The time has come the walrus said to talk of many things...
The Bishop's TourThis past week I had the opportunity to see new parts of the Philippines when I joined a group of the Bishops from Province IX (Central and South America) on a tour of various development sites supported by the Episcopal Church of the Philippines. The goal of the excursion was to view different projects and learn how the Episcopal Church of the Philippines has become self sustaining. On Thursday seven Bishops came down to the Episcopal Diocese of Santiago to learn about the rice trading Cooperative and the Foundation of St. Mark's. The foundation of St. Mark's gave a wonderful presentation about who they are and what they are doing for the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Santiago then we had a Welcome dinner and celebration.
The next day we visited some of the cooperatives and the churches who run them, the Bishops asked many questions and all together seemed very excited about the work happening in EDS and how similar projects could be implemented in their own Dioceses.
We also took a brief trip to Upi in the Southern Philippines where Bishop Dani of EDSP and Sir Bong an E-Care project officer showed us their rubber tree farm. (a brief commentary: the trees don't actually bend like rubber at all and I believe the name should be changed to tree with sap that makes rubber, it would be much less deceiving) We spent the afternoon viewing their farm projects and the evening with a presentation from the diocesan staff and the young people of St. Francis School. A unique part about the Rubber tree cooperative is that the church en-cared the project to the St. Francis school so all the profits go towards its funding.
I had a really great time with the Bishops and it gave me an opportunity to dust off my Spanish....which became really confusing since I am currently trying to learn Ilokano.
Office activities:After being in the Philippines for a little over a month I am finally really learning about all the incredible things that are taking place here in the Episcopal Diocese of Santiago. I had a chance to orient with all the departments of the Diocesan office. I spent a few days with the Foundation of St. Mark's which provides general productive loan assistance, micro financing, cooperative assistance, organic farming promotion programs, and relief programs.
I also spent some time with the Christian Education office where I helped plan a youth leadership day for their youth program here called SKEP. After morning prayer, there was a session on developing leadership skills within the church, we played games, learned new songs, and in the afternoon had an acolyte training session. The youth are so fun and energetic and always sang and danced with all their energy.
There was a house blessing in the community on the same day as the SKEP conference so all the youth were invited to attend the lunch. When a priest blesses a house there is always a Eucharist and a fest and the entire community is invited. This particular feast was for a house/office building for a family who is closely linked with the foundation of St. Mark's here at our office.
Harvest Time:One of the major business of Dap-Ayan and the Foundation of St. Mark's is rice trading. Many of the people here in Santiago are farmers and the main crops are rice and corn. The St. Mark's foundation with the help of Dap-Ayan (the E-Care shop here) buys the rice from the farmers who are members of the cooperative at fair prices. Dap-Ayan dries, stores, and later sells the rice. For small farms it can be hard to find space to dry and store the rice as the spaces are very limited and become very expensive around harvest time.
Most people are only left the option to use the side of the highway which is not technically legal though it is usually allowed because many farmers just cannot afford to rent the spaces and availability is often limited around harvest time. Because the crops are such a large part of the livelihood of most of the people, the Highway patrol usually chooses to look the other way...usually.
This morning when the manager arrived at Dap-Ayan he found a new sign erected in front of the store which reads "Notice Drying of Paylay and corn strictly prohibited along the road way. Penalty: Fine P2,000 and improsonment of Six months.
A few things to notice in this picture: The wonderful Dap-Ayan store to the immediate left of the sign, St. Augustine's Cathedral beside it, the sign declaring the illegality of paylay (rice) and corn drying, oh and the corn being dried directly under the sign. And the beat goes on.