Tuesday, May 8, 2012

han, Camp ManggahMangroveMManan, Rat Dilemma, Sanctuary Turn Over Ceremony, Manggahan, CampCamp

Living in a native house as I have almost a year one gets used to an assortment of critters.  I do not really mind the moths, mosquitos, lizards, flies, ants, and everything else that I share my house with.   Except, the rats that have seemed to think they are invited to roam my cement floors and GI sheet metal roof without consequence.  I tried many organic methods to exterminate these dirty vile “animals.”  After many failed attempts to drive them from my humble dwelling I was forced to buy some rat poison.  About 4 weeks had come and gone before I bought the rat poison and had a pretty good idea of their migration pattern.  I sprinkled some rat poison where they mostly came in and out of my hut.  So you’re thinking ok problem solved right?.. Wrong! Living in rural areas of the Philippines everyone owns a lot of chickens.  They are not relegated to a certain area or property and therefore roam quite far and freely.  So, for about 10 days I had to feed the chickens that would come close to my house to keep them away from the rat poison.  chickens+rat poison+me/ neighbours eating the infected chicken= dilemma.  The rat activity has stopped, but I have yet to find any bodies; which is not too surprising since the ants or dogs could have consumed the bodies before I was able to find one.  I made the decision to wash away the poison because the chickens caught on to me and started coming to my house more often…. Expecting food.  Everything seems to be an adventure here, even trying to exterminate a few rats. Nothing is as straight forward as one wants it to be.
The third week of April; all 5 PCV’s here in Guimaras participated by having an interactive and informational booth in the Agri Trade Fair Center for the weeklong provincial fiesta known as manggahan.  We worked together with our counterparts to inform the community about projects we have been working on. The two main focuses were solid waste management and sexual health awareness. 
 The highlight of the booth was the Wheel of Knowledge. Participants spun the wheel and then answered questions concerning the two main topics of the booth and some fun facts about Peace Corps and Guimaras Province for prizes. Every participant was able to answer the questions because the answers were inside the booth. There was also a 'Dare' spot on the wheel. If participants landed on the dare, they were given a challenge where they could win a bracelet or t-shirt advocating volunteerism. Challenges included things like, picking up 10 pieces of plastic trash to stuff into a bottle brick, or bringing a stranger to the booth and teaching them about sexual health awareness. There were also age appropriate questions and challenges for the children that participated.
 The community members that shared the booth with the volunteers played a vital role in drawing in the crowds of people to participate in the event. Throughout the week community members, counterparts and volunteers helped to make the booth a huge success.  We received our funding from the Governor of Guimaras and it was a great week to be outside and informing people of who we are and what we do. 

The turn over ceremony happened to work out perfectly because we were ready to turn over the sanctuary to the community during their barangay fiesta.  This was advantageous for two reasons… It first gave the sanctuary more press since we had the ceremony at the food court of the fiesta and second more people came to check it out.  Over the course of the last few months I have purchased snorkel gear, t shirts, flashlights, binoculars, a motorized patrol boat, mangrove planting, and built a guardhouse.  We were officially “turning the equipment over” to the community of Avila.  We had a little program where the head of the fisherfolk organization (Restie), barangay captain (Aster), myself, my supervisor, and another local community leader (Rey) all spoke.  It went really smoothly even if it started 2 hours late.  I got a great sense of self-satisfaction to know that we all worked together for over a year to put this project together.  I could not have done it without the help and support of the community of Avila.  It was a great accomplishment for barangay Avila and for the greater municipality of Buenavista, with this being their first marine sanctuary.  I can only hope that the people of Avila do their very best to protect it and other barangays will want to replicate their pilot sanctuary in the future.  I spent the majority of the weekend in Avila celebrating our sanctuary implementation and fiesta.  If you’re an avid reader of my blog then you know what happens here during fiestas… Drinking and eating… a lot.    
May 20-22 &24-26 the five us will be putting on a two, 3 day environmental camps for every high school in the Province of Guimaras.  Additionally, we will be taking 10 students from the barangays where Jensen, Stef, and I established our sanctuaries’.  The general theme of the camp will be marine sanctuaries, but we will be having many activities...  Coastal clean-up, mangrove planting, scavenger hunt, bead making, snorkelling, lectures on leadership and environmental topics.  We have been planning out the schedule for the camp over the past 4-6 weeks and it was coming together as seamlessly as possible.
I will be heading back to Banate, my training site, for their municipal fiesta on June 24th.  Also, after the camp, I will start my final project here at my site…writing a municipal wide coastal resource management plan. 
Dason lang,
Mangrove planting with fisherfolk.  Over 800 seedlings

Attaching the sign to the guardhouse

My speech for the turn over ceremony

L to R: Aster, Restie, Supervisor, Counterpart, and Me

Fisherfolk that came to ceremony.  We are all wearing t-shirts I had made

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