Friday, August 20, 2010

While I have WIFI....

Well, it seems that whenever I have time to blog, the wifi connection just isn't strong enough to allow me to create a new post. The server for this website requires a fairly good signal, I guess. So, in the past two weeks since I have blogged, I have knocked on a lot of doors (figuratively), been shot down on a lot of interview attempts, subsequently convinced to go on a weekend holiday to Hong Kong with my Filipina friend, Nalla, and actually completed some good work upon return.

Hong Kong is an amazing city. I really haven't fallen as hard for one since Seattle, although I was rather partial to Hanoi a few years back. But where Hanoi was inescapably chaotic, Hong Kong is smooth and efficient. And yet, it's always on the go. What I like best, though, is the multicultural flavor it brings to the table. There are people of all skin tones and all nationalities running around and swirling together, meeting, drinking, dancing and doing business. The night life is pretty great, too. Hong Kong is the epitome of 'work hard, play hard.' I think my dad would like it. What I liked about it was that everyone seems to go dancing all the time. My kind of nightlife.

Upon return to Cebu, I had an interview with the Agricultural Officer of Cordova, who filled me in on the history of the user's fee system of the Gilutongan Marine Sanctuary. Then a few days later I traveled to Dumaguete, where I met with the Municipal Planning and Development Officer of Dauin, who shared similar information for the sanctuaries of their municipality. Today, I completed my 10th interview with a professor at Silliman University, who has been studying the social implications of various aspects of tourism here in the Philippines for quite some time. I return to Moalboal tomorrow to hopefully complete the last of my interviews that will comprise the primary portion of my data collection. Here's hoping everything goes well! Below, I have attached some photos of this beautiful old church here in Dumaguete. I have been too busy working to be much of a tourist, but Bridget and I stumbled across it while going out for dinner one night.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Boring Blog Post

Well, I am here for work and not non-stop adventure, so this post will be short and dull. I have been trying to get a lot of work done on my project as I feel the time slipping away from me. My efforts have been mostly unsuccessful. I am worried about how many interviews are still left to complete, but I am trying to remember that it is expected for things to not run smoothly when you are working in a place like the Philippines. These facts are harder to remember when I can't get any work done because the power is out all day, or when there is no water and I desperately want to take a shower. A member of my organization was supposed to come up and translate for me, but unfortunately fell ill. I have also been trying to get interviews with members of the government, however, I feel a bit like I am getting the run around. We will see how this progresses. So, I have mostly been sitting here in Moalboal, working on the computer during the day and trying to learn to play billiards at night. I am going a bit stir crazy and would like to go to the city, but I am still hopeful that I will get my interview with the mayor this week, so I will stay in town until Thursday. Oh well, at least there's always mango milkshakes.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Picture Perfect

So, shortly after my dive trip, I decided to go back to the city. I had completed 5 interviews and had hit a bit of a standstill in Moalboal, so I thought Cebu might be a good change of pace. Also, I hadn't been successful in my attempts to get ahold of people from CCE (the organization that I am working with) through e-mail, so I thought I might be more successful in person. This time, I stayed in the dormitories across the street from the office, and it was really fun. And quite a bit cheaper. Being around students, it was much easier to make friends then when we had stayed at Myra's. Plus, this is where Bridget was staying and it was nice to get to hang out with her again. We quickly settled back into a routine of work, malls and short walks nearby for street food. Yum. Our favorite is this really awesome fruit market where they will cut up the mangos for you. I will never get tired of eating mangos here!

We met some girls in our dorm, and they invited us over for a celebratory dinner. One of the girls was dating an Australian guy nearby who was in the Philippines to get certified as an English teacher. The program had just ended that day. She cooked us an amazing dinner, and then the girls went dancing. I love girls night out! The next day, I joined the group from the English school in a tour of Cebu. We went all over, including a stop at TOPS, where you can see out over the city. You can also do a zip-line there, which was fun, but maybe not quite as exciting as it sounds. I've included two pictures from my day of sightseeing, I'm not really sure what the second one is. There wasn't really any explanation to accompany it. :)

I ended my week by heading to White Beach again, which is basically Moalboal, but the upscale part I can't afford to stay in. One of the women I interviewed from Project FISH is in the process of opening a resort and invited me to be her guest. I went up for a day and night of RnR and a little bit of snorkeling. Her resort is JUST BEAUTIFUL, and the snorkeling was AMAZING. I've put in a picture at the bottom of this post. Looks like a postcard, doesn't it? Honestly, it's hard to pick a favorite site when all the snorkeling is just so good. I guess that's why the Philippines is known as the global epicenter of marine biodiversity. And why I am doing my thesis research here. It doesn't hurt that the water here is the perfect temperature, a beautiful turquoise, and super clear. I also managed to do some transcribing at night, so I felt productive in addition to spoiled. After picking up my stuff in the city, I headed back down to Panagsama, where I will be in full force work mode. A coworker will hopefully be headed down this weekend to translate so I can interview the fishermen and the presidents of the local People's Organizations. And I am working up the nerve to request interviews from the mayor and vice-mayor and a few other government officials. So wish me luck. Love, Jenn

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Least Favorite Roommate

So. One morning, I woke up and this spider was in my room. I thought that I would share the picture with you. I hid on my bed, only brave enough to take a picture using the full extent of my zoom, and called a friend to come kill it for me. I have had some interesting critters decide they want to bunk with me. My favorites are the geckos. This spider was definitely at the bottom of the list. My friend says that they are just house spiders, but I personally feel like there is nothing about that spider that belongs in a house.

The interview has progressed a bit. I have now completed three interviews. I had hoped to be a bit farther along by now, but I have had some problems hearing back from people, and several individuals I wanted to interview last week went out of town. With my free time, I have been a bit of a tourist. I got a massage and went diving, and went out at night with a new crew that's in town for the week: two Danish guys and an Austrailian. They were lots of fun! They are probably headed to the city now, as Moalboal was there last stop before heading home from the Philippines. Here's some pictures of our dive trip.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rock on, Bon Jovi.

So this post will be a little disjointed, as much time has passed since the last. I settled in nicely to Moalboal, only to have to return to Cebu 10 days later to extend my tourist visa before it expired. This Wednesday, I will have been in the Philippines for one month. It has been a big adjustment. Bridget and I have had many conversations about race- a topic neither of us have really thought about at length before coming here. I guess since race factors so little in my daily thought process at home it's such a shock to have it be such an issue here. Although, people here are very uh, pro white? But it's still very weird. Especially since people stare at me where ever I go. Which sometimes I think I can get used to, but then things like me tripping and falling happen when 20ish people were already staring at me before I went down. Niiice.

But, back to Moalboal. Had a great 10 days, got some work done. Made friends. Met this really great American couple, but they were only on vacation for a week. Too bad. Trista and I got along very well, and I think I will miss her for the rest of the trip. On our last night in Moalboal together, Rick cooked us a GIANT crab and we at dinner together, Filipino-style. Then Trista, Patrick and I caught the bus to Cebu. I went to the office and they caught a plane.

Cebu was more enjoyable this time around. The office has more people, as a bunch of the staff has come in from the field. So, there is a younger crowd and a bit more energy. I made a friend while getting my nails done ($2 manicure, and I needed it. My nails grow so quickly here they were too long! I've never had that problem before...) and we went out. The place we went to had two live bands that were really good. They sang American covers of all kinds of different songs, and had the voices down perfectly for them all! It was really incredible. The second band did a set of Bon Jovi. Which is the second time in Asia I have seen a Bon Jovi cover band. An odd coincidence- especially since I don't think I'd ever go to a Bon Jovi concert. But, just like last time, it was really fun. And the crowd gets so pumped up. SE Asia is so weird sometimes! Here's a picture from that night. Bridget, in red, is my friend from school and Nalla (pronounced Nalia) is our new friend from Cebu. I am very excited- as it's hard to meet girls here, they don't go out much. It's a cultural thing, I guess. Who's the guy in the picture? Good question. He just kinda jumped in at the last minute. It happens here more than you would expect.

Last few thoughts for today: Went snorkeling. It was AWESOME. Best snorkeling I've ever done, which is saying a lot. Until I got stung by a jellyfish. It was the MOST gorgeously sunny day today, the only downside being that the internet told me it felt like 105F in Moalboal and I believed it. Got one interview done earlier this week and it went pretty well. Spent a good chunk of time transcribing it so I am feeling pretty productive. Have a lot of work ahead of me for the next week. Hope everything is great for everyone back home. Love, Jenn

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Moalboal: This is More Like it!

Hello. Thursday night, I moved to Moalboal. My thesis adviser, Patrick, and Bridget came down with me for a night to go diving. Moalboal (pronounced Mo-Al-Bo-Al) reminds me much more of my previous adventures in Southeast Asia. It's nice to be out of the city and the scenery is very pretty. The three of us stayed at a very pretty resort over in White Beach, the more upscale tourist part of Moalboal. It was so gorgeous! We went for an evening dive as soon as we got in. There was a humongous school of sardines. They moved as a group, and the late afternoon light reflected off their sides like disco lights. It was very cool.

The next day, I moved over to Panagsama (harder to say: Pa-Nag-Sama) I got the hook-up price-wise in terms of my accommodations. Moalboal is pricy in terms of Philippines accommodations, and my lodgings are really cheap. Plus, I have a private bath and aircon. The biggest problem with my room is there is about a two inch gap between the door and the floor. Currently, I am sharing my room with a cockroach that is just too big to smush. So I am trying to ignore him. But, my place has free wifi for guests, which is very handy for working. Wish coverage extended to my room, but I guess you can't have everything. Panagsama is not as postcard-perfect as White Beach, but it has its moments. I have made a couple friends, and Saturday night we went to the disco. It only happens once a week, and is the biggest weekly social event of three neighboring villages! It was very fun, lots of dancing.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Pictures From Cebu City

Bridget at our guest house, Myra's Pensionne. Possibly my favorite part of living in Cebu!

The Ayala Mall. Our other home. :)