Monday, April 21, 2014

BE in the Philippines - My Place

I apologize (again) for going on a blogging hiatus. You could (almost) say I gave up blogging for lent. The case is I’ve been traveling then recovering from traveling and then getting sick that I simply found no time or desire to blog. However, I’m back (for now)!

As I promised weeks ago, I would share the tale of Buck Blanchard and Emily Cherry’s visit. When planning the trip, I grew tired of constantly typing “Buck and Emily” so I shortened it to “BE.” Hence the title of this post and posts to come – “BE in the Philippines.” I think it’s also symbolic to how (hopefully) when reading these posts you will “be in the Philippines” with us!

There is something about being able to share your little part of the world with friends that makes it more real.

Maybe it’s because they can verify it exists. When I go back and share my experience, I can have someone say, “it’s true. I say it.” Not that I think you all think this is made up. I hope you’re getting my drift.

What I’m trying to say is it was a wonderful experience being able to share my little house, dog, office space, and co-workers with Buck and Emily!

After arriving in Manila the evening of Wednesday, March 19, it was off to Santiago on Thursday – only the beginning of the epic road trip around the island of Northern Luzon. The first leg equaled 8 hours – record time in comparison to the many times I’ve taken the route. Upon arriving, we ate dinner with the senior staff of the diocese where I impressed Buck and Emily with my ability to choose a delicious Filipino menu.

Friday was the beginning of many hectic days. With these sorts of trips, it seems nothing ever starts on time or goes exactly as planned, but nonetheless it all works out for the best. It started with a simple meet & greet with the staff, touring the offices, and all around the compound. During the “quick” tour, Buck had to stop to pull out a map and ask like a zillion questions – delay number one. Then we ended up at the Bishop’s house sipping coffee, eating cassava, and sharing stories. A story of the Bishop’s is never short – delay number two.

Therefore, we were about forty-five minutes late to our meeting with Fr. Ralph and the Holy Spirit Co-Op staff where more snacks and coffee were served. I love the hospitality of Filipinos! They are the most generous people but when going from one place to another to another, there are only so many cups of coffee and snacks one can handle. The trick is small cups of coffee and a little bite here and there. Fortunately for Emily, she doesn’t drink coffee.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, the Province of Isabela is a rice-farming province. A visit to Santiago wouldn’t have been complete without visiting a rice field. Fr. Ralph and the cooperative staff took us out to their fields, warehouse, and drying pavement. It was harvest time and drying palay was in full swing. Buck jumped on in there to give it a try. He couldn’t quite get the right swish to turn over the palay but it was a good attempt. All the Filipinos got a kick out of it! Right before we left we got the best “wacky, wacky” photo of the entire trip!

Although the visit with Holy Spirit was short, we were back on our timeline. Lunch with the staff was up next. Scrumptious food was consumed, introductions given, gifts exchanged, and the EDFSM video shown.

After a group shot on the Cathedral steps, it was time for Sir Junior, Jocelyn, and I to tour Buck and Emily around the chaotic maze of the Santiago Public Market. They were able to see how I shop for my groceries on a weekly basis but more importantly to whom the micro-loans of EDFSM are benefiting.

The final stop of the Santiago City tour was Calvary Hills/Transfiguration Shrine. I hadn’t been up there since September but it still has a gorgeous overlook of the province. This time the Stations of the Cross were more poignant as it was Lent. We didn’t stay long as it started to drizzle.

The evening was filled with opening goodies sent from home, catching up over a couple of beers and me cooking dinner for my delightful guests with ingredients freshly bought at the market that afternoon.

And that was only day two – eight more to go!

Thanks for reading!

Photos by Emily Cherry

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