Published: May 30th 2009May 28th 2009
Filipinos playing basketball
How was your week? Mine flew by!! This week I was a class assistant for the Religion: Peacebuilding in Multi-Cultural Society
class and it was absolutely amazing getting to know my classmates and hear some of their stories. I shared space with people who have had guns pointed at their heads or have had RPGs or M-16 Rifles forced into their hands. Yet, in the same space, there are people from India, who are on complete opposite ends on the Caste System, coming together and sharing meals. WEEKLY UPDATE: Monday:
The new George Mason University group arrived this week as well. I am happy to say that they seem to be just as eager to learn about the Philippines and its culture as "my" study abroad group was last summer. Although, I must admit, they're doing a lot better job at keeping fit!! Eating white rice five times a day, seven days a week, for six weeks, can have some unpleasant results...if you know what I mean?!! haha so I have joined them in some of their workout routines. Monday night some of us were playing basketball with some of the locals, behind one of the
medical buildings. The Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) shares its ground with the Mindanao Medical School, which includes a hospital (this has come in handy for some people who don't adapt to the hot Filipino weather too well)! Anyway, as some of the guys were playing, I noticed an Army vehicle parked right beside the basketball court. I THEN noticed a bullet shot through the right side of the front window....what do I do? I start taking pictures and asking questions. Maybe I should go into photojournalism or something?? haha another aspiration, another conversation. Anyway, there was a Filipino man leaning against the jeep, casually dressed: bright short shorts and a white sleeveless shirt. I say hi, motion towards the jeep and ask if it's ok to take pictures. "Yeah, sure", he says with a nod. I asked him if there were any casualties, and so we begin talking. This incident happened only four days prior to taking these pictures! It happened about two hours from where I am staying. The Filipino Army (who were driving) were ambushed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which is a volunteer force and according to this man, the "corrupt and rebel side
of the Army". The bullet came from an M-16 Rifle and hit, I believe, their Lieutenant General in the shoulder; he was, and may still be (and this ties the hospital back into my story), in the ICU in the building behind which we were playing basketball! Tuesday:
On Tuesday we had a class fieldtrip to a unique coffee shop called Coffee For Peace
. It's composed of business owners and farmers who run a fairtrade coffee business while doing mediation, facilitation, and peacebuilding in the Mindanao area. For more details, please follow the link to their website. While at this cute, little coffee shop, and aside from my cappuccino, I tried Civet coffee!! For those who do not know, Civet coffee is coffee made from coffee berries which have been eaten by and passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet (a cat-like animal)! It was delicious! haha Wednesday:
Didn't feel well and spent the whole day in bed. No fun but Filipinos take great care of you...and I swear it wasn't the Civet's fault!! Thursday & Friday:
These days we spent recuperating and slowly bringing everything to a close. Since friday
was the last day of Week II of MPI (and not all participants stay for all three weeks), we all went out to Matina Town Square (MTS), where there are a bunch of small bars and live bands. Most drank, some didn't, most danced and some ate BALOT
), an 18-day fertilized duck egg. Some were even 21 days old, the "oldest egg" you can get. The pictures say it all, showing you the chick's feet, wings, head and even feathers!! Need I say more?? Let me end by saying that I did NOT eat this, for I am a vegetarian; I did, however, eat the "egg whites" last summer during my visit to Dumaguete - not so tasty! Saturday:
The beach!! Spent all day at a beach resort/waterpark on Samal Island! It was glorious! Of course, most the GMU students also went...wanted to work on our tans. This, however, was of great entertainment to the locals who FLOCKED to us from all directions!! "Guud mooorrrreeng/aftuuurnuun ma'am, can we teke a pictuore?", or "Scuuse me miss, sorry for disturbeeng but...." haha it was great!!
I'll end with a quick note on what I'll be doing for Week
Coffee For Peace
Drinking Civet Coffee, one of the most expensive coffees in the world
III at MPI: Field Exposure, Peoples Participation in the Peace Process
. I will be assisting the facilitator and class throughout the four days. For those who are unaware, Mindanao has dealt with conflict for too long (simply google "Mindanao conflict" for more details). Throughout the province, certain sections are marked "green", "yellow", and "red" (green obviously = good, red = bad). My group will be going to a city 4-5 hours away from "green" Davao City; we're going to Cotabato City, which apparently is "yellow", although many people are saying that it's fine. We will also be meeting with leaders from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
, a Muslim revolutionary group. This should be a real interesting, life changing experience. Although I won't have internet access "in the field", I will blog as soon as I get back on Thursday.
To close, a quote from my facilitator this past week, a person with an amazing heart: Forgiveness does not erase the past, it widens the future.
There are more photos below