I had only been back in the Philippines for 1 week when I was invited to a local’s house for a fiesta feast! And the brilliant fact is that isn’t even unusual. A large part of the reason I fell in love with the Philippines when I first visited last year was definitely the people. They are among the friendliest and most generous I have ever met throughout my travels.
When I arrived in Dumaguete on the 5th of June I jumped on the first available trike with my life on my back and followed Reef World Programmes Manager Chloe to my new home by the beach. Instantly my trike driver Tony was my tour guide. He lived in our village so it quickly became routine for him to pick Jula (Reef World Intern) and I up and drive us to our office in the city. After just 1 week we were invited to his house on June 13thfor a special fiesta to celebrate San Antonio de Padua’s Feast day.
A proper Filippino fiesta has to have lechon and this one was no exception. For those of you who don’t know, lechon is basically a hog roast. The bigger the better! Tony was a true Filipino host, constantly plying us with food. Delicacies included lechon (obviously), rice (obviously), pineapple, coconut milk, cake and lots of San Miguel. If we ever managed to make it halfway through a drink or a plate of food it was quickly refilled and we were never allowed to be full!
Most of the afternoon was spent at Tony’s house eating food, meeting his extended family and trying to learn as much of the local language, Visayan, as possible. Once Jula and I were suitably stuffed we ventured out into the local municipality, Sibulan, to visit the fiesta market and the San Antonio de Padua Church. I hadn’t considered it a highly populated municipality until that moment. Thousands of people were milling around the market stalls and flocking to the church to pay homage to San Antonio. The sheer volume of people touching Jesus’ statue in prayer had literally rubbed his legs raw!
It was a wonderful day and a brilliant re-introduction to the Philippines. I cannot wait to hit the ground running as a Reef World Intern, sitting in on the Zoox Experience Programme and starting my Green Fins Assessor training.