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Published: November 4th 2006
This is my first blog for a while. My sister Hannah is still living the beach bum lifestyle here in Lanuza but she will be returning to the real world in a few days. This is what’s been keeping us entertained for the past week or so…
Did you know that rats eat soap? We didn’t until Monday night when Hannah discovered her bar of soap was covered in teeth marks. The conversation (through our paper thin walls) went something like….
‘Matt, something has been eating my soap’
‘NO! nothing eats soap’
‘well come and have a look at this’
(I hop over the balcony - Hannah displays her soap)
‘yep, something has defiantly been eating your soap’.
Hannah got up for a pee last night and heard me doing the same, she shouted through the wall that her soap had somehow leapt to the floor of it’s own accord. I then noticed that my almost new bar of soap had disappeared with out a trace, ‘Rat’s - this means war!’.
Last weekend we volunteered ourselves to help with a house building project in a small tribal upland village. The event was organised by a Philippine charity called
Gawad Kalinga. The idea was for around 200 people to spend the weekend helping to construct new homes for the indigenous people in the village. We were collected from Lanuza on Friday morning by a large lorry already jam packed with around 100 other people. We squeezed in at the back (standing room only) and hung on very tight for over an hour on the bumpy unmade road to Tandag. From there we walked on mass the 7 km to the village. We arrived wet to the undies from the tropical rain and two swollen river crossings but managed to keep our heads slightly dry with banana leaf umbrellas. On arrival we were pleased to discover that we had a local family to stay with as opposed to under our tarpaulin in the wet buggy outdoors.
Our hosts had kindly cooked dinner for us. As honoured guests we were seated at the table to eat before our hosts and served rice and squid. After watching us load up our plates our hosts left us alone to eat. This was a relief as the squid was grim and Hannah being a vegetarian feared vomiting if she attempted to consume the
chewy tentacles. The open window and hungry looking pup outside proved to much of a temptation.
The people we were staying with were from the Manmanua tribe one of the indigenous peoples of Mindanao. In contrast most of the people living in this area have emigrated from other parts of the Philippines during the past 300 years. This creates conflict as the indigenous people are squeezed from their land by high lowland population and exploitation of natural resources e.g. logging and mining. Our family were living in one of the houses constructed by an earlier weekend build group.
Over the next couple of days we did serious digging, hammering, sawing and cooking. We mainly worked on excavations for a kitchen and toilet in house number 2 of the six that were being constructed. The sticky red soil, buckets of sweat and lashings of insect repellent meant that we needed a good scrub in the river at the end of each day.
We had a great weekend and we were pleased with how warmly the tribal people welcomed us to their village. We were uncomfortable with the strong Catholic focus especially as many of the tribal people are
not catholic and felt that a house building weekend was an unfair platform for a conversion drive. The other thing we found frustrating was the amount of time spent praying for the houses to be built whilst we were ‘sweating our nuts off’ actually making it happen.
Back in Lanuza Hannah and I had a hilarious conversation with a Filipino chap about prostitution. We were amazed to hear how acceptable and common it was for the Filipino man to pay a regular visit to a prostitute. We couldn’t help laughing when he told us that as a young man his mum had wanted to ‘christen’ him by paying for him to make a visit to a prostitute. We were pleased to hear that he declined the offer!
In an unrelated incident whilst strolling on the boulevard the other night, Hannah ended up stroking a strange man’s cock. She even had it sat on her lap! We had to go back the next day to repeat the experience and catch it on camera. You can see the evidence here.
Bye for now …..we are off to wage war on the rats!
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