Jill: While Maya was excited about peppers, I was excited about Dom and Volie’s fish farm. I’d seen pictures on Facebook, and was jumping at the opportunity to present our readers back home with an in-depth view of Filipino aquaculture. They happily offered us a tour of their properties.
Maya: In order to get to the fish farm, we had to walk through another baranguay, past rows of drying tobacco and clusters of children who followed us, numbers growing, as we marched past each house.
Jill: Bethany with just a few of the children following us. I love this photo. She’s enamored with the little one; everyone else is watching her.
Jill: As we got closer, we could see the beach on the horizon.
Jill: This, friends, is a Filipino fish farm. El Niño (remember that?) had drastically reduced rainfall in the Philippines, turning what was once a vibrant fish farm into a grazing pasture for cattle.
Maya: We reached the waterfront, just past the “fish farm,” at my favorite time of day. The sun was starting to dip lower in the sky; both light and temperature were practically perfect. I took my shoes off and waded out into the shallows—my first touch of Filipino sand and surf. Once we’d had our fill, we turned back toward the baranguay and headed for the next sight on Dom and Volie’s whirlwind tour.
Maya: As we walked along the raised ground between fish farm and crops, Volie pointed out okra, which I’d never seen in the ground before…
Maya: …and this mystery fruit, which looked kind of like a dog’s giant chew toy.
Maya: Yet another mystery fruit. We didn’t take great notes, obviously; we were going more for a gut experience than an intellectual one. Still, though, if anyone knows what this is, we’d love it if you’d share.
Jill: This trellis system is, according to Volie, the only way to grow squash. When I told her that I’ve always grown them on the ground back home, she looked at me as if I were deranged.
Maya: Tamarind: more tart than the sourest Sour Patch Kid, with just a hint of sweetness. I love the stuff.
Maya: (Volie, however, would beg to disagree.)
Jill: Dom wrestles with a stubborn boar.
Maya: I felt sorry for this guy, spending his days in a concrete pen. He didn’t look too happy to see us.
Jill: Another carabou, finding shade.
Jill: It’s easy to see who has the money in the Philippines.
Maya: Religion is not a topic for light conversation here, though; I made an offhanded comment at our dinner party in Baguio, had a foot-in-mouth moment, and quickly learned my lesson.
Maya: I managed to keep my religious views to myself as we piled back in to Dom and Volie’s wagon and headed for our final destination: Villa Navarro beach club, on the Lingayen Gulf. The resort is home to the longest beach in La Union, and on this particular evening, it also played host to a wedding party.
Jill: We watched from above, delighted to see another part of Filipino culture. The bride and groom, it turned out, were of different religious backgrounds (Catholic versus Protestant) and part of the ceremony was a public chastising by the officiant. While I’ve been to strange wedding or two in my life, I’ve never seen one start with the words, “I shouldn’t be marrying the two of you…” Verna, Ellen, Bethany, Maya and I looked on as the sun set and a sacrament (however scandalous) was completed.
Maya: By the time the novelty of the wedding had worn off, we were almost hungry again. Good timing, too—back at Ellen and Verna’s, dinner beckoned.