WOOFing No. 2, Laur, Philippines
Feb 28, 2016
|Philippines is a country made up of 7,000 islands with a population of 108 million. The main language spoken is Tagalog (and many people can speak English) but there are many other languages spoken throughout the islands. Philippines has been colonised by Spain way back in the 16th century, Britain occupied Manila for 2 years, and in 1896 the Americans took over, buying the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico for US$20 million. It was occupied by theJapanese during the 2nd world war and finally became independent after the war.
In 1965 President Marcos was elected until he was finally overthrown by "people power" in 1986. 80% of Filipinos are Roman Catholic. The currency used is peso and there are 33 pesos to the NZ $.
We took a bus 4 hours north of Manila to Cabanatuan and got picked up there for another half hour journey to a little town called Laur where we have been WOOFing for the last 10 days.
It has been very interesting. Julie, where we stayed and who is Filipino, has worked for the World Bank in many third world countries for the last 30 years. Her husband, Adrian, who is British, but brought up in Switzerland, has done much advising around the world mainly on urban planning, and still lectures part time at an Egyptian University. They have a house in Washington, DC, another in Geneva, their daughter lives in Toronto, so needless to say they are not your typical Filipinos.
They are attempting to set up organic and permaculture farms with a view to teaching the local people the value of chemical free produce. However, what their website says and what we actually saw were quite different. They had been hit rather badly last year by two typhoons, one in October and one in December which did a lot of damage.
Also, because they are often away tripping around the world, things back in Laur don't always happen like they should. There have been lots of incidences of chickens, pigs, ducks, coconuts going "missing". I think they are finding that the book knowledge and the actual practice are quite different. But they are persevering and have several sites that we worked on and visited.
We prepared the soil and planted seeds in a nursery, wed another block of land where there were seedlings growing, visited their coconut plantation one day by boat, raked up leaves under mango trees and burnt them, cleared old vegetable gardens ready for new plantings and visited a well-established permaculture farm with their employees.
They grow organic rice as well as vegetables, make compost from the pig manure, and make their own "concoctions" to combat pests and to fertilise the plants. They were experimenting for the first time with oyster mushrooms which were being grown in hanging plastic bags filled with spore-seeded rice husks. They were just cutting the ends off the plastic bags to let the mushrooms grow out when we were leaving.
We stayed in Julie and Adrian's house - screens on the windows, hot water shower, swimming pool, cook and housekeeper - so weren't exactly slumming it! On our weekend days off we wandered for miles along the river, past many onion and rice farms and went to a cock fight.
It is a fight to the death and the cocks are fitted with razor sharp ankle spurs. The cocks are goaded into pecking each other prior to the fight while their owners hold them, loud shouting takes place as bets are placed, the cover is removed from the spur and they are placed on the ground. It is all over very quickly. The loser is handed down out of the ring to young boys who immediately set to work plucking it.
We are getting used to eating rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
We are now back in bustling, over-crowded Manila, with lots of traffic problems, ready to head north tomorrow on an 11 day Intrepid Travel trip.