Chickens and Volcanoes

6/12/2017 (Monday)

This morning Jill, Laurence, Jake and I woke up early before breakfast to go on a run. We were able to run down towards to the animal farm and explore a little bit more of the farm than we’ve seen previously. After breakfast we were given an official tour with Sophie, a MAD intern from Germany. There were other guests on the tour with us from the Philippines so we were able to hear their stories as well. We stopped into Plush and Play to learn more about that enterprise and the toys they are making. Plush and Play is one of the enterprises on the farm that utilizes the sewing ability of the Titas to create the first Filipino produced toy. After the tour we got to sit down with Tito Tony, the founder of GK. He told us the history of GK and his mission and vision for the community and SEED students in the coming years. One SEED student, Danilo also spoke to us. We heard his story during graduation but we got to hear more insight into how he felt about the farm and what progress was being made. Then we were able to help some SEED boys harvest mangos. It was hard but fun! They are collecting enough mangos to fill 14 crates for an order in Bel Air. The mango trees inside the farm are the most abundant and successful in the country so they are able to make a generous income on mango harvests.

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Jill picking mangos

After lunch we cooled off in the pool again. Having the pool so close to our rooms is very convenient but could be dangerous this summer. After dinner we went to the Sari Sari with the french interns. The Sari Sari is a little karaoke bar/shack a 5 minute walk down the road. There was no karaoke tonight but it was a great way for us to get to know the other interns better and their role on the farm. Jake and I talked to William most of the night. He is also an engineering major in France so it will be great to work with him in the future on any engineering programs on the farm. I also tried Red Horse for the first time, a popular Filipino beer. The saying goes “Red Horse kicks hard” and it definitely does.

6/13/2017 (Tuesday)

Today after breakfast we cleaned 2,000 duck eggs for The Golden Duck. The Golden Duck is another enterprise that specializes in golden duck eggs and duck burgers. The golden duck egg is a twist of the traditional Filipino salted egg where the eggs are flavored with turmeric, giving it the golden color. We met another french intern Marie, and a Filipino, Karen. They were so much fun to hangout with and made the cleaning much more enjoyable. We made plans to sing karaoke together at the Sari Sari the next night, I can’t wait!

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After cleaning we met with Mai and Lucas, another french intern, to go over our 7 day challenge. For the next 7 days we are required to complete the list of activities on our challenge. It is a great way to get to know the farm better and the community members. Jill and I also were assigned our community Tita, who will be our second mom on the farm. We spent the rest of the day exploring the farm and trying to complete things from our 7 day challenge list. Jill and I met our Tita, who asked us to call her Ate Carla. She has 5 sons, Victor, King, Clark, Naugt-Naugt, and Kai. They all live in one house with her husband and his mom. We learned they’ve been living in the community for about 9 years, which is right around the time it was built. Also, her husband painted all of the paintings around the farm, and their sons have picked up on drawing and their pictures are hung all around their house. The boys are so welcoming and lively, Jill and I played with them for hours, never getting bored. I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time with Ate Carla and the boys.

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After dinner we went to a despedida for one of the french interns. A despedida on the farm is a farewell party for anyone thats leaving after a long time. There is traditional Filipino food served on a long table and everyone eats together with their hands. It was such a cool experience and another great way to meet more interns on the farm.

6/14/2017 (Wednesday)

This morning we helped Tito Vick plant and water lettuce after breakfast. The boys misunderstood their Tito and we all thought we were planting rice. It was less exciting but we were still able to learn and experience another aspect of the farm. Tito Ver, the boys’ Tito, along with Tito Vick and other Titos are in charge of planting the vegetables on the farm. There is lettuce, tomatoes and other vegetables that are all given a separate section of the farm.

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Watering the lettuce plants

After gardening, Jill and I wandered the farm for about an hour looking for the bees. We were finally able to find them with the help of two boys from the community. The bees here looked more like ants and there wasn’t any honey that we could see. Im hoping I can meet Jayson soon, who is in charge of the bees, and learn more about beekeeping.

The six of us went into the community after lunch and met Tita Celia, Danilo’s mom. She owns a small shop in the community with snacks and drinks, we will definitely be stopping by frequently for snacks. We made plans to come back the following day to have lunch with her. We got two new roommates today, Maiki and Xavi, they’re brother and sister. Maiki lives and teaches first grade in Singapore, but went to Boston College, and Xavi lives and goes to school in America. They’re Filipino and their parents are on the board of directors here at the farm. The farm has been a great place to build relationships and connections with people all over the world with people I would’ve never had the chance to meet before. Maiki and Xavi are so much fun, but unfortunately they’re only staying for 5 days 😦

The eight of us joined Tito June that afternoon to learn about his vermicomposting. Right now he is taking the sweet potato stems from the Bayani Brew enterprise after they use the leaves for tea. He places the bottoms of the stems at the end of his box, and distributes the smaller parts of the plant throughout a large box. In the box are African Night Crawlers that help break down the plants. When it rains, the rain and nutrients flow down to the end of the box where the stems are and once they start regrowing roots they are taken and replanted in the fields. And the excess dirt and poop are used for fertilizer for both the farm and to be sold outside. It is an awesome and perfectly sustainable system. I can’t wait to learn more from Tito June about composting. He also has the best dad jokes, and I’m looking forward to more laughs with him.

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After composting we went into the community and introduced Maiki to Ate Carla and her boys. We spent the next few hours there playing and entertaining them. Maiki was able to help us talk to Ate Carla a little more because she knows some Tagalog. After visiting with Ate Carla, we stopped by Tito June’s for a quick sing a long. Tito June is very good at the guitar and we were able to sing some of our favorite American songs with him. We finally made our way to the Sari Sari with Marie and Karen after dinner. We sang so much karaoke and it was so so fun! I might’ve gotten booed for my poor performance at singing Whitney Houston but I definitely made a name for myself in front of the French singing Friends in Low Places.

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6/15/2017 (Thursday)

Jill, Maiki and I woke up early this morning to help make breakfast at the Grassroots Kitchen. I attempted to make a couple dozen sunny side eggs but was failing miserable so I got demoted to cutting mangos. The boys got two more roommates today, Ryan and Kai. They are family friends with Maiki and Xavi and their dad is also on the board at the farm. They’re originally from Seattle but live in Malaysia. After breakfast we all went to the chicken slaughter which was very…interesting. I did not participate in any of the killing but I plucked about 5 or 6 chickens after they were dead. I think I found my calling in life as a professional chicken plucker because I plucked the chickens faster than anyone there. Besides the Filipinos of course, they can do a whole chicken in like 2 minutes.

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Once we cleaned ourselves up we met with Mia and Mai and began our tour of the enterprises. We went to Plush and Play first where we heard Fabian, the French intern who started Plush and Play, talk about the history and success of the business. After we had lunch at Tita Celia’s. It was delicious, but I couldn’t eat the chicken, I was still a little scarred from that morning’s slaughter.

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We toured the rest of the enterprises after lunch. We went to EriSilk Ambension first. There they make silk and cotton from silk worms. Their harvesting is sustainable and no worms are harmed in the process. They make scarves, headbands, towels and bracelets. Next we went to First Harvest, which makes AMAZING peanut butter. I will definitely be buying tons of jars while I’m here, it is so delicious. We learned about how the process works and the history of Tita Dell who is the head of First Harvest now. We then toured Oasis, the five star hotel on the farm. It is a really cool hotel that they are working on better marketing for currently. It was crazy to see these huge rooms when people in the community just a few yards away are living in houses smaller than one hotel room. But it is also another great way to provide jobs for community members and to generate income for the farm. After we went to the Bambo Villa to meet with Kuya Shannon, the CEO of the farm. He told us his history and how he got involved with GK. Another SEED student, Mais also spoke with us and told us her story. We heard her talk at graduation as well but it was cool to learn more about the progress of her enterprise.

6/16/2017 (Friday)

This morning we were supposed to help make lunch after breakfast but they didn’t need us by the time we arrived. We took advantage of our few hours of free time and spent a few hours at the pool. It was very relaxing but the sun tired us out quickly. After lunch we were given our internship program for the rest of summer. It was very confusing and overwhelming at first. It seems like we will be working constantly the rest of summer and we won’t be assigned a specific mission like we were originally told. I am a little disappointed because I wanted to focus most of my time on composting and the solar energy projects on the farm but this program will help us see every aspect of the farm and we will definitely be able to make more connections. We are hoping as the week unfolds the program becomes more clear and less overwhelming. We went to help the mango harvest in the mango orchard. King, Ate Carla’s son, was there helping with his cousin Sander. I think he is finally starting to warm up to Jill and I, since he’s been very shy every time we’ve gone to his house.

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We went to the community to watch the boys play basketball against community boys. The boys got yet another roommate, Shamir, who goes to high school with Ryan and Kai, and his cousin, Tim, from England joined us. The boys, specifically Laurence and Xavi, were total show offs during the game, but the community boys are really good and could keep up. Basketball is a huge community event here and the six of us want to repaint the court for them and get them new nets eventually. Jill and I stopped by Ate Carla’s to get our laundry and play with the boys briefly before bed. I will miss them the most when I’m gone, they are so funny and playful.

6/17/2017 (Saturday)

This morning Laurence, Jake, Jill, Amanda, Danielle, Jackie, Mai and I woke up early and began our trek to Tagaytay to climb the Taal Volcano. We ate lunch in Tagaytay at a restaurant called Bag-o-Beans which had an amazing view of the volcano we were about to climb.

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We took a boat to the volcano and hiked up. It was very steep and hot but the view at the top was totally worth it. The volcano is surrounded by lakes but inside the crater is also another lake. We didn’t hike down to it but it was such  beautiful view. We spent about twenty minutes up there enjoying the view and having a mini photoshoot. Everyone wanted pictures with the Americans, which seems to be a trend here. Especially since Laurence’s afro really stands out.

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After our hike back down we drove to Manila. We bathed ourselves in the bathroom with wipes, which definitely got a lot of looks from the Filipinos. We grabbed PIZZA!!! for dinner before meeting Maiki and Xavi. They took us to this really cool bar, Finders Keepers, in Manila. There was a live DJ and we danced the whole night. Laurence and his afro were living it up on the stage and everyone was recording him. We had so much fun and slept the whole bus ride back to the farm. We didn’t get back until 4am, but the day was definitely worth it.

6/18/2017 (Sunday)

This morning we slept in until lunch since we didn’t get back until 4 am the night before. Then we went into Angat to get more pesos, load our phones, and get chicken for dinner at Tito June. It took us about an hour but we were able to trike into town and navigate around by ourselves for the first time. We then had dinner at Tito June with a few of the French interns. It was very delicious and we had another sing a long with Tito June. Overall the day was relaxing and chill, just what we needed after our long weekend.

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