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Today our group definitely got a rich taste of the Filipino culture here in Bohol, with a jam-packed day full of traveling, sight seeing, and expanding our foreign food pallets. We first trekked northwards to visit the Bohol school of deaf, which was founded by an incredible man by the name of Dennis Drake. This school is one of a kind, which caters to over 500 deaf children a year who would normally have little to no future in the Philippines. Seeing the school was quite fascinating as it was intertwined within the Filipino bamboo forest, comprising of many different buildings outfitted to the various classes provided. We were fortunate enough to witness the deaf dances perform a cultural dance for us, which was especially impressive as the kids all danced all so eloquently without being able to even here the music! While touring the rest of the campus we came upon some of the students who were working to make fly fishing lures and hooks. The fishing apparel produced here would be shipped and sold to a company in Montana. Though it was by no means a sweat shop, it was quite surreal to be in an area where a product“ Made in the Philippines” was manufactured.

The latter part of our day was comprised of some breath taking sights, which left most of our group in awe. Thirteen of us squeezed into a van to make our way to the floating restaurant on the green river. The ride provided some great views along the way, but if you know anything about Filipino road traffic, well then you might understand as to why many of us were gripping our seats and biting our tongues as we swerved in and out and around the various vehicles. But I assure the stress was worth it as the floating restaurant provided sights that seemed to come right out of national geographic. We essential floated down a tropical river in a large bamboo river boat that had live music and local cuisine. On either side of the river there were beautiful palm trees and towering ferns that reminded me of the Jurassic Park movies. With the mountains in the background and lush greenery around, our group definitely seemed to be falling in love with the Philippines. We came upon a tribal community of which the boat docked and we could interact with. This again was quite intriguing, however the natives seemed to very modernized and used to catering to the many passing foreigners. Nonetheless seeing the people in grass skirts banging on the drums and spitting fire was definitely unique.

At the conclusion of our river adventure we hesitantly got back into our van, knowing that more crazy driving would ensue. But the ride proved to be another spectacular event. We drove through the lush country side seeing many rice fields and people working amongst the terraces with beautiful rolling hills around them. The many workers in the fields seemed to definitely have their work cut out for them and lived in very simplistic manner. As we ventured further through the country side we started climbing up and around hills, becoming engulfed in the forest. When we finally reached our destination, the natural beauty of the Chocolate Hills took us aback. The Chocolate Hills extended almost as far as you could see and were very large and somewhat sharp land masses that reminded me of green gum drops (not sure as to why they are actually called the chocolate hills). As I stood there and drank in the natural beauty I felt very relaxed and amazed as to how such a bizarre landscape could exist! I highly recommend anyone traveling to the Philippines to visit the Chocolate Hills, you wont regret it.

One of our last activity of the day comprised of visiting the Tarsier animal sanctuary which was a safe haven for these endangered animals. The Tarsier is small nocturnal mammal with very large eyes that was the inspiration for E.T.. We had to remain silent as we observed them as loud noises causes them to stress and apparently commit suicide.

All in all it was fun day with lots of sight seeing. Our group convened for discussion and reflected upon the many different experiences we had. We at one point were also in the city of Bohol and observed the many different people of the island. The people here live very simplistically compared to our very materialistic culture back in the U.S.. The people are very friendly and smiley here, making us feel very welcomed in such a foreign area. Many of the people are very impoverished here but still seem to be quite content. At times I wish we there was more of a service component to our trip, even if it was just to helping to physically build something for the locals. I think that would make me feel a little bit more at ease around the pervading poverty that exist throughout Bohol.

We hope to share some pictures but our internet is quite slow here at times and pictures take some time to load. Check back for more updates on our trip!

Until next time,

-Christian