Hello lovely people!
These past few weeks have been super busy, but here are a few things I’ve been doing lately in Santiago, Tabuk, and surrounding communities:
As I mentioned before, I am focusing on the carbon offset program while I’m here. Lately I’ve been writing parts of a farmer’s manual while I’m in the office. It consists of best practices for rice farming and specific directions on implementing the Alternate Wetting and Drying technique that we advocate for. We hope to give the manual to our communities so that they have physical copies of practices they often are already using.
Recently I moved to Tabuk, Kalinga, but before I left Santiago, I got to plant my own tree with the bishop of the diocese. It’s a chestnut tree and has a sign that dubs it the “Caroline Tree” by it, which is depicted below. I think it will be my first successful attempt at gardening ever!! Bishop Alexander loves to plant and garden, so this was one more way to welcome me to Santiago (even though my stay was only for 2 months).
Behind the church, Bishop Alexander also planted dragonfruit and calamantzi (Filipino limes) trees for everyone to use. The calamantzi is especially useful as its a Filipino staple in sauces and recipes. There are Lani and Leia picking dragonfruit!
When I’m not in the office, I’m visiting communities with my co-workers. Our activities range from visiting members of the community in their homes to attending local church services to conducting interviews to meeting city officials. The congregations consistently welcome us with open arms and smiling faces and feed me way too much food. Here’s a look into a few of my visits.
One community in Isabela sent me home with “leftovers” after a post-church feast. They sent me home with part of the butchered local organic pig! Its tradition to send home unused parts of the animal with visitors and guests. Since I don’t have a fridge in my room and didn’t have the ingredients to cook the benguet at the time, I brought it as a gift to my neighbor Manang Joy, who kindly invited me over to dinner to share the adobo she made from it. It really is more fun in the Philippines!!
Last week, we had an orientation on our carbon offset program at a church in Quezon. We were asked to stay for lunch after the presentation. That’s where I made a bunch of friends! I tried out a bit of my Ilokano and just acted silly with the kids there while the food was cooked. They gave me some lovely stickers for my hard work and even braided my hair. Quezon is very close to Tabuk, my new home, so I will be visiting all my new BFFs very often.
Below is a picture of Manang Juliana, the CEO and owner of her own co-op, who quizzed me on my Ilokano and accompanied us on a few visits to local communities. She was part of our Receivers to Givers program that gives grants to communities to support various projects. She received a grant from E-CARE and recently paid it back. The money she gave back is now going to a new project in Talifugo, Conner where the ceremony was held, making her a “giver” in our program. Here she is looking adorable in front of a drying pavement that was also supported by E-CARE in the community of Nabotuen.
Like I said before, I recently moved to Tabuk, my home for the next 10 months! I took a selfie with Lani and Leia right before I left Santiago, even though I will definitely be back to visit since its only 2 hours away.
Below are a few more random pictures of the beautiful green landscapes of the Philippines.
I now have a new address so let me know if you want to send me anything and I’ll message it over.