By Jeannette Duong
It has been interesting and exciting learning about the history and culture of the Philippines. As one of the few mentors who is not of Filipino descent, I have found that the Filipino culture is not so different from my own. All of the experiences here are all new and familiar at the same time. The land is lush with coconut trees, banana trees, rice paddies, the ocean and jungle.
Picking a banana from the banana tree.
Fresh coconut! Trying our hand at cracking it open.
Delicious! The students and teachers brought us fresh coconuts.
Drying rice on the streets! Many houses had these mats in front.
Chickens cross the road, goats take the crosswalk and carabaos hang out in their muddy swamps. I’m overwhelmed by how beautiful it is because everywhere you turn, there is a sight to see.
Carabao kickin’ it.
Mighty rooster standing tall in a fighting rooster farm.
Spent the evening at a resort, where you could swim to a tiny private island.
The river in Bohol, photo taken on a river boat.
Waterfall just down the street from Paraway Mangyan ES in Oriental Mindoro.
A mini beach we stopped by in Bohol.
Gorgeous view from our first meal in Manila.
On our journey, I’ve learned that the Jeepneys and tricycles that roam the streets are leftover Jeeps that were used in World War II that have since transformed into personal works of art and a mode of public transportation.
First day, riding through Batangas in our tricycles.
Mario and JayR in their tricycle.
One of our Jeepneys in Bohol, driven by Malio and Earl.
Our Jeepney in Dumaguete City.
We visited the Escaya tribe, the very first inhabitants of the island of Bohol. The tribe lives high in the mountains secluded from the rest of Bohol, have their very own written and spoken language and formerly lived in caves.
The Escaya alphabet.
A tablet for practicing the Escaya language.
The Escaya children running up the hill to greet us again.
Brian and Tommy playing with the children.
We witnessed a couple of the traditional folk dances - Tinikling, a dance where bamboo poles are beat against the ground and dancers must coordinate their feet with the timing of the poles, and the Sayaw as Bangko, a couple dance performed on top of narrow benches.
The students of Camaya-an National High School performed for us in celebration of Viva Pit Senyor.
W e walked through sugar cane fields and sampled the sugar canes right then and there. The entire experience was surreal. By immersing ourselves into the Filipino culture, I learned more about the Philippines and its people than I ever would have by watching videos or reading about it.
Salsa dancing in the sugar cane field with one of my students.
Making our way to the sugar canes. I don’t know what Rowena is doing…
The lady mentors of the trip - Me, Ariane, Charito and Rowena.
Ron and Grand Master, GM, cutting up some sugar cane.
Being here and learning about the Filipino culture has made me realize how little I know about my own culture. My parents have told me many stories about their childhood and leaving Vietnam. But I never really asked that many questions about Vietnam itself. After spending time here in the Philippines, I am now more curious than ever to really understand the Vietnamese culture. I want to know what the cultural dances are, what main agriculture is grown and exported, the historical landmarks, the local animals and wildlife and to see the dynamic between the people. This trip has ignited a curiosity in me that I didn’t know I had. I’ve loved every minute of this journey and want to continue growing as an individual in my adventures.