Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I have settled back in at site after some crazy traveling as I have outlined in my past blog post.  Since returning from Morgan’s camp, PDM, and VEG training a lot has progressed with my two main projects at site.  I will begin with the assessments I conducted first being, in Nueva Valencia (Jensen’s site) which is the southernmost municipality on my island.  We did assessments for 4 days at three different sites around his municipality.  We conducted coral and seagrass assessments, snorkeling.  I point this out because it seems like CRM PCV’s in other parts of the Philippines have gotten to scuba dive while doing these assessments.  However, with us being on an island that is 40 km long we don’t have access to compressors to refill tanks.  Sorry for the rant…..  Jensen lives in a small nipa hut…. Steph (PCV in Jordan) and myself were there to help with the assessments.  Needless to say trying to find a place to sleep was an adventure.  I slept on the floor which is made up of bamboo and Jensen’s “mat.”  This entails a 1 to 2 inch thick mat that you blow air into.  Steph, being the only girl got the bed and Jensen was relegated to the hammock outside.  The mosquitoes were also quite bothersome.. We all got tons of bits during the night, so Jensen had to sleep in sweatpants tucked into his socks and a long sleeve shirt.  The first day we did seagrass assessments and were all viciously attacked by tiny jellyfish.  I was in the water for about 1 hour and had to get out because my whole body was getting stings all over it.  There are tons of little jellyfish, some you can see and some you can’t all over here in the Philippines.  The silver lining…. Jensen was a great cook for us… making vegetables and rice every night, WELL DONE SIR!
The next week was assessments at Steph’s site, in Jordan.  This is the capital municipality of Guimaras and a neighboring municipality of Buenavista.  PCV’s helping with the assessment were Steph, Elliott, Laura, and myself.  We spent 4 days assessing 2 different sites for a potential MPA that Steph wants to implement, snorkeling of course.  One of the highlights of this week was the awesome lunches we got to eat on the bantay dagat (coastguard) boat everyday.  In the AM we would head to the market and get fresh fish, rice, and veggies.  The PCV’s would do assessments in the morning and the bantay dagat would have some awesome grilled fish for us right when we got back.  Additionally, we found a little cave that had two holes or passage ways under the water that we swam through.  Overall both assessments in Nueva and Joran went well and we got some really good data for Jensen and Steph to use in the future.  I also was able to meet some representatives from NGO’s in Guimaras that I can tap for future projects.

Some brain coral in Nueva

Jensen's gnarly rash from either fire coral or jellyfish

N.V. Assessment Team

I came back to site with a newfound vigor and enthusiasm to my MPA project off the ground.  The MPA will be affecting two different barangays, so my counterpart and I went off to set up meetings with the two barangay councils.  These are like city councils, the lowest level of government that exists in the Philippines.  The first week of June we went to brgy Avila and the second week we went to brgy Umilig.  I presented the data we gathered during our assessments in February and also presented on what an MPA is and why it should be implemented in their specific baranagay.  The meetings went pretty well, but you can never expect anything to run smoothly. 

Brgy Avila thought that since the MPA is contained more in their brgy that they should have more say when we form the management council.  Brgy Umilig wanted to move the entire MPA to the north, taking it completely out of Avila and into the neighboring brgy to the north.  With the help of my counterpart and supervisor we were able to convince them to leave the proposed site as is.  Next week were trying to conduct a joint meeting between Avila and Umilig to get on the same page.  With the goal being to get a management committee formed and a barangay resolution written.  The resolution will then be passed on to municipal hall to enact the MPA into law. I am about 75% done with my VEG grant in which I am requesting 3,500 dollars for a plethora of items to get the MPA up and running.  Will have the grant submitted by Friday and hope to hear back from PeaceCorps by late next week. 

Presenting to brgy council of Avila

Avila brgy council

Lecture in Umilig

Counterpart breaking it down

Brgy council of Umilig and myself

Seal of Avila.  Map of Guimaras... Buenavista is in blue, jordan red, and nueva green.

BACKFLIP off the bantay dagat boat in Jordan!

Today we conducted our tilapia in cages aquaculture training to some beneficiaries (local farmers) for alternative livelihood.  There were representatives from my office, the provincial government, and the bureau of fisheries and aquatic resources for my region of the Philippines.  If you remember this was the grant my counterpart and I wrote back in November for 50,000 pesos…. Were just starting the project now.  Even though it is taking so long to get going it is going to be really helpful to the farmers, we are projecting they will make around 6,000 pesos per month.

I am just about at 10 months in country and I cannot believe it has gone by this fast.  It seems like times goes by at a snails pace or too fast.  As I look back at almost a year in country it is really amazing the amount of new friends and relationships I have developed here in the Philippines….. both, PCV’s and my Filipino friends.  I am happy with my experience here so far, trying sometimes but very rewarding.  I know when I go back home in a little over a year I will be a completely different person from the one that came here in August.  Those are my words of wisdom/deep thoughts.  Halong mga migs!
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