Travelchick

My adventures and mis-adventures as I travel here and there

Oh, so tuna are huge and pineapple doesn’t grow in trees…

We had a really full day today. It started at 7:45 am when we left for the international fish market here in Gensan (General Santos City) to attend the annual Tuna Festival. There were paddling races and swimming races. That part was really hot even though we were sitting under shade. I took some video of the racing, but most of the time I wasn’t sure what was going on. Then we moved to another location for the other contests. That part smelled strongly of fish and was much cooler. Our celebrity status got us front-row seats of course. First they had a contest to see who had the biggest tuna for the day. Those fish were so huge! I think of tuna squeezed into little cans, but those suckers are some big fish! The winner was 69 kilograms, about 152 pounds. (That’s only 1/3 of the size of the biggest one they’ve ever had at the port) Then they had a contest to see which man could hold up a 35 kilo tuna the longest. Very entertaining. Lots of men with big muscles. At the last of the contestants, two of our guys jumped in and joined the contest, and they didn’t do half bad! Of course, it got them onto international Philippine news for the second time. Sheesh!

Lunch was at a church school, where we received a spectacular welcome by a live band. They continued to serenade us throughout our meal. While eating, I was excited to discover beans that tasted almost familiar. I had a lot of them, while also appreciating the mangosteen some woman plopped onto my plate (that was for you, Keri).

Lunch reminds me of yesterday when we went to visit an elementary school. We received that most amazing welcome and treatment I’ve ever experienced. A band and baton team formed from students put on the most incredible performance for us. It must have lasted 20 minutes. They were SO good! Then they had us sit on the stage during their assembly. Nearly 500 elementary-school kids singing songs at the top of their lungs is not an experience I will soon forget. It’s not talent we lack in the States, just enthusiasm. There’s wasn’t a single child who didn’t sing his or her heart out and I was completely inspired. Then, when a very young boy got up and revealed his absolutely incredible voice, my mouth dropped open. The only time I’ve heard a kid sing like that was on TV on some kind of contest. I got some video of that too, but I doubt it will do it justice. The excitement and welcome we got from the students and teachers was almost overwhelming. My jaw actually started to hurt very badly from smiling, but I couldn’t really stop- OUCH!

Next we toured Dole Philippines. I found out how pineapples grow- yes, I am ashamed to say that I really hadn’t known before. Now I do and I have pictures in case I forget. At the place where the, I guess, owners live, it almost felt like the US.

Me- Why does it almost feel like we’re back in the States?

Ken- because it’s nice, it’s clean, and there’s a golf course.

Me- Oh, yeah, you’re right.

It was also less humid, which felt veeeery strange. And the bathroom had soap in it, and hadn’t dryers. Still no toilet seats, but…

Immediately after returning to the compound, a few of us set out again for a little rushed shopping. I’ve officially bought all the souvenirs now that I need. Oh, and Andi, you got the really cool gift. I hope you like it as much as I do! I was pretty worried at first that I wouldn’t get enough time to shop because of our tight security. The bodyguards have been totally cool, though, about arranging times for us to get to the mall and other places. Once I got to know those guys, I feel more amiable about their constant presence.

I think I’ve pretty much come to terms with the fact that it’s not that safe here. A personal search on the internet went a long way in convincing me that we’re right to be so careful. Sometimes I still hate it though, like when Zach and I couldn’t go SCUBA diving because the location wasn’t secure enough. I really wanted to go! Tonight we got two police escorts home from the meetings because of the Tuna Festival.

The meetings are going so well. Sabbath we’ll have a huge baptism. I have no idea how many there will be, but judging from the crowd that responds every night at just the site I attend, there will be hundreds. I love seeing people’s enthusiasm for the meetings and for God. They’re also very enthusiastic about us, and sometimes I worry that my very presence is a distraction. That’s kind of frustrating. I’ve gotten some crazy letters from people, particularly young girls in their late teens, that make it sound like I’m the most significant person in their lives, have impacted them so strongly, have been such a wonderful friend to them… and we just met, like just that very minute. I appreciate the fervor, but often I just really don’t get it. They also seem to be unable to refrain from blurting out how beautiful they think I am (like everyone, everywhere, whether or not they know me, does it) and I just wonder how they can’t see how beautiful they are. They think their skin is inferior and their eyes and their hair and I’m just thinking, “Man, they are all so gorgeous!” The kids also are all so adorable and photogenic and I just can’t stop snapping their pictures. I got a couple of very cute kid pictures tonight that you can see on Pedrito’s site.

The most common questions you will be asked if you come to the Philippines, in conversation form:

– Excuse me, where is your place?

– United States.

– How old are you?

– 26.

– Do you have a husband?

– No.

– Oh…

Most of my pictures are now online. Go to my folder on Pedrito’s site and there they are!

There is so much more to say, but honestly, I’m super tired right now. This trip has been so good for me already. It’s almost over, I guess, but the next couple of days will be really full. More autographs, more gifts to give away and receive, more fruit to be offered, more durian to be tasted, more meetings to attend, more hands to shake, more questions to answer, more bug bites to get, and more bucket showers to take.

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August 30, 2007 - Posted by | Philippines | , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Thank you for your kind words about General Santos city. The City has received a bad rap from mainstream media about its not being safe but nothing is farther from the truth really. You and your friends have experienced that already.

    It’s just too bad that our place is being lumped up with the far-flung areas in the north where these skirmishes happen.

    Anyway, I hope you could come back soon. And yes, saw the news reports on TV re your fishport visit.

    Check out my blog on Gensan if you miss it. 🙂

    Merry Christmas from the Tuna Capital of the PHils. 🙂

    Comment by bariles | December 27, 2008 | Reply

  2. once again, I really don’t know where you really were? I’ve been to General Santos many times, and spent much time there, (without a security escort, by the way!), and have never had a single problem, at night,during the day or any time!! Perhaps it’s because, in a largely catholic country, I’m also a catholic? So I fit right in? And also having learned a little tagalog before my first trip may have helped some. A few words in my stumbling tagalog, had so very many people more than willing to use their english with me! 😀 And by the way, ALL white foreigners are “celebrities” there, as well as all of them being “rich”. I also spent a lot of time with my wife’s family in Tampakan (about 40 km farther north than Polomolok!), and there werent many nipa houses there,either. Most were built (just as in Gensan), of hollow concrete blocks, with corrugated steel roofs. People there are mainly poor, but very clean, educated, friendly, and happy. Unlike here in the US, the churches are usually full on worship days! My wife and I will be moving back there and building a house for ourselves and our little ones in a few years when I retire!

    Comment by Dom P | August 11, 2014 | Reply


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