September 2009


Our last full day in Negros we spent hiking up another mountain to visit Lolo’s ‘girlfriend’ (a caribou getting a mud bath) and his ‘mansion’ (a 2-story bamboo house littered with coconut and corn husks).

They dug up some sweet potatoes and Lolo showed us the 200 coconut trees he planted for my mom.

We climbed a mango tree to relax in the shade for a bit, Lolo included.

Nuno brought out his rooster for a practice fight.

The girls curl their hair with twigs.

The whole family got together for some group photos on the last evening. We said our goodbyes, had a few beers and sang really terrible Karaoke (which they call Videoke) and took a bus back to the main port at 3am.

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We spent the rest of our week in Negros relaxing around a pool table, drinking coconut wine and fanning away the heat.

We found a little market in a town called Asia where you could buy fresh steamed buns and loads of fresh vegetables.

A woman was processing her harvest of mung beans by letting them bake in the sun and then stepping on the pods until seeds burst out. She let us help out a little.

We learned how to wrap coconut tree fronds into little pouches for steaming rice.

I wasn’t lying when I said fish and rice was a staple for breakfast.

A bumpy and very dusty 7-hour jeep ride followed the ferry ride and we finally arrived at around 9pm. The family had prepared some barbequed fish and other small dishes with rice.

TJ meets his grandfather for the first time he can remember.

The family lives in a seaside village nestled within mountains and rice terraces. We took a hike up the mountain with fish to barbeque at a friend’s home for lunch.

We stopped for some refreshing coconut and native fruit along the way.

Lolo bought charchoal for the barbeque.

They referred to Lolo as the ‘commander’ and his uniform was this hat and a machete tied around his waist.

The hike ended with a heavy summer rain. We used banana leaves as umbrellas.

I know this post is long overdue, but my life has been pretty busy lately. I got engaged, I got a puppy, I moved to another city, and I’ve been training for a new position at work. All pretty lame excuses, right? Either way, I finally uploaded some photos from my trip to the Philippines in March and there are a lot of them, so I’ll spend the next few days posting them in sections.

Within a day of arriving in the Philippines we caught a ferry from Manila to Negros Occidental (a 26-hour ride) with my mom’s brothers and sisters and some of their children.

Most of the ferry had organized sets of bunks like this. There were no arranged sleeping assignments unless you paid for a cabin or chose to be indoors with the a/c or outdoors with the elements.

We bought some handmade jewelry from a nun.

I don’t know how often this happens, but we were invited to steer the ferry by the ship’s third mate. It was only by chance TJ and mom were smoking in this area of the ferry and maybe he had seen my camera and decided it would be fun to have his photograph taken.

Fish and rice was pretty much the staple breakfast through the whole vacation.

With each new port arrival, a group of porters would put on some music and dance for the visitors to welcome them.

And then they would grab and sling luggage in a frenzy that caused jams among the passengers exiting the boat.

You have to be careful about who picks up your bags to load them onto jeeps and taxis like these guys who we thought worked for the man driving the jeep. They hung onto the back telling us we owed them money for putting all of our gear on top of the jeep when we had never asked them to do it and actually almost had to fight them off so they wouldn’t take our bags.