Jody's Peace Corps Experience

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Tinoc and a Christmas Party

I have been quite busy again. My Regional Manager has been working on site identification for the past few months and one municipality interested in getting a volunteer is Tinoc, Ifugao. My host mother and the High School principal are interested in getting an education volunteer. Since I'm familiar with many of the key people in Tinoc (my host mom is the mayor), my Regional Manager asked me to go there and do a site assessment to see if it would be a good place to send a volunteer.

So I was off with my host mom, my 3yr old host sister and the Tinoc driver on the 7 hour drive. The 1st 3 hours were normal...I have done it a few times already. But then the roads became less defined and more treacherous! It was often hard to see what was road and what wasn't and several times we got caught up on rocks. I know I've said it before, but this seriously was the WORST road I've ever been on and probably will ever be on again!

The next day I was escorted to Tinoc National High School with my host mom. I talked to the principal and the teacher identified as the counterpart for the prospective volunteer. All seemed to be in order and the high school seems like a great site for one of the incoming PCVs next year. The only thing about Tinoc is that there is no electricity or cell service. In this day and age in Peace Corps Philippines, those are two very important things to have. Although it will be a tough assignment, I found Tinoc to be a really pleasant community. Two thumbs up for a future volunteer!

This morning, Rachel (the volunteer in Tadian) and I went to my center to play with babies and see if my pouch from Peace Corps had arrived. The Officer in Charge informed me that there were several visitors at the center today. I found out that a Medical Mission was happening and the kids were getting free check ups and shots if needed. There were members of an emergency response team also there who donated clothes and toys to the children.

After everything was completed, Rachel and I were leaving as the emergency team was too. A few asked us if we would join them for lunch. Of course we quickly accepted (especially since we were offered a free ride into Baguio!) and we got into the Ambulence that the crew had driven. As we drove through La Trinidad, the Filipino who was driving turned on the sirens and we were flying through the streets. It was definately the fastest trip to Baguio I have ever had! We got a mini tour of Baguio as we were driven through parts of the city we had yet to see and then we finally got to our destination, the headquarters of the Emergency Response Team.

We were warmly greeted by several of the key members of the organization. We found out that the party we were attending was the annual Christmas Party. A large spread of food was on the table, native style, meaning that banana leaves were laid on the table and the food on the leaves. We were then given pieces of a banana tree trunk to use as our bowl. There was no silverware and we ate with our hands. I have to say that this was by far one of the best days I've had in the Philippines. We were surrounded by good food, laughing faces and a beautiful day. We were also able to have a discussion with the chairman of the response team and it was so good to have a long and meaningful conversation with this wise man.

I am still amazed at the generosity of Filipinos and of their constant hospitality! When I think things can't possibly get any better, things happen like today. I continue to tell myself I am one of the luckiest people to be having such an experience.