This week was quite busy, overall. For the first two days, we attended teacher training sessions for the modules that we had pretested earlier. Both schools were in Laguna, and Kate and I also were expected to give a short presentation of our impressions of the pretesting. After the program (and our speeches), we went with a group of teachers that were not trained in teaching nutrition to play a game with them while the other teachers trained in something specific. The game was called the cabbage game (I think?) and consisted a bunch of crumpled up green papers rolled into a ball (the cabbage) with questions written on each. Everybody who is playing gathers in a circle and passes the cabbage while music plays. The person holding it when the music stops has to take off the outermost “leaf” and answer the question within. Kate and I had written the questions, related to Nutrition Month. If the page was blank, the person had to perform a consequence, which is either reciting a poem, singing a song, of doing a dance. It was fun playing the game with all the teachers, and many of them wanted pictures with us at the end.
For the last three days of this week we were in Tuguegarao, a city in the north, for a Nutricomnet Media Forum. Through Nutricomnet, FNRI collaborates with other DOST, media, and private enterprises to disseminate nutritional knowledge and technologies to the various regions around the Philippines. This particular media forum was for Region 2, or Cagayan Valley, where we were. While we were there, we also visited Calau Cave, a beautiful place with a chapel built inside. It was quite a busy week!
This past week we conducted more pre-testing at Daang Hari and Dayap Central school, this time with third-graders instead of second graders. The lessons and procedure were the same as last week, with three lessons taught by each teacher, and a teacher interview following each session to get the teacher’s feedback and thoughts on the lesson. In general, I think that these kids understood the lesson better than their younger counterparts in the 2nd grade. They were participating more and just seemed more engaged in the activities. We also participated in an information session in the library at FNRI for librarians from various educational and governmental agencies. This event’s purpose was to highlight the database that FNRI provides to find and enter nutritional materials and how to access and use it. I am mostly excited for our trip up north to Tuguegarao next week. We’re going to visit a cave!
This past week has probably been the most exciting week at FNRI. On Monday Kate and I went to help set up another exhibit at the World Trade Center of the Philippines. This expo was a good deal larger than the last one, and many of the different divisions of DOST were represented, each with a very cool exhibit and activities. There were VR goggles at one booth, and stormchasing equipment, and displays about earthquake prevention and volcanology. There were exhibits related to health, as well, and that is where we were to be posted. That first day was just set-up, so there were not many people and none of the exhibits were actually open. On Wednesday, we went to the Daang Hari school in Taguig City to conduct pre-testing of educational modules. The modules consist of a lesson plan and materials to teach lessons on nutrition and health. Kate and I were split up and put into smaller groups that each visited a different classroom.
Seeing how elementary education is handled here in the Philippines was fascinating. Our students were second graders, and they already started learning English last year! When the teacher would teach them the core concepts and vocabulary of the different foods mentioned, she would do so both in Tagalog and English. I took the opportunity to learn some more Tagalog while the instructor was teaching vocabulary, with the help of Faye, one of my coworkers from FNRI. The children were not shy about staring at foreigners, and insistently asking me “Kuya! What’s your name?” (Kuya means elder brother and is a respectful way to address someone you do not know if they are older than you. Similar to “Sir” in the USA. The word for an elder sister is Ate) and other questions in Tagalog, despite my inability to understand. The next day, we went to Calauan in Laguna to a rural school. The differences between the urban and rural students was fairly stark; the urban students were considerably more noisy while the rural students were quieter and better behaved. Every class is different, however, so I cannot draw any conclusions from these observations.
On Saturday, we finally went to the World Trade Center to help run the exhibit and it was considerably busier than the Megamall, and there were quite a few more people there than Saturday. It was a very busy day of making sure the brochures were distributed to as many groups as possible (until we ran out). Everyone wanted a copy of every brochure we had, so it was actually tougher than it sounds, particularly with the language barrier present. Overall, the week was over fairly quickly, and considering all of the activities we did, we were barely in the office!
This past weekend we went to Boracay, which was a good deal busier than Puerto Galera. I understand why, because the beaches are even prettier. Boracay definitely had more in the way of shops and beachside restaurants than Puerto Galera, and it was fun to shop and eat along the beach.
This past week was more exciting, due to several days at the FNRI Annual Seminar Series at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Manila. Visitors from all over the Philippines and even beyond came to see a series of seminars on FNRI’s food and nutrition research from the past year. I had seen the content of most of the speeches before, as I have at least skimmed most of the papers they are presenting on at some point in my work here in FNRI. Seeing the presentations was a bit of a different perspective, however, so I was glad to have the chance to attend and see how the research and development is disseminated to others. The Seminar Series lasted for three days, with a variety of different seminars taking place in multiple ballrooms. The seminars had a lot of variety. In one, they debuted services of iFNRI, a web branch of FNRI services. In another, there was research presented on the genetic factors involved in the prevalence of bone fractures.
This past weekend we went to Corregidor Island, an important historical location, especially during WWII. Corregidor was the last stronghold held by the US forces in the Philippines after the Japanese invaded, and it was the last stronghold held by the Japanese after the US forces returned. It is the last place MacArthur was in the Philippines before escaping to Australia during the Japanese invasion, though he made his famous “I shall return” statement in Australia. Most of the bombed barracks and buildings have been preserved from WWII and it was an eerie but beautiful place.
This past week was relatively quiet at the office. One day was BREAK, or Bringing in Resources for Employees Agenda on Kalusugan. This event was a chance for employees of FNRI to get together and show off what they are doing. This way, all employees can be aware of what all the other parts of FNRI are doing. After the seminars, we had a Pinggang Pinoy inspired meal. Pinggang Pinoy is much like MyPlate in the US, and translates to Pinoy Plate (Pinoy is another word for Filipino). The meal served consisted of fried milkfish (the national fish), cooked kamote tops (the leaves of sweet potato cooked a bit like spinach), rice, and a banana. This meal included all the principal food groups of the Pinggang Pinoy: Go food(rice) Grow food(fish) and Glow food (kamote and banana). I was also invited to a going-away party for two other FNRI employees, Jadel and Melvin. I was very happy to be invited and it was quite the experience. There was some singing from another coworker named Albert for opening and closing the ceremony (Albert is a very good singer) and pizza, pancit bihon, and ice cream. After eating, Jadel and Melvin’s fellow coworkers each took turns giving little speeches to those leaving, drawing the comments at random from a jar. It was a sweet party, and I am glad that Randi and I were invited. I am constantly surprised by how much my coworkers work to make me feel welcome and a part of the FNRI family. This past weekend we travelled to Puerto Galera, and the place we stayed at had a very quiet private cove. We snorkeled one day (and fed the fish!) and kayaked across the bay on the second day.