On our recent trip to Nasuli, Ben had a number of occasions to play with new found Filipino friends even though they did not share a common language with each other. These two boys are the children of "mother tongue" translators who are working on Bible translation here in the Philippines. Their first language is one of the local languages (I forget the name) and they speak some Cebuano, which is the language Beth and I are trying to learn. They do not know any English. Yet, the boys got along just fine and found a way to play basketball without too much difficulty.
I was playing with them for a while myself. I remember the odd looks on the two boys faces when I tried to say the word ball in Cebuano. That was because I said "balo" instead of "bola". Oh well, they tolerated my slaughtered attempt at Cebuano and we had fun anyway.
The daughter of the van driver and Ben
On our 6 hour trip home, Ben became acquainted with the daughter of the driver of the van. She spoke some English and we think that she might have had a few years on Ben, but they had fun playing together.
All this to say that we are pleased when we see our children getting to know other Filipino children. Sometimes we sense some reluctance on our children's part to get to know Filipinos. That is a natural tendency, of course, to draw back when we encounter a situation or a person who might be very different than ourselves. We all do it from time to time. Beth and I are trusting that God is shaping all of us into the people that he wants us to be.
I've had people ask me how living in the tropics is different than living in Michigan.
Well, for starters it is much hotter here. Right now it is 82 degrees and 75% humidity. (and it's 6p.m. as I write this - which here means the sun is about down.) Real feel is closer to 87. But the real feel for this afternoon was 109 degrees according to Accuweather.com (actual temp was 93 degrees farenheit.)
The hot translates into taking more showers ( 1 - 3/day on average) and using lots of powder!
The sun comes up around 5:15 each morning and sets around 5:30 each night. There is a consistent amount of daylight and dark time hours. No day light savings time needed here!!!!!!
For the kusina (kitchen) the heat and humidity translates into this:
Stove top cooking or microwaving is preferred to turning on the oven.
All flour based products (flour, wheat germ, corn meal, oat meal, spaghetti, pasta of any sort, rice, etc.) need to be frozen for at least three days to keep any little critters from materializing in the product.
It is better to store all grain-based products in freezer or fridge but since room doesn't allow for that, the second best option is to keep everything in plastic seal-tight containers (where is tupperware when you need it!:)) (Actually, the Philippines has an excellent supply of plastic ware and storage containers!)
Eggs are purchased off the grocery or market shelf, not refrigerator section. The eggs are not cleaned for selling so it is important to wash the eggs before using and also crack the eggs into a small container before adding to whatever you are using the egg for...you never know when you'll come across a bad egg!
When you are at a restaraunt you have to specifically ask for brewed coffee, no sugar, no cream. Otherwise you get instant coffee along with cream and sugar.
A 'three-piece sheet set' is likely to contain a fitted sheet and 2 pillow cases. If you want a traditional 'American' sheet set you need to purchase sheets from a store that stocks 'American' or 'Canadian' sheet sets.
That's it for now.....I'll list more differences later.
We recently went to Nasuli, about a 4 hour trip from here. On this trip we had the opportunity to go to a village. We visited with a wonderful lady named BeBe who has worked with SIL since she was 17.
She gave us our first taste of durian. None of us were too impressed with it. It tastes like a mix of rotting onion and fresh garlic. Some people absolutely love it. We've been told it takes several times of trying it to acquire a taste for it.
Durian in a bowl
She walked us around her village. Here are some photos from that walk.
Kurt blogged about a skylab. Here's another sort of transportation used in the provinces.
Here are some typical village houses.
Another Village house
Boy carrying items
Yesterday we just got back from a three day vacation in a place called Nasuli, which is about a four hour drive north of where we are living. Here is just one of the many sights we saw along the way. We were following this motorcycle and I took this picture from the front seat of the van that we were in.
Do you know what a skylab is? It is a motorcycle with a board attached to the seat to make it hold more people and/or goods. That is how the baskets are staying in place in the above picture. In the Philippines, motorcycles are a major form of transportation. It is a little unusual to see a motorcycle with only one person on it. Usually, especially in the province, motorcycles hold from 2 to 6 people. Yes, you heard me right. We passed a motorcycle on Tuesday that held a family of six including very young children. Seeing motorcycles with three or four people was commonplace and hardly worth noting. And these are not large motorcycles either - probably 100cc to 250cc (for you non-motorcycle people those are relatively small).
Yet, the above picture does not hold a candle to the picture that I did not get! A man and his wife were transporting on a motorcycle a whole sala set (living room set) made out of bamboo. On his motorcycle was a couch, two chairs, and an end table, his wife and himself. We were amazed.
Living here in the Philippines as compared to the states is eye opening in many ways. This is especially true in regard to language.
Most Filipinos speak more than one language. To be conversationally fluent in four languages is pretty common. I talked with a young woman yesterday who works in our office who says that she is quite fluent in four languages but can speak a total of eight languages. As a case in point, one of the languages that she said that she was not that fluent in was English - all the while speaking perfect English to me. By the way, she has never taken a language course in her life. Go figure...
You heard the joke about this, didn't you?
What do you call a person who speak three languages?
What do you call a person who speak two languages?
What do you call a person who only speaks one language?
Not to slam Americans, but that joke is reality here. It seems that Filipinos don't even think it much of an accomplishment to speak in multiple languages - it is as natural as breathing to them it seems. They grow up in homes and communities where multiple languages are spoken all the time. That is just totally different from the way that Beth and I grew up. While I'm sure that there are advantages that could be cited for a culture that is more mono-lingual like the states, it is just that language learning ability is not one of them.
So, we are taking Cebuano lessons now and they are progressing slowly - at least it seems so to us. What Beth and I are starting to work on a lot more is trying to talk to people in Cebuano - that is where the real gains in language learning comes. Pray for us as we will be pushing ourselves to use Cebuano daily.