Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Filipino Roast Monkey Christmas?

Merry Christmas everyone!

My friend Andrew asked me the other day what kind of roast Monkey I had had for my Filipino Christmas dinner. He was joking of course, but it got me reflecting on the Christmas cultural experience I've been experiencing this last Holiday week. I've completely stopped working and have left Sagada for the Holidays.

I've been here in Manila for the last week with my lover. Although Sarah is Filipina, she is also vegetarian, so, alas no roast monkey! And no, they don't eat monkey here-- that's just a figment of Andrew's rampant imagination!

However, they do have a tradition here that they call Noche Buena. That means a midnight on the 24th they have a big feast (A big ham or roast chicken). We spent the last few days and Christmas eve evening with her family and had a really really nice time.

Christmas Eve we went to an absolutely packed Christmas Mass. The country is very Catholic and that means everyone goes to Church this day. We had to stand way at the back by the door for an hour-- as long as we could endure!

Back at the family home, we were treated to a really nice Christmas meal. Various plates of tofu, rice, fish and shrimp were served. Then their special chocolate cake desert. They even cracked a bottle of Champagne for me! They don't normally do this, but after hearing how a Christmas Eve bottle of sherry is part of my tradition-- well, champagne was the closest thing to sherry that they had! That was very nice. A touch of home for me.

At midnight, the family said a prayer, then the kids excitedly opened their presents. After the gift giving we said goodbye and returned to our place. The streets were full if singing and firecrackers and people celebrating.

I am however not a vegetarian. The next night, I was compelled by a primitive carnivorous Christmas urge. I snuck off from Sarah and bought one of the remaining roast chickens at the roaster across the street and treated myself to a private feast. Of course, I got in a little trouble when I showed up late and full to her apartment for dinner!

Fortunately it's Christmas.

Forgiveness is the the spirit of the season.

Ummm... Right Sarah?

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Ancients Smile - II

These woman are the pillars of culture and wisdom in the village.  They have lived.  The evidence of the generations they have supported is written on their faces.  Despite this, they can give the most dazzling smiles.  

Now that the portraits are officially delivered, here is a second photo taken of the old women of the village of Mainit.  I was asked to take this photo, only if I brought a copy back to the ladies.  They were laughing about how tall I was and how much difficulty I was having with eating the rice with my hands!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Yesterday I received this handwritten note. It was from my friends who I sent deep into the mountains to deliver photos-- to the family's and old ladies mentioned in my last post.

The note is clear. As I promised them... They had quite the adventure! The expedition took them waaayyyy off the beaten tourist and even backpacker track. I am sincerely proud of them. Their note describes the perils of the journey-- lost, running out of water, and being hosted the night in the furtherthest village.

Despite the arduous adventure, I detect in between the lines that it was well worth it. A rare and special experience-- they're going to have some great stories to tell!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Ancients

In the remote villages here in the Northern Philipines, you see the most amazing faces and smiles. It's like that in rural and traditional communities around the world. Especially with the young and the elderly. The faces of the elderly tell the stories of ages long past.

Perhaps never in human history has the disparity between the generations been so great. The elderly here in the remote villages remember an era before the missionaries had arrived, when loin cloths were the normal attire and the houses were made of grass.

The other day, on a dirt road, I passed an old bent man wearing a loin cloth and carrying a spear. His passing was like touching a shadow. A last flickering shadow of an ancient way of life .

Its next to impossible to get photos of the old people. The young people here are shy enough! The old folks so much more-- Especially of white people and technology. Yet, I've been here a while now and the people know me. There's a remote village I have visited three or four times now. At a wedding I was invited to, my limited Kankanue got me talking with the old women. And, to my immense surprise-- they asked me if I could take their photo!

What an honor.

But there was one condition. They asked me if I could bring them copies of the photos. I gladly and solemnly consented. In the dusk and firelight, I snapped a few precious shots the best I could.

I haven't been able to return to the village and fulfill my promise-- til this past weekend. I set some backpackers up with a journey into the mountains to make portrait deliveries. You can read about that in my last post. In the meantime, I am honored to share these portraits of these amazing beings with you.

More portraits to come...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Blessing Delivery

My three new friends sit on top of the local Jeepney holding three envelopes full of blessings. I met the three travelers the other day on their visit to Sagada. They seemed like an adventurous bunch capable of handling a route off the beaten path.

I have three sets of portraits that I have been meaning to deliver to three villages in the area. It's a fairly rigorous hike out there, so I've been bidding my time to return. However, these guys were eager for some adventure, so I told them about the delivery mission. They were keen, so I drew them a map and taught them some basic Kankanue. After some printing problems were vanquished, they were off after a nice brunch together.

This is a photo of them heading off photos in hand! We'll see if they make it back!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Co-Creating the Guina'ang Elementary Library & Mandala / Oneness in Action

The final movie is now launched! I really excited about this project. Anyone can help make it happen. Co-Create a library and mandala with us in a remote elementary school in the Northern Philippines. We're doing it 1 simple and small action, donation and book at a time. Together we co-create a beautiful blessing! Read the full project brief here:

Working hard on 1Actions

We're almost ready to post the final version of the Guina'ang project video.  We'll be using this one to gather momentum for manifesting a mandala and library and mandala for the school.  It will be a full out social media experiment in connecting people 1 to 1.  Folks will mail their books right to the students and 1 Book at a time we'll co-create the library.