Our Down Time from the First Week
Monday 9th – Friday 13th  

Throughout the week we have been spending time relaxing as well as going to the mall or for a much needed coffee with the Filipino students.  We have all really enjoyed the time we have been able to hang out with some of the students outside of school!  It is a great opportunity to get to know them better and feel more at home here.

All five of us were lucky enough to walk around and watch some of the drumming and dancing of the Dinagyang Festival 2012 Opening Salvo on the afternoon of Friday the 13th.  This festival is a specific event to Iloilo and is an annual religious and cultural event mainly centered on the devotion to the Child Jesus or the Santo Nino.  Every year, men and women paint themselves in dark brown imitating the dark skin color of the natives or the Ati. They then go out in the streets to dance to the hypnotic beating of the drums.  Sadly, during the opening salvo there were no traditional costumes but it was still an amazing sight to see!  On top of that it was an interesting experience for Brooke, Sharaya and Leah as a few different people came up to request a picture with them!!
The festival has many events this coming weekend but we will be in Cebu and Bohol for the long weekend and therefore missing all the traditional costumes, dances and drumming.  A bitter-sweet feeling for all of us!

One of the tribes drumming – the dancers were in front

On Friday night Brooke, Lerissa and Elaine went with a few Paulinian students to the carnival that is set up during Dinagyang Festival. There were numerous games and rides that looked very fun and also a little rickety!  We played a few carnival games and managed to win a couple candies! Before leaving the carnival we went to see a guy driving a motorcycle horizontally in a large cylindrical wooden tube.  He was not even wearing a helmet but was sitting on the motorbike sideways smoking a cigarette.  He was also driving within inches of the open top – right by us.  We realized how this was a huge safety risk not only for the man riding the motorcycle but as well as for us as it was an open area and he could have very well accidentally came out of the wooden tube into the bystanders.  Scared is an understatement of how we were all feeling and we were happy to get out of there even if it was interesting!  It was such an adrenaline rush we went to Starbucks to relax and enjoy each others company!

Brooke and Hannah with our winnings

The crazy motorcycle 

Guimaras Island 

Saturday 14th and Friday 15th

We all got up early (they don’t seem to ever sleep in here) on Saturday morning and drove to the ferry and crossed Guimaras Strait to the province of Guimaras; the mango capital of the Philippines) where we stayed at a private resort called Cabaling Resort.  The view from the resort (and everything about it) was amazing!! On the Saturday afternoon we went island hopping.  We swam in some of the clearest bluest salt water and saw a sea turtle.  We then went home and karaoked after our amazing seafood supper; it was very fun to sing with all the filipino students!  The Sunday morning was filled with a trip to an abbey where they harvest their own mangos and dry them to perfection.  We then visited the ancestral home of the Jordan (province within Guimaras)  Mayor and then headed back to Iloilo.

One of our AMAZING meals 

The view from our resort 

The five of us on Natago Beach – we loved the white sand and salt water!

The whole group with the Mayor

That evening we had supper with all the sisters of St. Paul.  They had  a lot of very delicious food for us such as milk fish, tuna, ice cream and fruit.  We had stimulating conversations with all the sisters as they were ever interested to hear about all our experiences thus far in the Philippines.

We have all had wonderful experiences both inside and outside of the clinical setting and can not wait to experience even more of the Philippine culture!

For more information on Dinagyang Festival 2012 visit: http://www.byahilo.com/2011/05/23/dinagyang-festival-2012-schedule/#ixzz1jcbpPuFa