By Adam Preston, KF9, Philippines
In addition to being a very hard word to spell, Tuguegarao (pronounced too-gig-a-raou), is the location of one of the ASKI branches that posts their clients on the Kiva website. It’s also the destination of my second trip to the field. One part of my job as a Kiva Fellow is to help conduct borrower interviews for journal updates. Even though these field trips can be somewhat of a grueling experience, to me this is one of the most effective ways to connect the lenders to the borrowers. And so it was, on Monday morning at 5:30 AM Teke, our loyal driver, Kenneth, an ASKI staff member, Mary, my KF partner, and I loaded up the minivan and headed out for an 9 hour ride to Tuguegarao City.
That next morning, accompanied by three members of the local branch staff we headed out and for a full schedule of meeting with ASKI clients. As we headed out of town, with our lists and Flipcams in hand, I noticed a women selling something on the side of the road. Trying to get the conversation going in the car, I asked what she was selling. Its was then that a burst of Tagalog erupted in the car, then some giggling. It wasn’t long after asking that seemingly innocent question, that we had stopped the car, negotiated a price, and stowed away in the front seat our lunch. Yep, frogs. Later that afternoon, we sat down to a wonderfully prepared and delicious meal prepared by some clients. And yes, it actually does taste like chicken.
I think if you would ask someone in my home state of Minnesota the name of the activity of hiking in a cave, they would probably say “Hiking…in a cave”. When asking a Filippino the same question, they would describe this activity as “Caving.”
Well, after finishing up on Wednesday we went “Caving” at Callo Cave, one of the local attractions. Along with two, the local ASKI field officers, and my Kiva Fellow partner in crime, we all partook in the what ended up being one of the more grueling cave hikes I can remember. Don’t get me wrong, it was good but it was also very slippery and required the utmost concentration as to avoid slipping into what I can only imagine as the abyss. In the end it was worth it, the rock formations, the natural skylights, the very dark and damp sanctuary.
That Friday night, 1 cave, 1 fried frog, and thankfully no renditions of “Bottles of Beer on the wall” later we all arrived back in Cabanatuan City safe and sound.