging out on our little terrace, he would hear people pump up the volume of their karaoke machines. If not, he could hear the public disco from the distance (especially during December when many would show nFarm1o mercy for eardrums.)

Then we decided to go out of town to get a little “solace”. We drove to the nearby town  where one of my brothers has a house. After an hour bus ride which somehow earned him much stares than we did when we are strolling in the mall or down
town, we have arrived in a town where we had to ride a tricycle he would describe as something that requires squats. 🙂 (And he is not even the tallest 😀 ). So, off we go in the middle of the sugarcane plantation. A quiet place, perhaps? 😀

We were treated with a good meal and some fruits. Because I wanted him to try something new, I requested for some specific stuff. So, he had to taste fresh coconut juice and meat, rambutan (related to lychee but covered with spines) and banaba (sour sop). My Deutsch don’t really have the thing for the sour ones, though. He said he loves lanzones and bananas, and that coconut meat tastes good for him. 🙂

It was quite a hoFarm7t day, so we decided to have a quick trip in the town center and bought ice cold coke and ice cream, and of course beer. 🙂 I bet you know how Germans are with beer, right? We took a nap (something which he said he had learned from me! Hahaha) and woke up just as the sun is setting. We strolled around the sugarcane plantation and found ourselves near the rice mill when we heard some birds chirping in the midst of the canes, perhaps looking for a place to spend the night.

I saw my sister-in-law look towards that direction, perhaps wanting to say something. 😀 I broke the silence by telling him about how many people would say this is actually the sound of the “aswang” (the most feared mythical creature here). My sis-in-law nodded and this triggered his endless laugh (he would always tease her about this thing).

Over supper, he had been asking endless questions about aswangs

Over supper, he had been asking endless questions about aswangs and  would scare me and my sister-in-law. Then we heard a gecko. Of course, he was curious and was quite excited to see how this looks up close.  My brother’s house here was surrounded Farm11by fruit trees and some bananas, so it is most likely to have been dwelling here.  His excitement was cut short when we realized it seemed like the gecko was now inside the house and maybe in the room where we would sleep for the night. It was my turn to laugh (though I was scared too). We still laugh at the thought of him securing the edges of our mosquito net as not to give the gecko the chance to get closer just in case it falls from the ceiling. 😀 Yep, he said it feels weird to use mosquito net but it is better than getting kissed by the gecko. 😀

I felt him toss and turn many times all throughout the night. When I asked if it is about the gecko, he said, not really… this time it is because of the crickets. Haha. He said it is like  midnight karaoke.  We were awaken by the rooster’s crow at 5 in the morning, and again, my sleepy Deutsch was in the mood for kidding. He said he will hunt the chickens down for waking him up, and for being an aswang’s representative.

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It was 7 AM when we woke up and despite his painful body, we went to the backyard to see some plants. He couldn’t help but inspect the papayas closely as he said it gave him an idea how old long have they stayed in the container vans before reaching the EU supermarkets.  I showed him the calamansi (he loves to drink its juice, especially if it is lukewarm). Of course the guava, which I jokingly reiterated to be the cause of long toilet stays. Haha.

It was a day for strolling around the village. Our first target is to find the bamboos. Chris is fascinated by the bamboo crafts and was determined to see it for himself. In Europe, he has seen some people selling small bamboo stuff through ebay. We headed to the small spring where we could see the bamboos. And so…. tadaaaaaaaa! We decided to post for some photos , but anyway, mein Deutsch is quite camera shy, so okay.. you know what that means, right? 😉

Along the way, we pFarm5assed by a small wooden house that’s mainly made of bamboo. He suggested we stop for a while to take some snaps. He finds this house to be very cute! His eyes were full of wonder while he tells me about how he finds the Filipino ingenuity amazing. It is impressive how people put things like this together! There seems to be nobody, so we didn’t find anyone  he can chat with about this house. 🙂

As we went on, a thought pop-up. So, he asked me where can people here possibly defecate. (We all know how the local “tabo toilets” had gain notoriety among our foreign better-halfs. He had asked me about this many times and though we kiFarm4nd of laughed about it, he was quite scared. Haha.) I looked around and saw a small hut just across the wooden house. I grinned while I was pointing to him this small “box-like” wooden structure. He asked what was this white container for, which of course, I retorted with, “that’s the dipper!” “Ah, the improvised tabo,” he said while grinning.  😉

And so we kept moving, until we’ve reached the spring. There was not too much water since it was hot. With that, of course, his face was really red and both of us didn’t want to get out of the shade. He took the opportunity to feel the water flowing on his hand and wash his face. The water is cold, so it somehow relieved the blushing. 😀

We head back under the scourging heat of the sun. Again,we passed by some interesting sights, like this one:

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A perfect depiction of village life, isn’t it? We both love the contrast of nature’s colors. When we arrived, we took some snaps of my brother’s wooden store by their gate’s entrance, and the chicken house in the backyard. This was one of the few times Chris asked to be photographed! haha. So, here it goes~~
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We head back to the city later that day to catch a dinner appointment (something which I will be writing about the next time… 😀 ) When I asked him how was it like living in the farm. He said, the roosters and the crickets are the karaoke versions of the village. 😀

Thanks for dropping by! ❤

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Around Sagada, Mt. Province

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“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” ― John Muir

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For the last post of the 7-day Nature Photo Challenge, I am definitely saving the best for last. I didn’t even know I could step here sooner than I originally intended to. First, I was planning to to come here with the love of my life, but it seemed to have given me the opportunity when we are away from each other. There is always the next time, right?

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Called the “Shangri-la of the Philippines”, the town of Sagada in the Mt. Province is full of wonders. It has something so uniquely explainable that made me fall in love with almost anything here. The serenity, scenery, people, and culture are just the obvious reasons, as it’s rusty idyllic atmosphere is something worth the travel.

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Famous for its hanging coffins, something considered to be the most iconic attraction around this area of Northern Luzon. Being buried in this hanging coffins require the price on an untarnished honor when one was still living. This is something not for everyone, right? If not raised high on the cliffs, one is buried in a cave.

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This is also the place where one could literally experience the meeting of the elements of nature city dwellers can only dream of. The clouds, the misty weather and the smell of the fresh scents from trees are a fulfillment! Walking under the shades of the trees are too priceless to miss.

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Of course, how can I forget to mention Sagada’s most popular “must experience” scene. An early morning drive or hike to Kiltepan’s Viewpoint to see the mighty sun emerge from the sea of clouds is magical! For me this is literally being “close enough to heaven”.  sagada14

Yep, the clouds are just so beautiful wherever you look around in Sagada. ❤

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Here are the other sights to behold in this beautiful place! I can’t wait to be back here! ❤

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This is the last of seven posts in response to Christina of JustBlueDutch’s 7-Day Nature Photo Challenge Series.She blogs about a multitude of topics about her personal interests being a parent, traveler and a Pinay expat. It is always a pleasure exchanging thoughts with her.

The rule for 7-Day Nature Photo Challenge is simple. Just post your favorite nature photo and nominate another blogger every day, for 7 days. :)

For my Day 7 of this 7-Day Series, I nominate Mitch of prinsesangwalangkorona. A fellow English major and linguistic addict, she blogs about language and a multitude of topics o her blog. I wish she updates this sooner. 🙂  If you are interested to know more, you can head to her blog. :)

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Thanks for dropping by!

Glimpse of Mt. Madia-as

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Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books. – John Lubbock

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When Chris and I were spending our post-Christmas holiday in Culasi with some friends, he was so delighted to be able to hang out by the very beautiful beach of Malalison island in Culasi. Yep, he swam all day long, literally. Other than the beach,  what he really admired was the magnificent view of the highest point in Panay Island! He said it very well reminded him of Switzerland and that this is one of his favorite places to be!

Perhaps, when one is looking to fulfill the line, “where the mountains meet the sea”, they better go to Antique. Mt. Madia-as (alternately spelled as Mt. Madjaas or Madya-as), it is the highest point in Panay Island, standing tall at 2, 113 meters.

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It is known as the Home of the Visayan Deities and has been considered by many locals as a mystical one. Gifted with open slopes,mossy forest and waterfalls, this is considered as a major mountain to climb. With this, it has a relatively unexplored peak.

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With the summit scaled at 2,117 m above sea level, it is almost always shrouded with clouds.This can be seen, if one is lucky enough, during days of clear weather or on late afternoons. Its beauty can be adored clearly when one is standing on the shore of Malalison Island or when on the boat crossing to mainland Culasi.

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The vegetation of this mountain is kept alive by the waterfalls around its base. Climbers have to expect heavy rains that fall at any given time. Perhaps this is why it is rich in fauna and flora.

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To see all the mighty mountain has to offer, one should endure a 15-kilometer road of stony way that lead to the river bed. There is also an improvised wooden bridge and hills that are full of hurdles everyone must tightrope walk by the sea of clouds. Many climbers attest to climbing to an almost vertical slope while having only the rocks, grasses and roots of trees to hold on to.

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Madia-as provides a marvelous mountain scenery with its peak almost always covered with thick clouds that seem to magnify its mystical beauty.

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This is the sixth of seven posts in response to Christina of JustBlueDutch’s 7-Day Nature Photo Challenge Series.She blogs about a multitude of topics about her personal interests being a parent, traveler and a Pinay expat. It is always a pleasure exchanging thoughts with her.

The rule for 7-Day Nature Photo Challenge is simple. Just post your favorite nature photo and nominate another blogger every day, for 7 days. :)

For my Day 6 of this 7-Day Series, I nominate adventuredawgs.wordpress.com. If you are interested to know about the joys of travelling with man’s bestfriend, you can head to this blog. :)

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Thanks for dropping by!

How Much is a Kid’s Happiness Worth?

kid's happiness worth.jpg“What do you think can we give the kids?”

“Pencils”, I replied.

He laughed at me in disbelief. 

 

Before Chris flew to meet me the first time, other than the personal things we talked about, our conversation revolves around the topic of kids in my community. He has been reading a lot about the Philippines since the day we started talking. (I was amazed by how much he has known, at least at that point.) Street kids, teenage moms, drugs, homeless people, drunkards and gossipers were just a fraction of these conversations. 😀

Since we both share almost the same childhood experience of struggles and victories, we were talking about doing something good for the kids in the neighborhood. I have to admit I admire him so much more with this. ❤

I was born and raised in  this community and I have seen how fast my former playmates have transformed into teenage moms. While I was busy fighting my own battles to realizing dreams, their kids have also grown as fast as the progress I am making.

So, when Chris asked me what he could possibly bring for the kids, I undoubtedly uttered, “pencils”.

He was stunned. I understand him, though.

He didn’t complain much, anyway. My Deutsch flew with 10 sets of colored pencils; 2 sets for each kid in my mom’s weekend catechism.

Then it was time to meet the kids. He still had his jet lag, but the look in his eyes told me he was even more stunned seeing the kids up close. He stood there for a while, giving me the kind of look as if to confirm these kids are the ones we were talking about. And I just smiled.

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The kiddos couldn’t believe they will receive some presents way ahead of Christmas. Their giggles echoed realizing it is actually from “the  white guy”. They can’t stop feeling the packets, too.

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My mom then came out with an idea of making the kids draw, and handed them pieces of paper. She asked them to make something for Chris.

“But I don’t have a pencil,” uttered one of them. 

There was silence for some seconds, until Chris, realizing that the kids didn’t know what is obviously inside the packets said…

“These are pencils, use these.” 

And the kids started to open the packets, carefully examining the colored pencils and then scribbling cautiously. I saw sadness in Chris’ eyes. I felt the same. In the kindergarten I run, kids have more than enough of these and don’t care much about pencils as much as these kids did.

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So as they were busy drawing on the floor, Chris gave me a tight press on the hand. He then said it is time we give the kids some chocolates. I took the ones he bought especially for them out of the fridge and as the kids are busy, he handed them a small box each. He was then left to wondering again as they don’t seem to be excited about their chocolate packs (Chris read how Pinoys would go crazy for these sweet treat).

“Why are you not eating your chocolates?”, he asked. 

“I will eat this at home with my sister and brother,” answered one of the kids. 

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He ended up going back to the fridge and getting a bigger pack of chocolate which he divided among the kids to eat, with us. As soon as the kids handed their artwork to him, he asked me if it is possible to bring the kids home. I agreed.

We went through the small walkways and reach the house of one of the kids. They were old neighbors who used to share the big playground in the vacant lots some decades back. They were happy to see a foreign guy strolling around this area, trying to have some conversations.

Along the way, Chris couldn’t help but notice the clothes being dried up in the sun. They looked really old and torn.

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We didn’t stay long there. Chris was very silent as we go back home. After dinner, we decided to stroll by the nearby esplanade and as we were walking, he told me how lucky he felt he is, and that his perspective have changed so much.

He was sleepless that night.

He said he never knew what a simple packet of pencil can do to kids like these. It was indeed an awakening for him that what is basically considered “nothing” on his side of the world can make so much difference in mine.

Let’s see what we can do next 🙂

Thanks for dropping by!