Sunday, December 15, 2013


Last week was the ISM high school's ICARE program. It is a week dedicated to get involved in the Philippino community in Metro Manila and beyond. Alicia participated in the SPECS ICARE (lots of acronyms in the Filipins) which I visited early on in the year with Emmerson. It is a community center which serves a very poor neighborhood built around a cemetery and former trash dump. I created a post back in September about the site. My ICARE was provincial about three hours south of Manila in an area called Batangas. The site is known as STILTS after the resort where we stay while partnering with two local elementary schools in doing a variety of activites and projects. The ISM studnets led classes and painted the concrete surfaces at the school.

The STILTS provincial site is known for being the cushy ICARE because of the amazing resort where we stay. It is owned by a former ISM employee and is quite the complex. If you are ever in Batangas, I highly recommend a night or two at STILTS. A busy few days and overall a great experience.

The following images are from the bus ride to the site.

We stopped off at Tagaytay, the popular weekend getaway destiantion outside of Manila. We went there during orientation back in August and I posted images of the volcano in the lake back then. Many road side attractions, stores and restaurants for travelers. Starbucks is alive and doing quite well here in the Filipins. Our kids lined up out the door. It was actually cool (relatively speaking) and misty - nice change from Manila.

ISM kids getting fueled up for the remainder of the drive to Batangas.

One of many new hotels going up in the area.

Our buses.

The rest area had a supermarket and the infamous durian - king of SE Asian fruits - it is a beast of an eating experience for a variety of reasons. To the uninitiated, the smell and texture are often horrifying, to the aficianado, they are bliss. 

Roadside view of rural Filipins.

Rice fields from the bus. Philippines have trouble with rice self sufficiency because they do not have a large river delta and flood plain on which to grow massive amounts of rice  - like in places like China, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma - the Filipins is actually quite small and most of the islands have mountainous, volcanic interiors and thus none of the afore mentioned premium rice growing situation as steep hillside prevail. This explains why the IRRI (international rice research institute) is in the Philippines, coming up with GM rice types to maximize rice production  - many of the new strains of rice (there are 100's) from IRRI are grown around Asia.

I love rice.

The Filipins ragged volcanic, mountainous landscape.

The main attraction of Tagaytay - the lake in the 
massive crater of a former volcano and the little 
voclano/island emerging from the volcanic lake bed.

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