Jody's Peace Corps Experience

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Festival After Festival

Here I am, sitting in yet another internet cafe trying to catch up on things. I'm in Baguio right now and enjoying the Annual Flower Festival. Lots of people, vendors, stupid things to buy, interesting displays, and parades. The parade was an amazing display of talent from local schools. Dancing and instruments. The floats rival those of the Rose Parade. They are completely made of flowers and AMAZING! I hope to snap a few pics later today as the floats are on display. I didn't actually see the parade live...way TOO MANY people. I watched it on TV at my host family's house.

It seems like I've been attending a lot of festivals lately. At the beginning of the month, I traveled to Sagada (again!) and was able to take in a cultural play. The men wore the native G-string (not anything like the g-strings back home!) and the women wore the tapis--a woven piece of fabric, wrapped around like a skirt. They played native gongs and performed many of the native dances. Really a cool performance!

Then 2 weeks ago I visited another volunteer in a nearby municipality called Kapangan. It was also their festival. I thought I was just going to watch this volunteer walk in the parade and give a speech. Instead I was also invited to walk in the parade, was announced as a "special guest" at the opening ceremony, ate lunch with some mayors and barangay officials, and then gave an award at a beauty pageant. Not bad for a day's work. It was fun and I'm glad I got to see a small town festival.

I would also like everyone to keep St. Bernard, Southern Leyte in their thoughts and prayers. There is a volunteer stationed there. Thankfully he was on a boat when the landslide occured, but he saw it happen. He also lives near the community basketball court. This court was used as the place where the community layed the bodies of the dead. I was able to talk to this volunteer last night and the stories are amazing and heart wrenching.

Monday, February 20, 2006

I'm OK!!!

Hey y'all,

It seems like people back home are getting more news about the mudslide in Southern Leyte than I am! Probably because I hardly watch television anymore. Anyway, it's been sunny and bright in my area. The weather has been very weird lately as this is not the time one would think that mudslides would be occuring since it's supposed to be the dry season right now. Although I said it's sunny, it has been raining in the afternoons which is uncommon for February.

Just wanted to let you all know I'm alive. There are a few volunteers in Leyte, but they are safe and out of any danger.

I'll write more next week! Until then, take care!

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Hazards of City Living

So I was on the jeepney on the way to work on Tuesday morning. Someone had thumped on the roof of the jeep to signify that they needed to get off. The driver obliged and pulled to the side of the road. As we were waiting for everyone to get off or settled into their seat, I heard the skid of tires and then what sounded as an animal making a horrible yelp. People in my jeep started to react and say "Oh my gosh!"

I turned to look out the window and I saw a big, yellow jeep slanted at an angle in the middle of the road. I still heard a whimpering and in the road, was a woman curled into a ball. I suddenly realized that she had been hit by the yellow jeep. From what I can piece together, the yellow jeep was going at a pretty high rate of speed as he was approaching my jeepney. When he saw that my jeep was not going to be moving by the time he reached us, he would just pass us as jeeps usually do. The old woman was somewhat hidden from the driver by our jeep and right at the last moment, the driver of the jeep saw her and was able to break enough to not kill the lady. Instead, he just knocked her over, bruised and disheveled.

All of the men in both jeeps rushed to her aid while the women sat and watched, almost in tears. I was almost ready to jump out of the jeepney and tell the men to stop trying to move the old woman, but someone hailed a taxi and the woman was able to get up and into the passenger's side seat. The driver of the yellow jeep got back into his jeep and drove away. I find myself wondering if anything will happen to the driver. Will he be reported? Will he even think about what he did? Will the incident affect the way he drives from now on? It's sad, but I think the answer is no to all of these questions.

Throughout the rest of the day on Tuesday, I also caught myself thinking about the old lady and how that could have been me. It could have been one of my friends or a member of my host family. It was a solemn reminder of how I really do need to be aware of the jeeps and other vehicles and not just think that they will see me and slow down if I've miscalculated how fast they are going. Yes, it was a sobering experience, but probably came at a time when I needed it most. I know I'm getting comfortable and that means I could be not as observant or not being as careful as I should. Too bad that the wake up call had to be at the expense of a little old lady crossing the street.