It’s hot but that’s nothing new. The over-hanging mangrove trees and the bamboo stalks do little to offer anything in the way of comfort. Every few minutes a slight breeze will blow by and tease the skin just enough to offer hope but not enough to deliver. I’m covered from head to toe in sweat. How the locals survive it all I do not know; probably the same way I do – I pump a few buckets of water from the well and take a shower.

Life in the provinces has a pace all it’s own and the concept of time here is limited. I do my best to understand what I can only call the ‘Filipino Clock’ but the nature of it completely eludes me. There must be some scheme to it all as things magically get accomplished whether it’s the laundry, the cooking, the rice harvest or one of the many social gatherings. Unfortunately the tick-tock of that clock beats at a rhythm that is completely out of sync with my ever so American pace of speed. I want to plan things now, do things now and complete things now but the word subong (“now” in Ilongo) is seldom heard here except when the only American in this town uses it.

I would like to say that I’ve immersed myself into the culture and, in some ways I have, but it is really less of an immersion and more of a sprinkling. There are some things I will probably never adjust to. I can handle the modest to impoverished nipa huts and a life style that somewhat resembles permanent camping but I will probably never adjust to the lack of privacy. I for one am quite accustomed to showering in the seclusion of my own bathroom; showering in front of the nipa in full view of the family and neighbors (even if in a bathing suit) is somewhat awkward for me. The scrub-down by my fiancee I enjoy – in the company of the family, ehhh….not so much.

It seems to have taken me quite some time to realize that Filipino culture centers around what can only be stated as a village life. No matter how large the barangay, the town or the city, it is still a village. What happens on one side of the

Jen & Brothers

Jen & Brothers

village will soon be known on the other side of the village and identifying all the appropriate elders that govern a situation can be trying to say the least. There are few secrets here and the expectation of such is almost a foolish notion. It is this concept of village life that troubles most Americans who relocate here but, like it or not, it is what it is.

I still crave the occasional foods I am so used to having at my beck and call but the cravings are more of an afterthought rather than actual need. I am quite content with the tocino, the adobo, the endless bowls of rice and the bread slices. Food has never been one of my weaknesses and thus my transition has been easy in that regards. If anything, I miss convenience. None the less, abandoning that revered American god for a simpler world leaves me no regrets. If I regret anything, I regret not leaving sooner.

As I consider those missing regrets I’m sipping upon my second cup of coffee and watching Jennifer stoke the coals of the cooking fire. In the distance is the rising of the smoke plumes used to fumigate the mosquitoes out and the sun is setting over the palm trees. It’s a picturesque scene, the closing of a beautiful day that could not be painted any better. While I finish the dregs of my coffee I am reminded once more that God is good. He is real good.

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