Monday, February 28, 2011

Papaya Brings the Poo

Me: Chat, when you go by the market tomorrow can you get me a papaya?

Chat: Yes, you want the kind you can get in the SM or the Tagalog papaya?

Me: Oh, I don't know.

Chat: It can be sweeter the papaya or bigger or they can be smaller

Me: Yeah... I don't know. I've been having stomach problems, and someone told me to eat papaya. So, just get me any papaya.

Chat: Ooohh, papaya makes the poo come. (Followed by hand motion around her own bum.)

Me: Huh?

Chat: Yes! Papaya good for the poo!

Me: Yeah, well I don't really need any help in that area. Soo...

Chat: Yes, papaya for the poo. If the poo is hard, or if maybe you don't poo. Like maybe you no poo for 2 days... 3 days... you eat the papaya and then comes the poo. (Keep in my mind corresponding hand motions coincide with each sentence.)

Me: *Confusion*

Chat: It's ok Ma'am, don't worry, you will try. (She hurries out the door.)

I will try huh?

I don't think I'm going to like this...

Bollywood, Bangles & Bindis

It's been ten days since my last post, which means I'm due for a new one. And I've been meaning to write about our Bollywood Ball Fundraiser put on by the local international ladies group. Unfortunately, I've spent the last 24 hours feeling like death and sleeping on the bathroom floor so I won't have to get out of bed for false alarms. (I swear something in the country is trying to kill me.) So this post will be short and sweet, A.) Because I'm weak, also very lazy. and B.) Because there are many stories I want to share, but I won't. It has come to my attention that women around here actually read my blog and I would hate to say anything that could get me cornered in a bathroom at our next general meeting. I don't have a death wish.

So all I can offer you is pictures... enjoy.

Lee was not thrilled with the idea of a Bollywood theme...

Me: Guess what the theme is for the annual fundraiser...

Lee: What?

Me: Bollywood! We are supposed to dress Indian.

Lee: Sweet! Can I wear a head dress?

Me: Ha! Wrong Indians.

Lee: Dang. Well, I'll just wear one any way.

Me: That's inappropriate.

Lee: What? You can just tell everyone I got confused.

Me: Absolutely not.

We did have to get some normal pants however. The ones that came with the outfit were tight around his ankles, and he could fit one of our throw pillows down front. He looked like Humpty Dumpty. (I have a picture of this... however, I would like to stay married so... sorry.)

Also, I took pictures of pictures for this post because I don't have the energy for scanning.

So. Very. Lazy.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Adventures of Stanley, Flat Stanley

Me: Guess who came in the mail today?!

Lee: What do you mean, "who" came in the mail?

Me: It's Flat Stanley!!

Lee: Who?

Me: Flat Stanley! You don't know Flat Stanley?

Lee: Umm... no.

Me: Oh, well its from a book. And its a programs about children's literacy... they send Flat Stanley around the country, or the world, in order to learn about different places. And Reese sent him to us! I was so excited when I saw him that I didn't do anything I was supposed to do today, but instead spent all afternoon making pictures of Stanley.

Lee: You're insane.

Me: Yeah! Look!

Me: Here is Stanley at the market...

Lee: Seriously?!?!

Me: What?

Lee: A pigs head?

Me: Too much?

Lee: Ummm... yeah!

(This is why I shouldn't be aloud to interact with children...)


Stanley's letter to my niece Reese, and Mrs. Walton's class...

Dear Mrs. Walton’s Class,

I am back from my long journey to the Philippines! When I found out Reese was sending me to the Philippines I was a little worried. The mail there can be very unpredictable, but after a week I made it safely to Batangas City.

I was surprised at how warm and sunny it was when I arrived. It was a nice change from all the snow we’ve been getting at home. The weather is warm there all year round! In the Philippines they have only two seasons, dry season and rainy season. It is dry and sunny this time of year, which was good news for me because otherwise I may have turned to mush!

I was in the Philippines for a week, and I got to see and do so much. The Philippines is a very beautiful place!

I took a trip to Tagaytay to see the Taal Volcano. The Taal Volcano is an active volcano. It is known for having a small island within a lake, in an island in a lake, on an island in the ocean. (Did you get that?)

Here I am at Tamaraw Falls in Puerto Galera, on the island of Mindoro. Did you know the Philippines has over 7000 different islands?

The Philippines can be a tropical paradise on land and under the sea. The scuba diving in the Philippines is some of the best in the world. (Look, I found Nemo!)

After all this adventure it was time to eat. Like many countries in Asia, the most common food is rice. In the Philippines rice can be eaten at any meal. Sometimes they put garlic in it and eat it for breakfast. A simple meal in the Philippines is rice and fried or salty fish.

Pancit is a very popular dish made from noodles. Panicit is often served at birthday parties, because the noodles symbolize long life and good health.

On special occasions, like Christmas, Filipinos eat “lechon,” or what we would call a whole roasted pig!

(Yeah... so I couldn't not show a pig...)

One of the most interesting things about the Philippines is the transportation. Jeepneys and tricycles are the most popular way for people to get around. Jeepneys were originally military jeeps left over from the United States in World War II, but today, they are brightly decorated jeeps people use for public transit. The jeepney has become a cultural symbol for the Philippines. I was lucky enough to take a trip in both!

The people in the Philippines are very nice and friendly. Filipino people speak both Tagalog and English. I even learned a few words in Tagalog while I was there.

Mabuhay – Welcome

Magandang Umaga – Good Morning

Salamat – Thank You

The most popular sport in the Philippines is basketball. People of all ages love to play. I found a few boys who even let me join a game!

While I was in the Philippines I got the chance to meet some school kids just like you!

They were very interested in learning about you and what it’s like in the United States.

I am so happy Reese sent me to the Philippines. I was able to learn so much about the way people live in place on the other side of the world, maybe one day you will all see it for yourselves.

Happy Travels,

Flat Stanley

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Off Limits

Social norms are different across every culture.

As an American, many of the things I find socially acceptable are considered taboo in other cultures. For example, in Japan they don't shake hands, in Cambodia, it is unacceptable to touch the top of a child's head, and in the middle east it is rude to show someone the soles of your feet.

One would think, no matter which country you're in, that it would be socially unacceptable to touch someone else's teeth, unless you are a dentist. (And really... most people don't even like dentists.)

Yes, you would think... but no. Because just last weekend, while on the golf course, my caddie tried to touch my teeth. (Well, not my caddie, my regular caddie would never do that, she rocks. But she was busy, so I had a replacement. And it was a mistake.)

Caddie: Ma'am, I like. (Pointing to her own teeth.)

Me: You like teeth?

Caddie: Yes Ma'am, your teeth.

Me: Oh, thank you.

Caddie: Yes. (Big Smile... followed by finger reaching for my mouth.)

At first I thought she was just pointing at them to emphasize her point... then it became abundantly clear that she was in fact going to touch them.

I bobbed and weaved to avoid her outstretched hand, and quickly walked away.

Strike one, caddie. Strike one.


On the first hole I found myself in the bunker.

The caddie hit my leg with the rake, which was fine... not a big deal. But then she spent the next three minutes trying to rub sand off my legs. First my teeth... now my legs... Not. Going. Well.

Strike Two.


Before we had even reached the green on first hole, I realized not only was she a touchy caddie, but a chatty caddie as well...

The "typical filipino woman" conversation began...

(First, it's usually something about being pretty or skinny or sometimes fat...)

Caddie: You look very sexy Ma'am.

Me: Ha! (<- nervous laughter) ... Thanks. (Although, I highly doubt it... seeing as I have on knee length shorts, and a collared shirt. I thought I had more of a "masculine LPGA" thing going on, but whatever.)

(Then she'll say something about how young I am, or ask about my age...)

Caddie: How old you are?

Me: 26.

Caddie: Oh, so young...

(Then, it's something about babies... which I find odd since she thinks I'm so young.)

Caddie: How many babies you have?! I have five kids!

Me: Wow... I don't have kids.

(Sad face... followed by asking if I'm married...)

Caddie: You married?

Me: Yes.

Caddie: How long you been married?

Me: 2 years.

(Then, as if I couldn't already tell her the exact conversation we were about to have before having it... she asks the inevitable...)

Caddie: Oh. Why you have no kids? (Sad voice... pouty face...)

Me: *Fake Smile*

(*Thinking.... Because I have no desire to have a bunch of kids I can't afford, and because there are other things I want to do besides get married and have as many babies as I can, and because I believe in birth control, and how come nobody in this country understands that?!! - But I don't say that... I never do.*

I absolutely despise this conversation... and if I had a dollar for every time I've had this exact conversation with a filipino woman, I would be freakin' rich. Usually, I just smile and say something like, "Oh, we're waiting," - which they don't seem to understand... or there's always, "I don't know... no babies yet." And then they really give me a sad face because they think I can't have children. I really don't know what the right answer is... perhaps I should just lie and tell everyone I have kids? But during this conversation I wasn't feeling particularly friendly, seeing as she was in severe violation of my "stranger to stranger contact rules," so I said the first thing that came to my mind, because this was definitely Strike 3.)

Me: I don't have kids, because I don't like children.

The look on her face? Complete shock.

Caddie: You don't like children?

Me: Nope.

It was a very satisfying moment... although, I did feel slightly guilty since she was bragging about having five kids, but then I remembered it was strike three and I didn't feel so bad.


On hole number 2...

Me: So... my caddie hates me now.

Lee: Why? What did you do?

Me: I told her I don't like children.

Lee: What?! Why would you do such a thing...

Me: She was getting on my nerves... plus she gave me that same whiny, "Why you don't have babies?" bit. It was the last straw. She was horrified, but she hasn't talked to me or tried to touch me since, so it worked. I'm going to start saying that to everyone. Oh, and did I tell you she tried to touch my teeth?

Lee: Noooo

Me: Yep.

Lee: Well, then I'm surprised that's all you said.


By hole 8 she was over it... how do I know?

Because she gave me a pat on the bottom...


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Community. Togetherness.

My heart hurts.

As in a real ache in my chest.

Today I visited a "community center," of sorts, for streets kids in one of the provinces.

It's run by an elderly Filipino woman, who takes no crap from nobody. (I, of course, immediately fell in love with her.)

She speaks and those kids listen. She speaks to them in Tagalog, so I don't know what she says, but I saw the way the kids reacted to her, and now I aspire to be just like her.

There were about 45 kids this particular day, and we had them make fruit salad. Which at first, seemed a little strange. But then I saw their reaction to the fruit...

For many of these kids fruit is a luxury they don't have. And if they do get fruit, it's only on very special occasions, like Christmas.

Each child had their own bowl, plastic knife, and banana. In the middle of the table were bowls, of mangos, papayas, strawberries, cantaloupes, melons, and grapes.

Once their hands were washed, and they had said their prayer they were given the green light to dig in... and boy, did they ever.

There were kids who stuffed fruit in their mouths like they hadn't eaten in days... and maybe they hadn't. Then there were kids who very carefully cut up the fruit in small pieces, taking care to cut each piece just right to make a perfect fruit salad.

Some of the children had never seen grapes before. And tried to peel them before eating them. It took a bit before we could convince them to just put the whole thing in their mouths.

I don't know what it was about watching that scene, but it took all I had not to get emotional.

We've lived here for almost 2 years, and I have witnessed many sad situations.

I have seen the children who dig through the trash looking for recyclable goods in hopes of getting money for their families, I have seen mother's bathing their naked toddlers in the streets with only the rain water from the gutters, I have sat at a red light, while a woman with a breast-feeding infant pressed herself against the window and begged for spare change.

I have seen a level of poverty that many don't even know exists.

For half an hour I watched these kids shovel fruit in their mouths.

I heard the silence, because there were no words more important than putting food in their bellies.

And after some of the smallest children had finished their share, I watched the older ones feed them from their own bowls.

There was a sense of community. Togetherness.

A sense of helping others in-spite of having little yourself.

If there are 50+ children who go hungry in just this one small community, how many children are starving across the country, or across the world?

It makes a fruit salad feel small and me insignificant.

I held back tears the whole way home.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

This is American Idol

Last season of American Idol was the first full season Lee and I have ever watched.

A. Because we have nothing better to do... and B. Because American Idol and Glee are some of the only American shows the Philippines air almost immediately following the live broadcast in the states.

We really liked the show. Between dishing out our own "expert" criticisms to the TV, egging on Simon and making fun of Randy, we looked forward to it every week.

Neither of us were very excited about the upcoming season since Simon's departure from the show... but I was still willing to watch.

Lee stumbles in after a particularly lengthy, "I'm going to stop for a beer on the way home."

Me: American Idol is on!

Lee: Eh...

Me: What? You don't want to watch this season?

Lee: Eh...

(There tends to be very little conversation on his part after nights like these... but then...)

Lee: Whoa...

Me: What?

Lee: You know what's scary?

Me: Huh?

Lee: Randy is now the most down to earth judge on the show.

Me: No he's not...


Me: Sooo....

Lee: Have you seen Steven Tyler? He looks like he's made out of Play-dough!