Caving, Birthday Parties and Historic Mummies!

Trip Start Mar 21, 2006
Trip End Oct 05, 2008

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Flag of Philippines  ,
Saturday, January 27, 2007

Greeting's to all!

Since my last entry I have finally entered one of the caves I am working with, my little host cousin Shiosa had her 3rd Birthday, and I was able to witness an indigenous Ibaloi ritual and see the famous mummies located in the Municipality of Kabayan. Needless to say this entry is full of wonderful pictures so I hope you enjoy!

A few weeks ago after scheduling the First Aid Training with the caves guide some of my office mates and I entered Benagano Cave in Barangay Ambongdolan. There are many caves spread throughout the North Luzon Region, the most famous being the highly visited caves in Sagada, Mountain Province. Prior to entering the caves here, I had heard rumors that the rock formations in our caves were much more preserved then in Sagada. This was indeed the truth!! While the cave here is much shorter than Sagada (it only takes about an hour to get through) the rock formations are out of this world. The stalactites and stalagmites are well preserved. While the caves guides need a bit more training as far as communicating with their guest, the caves of Tublay have the potential to be a wonderful eco-tourism attraction. I was also very pleased to see that since the environmental education seminar I conducted in October, the community has placed trash bins all throughout their community and along the road leading to the caves. I am not sure if this was at all inspired by the workshop, but I was very happy to see a cleaner and more environmentally sound community in Ambongdolan! Kudos to them all!!

Last week I had the opportunity to visit another Municipality of Benguet. Kabayan is located about four hours northeast of Tublay and is known as the root of Ibaloi culture. It also is the home of Mount Pulag the second tallest mountain in the Philippines and is one of two cultures (Egypt and here) in the world that formerly practiced mummification of their dead. While the practice here ended in the earl 1900's there are still well over 20 mummies lying in coffins throughout Kabayan. Over the years the Mummies have become world famous and brought a lot of attention to the community and people of Kabayan. Last Friday there was a German TV station doing a special on the mummies so I went with my office for the filming. Pretty amazing to see the mummies and get to see the native rituals performed by the local elders. Historically all Ibaloi communities have a Mambuno (elder or native priest). This person is in charge of leading all rituals within the community and also looks at the liver and heart of the newly killed pig (a pig must be killed at every ritual and gathering) to identify whether it is safe to let the mummies out or whatever the activity of the day might be. It was very fun to be able to speak a little Ibaloi with the older community members, and I could see how surprised and excited they were to hear an American that could speak their sadly, dying language.

I just found out that I am attending a Project Design and Management (PDM) Conference sponsored by Peace Corps with my supervisor next week. In order to be eligible to apply for small grants sponsored by Peace Corp and USAID we have to attend a PDM. I am reaching a point with many of my projects where access to funds is a necessity and it is a huge challenge to secure funds locally. I am hoping attending this conference will help lead to funds in the near future. I will be flying down to Dumaguete in the Visayas for the conference and am looking forward to making a weekend of it and snorkeling amongst the famous reefs in Apo Island. This will also give me a chance to scout out some of the fun places for my sister Heidi and I to check out when we go back down to that area during her visit in Mid-March.

As always I hope this e-mail finds you well and I am sending love and hugs to all!



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heather24 on

hey there !
hey sherry! glad to hear that things are continuing to go well for you and that you had a nice holiday season. things continue to go well here in nepal and i've been quite busy which is good. keep taking good care of yourself! peace, heather

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