This is a test, mostly, to see if things were working and that was the first file on my phone to share. It’s just a video of a tiger in a cage at the zoo,taken at night. Nothing spectacular. It may or may not have a tiger roaring, I had two videos on the phone and in one of them a tiger roared,and in the other it didn’t. But I don’t know which this one is.

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To Laugh is to Live

Long ago the gods came to the earth, but there were no people. They said, ‘it is good if there are people. We will make a man and a woman.’ They took some earth and made two people and stood them up. They plucked the feathers from a chicken and made it jump, saying, We shall make them laugh so that they will be alive.’ Then one of the people laughed. He became a man. The other heard the first and laughted also and became a woman.’

A legend of the Kankanay people of Cordillera area of the Philippines. Found in the book Filipinos Writing: Philippine Literature From the Regions, edited by Bienvenido Lumbera

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Davao Diary Update, January 14

We still have no wi-fi, which is making my inner toddler gnash my teeth and stamp my feet. We really don’t have a clue when we’ll get it, either. We keep being told different things, contrary to what I was previously told, and that frustrates me. On the other hand, I have been getting a lot more reading done, and my Visaya vocabulary is probably up to as many as oh, 20 words. Well, considerably more than that if you count the words that are the same or very nearly so in Spanish.

The local people here typically speak 3 languages- their native Visaya or Cebuano; Tagalog, the official language of the Philippines, which is really the native tongue of about a quarter of the population, and most of those are on the upper island, where Manilla is located. There are about 180 dialects currently spoken in the Philippines, according to Wikipedia, btw. The third language is English, which I find spoken at different levels here, but generally enough to get by with the minimum, although every additional word of Visaya you speak seems to broaden the smiles of the already friendly locals just a bit more. They will use these 3 languages all at the same time in a conversation, a sentence will be liberally sprinkled with words from the other two languages. And then, often, of course, many of the words are from the Spanish as well. I astonished our helper this week when I quickly counted to twenty and then rattled off the days of the week and stumbled through the months for her. She was quite impressed with how much I know, but then I had to confess I already knew them because they are Spanish words as well and I already knew them from my Spanish classes. She had no idea, and was very interested. Later I was complimenting her on her ready use of three different languages, and then said it was really four, since she also knew so much Spanish. She laughed, and said yes, but she did not know she spoke Spanish until today.

About our helper…. We have hired a helper two days a week. She and her husband are believers. She is between the ages of my Pip and Jenny-Any-Dots and has four children like stairsteps, little girls. Her husband is out of work, but he is looking. She was the helper for the Korean family from whom we bought a lot of our kitchen and other household goods. They moved very suddenly (the decision was made in a day and they were gone in about two weeks). That meant she suddenly was without employment herself, which would have plunged them into considerable hardship. Another very young missionary family hired her for two days a week, but they couldn’t afford more. She found work with somebody else for one day a week, but still needed at least two more days to make up for the income she’d had before, so one of the missionary families asked us if we were interested, and we were. For us, we have her come a couple hours later than she did before but we pay the same. She cleans the bathrooms, sweeps and mops, does dishes, sweeps the patio, irons if we need her to, hangs out the laundry and will help with chopping vegetables and so forth. If we prefer, she will go to the market for us and buy groceries or she will come with me and show me the ropes. She also speaks fabulous English and is eager to teach me more Visayan words and customs.

Yesterday I was struggling with the pronunciation of a couple sounds that are particularly strange to my American tongue and I caught her trying not to grin. I told her she was having entirely too much fun with this and no more words with the nga sound. Of course, that’s like telling somebody not to think of pink elephants, and the next half dozen words she thought of that I should know, all had some version of that sound. She started laughing and she couldn’t stop, and then I started laughing and couldn’t stop, and then we both were in tears from laughing so hard.

She comes at ten, and she goes home between 3 and 4.

For all this help and comfort, we are paying her seven dollars a day, and that is seen as quite fair, perhaps even on the generous side since she doesn’t start until ten.

I consider it a seven dollars well spent, and am really glad we were told about her. She’s pretty amazing.

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Read While Not Unpacking

Read: Seven Miles to Arden by Ruth Sawyer- Utterly improbable and silly and happily ever after based on 3 days acquaintance and an enchanting dose of imagination, but quite charming and fun. Frothy bubbles which disappear if you try to think too hard about them, but leaves you in a happy mood.

The adopting of Rosa Marie by the author of the incredible sweet and charming Dandelion Cottage (it’s a sequel)- Rosa-Marie is an Indian toddler of about 3, and the taken for granted assumptions about the feelings, or lack thereof, of Indian infants and the attitude against dark skin tone and just everything related to race issues here was just jarring and irritating and horrid, especially because of the taken for granted this is just the way it is among the best and nicest people attitudes. Where Rosa-Marie does not appear (about half the book), the story is a charming continuation of the lives of the characters in Dandelion Cottage. Where she does (and she is not a character, she is merely an object), it was simply appalling.

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Still Here, Waiting for Wi-Fi

We were supposed to have Wi-Fi installed at our house today, and somebody came out to the house, but the internet was not installed after all and we currently have no date when it will be. They came, looked around, and said they had no wires to connect to on the phone poles outside. We have to contact two other companies, which do have wires already running out to our street. Neither is as good as the one we had come out today, and that one, whcih everybody calls the best, boasts of working for you 80% of the time (no lie, that’s their ad promoting their product). The one that can’t install at our place offers 60mbs, and the one that might offers 50, and it’s downhill from there.

Aside from the internet and a really horrible experience I can’t even tell you about with the very primitive bathroom in a local place I cannot avoid* I am still quite happy to be here. I like the people I’ve met at the school and at our church and in our neighborhood. I like the culture, the food, the flowers, the fruit, the fruit, oh my goodness, the fruit.

I don’t think I am going to mesh with this private school much as an educational institution, but I am not the primary employee/volunteer and maybe I am very wrong. I’m just helping out from time to time, and I think my ‘help’ is going to be a Charlotte Mason peg trying to hammer out a space in a Great Illustrated Classics and workbooks shaped hole, but that part is not at all surprising to me. I kind of expected it. The campus is gorgeous. I have heard the library is great, and the librarian has only been here since November and I have met her and I think I will like her and maybe we shall connect. She seems fairly astonishing. She has a medical procedure coming up and I will be substituting for her with a couple classes she teaches, and that mainly means reading aloud some stories to them and checking out books to them from the library, which makes me happy.

I have also met three local homeschooling families. One of them had us over for lunch along with the other two families and it was superb. They were super-nice, lots of fun, and they’ve invited me to come to some of their meetings.

My son can only go to school here part-time because of scheduling issues, and he’ll be playing basketball and possibly something else, which makes him happy. I’ll still be homeschooling him for two or three classes, which makes me happy.

The Cherub seems baffled, but mostly okay. She is sleeping better, and her food issues are actually easier to manage here because corn is not a subsidized farm crop so it isn’t in every single processed product you can find on a shelf.

*(Awful, combined with a stomach thing I’ve been dealing with off and on since we got here made it Mega-Awful Squared, and it was also potentially incredibly humiliating, but I came semi-prepared so it was only incredibly disgusting and personally humiliating. One day I Shall Look Back and Laugh. That day is in the distant, distant future, and I’ll probably have dementia by then so it will go to my grave with me, which is probably where it belongs)

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