Sunday, September 4, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy Mango Cake!

This may seem a little strange to most of you, but in the Philippines, the Christmas season begins September 1st, and continues through all the -BER months. September 1st my friend and I were at the mall in Baguio and suddenly heard a very familiar song playing. We both paused for a minute, looked at each other, and were like... is that... Jingle Bells??? Why yes, it was. The PCVs at IO (Sorry for the acronyms; Peace Corps loves them. We have a Webster's Dictionary equivalent to understand them all. That sentence was "The Peace Corps Volunteers at Initial Orientation") told us about this Christmas season, but it was hard to believe. How funny. Mom- you would love it. Although you might need to go through several trees since this goes on for four+ months. Good luck with that :)

Yesterday was the BEST day! We have been working on this community project for about two weeks now, and yesterday we had the event! We called it Saturday Fun Fest, a euphemism for Environmental Awareness Day, and held it at the high school. The main point was to educate people on how to segregate trash and clean up the community. The end result was painting trash cans to be placed around the school. It was a hit! We started off with a short powerpoint (which was sort of required), and then split the kids into four groups that rotated around the open gym. My station was a segregation three-legged race! None of them had ever heard of a three-legged race before, so it was pretty awesome to see them do it. They had to run to a pile of trash we had dumped on the ground, pick up a piece and run it to the right recycling bin, then run back to tag their next teammates. It was wicked cool.

Another group showed the amount of garbage people produce by lifting objects (including one of the PCTs) and doing another game, the third group did "compost bingo," and the fourth group taught "re-using" by cutting and painting bottles and cans into new crafts to bring home and use, like planters or storage containers. The kids rotated through each station and after merienda they all got together and painted huge metal trash barrels that we were able to get donated. At first our goal was to obtain ten, so we wrote letters to environmental groups, the Department of Public Works & Highways, baranguay officials, and the Mayor's office. The end result: we are having 70 donated to us! We were initially going to put them around baranguay Wangal, but since we have so many now, the project will extend all throughout the municipality (La Trinidad). It is so so awesome. Our letter writing and visits to those VIPs (by two of our GREAT PCTs-- Thank you, boys!) were what made the difference. Baaaasically our cluster ROCKS this world.

Later that day we had merienda at one of the PCT's house, and stuffed ourselves to the max. I have never been so full in my life. American-style spaghetti (NOT sweet sauce mixed with red hot dogs), delicious sticky coconut rice cake, and MANGOOOOOO graham cracker cake.

Dear USA Friends & Family,
I am not going to reveal the secrets of either recipe because I want you to wait (for 2 years) in breathless anticipation for me to dazzle you with such culinary delights upon my return.
Love, me.

Anyways, the eight of us plus our TCF sat around for three hours talking and laughing, and by the end most of us were uncomfortably full and TIRED! What a day! I cannot believe this is my last week in La Trinidad. I'm trying to avoid thinking about it, because I love love LOVE my cluster mates, and I am going to have major withdrawals when we part ways to our permanent sites. What will my days be like without the morning procrastination before language... eating everything in Maam Irene's sari sari store... break out dance sessions during lunch... laughing so hard it hurts at Ilokano translations or inside jokes about who-knows-what... chica-chica-ing about the other clusters... sitting around after our day is over, just to talk and laugh some more...

I have a feeling that my phone is going to explode from all the texting I'll be doing. I'll have "thunder thumbs," as one PCV put it, from "agtexting" (Ilokano). Oy vey. Just had merienda ten minutes ago, and now it's dinner time. Per usual, this is the Philippines :)


At September 5, 2011 at 12:55 PM , Blogger Patti Dente said...

Hi Becky Merry Christmas ! Do they decorate at all for the Season with trees , lights ??? Yes for sure we would have to change to a new tree ever ( Ber ) month Now listen I really want a piece of that Coconut rice cake Please ! I don't think I can wait that long for Becky's Baking Lessons. oh how fun that recycling/ garbage event you had what a great idea ! A fun way to teach about cleaning up.. they should do something like that in the US schools because I don't think they spend enough time in our schools about it. wow that must have been fun watching them playing all the games you all had made up for them. yes it will be tough saying goodbye to all your friends, but from time to time you might be able to meet up with them anyway you will make new friends as the time goes along.... Well we all recovered from the Hurricane that came up the East coast...Lots of Trees fell and wires were down all over the Area 60 to 80 mile an hour winds with over 10 inches of heavy rain We were without power for 5 days, we were using pond water and water that flooded my brother in laws basement to flush the toilets, otherwise plenty of flashlights and candles got us through those dark nights..Our area got hit pretty hard with all the down trees ... and there are still people with out power.... .I know your parents also lost power for a few days , but otherwise they made out ok...

At September 8, 2011 at 8:47 AM , Blogger erikafromamerica said...

Loved it :) You always make our awesome experiences sound way cooler than they already are and you make me re-excited for it all!


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