Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Final Day...

Well, this is my last full day here. I'm sure Aryn is right, I will miss more than 10 things about living here AFTER I get home. It's hard to come up with things because I'm still here and sort of focused on getting home.

I'm almost all packed. I'm hoping I'm still under the weight limits for my baggage... It may complicate things that I am switching from an international carrier (allowing 70lbs/bag) to a domestic airline from San Francisco to Seattle (usually 50lbs/bag). I hope I can somehow slide through without any problems. I don't want to have to repack things at the airport... :-\ I have no scale, so I can't weigh my bags before I leave. Hopefully it all works out.

Top 10 things I've learned in the Philippines:
***There are lots more, but I don't think you'd read something too long***
1. More about God's sovereignty. I've never doubted that He has been in control this whole time.
2. How to keep my mouth shut every once in a while. My life here has been WAY different than I live my life at home. I've learned that I don't always have to share my strong opinions. ;o)
3. Flexibility. If I had remained as rigid as I was when I got here, I would have been totally miserable.
4. Patience. Life here moves slow, and there's nothing wrong with that.
5. I'm not quite as low maintenance as I originally thought. By this point I've proven to myself that I can live with little, but I can't deny missing some of those luxuries I had at home.
6. Confidence in my ability to get around. I've flown on my own quite a few times in the US, but traveling around here is a totally different kind of travel. =D
7. Assertiveness. Mom and Dad tried to teach me this at home, but I never really believed them. They always said that things don't get handed to me, and that I have to make it for myself if I really want it. Well, it's not quite like that in Lansing, but here it was for sure. I was on my own, and had to make things work.
8. What is really important in life. Leaving behind friends and family was probably the most difficult part of this trip for me. I always thought that I was just stifled in Michigan, and that I could totally make it on my own without a hitch. I was knocked on my butt the first week here, and realized that absolutely was not true.
9. It never hurts to try everything once (unless it's a sin, haha). I did and tried a lot of things here that only enhanced my experience. I would have never ridden on a motorcycle without a helmet in the US, or eaten a partially developed duck egg.
10. We are very blessed in the United States. I knew this before I left because of my time in Panama and Mexico, but it never hurts to reinforce the concept. The majority of the world lives a very hard and laboring life. Things like safety and convenience are not often expected, and it just serves as a good reminder for me that many of the things that I throw little fits about at home don't even matter in the scope of things.

One more post from the Phil coming tomorrow morning...Then I'll be seeing you! =D

Mount Makiling

I climbed Mt. Makiling this morning. It was pretty much one of the stupidest things I have ever done, which is why I'm posting about it AFTER I did it. :oD

I know it's not smart to hike alone early in the morning in the jungle with no load in my phone, ignoring the "DANGER! KEEP OUT" signs... I know that's dumb. But I did it anyway, and I made it down without any injuries or animal attacks. I won't push my luck though; I won't do anymore stupid things for a while...

Top 10 things I'm going to miss about the Philippines:
1. My small group
2. Chowking
3. The cheapness of EVERYTHING
4. Mocha cake from the IRRI cafeteria
5. The rainforest / Jurassic Park-like feel
6. All the walking...I walk a lot
7. Milo freezes from the Mini-Stop.
8. Palm trees
9. Kalamansi shakes from Benito's
10. Watermelon whenever I want.

I think about food way too often.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Three Days...

I finally got the pictures of the fertilizing in Victoria from Wency today! There's not much to see, haha. They'll mostly be for my presentation on my internship I have to do next fall.
I have quite a bit I need to get done today. I have to start packing, set up my transportation for the airport, type up a summary on my experience here, possibly do a little shopping... I have enough to keep myself busy. Here's another list:

Top 10 Most Hilarious Memories in the Philippines:
1. Everyone thinking I was a German exchange student because I didn't have an "American name." Whatever that means... =D A "Rinkenberger" couldn't possibly be from the US!
2. Dr. Zafaralla telling me he would "Smash my face" if I gave him mashed potatoes.
3. Dili and his commentary of American Politics and urban Detroit.
4. Eating goat at Thanksgiving (or eating goat AT ALL.)
5. My entire trip home to Seattle for Christmas. I am so glad I can laugh about it now. The horrors! (This of course includes the Bone Collector taxi incident).
6. On a trip to the Mall of Asia in Manila, I wanted to avoid paying for a taxi, so I walked a half-hour in the COMPLETELY wrong direction, and had to walk all the way back to the bus station. I ended up taking a taxi anyway. (I don't know if I ever told anyone about this...)
7. The first time I ever "Big Timed" a meal at McDonald's. (There it is, Aryn =D ). It was so ridiculously small, and doesn't even come close to the true American super-sizing.
8. The fact that everyone asks me if I've lost weight. HOW FAT WAS I BEFORE?! geez...
9. My sandal's tan on my feet, and my tank-top tan on my chest. The feet are definitely the funnier of the 2 though. It's a perfect "V" on both feet, with the point going between my big toe and the rest.
10. The "Umbrella" dude that works at the front desk. I can't say I think it's that funny while he sings that AWFUL song for hours at a time, but now that I'm leaving--yes, it's funny.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

There was a sunrise service today at 5am. I didn't make it. I was up pretty late last night because Christine, Rochelle, Jason, Sarah, and I watched "The Passion of the Christ" last night, and had a brief discussion. I hadn't seen it yet, but I was prepared.

I did find it frustrating that there was so little emphasis on the most important part of the story-- The resurrection! It was like 5 seconds of it, and very ambiguous. I guess it goes to show that Mel Gibson is a Roman Catholic.

It was a little bizarre here, because EVERYTHING closed down on Friday, but just about everything is open to day--the actual day we celebrate the resurrection. I don't know how I feel about it.

Well, I'm going to be packing and doing some last minute mango shopping these next few days. Won't be long now! =D

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Friday

Well, today is interesting. The whole city has just sort of shut down. It's odd to me that Roman Catholics focus so much on Christ's death, and the resurrection seems to come secondary. There was a candle-light march down Lopez Ave. today on my way to the internet cafe. This place and the mini-stop are pretty much all that is open.

A couple more "f and p mix-ups":
- Someone referred to the "enfloyees" at the rice institute
- The guy at the video rental place telling Sarah that every copy of "The Fassion of the Christ" was checked out! HAHAHAHA. That would be an interesting movie, for sure. ;o)

Leading Haggai went well last night. We had a good discussion about the Temple and God's plan for the Jews.

Here are some pictures:

Back: Ate Vangie, Sarah, and Christine
Front: Frisco, Me, Jason, and Jay (Ryan is in Turkey on vacation)

Enjoying mangostines and other things that Vangie cooks for us! =D

The Consolacion's were great hosts every week. I am going to miss them. :o(

I might do another list later today... I can't think of any ideas right now.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Top 15 things gained (or lost) in the Philippines...

Wow, campus is totally dead. All of the students have gone home for the weekend, and many people in Los Banos have gone to be with family in Manila or other islands. Even IRRI was slow today. It was nice to be able to walk down Pili Drive today in the road instead of dodging cars. =D Here's another list.

15 Things Gained (or Lost) in the Philippines:
1. Tough, leathery feet
2. 30-40 lbs (lost)
3. Long hair and a beard (that will probably be gone by the time I get home.)
4. Historical knowledge of the area
5. New friends from all over the world
6. A new concept of what it means to be patient
7. A legitimate fear of dogs
8. A horrendous tan-line from daily wearing of tank tops
9. A few words of Tagalog
10. A really cool blanket with tigers on it, lol.
11. An understanding of God's sovereignty (more on stuff like this in a "things I've learned" post)
12. Like a billion pictures
13. A contact lens somewhere on Mindoro Island (they're throw-aways, no biggie ;o) )
14. A fondness for toilet paper, lol
15. 5 months of my life that I will never, EVER forget. Daily challenges and blessings that I never would have had if I had stayed at home. =D

Ok, not my best list admittedly, but I still have a few to make up for it.

And yes, I should add "Big timing" my McDonald's meals to my foreign experiences list. I also had the CRAZY typhoons that came through--how could I forget?! I was terrified! haha.

It's sort of unreal that I'll be on a plane at this time in a week, and this whole thing will be over. I have my last small group tonight (I'm leading a study on Haggai). I'll take some pictures! =D

Top 25 Foreign Experiences...

I'm done with tests and exams for the rest of my time here! YAY! =D

Los Banos is slowing down again this weekend. Last week things were slow because everyone was at home watching a boxing match (Boxing is HUGE here), but this weekend a lot of people are traveling, because it's the "Holy week." There is a sunrise service at 5:00AM on Sunday I'll probably go to, but it will most likely be in Tagalog. I should still be able to stay awake though...

Here's my next list--

My Top 25 Foreign Experiences...
1. Eating balut
2. Snorkeling!
3. Jeepneys
4. Cold showers
5. Texting--LOTS of texting
6. Eating durian
7. Using an umbrella when it's sunny outside
8. Riding in a boat over open ocean, with dolphins
9. Drunken tricycle drivers (click for picture)
10. Cleaning gecko poo off my walls
11. Motorcycle taxis through the mountains, and regular taxis that reminded me of horror movies
12. Fertilizing a corn field with nothing but a plastic bottle cap and a stick of bamboo
13. Clinging to the outside of a bus overflowing with people and produce
14. Drinking pop from a glass bottle
15. Wearing shorts and flip-flops all winter long =D
16. "Come back tomorrow." Haha... *sigh*
17. Eating rice with EVERYTHING and other Filipino cuisine (sisig, sinigang, grilled squid, etc)
18. Having a chest X-ray to check for Tuberculosis
19. Ordering "leche plan" and going to the "airfort"
20. Getting felt up by security guards at the mall EVERY TIME I walked through a door
21. Stepping out into the street whenever I felt like it, and dodging the vehicles
22. Meeting people from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Korea, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Germany, France, and England.
23. Watching bootlegged DVDs of the latest movies, and also movies on V-CDs.
24. Jollibee's
25. Involuntary bus tour of the Tokyo-Narita Airport

Monday, March 17, 2008

Top 10 places I've been in the Phil.

Well, I thought I would sum up the top places I've been during my stay here.

1. The Chocolate Hills
2. Sabang, Puerta Galera
3. Alona Beach
4. The South China Sea
5. Intramuros in Manila
6. the Mall of Asia
7. IRRI and Los Banos (duh)
8. Old Spanish Vigan
9. The giant duck in Victoria (it was featured during one season of the Amazing Race)
10. Tagbilaran City

There are more, I'm sure, but these are the ones that really stand out in my mind. I need to come up with a few more ideas for lists.

Today I have three exams, and then I'm pretty much done with school. I have 3 more class periods for my humanities class, but I don't do anything in that class but listen. There are no finals. =D

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Top 20 things I'm looking forward to...

Since I have about 10 days left of blogging, I thought I would start this series of posts called "Top 20 Things I'm..." It will cover things I've learned, things I've seen, things I've eaten, etc. This way I can have a pretty good record of everything I've done and learned here in the Phil.

I'm feeling slightly sentimental today, as all of my fam is in Texas right now, so today will be...

1. Driving! Mom and Dad, can I drive home from the airport? =D I promise not to drive like a Filipino. (If I can help it...) ;o)
2. Being reunited with my slurpee mug
3. PIZZA :-O
4. Spending time with friends and family (this should be higher on the list, haha).
5. 496. I know it's weird, but I miss Lansing's freeway. I drove it practically every day for 5 years.
6. MSU Dairy Store icecream
7. Going back to South.
8. Half-off apetizers at Applebee's
9. Blending in with everyone else, haha.
10. Wide sidewalks
11. Non-ferocious dogs (at least I hope that Otis, Bailey, and Sasha don't try to eat me)
12. Cheese! =D
13. English! haha.
14. Hot showers and flushing toilets. This should be like #5, but I forgot about it.
15. Wearing my hooded sweatshirts.
16. Banana nut muffins and grande spartan spirits from Sparty's.
17. The bench under the maple tree by the pond at GLCC. It's my favorite place to sit and reflect.
18. Carpeting, lol. I don't think it exists here. (even though Mom and Dad are waiting until I get home to move furniture and install it).
19. Tapwater
20. Cooler weather. It will be nice not to be sweating all the time for a while.

Way too many of these involve food, haha. It's odd what you don't realize you have until it disappears for a while! :o)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Happy Palm Sunday!

Hopefully everyone has a smooth trip to Texas. Congrats Bren on the two girls! It should be fun to have new additions to our family, and I'm sure watching me interacting with not one, but TWO babies should be fun for everyone else to watch. I'm not exactly the most experienced with the little ones. Your idea of leaving them with Aunt Arriann and me watching them would probably NOT be providing the best care for them, haha. She'd be much better than me, I'm sure! =D

I started my prep work for Haggai this morning. I've really enjoyed this study on the Jews in exile; it's been very interesting. I have the challenge of leading a study on a book that I just read for the first time this morning. =D I'm sure it will be fine.

10 more days in the Philippines, and I can't believe how fast it's gone. I plan on posting a list of things that I've learned while I've been here, but I'll do that closer to my departure. I took a walk yesterday and thought back to what I was thinking the first time I stepped off the plane in Manila, hopelessly lost. I've grown a lot since then.

I'm sure I've changed more than I realize, and I will notice new changes after I'm back into my own culture and familiar location. One thing I can say is that I've mellowed out a lot. I used to get so bent out of shape about such minor things! =D I still struggle with it, but it's easier for me to just let things go. We'll see if thats true though when I'm late for class next fall and I'm waiting for a train to go by while on my way to the commuter lot. ;o)

Have a blessed week in preparation for celebrating Christ's resurrection! I'm interested to see how things are celebrated here. If Easter is anything like other holidays here, it's going to be CRAZY.

Mark 16:5-7

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' "

Friday, March 14, 2008

Microsoft Office 2007

What did they do? And WHY did they do it?!

My laptop is having issues, so I went to the Internet Cafe, and these computers have Vista. WHY DID THEY CHANGE IT ALL? I have no idea how to do anything in Word or Excel now, the Powerpoint is way different. Where is the "File" menu?

Maybe it's just a Filipino thing? I must say, I'm sort of upset by this. Everything I knew about Microsoft Office just went out the window.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sorry for the Buzzing...

I figure it's sort of easier to just audibly write my blogs, so I did another vid, haha. Sorry for the background noise. It always seems to do that when I'm in my room, which is kind of weird.

Last night we had durian at small group. It's the "King of Fruits" and is famous for it's horrendous smell. It's actually illegal to eat in public places in Indonesia because of the potent odor. It smells like of like fermented onions (ish). The taste isn't that bad, but the texture was sort of weird. I had to try it before I left! =D It's something all of my international Ag profs were talking about when they found out I was coming here. Its actually quite large, maybe about the size of a football, but it still grows on a tree.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's starting to hit me...

I had my last class period for Plant Physiology yesterday. My last lab report was turned in, and I don't have to go back until next Tuesday, when I have both my lab and lecture exams. Then I'll be done with physiology FOREVER! =D

It' starting to sink in that things are wrapping up here. I went for a walk last night before dinner and spent some time reflecting, and I think I've learned a lot. I'll post more on that closer in a couple weeks though. Two weeks from tomorrow... I can hardly believe it! :-O

I had one of the most hilarious conversations I have ever had on Monday. My humanities professor, Dr. Zafaralla, likes to single me out in front of the class every five seconds, and compare the Philippines with the United States. I used to get annoyed by it because I got embarrassed, but I think I've learned how to sort of make it entertaining for the rest of the class, so I really don't mind anymore.

Anyways, we were discussing the role that rice has played in Filipino history and culture, and here's how the converstation went:

(he calls me "Mr. Bryce" because I'm 4 or 5 years older than the rest of the class, haha)
Dr. Z: Mr. Bryce, have you noticed we eat a lot of rice?
Me: Uh, yeah. Definitely.
Dr. Z: In the United States do you eat rice?
Me: Not nearly as often as I do here.
Dr. Z: You Americans eat mashed potatoes.
Me: Well, yeah, sometimes.
Dr. Z: I'm a Filipino, I eat rice. You are American, you eat mashed potatoes. You give me mashed potatoes, and I'll smash your face!" [BIG smile]

HAHA. I didn't really know what to do at this point, but the whole class just busted out laughing. The only thing I could think of to say was "OK sir," and laugh. You have to SEE this guy in order to understand how bizarre the entire semester with him has been. I think I might have a picture somewhere, but he LOOKS like something out of a comic strip.

This is the guy who always says "Did you know dat?" and "oooh boy by George!" and asks his students where they learned to use a computer. I find it hysterical that he really genuinely doesn't know the difference between a laptop and a projector. I'm serious. =D

So that's it for now. I'll do another video sometime soon I think. People seem to like those, even if they don't leave comments. >:o(

*hint hint* =D

Sunday, March 9, 2008

4:30 AM...

I have another video to post that I recorded this morning, but our internet was down again in the dorm. I think whenever we have a "brown out" (aka power outage, a fairly frequent occurance) it messes things up and has to somehow be reset.

[EDIT 2:26PM]

Here's the vid:

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Early morning...

Please keep the Philippines in mind when you pray. Things have been building for a while now, and I don't know if the political issues will be resolved before I leave.

There are a lot of people here who don't like the president here (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, often referred to as GMA). They're calling for her removal from office, and there have been all sorts of rallies on campus and picketers protesting in Manila. I am not sure what the issues are, but the statue on campus has looked like this since Monday:

I'm kind of surprised the Administration hasn't taken that stuff down. I don't watch much news here, so you guys at home might have a better idea of what is going on than I do.

Also, there has been a Typhoid outbreak in Calamba, and it is spreading to Los Banos. I'm not too concerned, because I've been vaccinated and I don't drink the water here, or drinks with ice in them. Mostly bottled water and bottled soft drinks. BUT, restaurants are no longer serving fruit shakes or iced coffees, which is kind of sad. No more kalamansi shakes for me. :o(

For those of you that don't know, Typhoid is a water-borne disease, and it can be pretty awful. There are over 1,000 cases of it in Calamba, and their hospital is packed out. Frisco and Vangie (the people who host our small group) have a niece in the hospital with it right now. :o\

It's very treatable, but it's just sort of scary when there are so many cases popping up. I'm going to be very careful up until the time I leave.

Sorry if this one is negative... It's just what's going on. Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Operation: Schedule Readjustment

"Did you know in the morning they have food, tv, almost everything. It’s pretty good."
- Tracy Jordan, 30 Rock

So it's begun. I'm starting the slow transition back to Pacific Standard Time. I went to bed around 10:00 pm last night and got up at 5:00 am. Next week will be even earlier. I really want to beat the jet lag this time around so I'm a little more alert during the days than when I was in Washington for Christmas.

Sorry if my last post came across as sort of bitter and angry. The bathrooms here are part of the cultural experience, and if anything, it's given me new appreciation for Lysol and floor mats.... and toilet paper of course. ;o)

Hope all the MSUers are having a great time on Spring Break! It's weird not to be going to Florida this year, but I'm sure they can handle the trip without me. =D haha. Although I am wondering who will take my place freaking out about finding various kitchen appliances in the refridgerator.

Thank you, Mike Stein, SB 2007. =D

From this point forward, all you who use AIM can find me online around 4-5 pm Michigan time, so if you want to talk, feel free! I'll be around...

Monday, March 3, 2008

This is not for those easily grossed out...

I put a disclaimer up because some may find this entry gross.

There is NO SUCH THING as a working toilet in this entire country. I'm just saying, if the toilet doesn't flush, you should slap a "Out of Order" sign on it and get it fixed. None of the toilets at my office flush, only one of the toilets in my dorm flushes, and thats probably only 50% of the time. I wouldn't want to be a janitor at all, but here it would be a 1000 times worse.

One odd thing is that public toilets here have no seats. This doesn't make sense to me at all.

This morning when I woke up and went into the bathroom in my hall, there was water ALL OVER the floor. Now, I understand that it's a cultural difference, but I cannot get used to it. These people and their buckets of water that they bring into the stalls with them... honestly--keep it in the toilet or the bucket! PLEASE. I don't want to walk through your water. >:-O I don't understand the aversion to toilet paper... oh wait, the toilets don't flush.

*sigh* only 3.5 weeks until I get back to the land of working plumbing, toilet paper, and hot showers. I've had a great time here, but the bathroom situation sure has been...interesting...

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Tonight has been a little weird. It's almost like they evacuated the dorm or something and forgot to tell me. There's like NO ONE here! I am enjoying the quiet, because I haven't had this...ever...since I've been here, haha.

I haven't blogged much lately because it was kind of a challenging week for me, not all that wonderful. I expect to have those every once in a while, but I really didn't have all that much to write about.

My college group at home left for Florida today, for the annual spring break trip. I'm not really all that sad to be missing it this year. Spring Break for me has always been stressful, because I always took on too much work, and when I got home I was ready for another break. So I don't have that this year, and that's okay. :D

Well, maybe I'll post more in a couple of days. It's hard to believe I have less than a month left in the Philippines!