Tito, Wawa Dam, Cock Pit, Special Forces, OH MY!!
Trip Start Feb 26, 2007
9Trip End Mar 28, 2007
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We have had 3 days of activities with various host clubs. If I left tomorrow I would have enough stories and pictures to fill 10 hours of conversation. That is how much we have done in this short amount of time.
Wednesday was completely and totally surreal. Our host club picked us up at the Rotary Center at 9:35. We are all now on Filippino which is "get there when you get there." Filippino's all look very young and they say it is because nothing stresses them out and they are never in a hurry. Nothing could be more of the truth! We hopped in the van and headed to the area of Montalban, a city in the mountains outside of Quezon.
We first met Mayor Pedro Cuerpo and then walked across the street where a Medical Mission was being held. Medical Missions are staged quite often in depressed areas of the Philippines by either non-profits, Rotary Clubs, or municipalites. People can pre-register to get a free medical check up and recieve free medicine. Between 30 & 40 doctors were sitting at card tables and coordinators sent people one by one to each doctor. This is totally free. Each medical mission can serve up to 3,000 people a day. Women, Men, Children...anyone. All of the doctors volunteer. We were given a tour, met doctors, patients and just stood there in awe. *On a side note, it is an election year and many of these are held very close to the election.* But, no matter the motivation, my hat comes off to the volunteers that made it possible.
After the medical mission we headed to Wawa Dam. The dam was occupied by the Japanese during WWII. They hid up in the caves. When the Americans invaded the area they used flame throwers to shoot balls of fire into the caves and smoke out the Japanese (as well as machine guns and any other weapon available...or so the story goes. There is also a legend that the Japanese buried treasure up in the caves. A while back a law had to be passed that you could not dig up in the mountains because so many people were destroying the area. The hike to the Dam was amazing. We hiked through a village of squatters and along the side of a mountain to reach the Wawa Dam. Picknick tables were in the water. There were teenagers having lunch and people fishing. I wish you all could have seen it.
After the hike back we had lunch and met up with Mayor Cuerpo's son Micheal who is a Rotarian. He is very young and very kind. We were heading to see a Solid Waste Dump when we passed a cock fighting pit. Micheal asked us if we wanted to see the inside and of course there was no way to say NO to that. We went in. Fights are only on the weekend so we were able to tour the pit empty. The smell of dead cocks, booze, and saw dust was heavy in the air as we took pictures and imagine the place jam packed with Filippinos betting all of their hard earned money. It was quite the sight.
Now, the main attraction of the day was suppose to be the solid waste dump. You will soon find out that the main attraction of the day would include automatic weapons and the Special Forces Unit of Montalban.
In 1999, the Clean Air Act was passed in the Philippines. The major provision of this Legislation made it illegal to incinerate trash. Therefore all trash had to be put into dump sites. The solid waste dump in Montalban is home to most of Manila's trash. The town of Montalban charges the City of Manila for the trash. Montalban has quite a tax base because of this. When I say dump....I mean a damn mountain.
As we left the stink and stank of the dump we thought it was about time to wrap up the day. Oh how wrong we were. As we drove out of the mountains, Micheal pointed out a Special Forces training camp that was funded by his father. He told us a little about it and off handedly asked..."Would you all rather go to the zoo or rather go to the Special Forces Camp and shoot guns??????" And we all said in unison..."Shoot Guns!!!" And off we went.
Let me just say that over the course of the next 3 hours, I shot a hand gun at a target with the complete training of a Filippino Special Forces officer and watched them load and shoot a M-16. This was completely amazing. I must say that the whole experience was bizarre and exciting.
That was Day One.
The next day is less exciting but just as fun. I can sum it up in a few sentances. We went to the Mega Mall. We at so much seafood I thought I would die. We went to the Ayala Art Museum and learned the history of the Filippine through Diaramas. Somer, Kati, & I got Massages by Filippino women that were to die for. Great Day.
Today we were picked up by a Rotary Club that has started a campaign against Tuberculousis in a depressed area. I cannot write what I saw today. I will have to learn how to upload pictures so you all can get the full scope of the good work that this Rotary Club has done. Treatment of children and families. Another impressive thing about the community is that 10 people were able secure Microloans to start little buisnesses in the community. They are flourishing. 5000 Pesos to start their buisness with a low interest rate. What a success story.
I have got to stop writing now. I don't think anyone could sit through reading all of this but if you have...this is just a little bit of what has gone on here.