Province of Guimaras

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    • Day 12


      April 25, 2018 on the Philippines ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

      This morning start was before sunrise and on the road by 5am. The only life was dogs lying in the road licking their you know what ... and waiting for the sun to rise. Was chased by one dog who obviously doesn't like foreigners.

      Stopped alongside a beach for a rest and a local came out and insisted that I wait. He went home and fetched some food. Not sure of the name, but made from rice and coconut and wrapped in leaves. Very tasty.

      Another ferry crossing, this time from Iloilo City across to Bacolod.
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    • Day 38

      Guimaras village day 1

      April 23, 2018 on the Philippines ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

      Up at 6am ready to leave at 7am after finishing packing my bags. Met our guide Sherilyn who took us in a taxi to the boat port in Iloilo city. We then got on a boat for about 15 mins to take us over to Guimaras island which is most famous for its mangoes (even supplies the queen apparently). We then took a jeepney followed by a trike to get to Kati kati village. The translation of this is apparently to go hunting for chickens! It’s a village with 101 families in it, where everyone knows everyone. We were introduced to our host family - Mama Lucy, Papa Doy, Sherilyn (our tour guide and Mama Lucy’s daughter) and Leslie their other daughter. They have 2 sons but they were around for us to meet them at this point. We were shown round the house which was basic but maybe not quite as much as I expected. Our room has 2 beds and luckily a fan, with lots of photos of the daughters and cute posters saying I love you Mama, happy Father’s Day etc. We were given a bread snack thing which had ube paste in it and was actually really nice.
      We then changed into scrubs and were taken by trike to the local provincial hospital by Papa Doy. Here we were introduced to one of the head doctors and asked which area we would like to work in. We decided that we would stick together and try out the emergency room. Got there and were taken on a tour of the hospital. Only got as far as the operating room before being asked if we wanted to observe some surgery. We decided to stay there and saw 2 circumcisions and a hernioplasty which was really interesting. Got picked up by Papa Doy at 12 and taken back to the house for lunch. Had a pretty similar meal to what we would have in the house to be honest, plenty of rice though, seemingly for every meal!
      After lunch we had some chill time so we both decided to have a nap as we were very tired. Slept for about 90 mins and then got up to go to our afternoon activities. We were taken to the “new village” which from what I gather is where they are doing lots of new building projects to expand their village. Our host family have a house there too so we get the impression that they are reasonably wealthy compared to most of the rest of the tribe. We sat and waited for while and eventually were introduced to Marilyn who taught us how to make anklets. I made one and she made one for me as a gift which was very pretty. We were then taught how to weave baskets. The material we were using is apparently related to coconut but it reminded me lots of rattan (Indonesia). It was actually much harder than they make it look but I got the hang of it eventually. We made some beautiful looking little purse type things which apparently we can finish later in the week.
      After this we were taken to the main plaza where it seems most of the village hang out in the evenings. The older boys were all playing basketball and most of then were actually very good! We were given a pork lumpia which is a spring roll that was being cooked in the plaza and was super tasty. We saw the sunset and just hung out and chilled for a while before heading back to the house by trike. Here we had yet more food! This time chicken adobo and baked aubergine with rice which was really nice. I have a feeling I won’t ever want to see rice again after this week though!
      After dinner we chatted with Sherilyn and showed her pictures of our cats as they have some pet cats here. They also have a really cute puppy called Sparkey. I then had a bucket shower and got ready for bed. Watched some episodes of top gear and then bedtime.
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    • Day 39

      Guimaras village day 2

      April 24, 2018 on the Philippines ⋅ ☀️ 7 °C

      Up at 7am to have breakfast of fried egg, chips and rice which was a bit strange. Papa Doy took us to hospital in his trike and we went to the emergency room. Here we saw a patient come in acutely unwell with alcohol intoxication. He looked very poorly. Saw their initial management and within a few mins he was sat up and smiling so they had done well. There was a lady in labour there too who was 7cm dilated so when she was ready to go to delivery room we went with her. Here there was also a procedure going on which Lisa had never seen so I lent her my spare scrubs so that she could go and watch. I was then allowed to do a vaginal examination on the lady in labour which was really exciting as I had never examined someone with a dilated cervix before. She was 9cm now and I could feel the membranes which was cool. Sat around and waited for a while after that, but in an air con room so I didn’t mind so much! We went back to the emergency room and sat for a bit, one of the nurses suggested we go into the trauma room where one of the doctors was doing some suturing. Before we could do anything else, there was a woman holding a child and screaming. Went to see the child and he was having a seizure. We found out after that he had fallen over and had a head injury and had vomited, non of which are a good sign as he likely has a brain bleed. The nearest CT scanner and neurosurgery is back at western Visayas in Iloilo and so he was going to have to be rushed over there but that could take 2 hours! I’m really not sure if he will make it but I have asked one of the girls from the house who is on paeds to have a look out for him tomorrow and keep us updated with his condition, poor thing.
      Mama Lucy came to pick us up at 11.30am and so we got to leave a bit early. Came back to the house and had lunch. All the meals here are massive, feel like I’m going to put back on all the weight I’ve lost so far! Had another afternoon nap, the heat here really takes it out of you.
      Up at 2.30pm to go to our next activity. Today we were doing more weaving but this time with vines instead of the rattan type thing. This one was probably even more difficult than yesterday’s one. Sat playing with the cat in between times which is super cute. All the cats here have really stubby tails and apparently that’s just how they’re born, not that they’ve lost them in accidents which is what I initially thought. Our last activity of the day was learning about herbal medicine. It is a big thing here and the elders teach all of the children while they’re growing up so that they all know about it. It was really interesting but I can’t help but think that giving them some teaching about western medicine would be really useful, even if it was just about basic first aid or something as some of it sounds like it would possibly just make things worse!
      After this we took the trike half way home but then got out and walked the rest of the way with Sherilyn so that we could take in some of the countryside. It was all really beautiful and we got to see the sun setting as we walked along. We stopped off at a little shop and got some soft drinks. They recycle all of their bottles here and so if you want to take the drink away they pour it into a small plastic bag and give you a straw, felt like a proper local. Saw a few enormous spiders on the way which were pretty gross. Sherilyn also picked us some fresh Guava to try, but both me and Lisa had to spit it out as it was not very nice. Got back to the house and had dinner of fried chicken (KFC style), a weird sweet potato leaves omelette thing, spring rolls and macaroni soup, bit of a random mixture. After this I showered and got into bed.
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    • Day 41

      Guimaras village day 4

      April 26, 2018 on the Philippines ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

      Woke up at 7am and had breakfast. Back to the hospital today and it was a bit of a slow day unfortunately. We thought we were going to get the opportunity to see a chest drain insertion but after a lengthy discussion the patient’s parents refused to consent. Having seen the X-ray, I’m not sure the patient will do very well without a drain but there’s nothing you can do if a patient says no. Unfortunately their reason for declining was a financial one which is really sad to see. We went to the delivery room in the hope of seeing a baby but the woman was only 8cm and we were leaving soon. We got picked up at 11.45am and found Joy outside waiting for us. She had come over to do my debrief with me as she won’t be there on Saturday when I leave. Had to answer a few questions about how I had found my experience and what I had learnt and it was all recorded so that they can use snippets of what you say for their advertisements. After this we waited around for a while as one of the cousins who has a trike hadn’t arrived and we needed them to take everyone to the afternoon activity.
      At around 3pm we headed off for the wind farm. It was about an hour away by trike and was a bit of a bumpy ride. Eventually we got to the wind farm to find that that’s all it was. We think the locals must be more excited by it than us because it’s cool and new whereas we see wind turbines all the time at home. Even though we weren’t that interested in the wind farm itself, the views around it were stunning. The girls from the family were all busy taking lots of perspective pictures while Lisa and I just wandered around looking at the scenery. We got a bit bored after a while and wondered why we weren’t leaving yet but were told that Papa Doy’s trike had a puncture and so they had to go into the nearest village to try and get it fixed. This meant we had to wait around for a while for them to pick us up again but we had data and so didn’t mind too much as we could catch up after a few days of limited contact with the outside world.
      We eventually got picked up and went back to the house in the repaired trike. Made it back just before dark. We then had to wait a while for dinner as Sherilyn and Leslie had been out with us and so hadn’t started the cooking. We offered to help them but they were having non of it! Sat and ate with most of the family and 2 of Mama Lucy’s work colleagues who were very interested to hear everything about where we were from. We had mango float for dessert which is definitely my new favourite thing. We sometimes had it at the Iloilo house too on bbq night. It’s graham crackers with layers of mango between them, with a combination of cream and evaporated milk poured over it. Soooo tasty! Lisa and I were both very tired by this point and so excused ourselves when we could and had showers then went to bed.
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    • Day 42

      Guimaras day 5

      April 27, 2018 on the Philippines ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

      Up at 7am for breakfast at 7.30am. Papa Doy took us one last time to the clinic. This morning’s clinic was prenatal checks. Initially they got us to measure the weight and height of the women, calculate their estimated due date and weeks of gestation and measure their blood pressure. We then went in with the midwife where we got to do abdominal palpation and I was able to teach Lisa about how to feel for the position of baby and measure symphysiofundal height. The midwife told us that they don’t have a sonicaid or pinard in the clinic so they listen for baby’s heart beat with a stethoscope. She kept trying to show me where it was but I couldn’t hear anything. We finished at 10.30, got picked up and taken back to the house. We had lunch at around 12 and then had some time to chill so I had a nap.
      At 2pm Papa Doy took us to the gift shop in the nearby town of Jordan. This is run by monks and so all of the money made there goes back into the local community which is great. Here I was able to buy lots of souvenirs and even treated myself to a new bag! Outside there were also some stalls, one of which was run by family members from the Ati people who were selling wallets and purses similar to those that we made in the weaving classes. Here we also got a mango shake which was delicious. We went to go and have a look in the church next door which was very modern and looked similar in style to some in America. Outside we lit a candle for Margie who was one of the chefs in the house who sadly passed away last week. She was only 28 and has a young daughter and it’s so so sad. There is a fundraiser happening online to raise money for a trust fund for her daughter and so I’m definitely going to give some money to that when I get home. On the way back to the village we called at a local store so I could pick up some banana ketchup. We have it here in the house all the time and I love it so i decided to get some. It only cost 23 pesos which is about 30p!
      We went straight to the new village where we first went to see how the men do carving. They use coconut shells which they polish and carve into the shape of mangoes and then carved our names into them so we have personalised keyrings. Here we met Jezyl who is 9 and very sweet. I think she wanted to practice her English and so was asking us lots of questions. After this we went to the plaza in the village where we played volleyball (badly) with the children. The game started with only a few of us but more and more came and joined in as time went on. We also played a game of dodgeball with the kids. After this Sherilyn got out a massive vat of rice soup which she had made for the children. They promptly all ran to their houses to grab a cup and spoon and came back to form an orderly line to wait to get their soup. I was given the job of handing out biscuits to each child after they had been given their soup. It was so nice to see the community all coming together. We were also given some soup of our own to have. After this we sat and chilled for a while before one of the elders came over to visit us. She didn’t speak any English and kept apologising to us. We said she shouldn’t be sorry and that it’s us who should be sorry as we don’t speak her language well enough. She also told us she loves to dance and showed us some of her moves (I’m pretty sure she was a bit manic but she was sweet so I went along with it). Sherilyn then told her I’m a dancer and so I ended up teaching her and some of the girls how to salsa. They seemed to really enjoy themselves which was nice.
      Next we sat in the plaza and chatted with some of the kids. They were all interested to know about our lives and so I showed them some photos. They were particularly interested in snow and dancing. After seeing my pictures and plaiting my hair, they wanted a dance lesson too and so I did some salsa in the plaza with loads of the children. They all absolutely loved it and were fighting over the opportunity to dance with me, it was super cute.
      After this we had a bonfire. All of the kids sat around it and we were sat on a bench. Firstly they all sang us a welcome song including dance moves. Next we got personal thank yous from individuals in the village. They were all saying how lucky they were that we chose to visit them and how we inspire them to work hard. It was quite overwhelming and I cried at a couple of moments, particularly when Sherilyn spoke as she described us as her sisters and said that they don’t say goodbye here, they say see you later. The kids then did another song and showed us their tribal dance. The dances are inspired by animals and so the first one was a bird like movement and the second a monitor lizard. Some of the kids then came and grabbed Lisa and I and we joined in the dancing which was hilarious.
      After this we were presented with gifts from the village. The weavers had made us about 6 different things including a bracelet, phone case, pencil case, wallet and coin purse. They’re all so beautiful and I just hope that I can get them home in one piece!
      Lastly the kids all came over to us one by one and gave us a cuddle which was so sweet. We had pictures with a few of them and the said our goodbyes. As we were walking away a few of the slightly older boys came running over wanting another hug. They were then all giggling together afterwards so we think they were probably quite pleased with themselves that they got to hug 2 blonde older white girls!
      Eventually we got in the trike and headed back to the house where dinner was waiting for us, although we were both still full from the rice soup. After dinner we showered, packed some of our things up and went to bed.
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    • Day 40

      Guimaras village day 3

      April 25, 2018 on the Philippines ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

      Woke up at 7am for breakfast and ready to go to a clinic. Papa Doy took us on his trike to a clinic centre out in the middle of nowhere where we were told we would be assisting in a child immunisation clinic. Here there were lots of mums and babies all waiting for their vaccines. The babies were first weighed in a hammock type thing that hung off some scales which didn’t really seem that safe. Then they had their observations taken before being given the vaccine. We were basically helping to do the observations which was a challenge on wriggly babies who don’t like to be touched by doctors. I eventually got my stethoscope out as trying to take a wrist pulse from a baby is basically impossible. The lady we were helping seemed to really like this as it also made her life easier. We did this until about 10.15am when the clinic finished. We then had to wait around a bit for Papa Doy to come and pick us up. From here we went back to the house and had an early lunch ready for island hopping.
      At 12 ish we waited outside until a jeepney came to pick us up. It turned out to be a private jeepney seemingly owned by someone in the family. At this point about 15 other family members also joined us so it seemed like this was a full family day trip out! We drove for about 20 minutes to get to a place called Raymen beach resort. Here we headed down to the beach and straight onto a boat which also seemed to be basically private too. The boat took us to a cave called sun cave where we stopped for a while. We glanced into the water and saw loads of jellyfish. We were reassured that those ones weren’t dangerous, only the ones with long tentacles were bad. I didn’t initially believe them but then they fished one out of sea and were holding it, even it’s tentacles didn’t sting. Feeling slightly less in peril, we decided to go for a swim. I jumped off the side of the boat and into the water and immediately lost one of my contact lenses, good job I’m not too blind! Kept seeing jellies all around us and couldn’t help but be frightened of them. Every now and again one would touch you and it kept making me jump. Eventually we plucked up the courage to swim into the cave (where there are more jellies because they like the cooler water). Inside was really cool with bats flying around and a ray of light coming in to light up one of the walls (hence why it is called sun cave). We took Lisa’s go pro so hopefully we should have some pictures from that at some point. After swimming through the cave and round to it’s other entrance we went back to the boat. No jellyfish stings so we survived. Once back on the boat we sailed over to a floating restaurant where we had fresh coconuts, coffee and halo halo. The kids were all playing on a rope swing which went into the ocean. We also got to see a massive star fish and hold it which was pretty cool. We then got back on the boat and headed back to the resort. From here we swam in the sea for about an hour. Thankfully there were no jellyfish here as there were nets around each resort’s swimming area. Once we got cold we got out and dried off ready to head back.
      Got to the jeepney to be told that we were going to ride on the roof like the locals do. I felt slightly apprehensive as I had seen a girl in ITU with a head injury from falling off the back of one. Climbed up on top and got comfy ready for the journey home. One of the girls called Angel gave us a running commentary of what we were going past which was cool. One of the sights was the largest mango plantation in Guimaras (which this place is famous for). We stopped here for some photos and had a team picture of us all standing on top of the jeepney. Then headed back to the village, still on top of the jeepney. At the junction where we turn off for our village there was a police checkpoint. Apparently it’s the local elections around now and so there is extra security. The policeman also didn’t seem to like us sitting on top and so we were made to get down although I can’t help but feel that the same fuss wouldn’t have been made if we weren’t there as people ride on top of them all the time. We made it back to the village and sat and had some mango juice.
      As it was still quite early we asked Sherilyn if she could show us around the rest of the village. We walked for about half an hour to the end of the village and saw some lovely scenery. Also loads of trees with different fruits and vegetables in them. So far we’ve seen mango, cashew nuts, papaya, jack fruit, guava and banana. On the way back we walked past a house which Sherilyn told us was that of one of the midwives from the clinic we were in earlier. She knocked on the door and the lady promptly invited us in to her house. We sat and chatted for a while, although most of it was in Hiligaynon and so we couldn’t understand. Eventually we left and walked the rest of the way home in the dark. We got back to the house and had dinner, showered and got in bed feeling especially knackered as we didn’t nap today!
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