Philippines: Back at Isabela and going to San Mateo

Once we arrived back at Isabela, we immediately picked up our work how we left it. We once again started early in the morning as to not work in the extreme heat. It was also at that time that we had a drought. For 4 days, it didn’t rain. As you can see in the picture below at the first rain how happy we were, you might understand what we went through the days prior.


In these 4 days, we worked on the dock and started building a bench near it. The plan was to make a bench and let a tree grow over it to provide shadow. The first thing we thus needed to do was to gather clay. I remember it being hard to find. One off our companions even spoke the following words: “Why would we look for clay at the top of the hill?”. He was speaking the truth but it seemed like the locals found clay there earlier. After half a day of searching, we finally found our clay. The place itself was in complete sun with no shadow. You need to know that temperature rose to 40°C at that time thanks to the drought. So, hydrating was necessary. I’m not a guy who will lose conciseness and strength in high temperatures, but at that time, I had to take a brake now and then in the shadow and enough water. Next task was to refine sand using a sieve. Once that was done we could start mixing it with water and some cement to make the binding last longer.


We continued working on the bench and other smaller jobs like finalizing the dock, finishing the pergola, planting trees, … All of this was done in those 4 days. After that, we would go to San Mateo for a couple of days and then return. Once we were back we started making thatch “tiles” for the thatch roofs and we also finished other small things. On the other hand, at the dock, we decided to put a second floor in but we couldn’t finish it.


At the last night, we decided to make lasagna for dinner (we were a bit sick and tired of the rice). It might not look that good, but I can assure you that the taste was supreme. Especially because of the change from rice to pasta.

Next up on our list of locations was San Mateo. It was a nice location because it was remote but still close to the centre of town. The property itself was also pretty big and almost all of it was nature or used for farming.As we arrived and dropped off our bags, we all went to a certain ceremony. The locals have a special type off culture there as to morn a dead child. They would keep an open coffin for 3 days at their home. It’s also traditional to provide something to eat and drink to the ones that come to morn. I can tell you that it was a bit of a shock for all of us who were present.


After returning, we “sat up camp” on the top floor of the building. The building was half open and a bit protected from rain. But all in all, we all slept pretty good. At the beginning of the day we cleaned bamboo and started digging a vermicomposting pit. Once the pit was digged, we started putting fence posts around it to later put a roof on it. In the afternoon, we were given a demo about making bamboo nails and how to use them. It was nice to finally understand how the connections between the beams of bamboo were made.


At the end of the first day at sunset, a lightning storm past near us which gave some amazing views of the sky. The storm itself lasted till the middle of the night and there was a lot off wind. But I slept good despite the storm.


On our way back to Isabela, we stopped for a moment at a very important dam. It was built in the late 60’s and is still operational to this day. It’s very important because it provides water for all the rice fields downstream and in the meantime, generates electricity.


After our short visit, we went for a drink at a local bar where our guide had connections. We decided to order a freakshake which is something like a milkshake but with more to it as you can see on the picture.


After all the work in Isabela afterwards, our last 4 days in the Philippines were given free time to do what we wanted. We decided, on suggestion of our local guide, to go to Baler.

PS.: Slight reminder! The next post will be the last one of the Philippines series. I do plan on writing more and I will start the next series about the vacation my girlfriend and I had in Dublin. So……. look forward to it!





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