Friday, January 30, 2009

Home Away from Home

Really, the girls can't feel homesick when all around them are the familiar neon signs of their Papa's favorite watering hole. And unlike back home, they get their ice-cold frosty drinks more frequently because it is 36 deg. C outside! No wonder the baristas already know us by name.

The bright pink and orange sign beckoned to the girls, a reminder of post-Sunday Mass treats that only their Papa would offer. Besides, we couldn't resist the tagline that we won't ever see back home: Pasalubong ng Bayan (a souvenir for the entire community). And where else could we get purple ube-flavored, flower-shaped donuts?

Unless Uncle Bill surprises us.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The To-Do List

My SIL emailed before we left, and wrote, "Eat mangosteen until you can't stand the sight of it. Tackle the Taho man when he goes by the house. Soak up the sun and the Tagalog and the relatives to your heart's content. You deserve it. Congratulations."

I'm not sure I deserve it but I am happy that DH made many sacrifices to give me this vacation. This man's least favorite season is "anything cold" yet he is happy to let us cool down with fresh mango shakes in high 80s weather. I don't want his sacrifices to be for naught, and the least I can do is to follow my SIL's advice and to maximize the opportunity. This past week, I am happy to report that I have introduced my girls to two new fruits, mangosteen and lanzones, and have allowed them to eat (really good) bananas and mangoes for dessert.

I am even happier to report and introduce y'all to the Taho Man. DH and I met Mang Dante more than 10 years ago, and he took to my husband like a brother. The girls first met him via Skype, and just yesterday, bought their first cup of taho from him. The exchange conducted in English (by Mang Dante) and the girls (in Filipino) was priceless, and happily recorded for posterity.

Three months will be over in no time. The girls may not be fluent Tagalog speakers by the end of their vacation but I hope to have piqued their interest and sparked a love for their heritage. As homeschoolers, we do make ourselves more aware of the learning opportunities available to us. We have called this quarter our Winter Term Abroad even though nothing in our environment reminds us that it is winter! But every walk around the block is an introduction to native plants. And even a trip to the local mall is a study in local habits and favored cuisine. They now know that in the Philippines, they don't need to flock to Chinatown to celebrate the start of the Year of the Ox. Any mall would do.

In the following weeks, we hope to know Jose Rizal and Calamba as well as we do George Washington and Mount Vernon. We hope to understand our Catholic heritage through the eyes of the Spaniards who built the churches in old Manila, and the faith of the Filipinos who died for it. We also hope to have fun at the pool --a saltwater swimming pool, that is-- as we learn about saving a local watershed.

Yes, I am soaking up all that I can, and making sure that DH is getting his money's worth.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

To Market, To Market!

It was a typical morning on our first week on the other side of the globe. Jet lag caused us to be up at 5 a.m., to be done with breakfast at 6, and to be back from our morning walk by 7. But it was a Thursday, and there was a bustle in the house as Anda prepares for her weekly trip to the city market.

Market day had always been Thursday when I was growing up. There were a few occasions when my mother would bring us --generally when the housekeeper was on vacation. Then she'd have to take me and my brothers with her, drop us off at the vegetable vendor's stall, and do her marketing. I didn't realize that the sight and smells of the market had stayed with me until today.

The little one wanted to go on an outing, and the home educator in me took over. A trip to the market? Why not? She'd see where pork comes from, how calamari looks like before it gets a makeover, and tropical fruits that cost a bundle when shrink-wrapped at the local Safeway back home.

I didn't find anyone I knew from my youth, nor anybody who remembered me when I was younger. These were the next generation suki --my mother's regular vendors, her favorite stops at the market. These are the people, who, on Thursdays, would already set aside my mother's fish for the week; who would pick the best of the crop for her; who would never sell her old stock. These are the people who would receive pasalubong --souvenirs from my mother's overseas trips. These are the people who welcomed my little one today.

The market was just like I remembered it --wet, smelly, and filled with the banter of friendly negotiations. The little one smiled through the smells, and politely acknowledged all the greetings from my mother's suki. It was a trip to the market with her grandmother --a field trip 14,000 kilometers from home.