Wonderful week with my two families!
Trip Start Mar 21, 2006
55Trip End Oct 05, 2008
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I am sure some of you have been anxiously waiting to receive my next update from the Manning's in the Philippines Series. I too have been anxious to share some of the details of our wonderful last week spent in Baguio City and at my site in Tublay (20 mins. North of Baguio). It has been a busy, wonderful and amazing week with my two families and sharing with my parents about the wonderful indigenous peoples of this region. That I have grown to love and call a second home.
The highlight for both my parents and I, has been spending time with my amazing host family, the Cosalan's! I don't think any of us will forget the moment when we arrived to my site on the 16th and there was Lola Carmen (Grandma and matriarch of my family) opening the door to her house greeting my parents! It was a touching scene to see them all interact and I quickly learned how Filipino my Mom truly is. That night my adorable little host cousin Shiosa celebrated her 4th birthday. In classic Filipino style there was a big party, with all the usual dishes; pancit (noodle dish), fruit salad with cream (reminded my parents of the dish their mom's made), chicken and even roasted turkey. Needless to say a feast and my parents fit right in. In the Philippines it is socially/culturally normal to ask these questions when you first meet someone; How old are you? Are you married? How many kids do you have? ect. My Mom so loves people and hearing their stories and always wants to ask these questions back home but culturally she feels hesitant to do so. Chatty Kathy has found her place in the Philippines, with the loving warm and often times exuberant smiles of Filipinos, even though so many of them on the surface have little to smile about. Auntie Florence, one of my more reserved and quiet host aunts, said how much she enjoyed listening to the energetic stories from my Mom since she is quiet she loves listening to them! Needless to say my Mom and Dad have both been a hit with the Cosalan Family and the Cosalan's a hit to the Manning's as well!
The 18th was a very special day for me and I am so glad my parents were here to share in the festivities. I think I mentioned in a previous update that my town, the Municipality of Tublay has given me a big honor and adopted me as the Daughter of Tublay! I really did not know how big a production the ceremony would be and while it was a bit embarrassing at times I am very honored to now be the Adopted Daughter of Tublay. It is traditional at such ceremonies to give the adopted person a local name; the Municipal Council with the help of the Mayor selected the name Sanggumay (San-gu-mi) for me. Which is the Ibaloi word for Tublay's native orchid flower. Many local officials spoke about the work I have done to help promote eco-tourism and build community environmental education within Tublay. They also frequently said that they wish me to extend my service and hope that I will stay in Tublay the rest of my life (i.e.: marry a local)!! I politely shared that I will be starting graduate school shortly after my service, so I will be returning home, but I know I will be back to visit. There were many touching parts of the ceremony including, when Auntie Evelyn the host Aunt I live with, got up to give a speech on behalf of my host family. You would have to know her to understand why this was such a big deal. Of Lola Carmen's 11 children she is probably the most shy and least social, but she shared a wonderful speech of appreciation for me helping them with ENCA Farm and that I truly am apart of their family. For someone as shy as Auntie Evelyn this was heart warming to hear and I could hardly hold back my tears. Perhaps equally as touching is when Vice Mayor Larou asked for either the handsome father or beautiful mother of " Maam Sherry" to say a few words? Any of you that know my parents would assume my Mom would jump right out of her seat and start talking... but she did not I think they were both so shocked to be asked. My Mom pointed to my Dad, so he stood up and within seconds of trying to say something was so visibly filled with emotions of happiness he was speechless and began to cry. My Mom stood up, gave him a kiss and there was an audible sigh in the audience from all the women practically saying "oh how sweet." Mamma Manning, believe it of not, spoke very briefly and thanked them all for being so kind to me, and how much they are both enjoying being here. It was very touching and I don't think there was a dry eye in the Municipal Hall after that! Needless to say a wonderful afternoon and while it was hard for me to sit back and take in all this praise because I really feel the humble people of Tublay have taught me more then I have given them. I do feel extremely honored to now be Sanggumay the adopted Daughter of Tublay!
Another major highlight of the last week was on Monday the 21st when my parents finally got to spend the day at ENCA Farm!! I have said it time and time again and will continue to say it till the day I die, ENCA Farm is one of the most special places in the whole world! It was so wonderful for my parents to finally see where I have spent so much time working, relaxing and enjoying the last year and a half. The Girl Scout in my Mom instantly came out and we enjoyed a wonderful day at the farm. Sitting in the Nipa Hut (native house) eating freshly picked organic veggies from the garden, drinking Auntie Olive's famous organic lemon grass tea, enjoying the peaceful serene sacred space that ENCA Farm truly is. I continually feel so blessed to be apart of the all too important work of protecting the watershed of ENCA and sharing the Cosalan's families amazing story of never giving up and fighting for their ancestral land. Both my parents keep saying how special it has been to be here and finally be able to truly picture me and know that I am happy. I think they got the clearest image of this on the farm and a deeper appreciation for the hard work my host family does day in and day out, to put food on the table and try to make a sustainable living.
I have had a lot of fun taking my parents around to the various indigenous handicraft vendors and sharing bits and pieces of the local culture with them. Today, we visited the famous wood carving stands on Asin Road south of Baguio City. Being that my Grandfather DeLos was a custom woodworker for many years in Seattle my Mom was quite touched to see the amazing wood cravings of the Ifugao people. Yesterday we visited one of the many weaving rooms and stores in Baguio City and were able to watch the women working on the looms. I did not realize that my grandma Sherry whom I am named after, had a loom and used to weave while my Mom was growing up. Throughout the trip my Mom has said that all of my wonderful grandparents not living anymore have been watching us. I really feel on days like my adoption ceremony and visiting the craft makers they have indeed been with us in spirit.
While my parents visit is coming to an end, (we head to Manila tomorrow and they fly out the 27th) we have made a lifetime of memories and it has been so special for them to see this beautiful, often times struggling country filled with the happiest people on earth (as Filipinos are called). The Manning's have rode their first jeepney, belted videokee (karaoke) with my PCV friends, and as my Mom has said at every teary goodbye of the trip, (especially last night with my host family) they will both be taking a piece of the Philippines back with them in their heart!
All my love and Kapayapaan (peace in Tagalog Filipino national language),