Pola - This town Aint Never Seen a White Girl

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April 2nd 2008
Published: April 2nd 2008
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And there I was.
Not on a white sandy beach. Not in a funky Filipino hostel. Not prepping to dive the coast of Palawan in the morning. But instead, sitting on the faded blue seatcover of a lazy old couch in the living room of this Filipino family in the town of Pola. 3 Hours from Puerto Galera, my intended destination, with the sun long gone behind me, and the sound of tropical insects buzzing outside the screen door.

Kathy's mother was extremely surprised to see her daughter hop out of the tricycle with a large white girl in tow, but graciously accepted me into her home. I must admit, I was a little stunned to be sitting there. Kathy's 11 year old brother was insanely shy, and although he learns english in school, you would have thought he was mute. When her father came through the door he was also somewhat shocked. "Dirty!" he said in english. "Our house is very very dirty!" They felt very sorry for my having to stay with them in their poverty. Me, a rich Canadian girl out to travel the world... having to stay here... in a town consisting of one street. I was so happy to be with these people though. When would I ever have had this kind of chance if I had stayed at some ridiculous all inclusive resort?? After explaining how thankful I was to be there, they wanted to serve me dinner, and disregarding my calls of "im not hungry", we jumped on a tricycle to buy a roasted chicken from their neighbors down the street. Alas, it was just wasted gas, as the chickens had been sold out. We settled instead, on canned tuna from the tiny shop run out of someones home near the road. Tuna and rice, and it was time for bed. This house has three rooms. A dusty living room with 2.5 couches, a small table, a scratchy tv, and 3 kindergarten graduation photos of the children. Next, around the corner, is the kitchen. which has a sink, a table, and a pantry cupboard. This room also has a plastic children's mirror sitting above a box with some toiletries on it. (Bathroom? I thought?) Next, pass under a curtain and you are in the bedroom. Yes, thee bedroom. There is only one. This house has 2 parents, and three children, 2 boys and a girl. and ONE double bed.

They offered it to me, with no chance of my declining.

Fortunately Kathy accepted to sleep on the other side of the bed, but that meant that Mom, Dad, and little boy slept somewhere in the living room... probably on the concrete floor.

The fan blew all night, but it was no contest for the humid air that covered my face in about an inch of sweat and grime by the time I awoke early the next morning. With little boy off to school, Kathy and I went to the "store" to get some instant coffee. Breakfast was luxurious with our coffee, some fried eggs from their chickens, and these little sweet buns. I had two buns with half an egg in each. mmmmm... dee-lish. One of the greatest things I can say about living with these people was that you could see where all of the food you ate came from. The eggs from the chickens, the rice from the feild out back, the soy sauce from a fruit on the tree in the backyard. The milk from the coconut tree out back. The fish from the fisherman at the market. All local. All organic. All full of vitamins. No processing. No packaging. Food - the way it should be. To provide nourishment.

Momsies had to go to work, she works at her sisters store in the nearby town, so we all hopped on the tricycle to drop her off. "Later Mom!!" Next, over to the gas station for 100 pesos of gas ($2.50ish) and then on a tour of the town. Since it was Holy Week, the whole town was out and about for the Mariones festival... where big dudes dress up in elaborate costumes to scare kids and parade through the town. We stopped to watch, but suddenly the crowd closed in around me, and I became the attraction. This group of little schoolboys was tugging at my arm while the Mariones dudes stared at me and shook my hand. Walking through the nearby park, a group of older women yelled out to us and Kathy translated, "They want to touch your nose. They are pregnant and want their babies to have a nose like yours." The little school boys could be seen hiding behind trees as they followed... it was all very very strange. I don't know the words to describe it. You might think the attention was great... but I felt guilty... that these people were attracted to something I had. Something inherent in me that came not from my knowledge or learning, but was owed to where I was born, and the colour of my skin. My skin as a symbol of a life full of opportunity.

We left the park shortly after. Stopped for some pritong sagging (fried bananas with brown sugar), and headed back home. The kids next door played marbles and Pops worked on the tricycle... the sun shone, and the chickens made chicken noises. A day in the life.

To an extent - it reminded me of metchosin. Except it would be basil and strawberries in place of rice... and hiking through devonian park in place of marbles... and now im just rambling again.

Anyway, it was really neat to be in Pola. I learned a lot (I hope!). Kathy is 19 and all she wants is to go to University or college - but has no idea how to find a sponsor to fund her - and wants to be able to support her family. Things we take for granted at home.

The rest of my trip played out pretty safe... Their older son Roosevelt and I took some vans and jeepneys up to Peurto Galera and I found that funky hostel, met that old fisherman who chartered our boat to a private piece of sand, scorched my body (got a crazy fever and will NEVER tan without sunscreen again!), ate some halo-halo (dee-lish filipino treat), ate some pig blood and organ stew on rice.... , woke up with black nasty mouse eating peanuts out my purse, and wandered some streets carrying a watermelon in my shawl.

If anyone wants to head back to the Philippines with me, at any time *and potentially this JUNE for 3 weeks?!* I am down. But instead, we can learn to dive in Palawan, and hike trails in Romblon, and head to the rice terraces in Banaue and Baguio.... OK?

cosmic love and photosynthesis,



2nd April 2008

Be back
Great blogs there...Palawan, Romblong and Banaue are cool places to go but need to consider when as June is wet season.
3rd April 2008

changing my life
no more crappy real estate for me - I must find a way to travel with you. Fantastic blogs. love you
19th November 2009

i wonder if your still travelling and visitng the Philippines
I just read your trip to the philippines and reminds me lots of things when I visit puerto gallera back in year 2003. I am a filipino but the experiences you have is almost the same I had when I visit this place. People in this place is look different and very much different from me as I look like a grow up in other country because of my look and size. It was so memorable as I visit a place called talipanan where one of the person i know lived there in a nipa hut. Me and my aunt had a visit there and stay there like almost a week. It was memorable, I love the white sand beach, the water and the air you will have there smells like it came from the trees. The place I visit is closed to white beach where this spot is mostly visit by local or foreign tourist. Anyway Id love to visit any other places again in Philippines like the palawan or boracay, I am currently in Dubai,UAE right now but will be going home by next week (between Nov25-27,09). I dont know if you will be able to received this. Just emailed me up if your interested to this another new adventure of travelling to Philippines. Here's my email add = troydsantos@hotmail.com cheers, troy

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