Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Leaving Manila

One hurdle stands between me and my official status as an actual PC volunteer: A rigorous three month training process. PC has taken our group of 70 and split us into three groups, scattered throughout the country. My group is a wonderful mix of people who I’ve already gotten to know well, and others who I am lucky enough to meet over the next three months. We are a very dynamic group and one that I am quite excited about.

My cluster of 12 is located about 20 minutes outside of the city proper in a charming little barangay. The barangay is the smallest unit of government. My barangay is divided into two large sections—the downtown area and then the newer subdivision located a short walk away. The houses that line the streets are the image of squalor on the outside, largely, but reveal surprising luxury on the inside. The thatched roofs, rusted iron, and family gardens of their exteriors give way to beautiful tiled floors, electric lights, and TVs. And despite many of the comforts that Americans take for granted, these people cherish and conserve them as much as possible.

Throughout the barangay there are three things one is sure to see. The first are the small vendors located at the front of many homes. There is no separation between commercial districts and residential areas in these areas. Some set ups are quite elaborate store fronts with large displays, others are simply an old woman with a table, chair, and the bananas that fell off her tree that day.

The other two things that are everywhere are semi-stray dogs and roosters. Many of the dogs are not kept as indoor pets, but rather exchange territorial rights with food from a willing family. Some families (mine included) do have caged dogs as a means of alarm. In opposition to the skinny, malnourished dogs stand the prized roosters. In this area cockfighting is a very big industry that many men take up as a hobby. The cocks are fed very well, given steroids, and protected from dangers. Between the dogs barking and roosters cock-a-doodle-doodling, getting a full night’s sleep is quite difficult.

In the coming weeks it is my goal, and the goal of the other trainees, to get as integrated into the barangay as possible. I think this will be easier as my language abilities get better. I have a busy weekend ahead so I must away! Salamat (thanks)!

1 comment:

Loren said...

At first I thought I was lucky my family didn't have any roosters or animals - now I kind of wish for a pet dog. We also acquired a rooster a few days ago - not sure that it's actually ours but it jumped into our yard and now wakes me up at 5am on the dot. Loving the south - how are you up there?