Thursday, May 13, 2010
Jeepney Press May-June 2010 issue page 10
Jeep Trips by Jade Pangilinan
As we experience the scalding effects of climate change here in the Philippines, while it is the beginning of spring in Japan, Pinoys and tourists alike have little choice except to head to the nearest beach and soak in cooling waters. One of the best and most popular summer destinations is Puerto Galera in the province of Mindoro, Philippines. Puerto Galera means “Port of Galleons,” a testament to its strategic geographic location and its rich natural resources.
There are several ways to get to Puerto Galera. Most prefer to board the fast crafts at the Port of Batangas in Batangas City that take you straight to the white sand beaches of Puerto Galera town. For those who would like to bring their own vehicles, they could try the RORO (roll on, roll off) options of the nautical highway from Batangas City port to Calapan City port or from Batangas City port to Balatero port. From Calapan City it will be another 65 kilometers to Puerto Galera or about one and a half hour drive. This route is also scenic as you could make a side trip to Calapan City proper or Tamaraw falls on the way to the beach.
Puerto Galera is a top choice for many beachcombers for several reasons. For one, accommodations and services are reasonably priced. There are amenities for discriminating tourists and budget backpackers alike. Souvenirs all over the white beach stretch are not expensive, short dresses go for about 120 to 150 pesos, t-shirts for 80 to 150 pesos. You could choose to get your hair braided for 150 to 200 pesos or have a great massage while sunbathing along the shore for the same price.
Puerto Galera is also home to one of the best bays in the world with a thriving marine life. Snorkeling and scuba diving are two must-do activities. I personally enjoyed snorkeling in the marine protected areas where I experienced feeding colorful fishes. Side trips to San Antonio Island to see limestone rock formations and a swimming hole or Boquete Island, with its pristine white sand, are also suggested.
Just a reminder for beach combers to refrain from taking home sand or sea shells since these acts are punishable by local laws and ordinances. Puerto Galerans are protective of their environment. Volunteer clean up brigades are very active in keeping the shore clean and it is not unusual to see women vendors or other groups picking up litter as they go about peddling their wares.
While the beach and island hopping offers so much for nature lovers, entertainment abound at the White Beach when the sun goes down. There are a lot of bars that offer the famous Mindoro sling, made of rhum, sprite, mango juice and grenadine, and yummy kebabs or grilled seafoods. One of my favorite places along the White Beach is Hiyas Angelina’s, a watering hole that offers wonderful fire dance/ poi dance performances every night.
Summer or not, I would definitely love to go back to Puerto Galera again. It is one shining example of what good things our country could offer to its citizens and foreign tourists alike.
Philippine Pickles Power in Yamagata
by Chika Hyodo
The perfect Yamagata dialect, a plate-ful of home-made kabu tsukemono (pickled radish) and traditional farmer’s clothes just overwhelmed me in Yamagata. They are so much more ‘traditional’ than Japanese women like me. These women from the Philippines who married farmers in Yamagata about twenty five years ago warmly welcomed me and talked about their lives. Their life stories seemed to be a bit different from the images of ‘victims of shortage of brides for Japanese
farmers’ created by the media. Despite the hardships of survival in such a freezing environment for someone from the tropics, these Filipinas have also been the moving force in breaking the stereotypes of Yome (bride of the eldest son) in the local villages of Japan. They earned money by themselves and they were the first women who dared tried to go into a public bath, however still keeping their Filipina’s
sense of modesty by wearing their panties in the hot bath!
I realized that the tide of globalization had already been sweeping the villages of Yamagata more than twenty years ago. The elementary school teachers started to put Yomigana (hiragana) with Kanji characters in the class newsletter for the Filipino mothers. It is indeed called “advocacy.” They have the political power to change Japanese society. Of course, on the domestic end of things, the usual conflicts happen within their families. Despite these matters, one of them said “Mother-in-law is very old. She has to rely on me anyway.”
Wow, I am sure that one of these Filipinas will be a mayor of the village someday soon!
What about the men in the village? What have they been feeling about Filipina Yome? Well, being farmers, they do not talk much as you can imagine. But some of them told me quietly that “I might go to the Philippines in the future and retire near the beach with my wife.” It said a lot about what has been happening with them for the last twenty years. They were the men who had never seen foreigners for more than thirty years until they met their prospective wives in the
Philippines. To be precise, they were sort of trained in Philippine pubs in Japan before going to the Philippines to find their prospects. Anyway, globalization is not just a theory and we can not live together just by reading books and papers on this phenomenon.
I am very interested in what is happening within that area in
Yamagata. Many women from the Philippines have been following the pioneers and the community has been growing. Their children have grown up as bi-cultural children. I really hope that they are the ones who would transform this place into a global community, so that the number of Japanese women who are into the farming and can make a traditional tsukemono might be increase in the future. I, for example, have already decided to go there next year again with my students and to be a volunteer to listen to their life stories and learn how to make delicious tsukemono from them.
Chika Hyodo is an assistant professor in Waseda University. She went to Yamagata to look for possible fields of study on local globalization in Japan for students.