Photos from March and April 2015

I’m feeling a bit remiss about blogging. We keep to our deadline for publishing our monthly newsletter, but it’s easy to forget to write on this blog, and that for two reasons, both of which are good for missionary work, but not for missionary communication: first, life in the Philippines feels more “normal” for us than it did during our first two years; we encounter less that seems remarkable and needing to be photographed or shared. Second, we are both crazy busy with our respective ministries, and have a hard time carving out time to blog.

Here are some photos from March and April, which may be taken as fairly representative of what we’ve been up to:

On the way home from dropping the kids at school one morning, the words of the Psalmist came to mind: “Many bulls have surrounded me; strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.” OK, maybe just cows, and a calf that decided the middle of the road looked like a good place to enjoy sunbathing.

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Sora continues to do outreach with other midwives from the birth clinic to bring prenatal care to the women of the Isla Verde. Here, laundry hangs on a line and bicycle taxis (pedicabs) ply the streets beneath the coconut palms, while the ubiquitous Coca-Cola ad serves as a silent missionary of Western consumerism even in this very poor neighborhood.

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Of course, the birth clinic continues to welcome Filipino babies into the world, and Sora continues to supervise shifts and take care that they arrive safely. Here are three from the past few months:

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Sora continues to teach, too. Most recently, she’s been teaching statistics for this enthusiastic bunch of student midwives. Here, the students are lined up in a “living histogram” by height:

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Water lillies from Sora’s visit to Thailand in March:

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Matt’s ministry continues apace. Introductory Greek is finished now, so we have moved on to Hebrew, while continuing to read the Greek New Testament so that students don’t lose their skills. Here, Carl, one of Matt’s friends who has been with him from the beginning of his classes here in Davao, puts up answers to the second Hebrew homework assignment on the whiteboard.

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Truck on the Way to the Clinic

A truck has been parked on the street leading to the clinic for months now. It is a disabled dump truck parked with its box in an elevated position. Since it is a convenient distance from a concrete wall, an enterprising fellow stretched some tarps across the intervening space and turned the truck into a dwelling, complete with a refrigerator. To make it feel a bit more like home, he also painted various parts of the truck in brighter colors: purple, yellow, green. I say “he”, but I’m pretty sure there were multiple people living there. A family?

Well, someone evidently persuaded them to move out, for the truck is now no longer inhabited. It’s not running either. But that doesn’t mean its usefulness has been exhausted. Behold, what Pinoy ingenuity has devised:

 

Yes, that is a basketball hoop. And it is at a pretty good height, with what can only be called a very expansive backboard. You could hit all kinds of interesting bankshots off that box.

Shirts and Dresses

Most of my ministry in Davao City is teaching other Protestant Christians: Pentecostal, Baptist, Reformed, and non-denominational community church clergy and lay members are all among my students. The Philippines is a largely Roman Catholic country. Partly as a result of this, Protestant pastors do not wear clerical shirts or vestments. My own practice here is to eschew the trappings of Anglican clergy unless I’m actually functioning in an Anglican service (as, for instance, during the visit from our bishop, when we held a service of Holy Communion at Faith Academy). To walk around town dressed in a clerical collar would mean being mistaken for a Roman Catholic priest, with all the expectations that go with that.

But if we go to another country, I will probably dress like an Anglican clergyman 7 days a week. And for that purpose, it is nice to know where to get vestments and clerical clothing made. Just down the street from Faith International Academy, in a building I drive past every day, is Colors Crew, a tailor shop specializing in vestments. I showed the seamstress one of my Anglican dog-collar shirts and asked her to make four like it, but with long sleeves for next year when we are in the States.

On the same visit, I showed the seamstress the purple batik cloth I had bought in Jakarta last October. She was delighted to measure both our daughters for sundresses, to be made with the batik I provided. I’ll post the results in the third week of February when the dresses are done.

Below: Hosanna getting measured, next to a picture of the Theotokos.
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Communication and Its Results

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This morning, I’m writing thank-you notes to some our our senders who have extra support in December and January. I fill my fountain pen, get out the stationery and write a page or two for each, making sure to include a little bit about how our ministries are going, and how our family is doing. For a missionary with good support, this is a very pleasant way to spend a morning. There is a natural and Biblical link between missionaries and their senders: the missionary is not doing his own work, but the work of the Church. The parish or congregation needs to know what the missionary is doing, not only for accountability, but also so that the members can grow in their relationship to Jesus through this involvement in the work of missions. Thus, communication by the missionary is essential: it is how the sender is connected to the work that is being done far away. But there is a secondary effect: when senders are well-informed and connected to the missionary, they are able to encourage and support that missionary more effectively. In the age of email, this is easier than ever, but I believe that there’s also a place for handwritten ink on paper. Our family is considering a placement in another country after our home assignment in 2016. There are many days when the stresses of the foreign mission field make the idea of signing on for another three year stint daunting. But having a great group of senders is a huge spur to further missionary work. (By contrast, I imagine that having poor support would be a huge discouragement and an excuse to leave the field. Fortunately, I can only imagine!) Thank you to all our senders and supporters. You have been exceedingly faithful, and that encourages our family to gird up our loins and look for what work the Lord may prepare for us to do.

New in 2015!

We’re now in our third year as missionaries in the Philippines. We just returned from Cebu, where we went to apply for new passports at the American consulate. Mine is only four pages from being full, bearing visa stamps from Canada, Indonesia, Singapore, and China, as well as six pages eaten up by coming in and out of the Philippines. Hosanna and Isaiah applied for new passports as well, since theirs are due to expire in 2015. So we will have new passports in about six weeks. Then we will hope that our agents in Manila can get all our missionary visa stamps transferred into them.

A year ago, we went to Cebu to vacation with Sora’s parents Mickey and Robin. This year, finding ourselves in the city again, we decided to turn a once-in-a-lifetime experience into a twice-in-a-lifetime experience: we went to nearby Oslob to swim with the whale sharks again. The seas were high with swelling waves, and the younger three kids mostly clung to the outriggers of the boat. But I was able to swim around, and the whale sharks came right up to us. There must have been six in five minutes. Sora got bumped by a tail. The water was a bit murky, and the whale sharks’ camouflage was all too effective. The result was that they frequently appeared out of nowhere, and I had to scoot to get out of the way.

Today is our first day back in Davao, and I returned to more ordinary life: reading Latin with my homeschooled students (a prose retelling of Aeneid I in Ørberg’s Lingua Latina: Roma Aeterna) resuming my classes at Faith Academy. On arriving on campus, I found that the new high school building, under construction since early last year, had at last been opened for use. I have a new classroom! And what a room it is: big, spacious, beautifully well lit with skylights, and a view of the SIL campus out the corner window.

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It will be a joy to teach in this space for the coming year. We appreciate your prayers and support in 2015!

A Visit and Holy Communion

Last week, we enjoyed a visit from Canon Bill Jerdan (REC Board of Foreign Missions) and Bp. Peter Manto, the rector of  Trinity Church, our home parish in Mason, OH. 

They arrived around 12:00 on Saturday, but we had trouble getting to the airport in time to pick them up: an accident on he Pan-Philippine Highway had caused traffic to stop about half a kilometer from the airport entrance. Out came Sora’s iPhone, and we ducked across two lanes of traffic into a subdivision full of tiny one-lane streets arranged in a veritable labyrinth. I wish we had taken video of it: we had to fold in our mirrors to get past a few awkwardly parked vehicles, and at one point, a suprising dead end (construction) forced us to back up for two blocks and retrace our steps. But we did emerge, and past the accident.

This put us at the airport nearly half an hour past the time when we should have been there to pick up Bp. Manto and Canon Jerdan, but fortunately they had only recently emerged from customs and immigration, and had not been waiting long.

After depositing their bags, they went with me to buy albs at Colors Crew on Mabini St. in Marfori Heights, since the airline baggage weight limit had prevented them from bringing any (and vestments are very affordable here):

It was a short order, since we had planned a service of Holy Communion for our family and friends on Tuesday night. This would give only two and a half working days.

On Sunday, Bp. Manto and Canon Jerdan accompanied us to United Covenant Reformed Church of Davao, where they met Pastor Vic Bernales, Elders Allan Ostique and Ojie Bicaldo, and the rest of our friends from church. This was a meeting I was very glad to see, for I have always considered Anglicanism a way of being Protestant. (The Church of England historically has simply received, not reordained, continental Reformed ministers; and even such high churchmen as Laud and Cosin instructed Englishmen sojourning on the continent to partake of the Lord’s Supper in the Reformed churches, not at the Roman altars; and of course, the Church of England sent a delegation to the Synod of Dort.) I have been quite blessed by the ministry of Pastor Vic, and I could wish that Anglican churches had more cooperation with Reformed churches.

On Monday, Bp. Peter and Canon Bill toured the birth clinic. Clinic director Matt McNeil gave them a tour and explained the workings of the clinic and its vision for training missionary midwives. Sora happened to be supervising a birth room shift that morning.

I had left my car at a carwash, so we took two pedicabs to Victoria Plaza.

 

At noon, we headed to Faith Academy so Bp. Manto and Cn. Jerdan could see the campus and watch me teach my classes. Head of School Alan Farlin gave them a tour.

  

In the evening, we joined Pastor Bernales’ family and my Greek students for a meal of Filipino food at the Probinsya Buffet:

The following day, Tuesday, we received a visit from Abp. Frederick Luis Belmonte of the Anglican Church in the Philippines (Traditional). It was a very cordial visit. We discussed our respective ministries, prayed together, and exchanged presents —  Canon Jerdan gave a presentation edition of the Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer to the Archbishop, while he presented us with new stoles, which we wore later that day.

We took the Archbishop out for dinner at the Tiny Kitchen. When dinner was over, Sora took Bp. Manto and Canon Jerdan to pick up their just-finished albs while the Archbishop and I set up my Faith Academy classroom for the service of Holy Communion. Here’s a photo from dinner, which I include because all of our children managed to cooperate for the camera at the same time:

 

We then headed to Faith Academy again to worship God. All my Greek students showed up, along with the Bernales family and Elder Ojie and Jenette Camporedondo from our UCRC family. With help from Pr. Vic’s son Yuri on the piano, the congregation sang out and got a fair taste of an Anglican service. It was a true joy to serve the common cup to so many who have blessed us with their friendship and have ministered to and with us over the last two years. Our family was especially blessed to have Bp. Manto, our pastor for ten years, here to celebrate Holy Communion with us. It felt like Trinity Church had been magically transported to Davao City for an evening.

 

Thank you, Canon Jerdan and Bp. Manto, for taking the time to come visit our family. Your advice and sympathetic ears were very valuable, and your presence with us was a great encouragement to our whole family.

Matt’s Trip to Indonesia and Singapore

In October, I spent 10 days visiting Indonesia and Singapore. The purpose of that trip was to meet clergy in the diocese of Singapore, especially its deanery of Indonesia. Chief among these is the Rev. Dr. Timothy Chong, who is the dean of Indonesia, and has been tasked with setting up a seminary to train clergy there. My visit was a first step toward discerning whether the Lord may be calling our family to join in this work.

Dean Chong picked me up from the airport in Jakarta, put me up in hotels for nine nights, fed me royally in his own home and in restaurants, introduced me to his colleagues and parishioners, and showed me the greatest kindness and hospitality. It was a pleasure to talk with him, especially about the future of the Anglican church in Indonesia (Gereja Anglikan Indonesia, or GAI). We shared our views of the goals and methods of seminary education. Teaching Greek and biblical studies is my passion as a missionary, and the work of equipping pastors in the GAI would be a very exciting and fulfilling calling.

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Being in Anglican circles meant dressing as an Anglican clergyman for a few days. (I do not generally wear clericals in the Philippines.) My fellow SAMS missionary, Gregory Whitaker, was the other American present at the consecration service in Singapore. I observed that he was the only priest wearing a black shirt, and I was the only one wearing a round collar.

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By contrast, I was impressed by the beautiful batik clergy shirts that Dean Timothy Chong was wearing:

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Dr. Chong took me to visit GAI churches in Jakarta and Bandung, plus a service of Holy Communion at a medium-security prison. The language barrier was a frustration, of course — I did not have a chance to acquire even the most basic Bahasa Indonesia before my visit — but a cheerful welcome and warm hospitality was the unfailing experience. (I’ll be sure to put some time into language study before my trip next June.) Here’s the bright purple hand-stamp we each received on entering. Mine stayed with me for five days!

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At St. Paul’s Bible College in Bandung, I sat in on an Old Testament class and saw some lively student interaction with Dr. Gideon Limandibrata.

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Hosting me for meals in Bandung and Singapore was the Rev. Yopie Buyung, also of St. Paul’s Bible College, who engaged me in a spirited discussion of whether we ought to see any Greek philosophy behind the Logos of John 1:1.

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From Bandung, we went to Singapore for the consecration of two new assistant Bishops, the Rt. Rev. Kuan Kim Seng and the Rt. Rev. Low Jee King. I vested and processed with the other clergy. St. Andrew’s Cathedral is a most impressive structure. I imagine it was one of the tallest structures in Singapore when it was first built. It now occupies a serene area in the middle of bustling skyscrapers.

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Please pray for the Diocese of Singapore and for the GAI, both for its present ministers and its future. There is immense potential for the gospel to be proclaimed and embodied in Indonesia.

Closing photo: the Prayer Book of the GAI, translated by a committee headed by Dean Timothy Chong.

 

 

Return to Leyte Part 3: Tears and Joy

Read part one and part two.

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The tile floor that was all that remained of the old house and clinic building is still visible in front of the new clinic.

We got to the Cumpio’s place around 4:00 pm, where everything was set up for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception. I got a few photos while we still had daylight (sun sets early in the tropics!) and then we hung out on the beach while waiting for the festivities to start. (Naomi swam again.)

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The beach across from the newly rebuilt Cumpio Clinic.

It’s hard to express how much it meant to be able to be there for this celebration. When I arrived in Leyte in March and met Nerissa, the site of the Cumpio family home was still covered with debris from the typhoon and it was difficult to see how the clinic would ever be rebuilt. When I left Leyte in April, the debris had been cleared, funds for building materials had been secured and the first supplies had been purchased, and I had committed to finding the money to pay the laborers until the project was completed.

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This photo is from April. The white tiles under the cement blocks are the same ones in the photo above of the completed clinic in September.

As the rebuilding project picked up steam, more people became involved: last month, a new grant was secured to help finish the inside of the building so that it could pass the health department inspection, and an ambulance vehicle was donated as well. This was truly the work of many hands and hearts.

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With Nerissa beside one of several signs erected for the opening, thanking the many donors who helped in the rebuilding.

Looking around the clean, bright, spacious clinic building, I couldn’t help but remember the many nights Nerissa and I had spent attending births together in a hot, stuffy tent. What a contrast! What a significant step, not just for the Cumpio family but for the whole community, in recovery, rebuilding, and restoring local capacity! The first baby expected to be born in the new clinic is due this last week of September, with many more to come thereafter.

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Ribbon across the front door all ready to go!

By the time the celebration began, it was too dark to get good photographs. My heart was so full, it was hard to imagine how much more momentous this occasion must be for the Cumpio family. Lots of tears through the smiles. It is impossible to forget the loss and devastation that preceded this event, the lives that were shattered by Yolanda. I am in awe of the resilience and strength of the people of Leyte and so very, very blessed to be able to count Nerissa as a friend and colleague.

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Trying to put my heart into words.

Having learned our lesson on Monday, we left the party before it was really over to start driving back to San Ricardo ferry. I needed to be back in Davao on Thursday and could not afford to spend all day Wednesday waiting at the ferry terminal. So much for my original plan to avoid night driving! We arrived safely to the port a little after 1 am and were told that the scheduled 3 am sailing was full already but that we would be on the next boat at 8 am. Grabbed a few hours sleep in the car. The “8 am” boat finally left, with us on board, around 11:30, and we were home by 10 pm on Wednesday night. I’m already scheming about another visit, with a less tight timeline, when Matt and the kids have a school break. To quote the t-shirt depicting the MacArthur Landing Memorial which I brought home for Ezekiel, “Once you see Leyte, you will return!”

 

 

Return to Leyte Part 2: In Imelda’s Bedroom

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Waiting for breakfast at the Haiyan Food Stop, refreshed after a good night’s sleep and ready for another day!

After our two long days of driving, we slept late on Tuesday morning. The grand opening of Cumpio Midwife Clinic was not taking place until evening. We ate a delicious breakfast and set out for Tacloban, about half an hour away. Our delays the previous day meant that we would not have time to see all the places that I’d hoped to visit with Naomi and Gabriela, but we meant to make the most of the time we had. Driving to Tacloban, I was amazed at how many changes there had been in the 5 months since I had left. It was so encouraging and heartwarming to see shiny new roofs where six months ago there were weather-beaten tarps. The recovery and rebuilding had clearly come a long way!

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Morning refreshment — fresh buko juice (coconut water) and tiny single-serving pineapples, eaten off the stem like a lollipop.

Naomi and Gabriela agreed that of the various landmarks that we could visit (the scenic Leyte-Samar bridge, the MacArthur Landing Monument, the several large ships that had been washed into town by typhoon Yolanda) they were most interested in the Sto. Nino Shrine and Heritage Museum, built as both a museum and one of the 29 residences of President Marcos and taken over by the Philippine government in the 1980s after Marcos was ousted. Tacloban is former first lady Imelda Marcos’ hometown, and the museum was built on her family’s property. The mansion suffered extensive flooding and damage during Yolanda (link goes to a news site photo slide show) but has since re-opened. Our tour guide, who told us she was already part of the staff in the days when the Marcos family still used the residence on their visits to Leyte, was clearly devoted to the building and grieved over the damage caused by the typhoon. Despite the storm damage, the girls were impressed by the grandeur and opulence.

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The ballroom with its enormous, octopus-like chandeliers.

Naomi was particularly fascinated by the dioramas depicting Imelda Marcos’ life, from her childhood in Leyte to her benevolent good works as First Lady of the Philippines, in each of the downstairs guest bedrooms.

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Example of one of the dioramas: a youthful Imelda is crowned beauty queen.

The second-floor rooms had sustained less damage than those on the ground floor, as they had not been flooded (apparently the mud was knee-deep after the waters receded.) These included the ballroom, the larger of the two dining rooms, and the family bedroom. Our guide insisted I take a picture of the girls sitting on Imelda’s bed:

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This picture does not do justice to the size of the room. The luxurious ensuite bath was quite a big larger than my bedroom.

Our tour complete, we left Tacloban and headed south to Dulag, where I had spent four weeks in the spring volunteering at Bumi Wadah’s “birth camp” clinic, which at the time was located in San Jose elementary school. We drove past the school, which is in session but still under construction (a Japanese NGO began repairs to the school shortly after I left Dulag.) Bumi Wadah has a lovely clinic building now which they share with the rural health unit. We visited there and were treated to a delicious lunch (eggplant salad, pumpkin soup, rice, vegetable lumpia, and fruit salad – yummy!) Because our lunch visit was a day later than planned, most of the midwives were attending a seminar and I would not get to see them until later that day at Nerissa’s opening, but it was great to see the new clinic building and see old friends again.

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Lunch at Bumi Wadah.

One of the things I enjoyed most about my time in Dulag was the beach right across the street, where I went walking almost every day unless it was pouring rain or we were extremely busy with patients. In Davao, it’s easy to forget we’re on a tropical island since the city is so built up and the water so polluted — to get to a beach from Davao we have to drive a long way down the coast, or first drive and then take a boat to Samal Island. So after lunch we walked across the street to enjoy the fresh ocean breezes and the lapping waves.

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Naomi enjoying the beach in Dulag.

On the beach, as well, signs of recovery were evident. Though the debris of ruined houses remained in many places, the surviving coconut trees, which had been almost bare of leaves in March, were green again and new fishing boats lined the beach. Naomi splashed in the waves while Gabriela and I visited with a new Bumi Wadah midwife volunteer who had just arrived from Australia. All too soon, it was time to head back toward Tanuan, for the most important event of our trip: the grand re-opening of Cumpio Midwife Clinic.

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A few weeks ago, I got a message from Nerissa Cumpio. “Good morning Sora, the opening will be on September 16th, I hope you are available that day.” For several months, I’d been getting updated photos of the building project progress and finally, the date was set for the (re)opening celebration of Cumpio’s Midwife Clinic! I immediately started to plan my trip.

Rather than fly into Tacloban airport, I decided to make it a bit (more) of an adventure and drive to Leyte. I figured that the cost for gas and the ferry would be comparable to flying and that this plan would allow me to see more of the Philippines, and bring Naomi and Ezekiel with me. Unfortunately, I had a very tight schedule for when I needed to return to Davao, requiring some very long days of driving! Ezekiel decided the long days in the car did not appeal to him, and Matt had classes to teach in Davao, but Naomi came with me, along with Gabriela, one of our friends from Davao.

We set off on Sunday afternoon, well-provisioned with snacks and water bottles. The plan was to drive from Davao to Surigao City on the north-eastern tip of Mindanao, spend the night there, and take a morning ferry, reaching our final destination in Leyte in time for lunch. I had not been able to find a working phone number for the port or the ferry company in order to confirm schedules, but I had the all-important copy of my vehicle’s OR and CR and I had found what looked like a fairly recent ferry schedule on a travel website so I wasn’t too worried.

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Our route.

The drive from Davao City to the ferry terminal in Surigao City is estimated at just over 5 hours by the google maps app. All I can say, is, whoever created the algorithm for the google maps travel times must never have driven in the Philippines. Our trip was on the Pan-Philippine highway the entire way, but most of the Pan-Philippine highway (outside of the major cities) is only two lanes, and there are frequent landslides and bridge repairs requiring constant maintenance.

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Road works ahead.

When road construction limits the two lanes to one, there are never any flaggers directing traffic nor lights at night. And when passing through the numerous small towns the road becomes full of slow-moving tricycabs, bicycles, pedestrians, motorcycles laden with anywhere from four to six passengers plus cargo, dogs, chickens, carabao, etc. (Most of these also have no lights at night.)

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Small-town traffic!

Gabriela had been working day shift at the clinic so we did not depart Davao until 2:00 pm. We reached Surigao City around 10:00 pm, completely exhausted. I had planned to go to the ferry terminal before we slept to confirm the ferry schedule and find out how early we needed to show up to secure our place on the ferry, but we were so tired we by the time we were approaching Surigao City that we chose to just check into a hotel and set our alarm for 5:30 am, figuring the ticketing office was probably closed already and that getting to the ferry at 6:00 ought to be enough for an 8:00 am departure. (Rookie mistake!)

We slept well and arose bright and early, headed for the ferry about 10 minutes away. As we got closer, the lines of parked cargo trucks on both sides of the road led me to suspect I might have made a tactical error in not taking the time to visit the port the night before. My inquiries at the port quickly confirmed my suspicion. I was permitted to hand in a photocopy of my vehicle registration to secure my place in line, but not to buy a ticket yet. I was told the morning ferry was already full and the noon ferry was “probably” full as well. The driver of the first car in line to board informed me that he had arrived at the port a little after midnight. Ooops! I texted my friends at the birth camp in Dulag to let them know we would not be there for lunch after all (“Maybe supper, then?”) and we decided to make the best of it by driving around Surigao to see the sights and maybe finding a (more pleasant than the ferry terminal) place to relax for a few hours.

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The Surigao beach where we spent most of Monday morning.

We bought some pandesal at a local bakery and found a place where we could rent a beach cottage (picnic table with a roof) for 100 pesos. Naomi played in the water and Gabriela took a nap. We’d been told to check back in at the ferry terminal at 11:00 am, so right on time, we headed over. The ticketing agents were clearly overworked and stressed. When I finally got their attention, I was told my name had been called half an hour before! (I protested that I had left my cell phone number… but that was with a different agent, who had gone off duty in the meantime.) It was okay, we still had our place in line for the next ferry and were allowed to buy our tickets — a multi-step process involving no less than 5 different people all in different offices. I continued to hope for a lunchtime departure though there was no sight of a ferry yet, we parked our car where we were directed… and waited.

The ferry showed up around 2 pm and unloaded. Then the loading process began, and I realized this was going to take a while. The order of priority for ferries is passenger buses (which get on the next departing ferry after they show up), private vehicles (like mine, which apparently usually need to wait a while!) and finally cargo trucks, which explains the lines of trucks on the side of the road leading to the port. And all of these vehicles, crammed as tightly as possible in order to fit as many as possible, are required to back into their place on the ferry… the ramp only works on one side of the boat.

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Finally, the ferry’s here!

The crossing itself was pleasant and uneventful, taking a little over an hour. The sea was calm and by leaning over the side into the breeze we could avoid the smell from the large truck full of pigs directly below us. Though there was some nervousness in certain quarters due to the unfortunate ferry accident that had occurred just two days before, I saved all my anxiety for the night driving.

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Naomi, enjoying the fresh sea breeze and avoiding the smell (though not, alas, the sound) of the pig truck.

As the San Ricardo ferry terminal came into view, we enjoyed the beautiful views of the sunset over the mountains (the sun sets early near the equator!)

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The welcome sight of the Benit (San Ricardo) ferry terminal, late afternoon on Monday.

Unfortunately, we still had 170 km to drive, mostly in the dark, on winding mountain roads. Again, we pulled into our destination around 10:00 pm, tired from a long day of travel. Nerissa and her husband Alex were waiting to meet us at the Haiyan Foodstop, a restaurant built after (and named after) the typhoon. The Haiyan hotel is still under construction but two guestrooms are open, and that was where we were staying for the night. A joyful reunion and a good night’s sleep (with no 5:30 am alarm this time!) and we were ready for the next day’s adventures.