Friday, November 28, 2014

It's been awhile since my last blog post and I'm somewhat scared of forgetting something, but I'll try my best. I think I am well and truly acclimated to living here now. I've quit shopping at the nearby supermarket in favor of the large open-air Baguio Market. The meat market is the most colorful part of this experience, a large tent full of butchers who will cleave your meat to your specifications and where you can buy pig heads and various innards as well as the more familiar parts of the animal. I've learned how to cook adobo, the most typical Filipino recipe, consisting of meat boiled in a mixture of soy sauce, ginger, vinegar, garlic, and onions. I'm getting better at eating with my hands, (three fingers to scoop and push the food to your mouth with the thumb). My Ilocano is still sadly lacking, but I know how to say “lets eat”, “I'm hungry” and the names of several different types of food, and my friends assure me that this is all one really needs to know. I still dream about home sometimes, but I invariably wake up when I start to wonder how I'm going to get back in time for class.

Which brings me to my class, which has at last started! I'm having a great time, and learning rapidly. I teach high school three days a week and elementary two days, teaching those students who are interested and who have instruments how to play those instruments. They range from a couple already competent guitar players (who I fear may be better than me) to the students who have never touched their instruments. I've got piano players, guitarists, violinists, drummers, recorder players, and one girl who said she wanted to learn cornet but has since decided to learn guitar instead. I'll admit I'm relieved. Almost none of them can read music, almost none of them have ever been a member of any kind of ensemble before. I spend the class periods scurrying around from instrument to instrument giving each a phrase to learn by rote and then whirling around to the next and trying desperately to keep everyone on track. When class ends at four I go home and pass out. I worry that I'm not being effective, but despite that (because of it?) the students still seem to like me. They still shout “hello sir!” as I walk across the campus, and at lunchtime some of them come to eat and hang out in my office. I often would very much like to nap during this time, but I don't have the heart to turn them away. Besides whether they come because of a desire to play more music or a curiosity about the American, a little extra practice never hurt anybody.

I've joined to choir at the church by the school, Holy Innocents Episcopal, and it has been wonderful for a number of reasons. I've made a number of friends, six of the men in the choir are my age, and of course the aunties and uncles are all very sweet as well. Especially nice is the fact that most of them are local, so when I walk down the street now I have a good chance of seeing people I know. Then there's the fact that all of our rehearsals include food, at least some bread or pastry and coffee, but sometimes full meals. And of course the aunties know that I live alone and so insist that I take leftovers home with me. Finally of course is the chance to be a part of a rather good choir, I've started singing tenor and on the hymns I like to play along on the violin, so it's really excellent practice for lots of different musical skills.

This Tuesday I'll be travelling to Manila for the consecration of the new prime bishop of the Philippines. I'm excited to see the capital for the first time (I don't count the week following my arrival because I spent most of it asleep), and my friends at the national office, and of course a big cathedral service with all the smells and bells is always a good time, but somewhat nervous about that oppressive lowland climate.

By the way, I almost forgot to brag about my latest culinary feat, I've tried balut. Balut is a food I first read about in an article called “5 Disgusting Foods You Won't Believe Are Delicacies in Other Countries” and I'll leave it to the less squeamish among you to look it up. Suffice it to say, the crunchiness was somewhat disconcerting, but overall it wasn't too bad.  

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