Monday, July 20, 2015

A Week in the Life

Monday: Around 9 on Monday morning my co-worker and I set off from the office in Tabuk. This time around, the development vehicle was in use elsewhere so we had to take the motorcycle. We traveled for about three hours, with regular stops to regain feeling in our hinnies. We parked out motor and took a twenty-minute walk up to the town plaza of Ag-Agama, Uma, Kalinga. Every town in the Philippines has an annual fiesta. In the smaller villages, the entire town gets together and contributes food for a communal meal. This is followed by a day of chatting, sports tournaments with surrounding villages, dancing, and of course, more eating. After taking our fill and chatting with the priests, we headed to sleep at the rectory.

People watching the Fiesta activities in front of St. Peter's Church in Ag-Agama, Uma, Kalinga
The winning basketball team celebrates their victory by playing gongs and dancing.
An insistent child refuses to surrender his position playing with the gongs.
Tuesday: We woke up bright and early to have breakfast with our host family. We then headed down to mountain to where our motor was parked only to discover we had left the key on the porch and the thoughtful house owners had put it inside. Unfortunately, they were not at home. So, we hitched a ride with a construction vehicle. We then hiked for over an hour up a very steep mountain to reach the community of Duya-as. Luckily the path had been concreted, but there were still over 800 steps. Here we had a meeting with a blacksmith organization that is partnering with E-CARE to mechanize their operation. They currently make bolos (similar to a machete) at a rate of one every three days. The mechanization will allow them to make two per day. We then took time to relax for the sacred order of siesta. When we awoke, we discovered that Padi had spilled the beans about my birthday being the next day, and the community decided to celebrate by butchering and roasting a wild boar. Full and jolly we walked back down the mountain and, unable to hitch a ride, walked back to Ag-Agama where we promptly passed out.

View of the mountains from the trail to Duya-as. We started in the valley and are about 1/3 of the way up.
Rice terraces and a sitio of Duya-As.
Woman harvesting her rice.
Harvested rice bundled and left to dry in the sun.
Rice and beans drying in the front yard of a house where we stopped for coffee.

Padi Gatan explains the manual operation of the blacksmith workshop and the improvements they hope to make.
When the community members discovered it was my birthday, they butchered a wild boar for our supper.
The wonderful folks of Duya-As pose for a picture after the celebration.
Wednesday: On Wednesday we slept in a tad and set off along the unpaved road towards Colayo. After two hours and two stops for coffee with friends, we reached Bihog. Here we met up with Padi John. After lunch came the afternoon rains so we napped and waited them out. We then proceeded along the narrow road, open only to motorcycles. Along the way we had to clear two rock slides and pass over a rather deep creek. There was a fair bit of getting off and walking the motorcycles. Finally we arrived at the end of the road where we parked the bikes and continued on foot. We walked down into the river valley, crossed two suspension bridges, went back up the canyon, and arrived after dark. We were greeted by the 70 or so year old retired village catechist and settled in for the evening.
Clearing the rock slide so the motorcycles can pass through on the road to Colayo, Pasil, Kalinga.
Thursday: We rose early once again and had fried fish for breakfast at a church member’s house. We made our way up to the elementary school. The students seemed quite distracted by the events. As the two teachers in the community are church members, and the appearance of the priest in their community is rare, classes were cancelled for the day. Mass was held in the elementary school classroom. After this, we conducted a program orientation and discussed the formation of a co-operative savings group, potential livelihood projects and the management of the mechanized rice mill. The meeting, as always, ran late. The rain moved in around five and the power cut out leaving us with a late dinner in the dark after a satisfying day of meetings.
Padi John conducts his monthly mass in the school building the congregation uses in lieu of a church building.
Going through the E-CARE program orientation in the Colayo elementary school.
The girl on the right is also named Carlin. While very keen to have her picture taken, totally horrified at the concept of taking a picture with me.
Colayo community members learning about cooperatives.
Friday: We again started the day with an early breakfast with community members. We then hiked down to the river to inspect the power source for the community. I had noticed on the way in there was no grid, but there was electric lighting. It turns out the community runs on Micro-micro hydropower. Households grouped together in bunches of 5-30 and bought generators that they hooked up to homemade water wheels. The design came from a Fillipino miner who wanted to find a way to listen to his radio while working at the mines. The investment is eco-friendly and requires a one time investment of 10,00 pesos (about 225 USD). The micro generators provide enough voltage for electric lights but not quite enough for appliances. After this we make a social call to the local political leaders. They showed us around the copper mine and treated us for lunch. Before we could hike out, our hosts gave me a set of water buffalo horns as a birthday gift. These were then strapped to my back as we hiked back out, found the motorcycles and proceeded back down the road to Bihog where a rainstorm stopped us and we hunkered down for the night at Padi John’s place.
The water wheel that provides electric lighting to  32 households.
I'm a happy carabao. I got water buffalo horns for my birthday as well as the joy of hiking them out of the community.
Saturday: My co-worker and I set off early back down the road towards Ag-agama. This time we stopped and inspected at church building in the sitio of Latawag. We also held a community meeting to introduce the people to vision 2018 of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines that says, “By the year 2018, we envision a dynamic and vibrant church of caring, witnessing, and mission-oriented communities.” A major aspect of this is creating self-reliant parishes that are able to support not only themselves, but also engage in social ministry and community development. We then were gifted with fruit and soft brooms, which we loaded onto the motorcycle and headed to the main town of Lubaugan to visit a weaving enterprise. Unfortunately, we got stuck before we could reach town by the arrival in the mountains of a typhoon. The rain had us seek shelter at the closest community. This happened to be a recreation of a traditional Kalinga village used for indigenous arts and culture events. We spent the night with no electricity in wooden huts constructed without a single nail. I even experienced my first earthquake in the middle of the night. I have to admit, I was completely terrified. Luckily, it was quite minor.                       
Recreation of a traditional Kalinga village where we waited out the typhoon.
 Sunday: Finally on Sunday, two days behind “schedule” due to weather, we loaded up on the motor for the last time and headed to Lubuagan. We met with the head of the Mabilong Women’s Weaving Association and arranged payments for the products E-CARE is marketing. Then we set off towards home in Tabuk. Just when the end of a long week was in sight, we had an irreparable flat tire on the back of the motor. This saw me, my horns, my fruit, and my brooms loaded onto a jeepney, a public bus of sorts, and taken the long way back to Tabuk. Meanwhile, my co-worker rode on the flat to the nearest shop to have it replaced. Once home, I fell immediately to sleep and prepared for work again the following day

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