Philippinos love to dance

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You gotta love a country that sees nothing wrong with coreographed dancing amongst department store workers. Dancing and singing does not bring the cringe and judgement that we have in the west.

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Circumnavagation!

We have successfully completed our first motorcycle tour of an island. All the way round Mindoro. Despite the occasional minor (and usually stationary) fall, we navigate the 550ms in good spirits.
The highlight would have to be the travelling piano salesman. I really wish we got some photos of those guys strolling down the highway carrying 7 odd electric keyboards between them!
More photos here:

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it's true. there was no pornography in san Jose. plenty of Hookers and lady boys though.
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nicotine hating government funded assassins

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bugger, we got off and walked the bike through here.

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Market carved in the side of a mountain
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drying rice on a sunny day
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Ah, yeah. Destination and wind down.

Basking

Julz has always called me a people watcher, but I think i’m more of a people basker.  I’ve always loved being among people, participating or not as I pleased. 

Nursing was a great way to fulfil this craving. Standing in the middle of a busy ward in the between shifts time, listening to the hustle and bustle.

A Dr on the phone next to me returning a page about chest pain; a nurse on the other phone trying to locate X-Rays; a social worker greeting an elderly patients family and leading them into the conference room; another patients family asking for directions to the lifts; the physio enthusiastically encouraging a stroke patient as he limps painfully slowly down the hallway; nurses gossiping about their crazy weekends or their kids. I love it! the noise, the movement, the dynamics. The squeals of laughter and the groans of pain.

But, I have to say, as much as I loved basking on a busy ward, I love basking in my family so much more.

The music is blaring the latest fad craze, played over and over again by JR and Jomar, teenage brothers. The ice cream man who comes by here every day to eat the noodle soup that my grandmother sells, does an impromptu dance by the side of his cart, the kids squeal with laughter. Maxuel and his classmate Baluyot are sitting on the terrace exchanging obscenities with 2 kids on the street who are waving a pink umbrella and pissing with intent to insult, rambutan skins are thrown. Nanay and her brother Lolo are having an animated discussion with 2 ladies selling lotto tickets about all the Evangelios on mindoro .
‘did you know Jasmine Evangelio? She died last month’
‘wasn’t she the sister of Ruddy who works at Ormico?’
Apparently in Baco, over half the population can claim the same last name as my grandmother. Nanay sees Maxuel running,
‘if you complain that your foot is sore later I’ll cut it off!’ he laughs and keeps running/limping in hot pursuit of the pink umbrella boys. There are 3 girls playing/arguing/squeeling over a game of elastic. A boy comes to buy some toron (banana wrapped in spring roll wrapper and deep fried). A basketball game is in full swing down the end of the street. The 3 girls burst into song. JR and Jomar come out of the kitchen with the latest batch of toron, including 1 that they have wrapped in writing paper trying to trick Nanay into eating it. Myles is arguing with Baluyot about the ownership of a toy rake in tagalog.
‘akin yan!’ (that’s mine).

Listening to everything happening around me and feeling happy to be here.
Just basking.

Pandan island

Well, i think we found the beach. 7 months of being off the beaten track lead us to Pandan island. One island. One resort. Completely surrounded by coral reef. Don the fins and snorkel, enter the water, kick three times and lose yourself in another world. I swam with a giant green sea turtle of regal proportions, a true gentle giant. More fish than i could count. Stingrays, moray eels, giant hermit crabs. We found nemo too!

Beach ruins at dusk

Transport here can be quite a pain. For example, a hungover bus driver can mean no bus for the day. But my biggest gripe is watching interesting things go by the window.
The motorbike has changed that. We plan to stop whenever we want to see something off the beaten path. This evening it was the ruins of a house on the beach.

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Sorry if it comes across a bit arty farty. The light was so good though.

Anting Anting

Magic or Anting Anting run in the family down my Filipino grandmothers line.  I recently found out about her father who was apparently a very powerful witch doctor.  There were numerous  times during the Japanese invasion that his magic helped him and his family escape disasters. Such as when he hid behind a single bamboo stem and wasn’t seen, or when he and his family were shot at in their home but despite the sacks of rice behind them being torn to shreds, they remained unharmed.  My grandmother also has the gift,  Which she has had to put to good use recently because of all the illness at the moment, her adopted son has a bad fever and so does Maxuel, my kuyas oldest son who lives with her.  first she has a vessel of water and a candle. She melts wax on the surface which forms a shape, this is how the diagnosis begins. She needs to pinpoint what kind of curse is causing the illness. Then comes the prayer, usually with the wax wrapped in paper or the first laid egg of a native chicken (if you have one handy), i know its surprising, but yes she prays to her Christian god, and when questioned about the contradiction, she quite calmly explained that he was the almighty and generally much nicer to deal with than the devil.  Treatments are quite harmless, a massage usually, in fact the tagalog word for massager also means healer.  Massage is done with warm oils or some kind of herb, limes are good for chesty illnesses and guava leaves are good for most other things, Im  sure that many other things can be used.  I’ve fallen asleep in a dim room to the sound of my grandmothers softly said prayers and the scent of lemony oils. Not an unpleasant experience. 

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I’ve grown up with it, it wasn’t until I was forced to look around myself through Julians eyes that I really started to see. The lady on the jeepney with a cute baby, Julz and i spent a good part of the ride admiring the little girl, but we were not let off the bus without licking one of our fingers and touching her leg, in case we accidentally took a part of her spirit.  The strange bird who you must never imitate, because if you do, the bird and any others nearby will follow you home and plague you.  The evil spirit who lives in the bushes by my grandmothers house, who came close to claiming her grandson when he was found sleepwalking out to it.  The time that Anna (julz sister) and i both went to do a wee in the bushes and we were told to ask the invisible dwarves to move first, in case you do a wee on one and it curses you. 

There are many more stories, I wanted to share just a few because they are a part of me, my family and my history.