Sunday, April 09, 2006

Magandang hapon

It's official. Internet cafes here should be renamed internet video games rooms for boys under 16. The "cafe" part of the title is the most misleading, mostly because it's totally untrue. There is no coffee here, not even a cookie. It's just a room with computers. So maybe it should be called Internet Room on all of the signs.

We moved in with our host family a week ago, and they're awesome. The Estrella family consists of about 47 people by my estimation, most of whom come and leave throughout the day. There are 6 kids, a few grandchildren, grandparents, aunts, uncles, um, second cousins... I don't know. I can't remember half their names, but if they're female and under the age of 25, it doesn't matter anyway because they're all too shy to talk to me. Well, that's not true, they are warming up, but it's been a slow process that involved a lot of card playing. We've played uno, canasta, skip-bo and my new favorite game, tongkit. It's kind of like rummy mixed with poker, only you throw in a ridiculous, incomprehensible betting system that I have yet to make any sense of. Luckily we play with pisos (2 cents). They have a nice little house though, mainly due to the fact that he worked in Japan for the last 9 years until he was sent home for being an illegal immigrant. It's funny actually, walking around town you can pick out who has a relative abroad and who doesn't. Cement walls, tile, a complete roof and a big TV? They have a relative abroad. Wood or sheet metal walls, coconut leaf or tin roof and a small tv? They're a fisherman. I've been talking to some people around town and apparently the use of dynamite in fishing has totally wrecked their catch. People come in from other provinces, blow the shit out of the fish population and then the net fisherman here are basically left with nothing. It's a huge problem, one that hopefully I'll get to help with.

We still don't know where we're going, but there's a lot of gossip, so we're about 95% sure now. Probably a small island, hopefully one that is well stocked with beer. When I first got here I heard about the barkada, which is a drinking circle of (male) friends who have some (or many) drinks and just generally shoot the shit. Then I learned most barkada drink gin or brandy and my enthusiasm waned. Nothing like a hot shot of gin from a communal cup, followed by a chaser of warm water. That sounds like the scientific formula for puke. Actually I briefly hung out with a few guys and had a shot of brandy, which had ice in it luckily, so it wasn't too bad. Which leads me to my next point, the Filipinos are friendly to the point of embarrassment (on my part). I walked by those guys a few days back and they yelled at me "Shot! Shot!" so of course I had to stop. But everywhere you go, there's food, coconut juice, mangoes, halo-halo (ice milk with beans and stuff), cookies, crackers... If I make the mistake of asking someone what a food item is, within 3 minutes that food item will be in front of me so I can find out for myself. The first three questions you get asked are: Are you married? Do you have kids? and Do you eat Filipino food? It works out really well though because Filipino food is the shit. Did you know you can buy a kilo of caught-that-morning fresh mussels for 20 cents? Well, you can.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Guys!
what an adventure! I enjoyed reading the updates. You have a way with words, Owen! Hope that everything continues to go as well as it has. Tagolog is a very useful language to know if you end up in Seattle (or anywhere west) I have lots of students whose parents speak Tagolog.
Take care,
Kate Krings