15 December 2011

Indigenous Flood Warning Device

A bamboo noisemaker.
Which is actually a piece of bamboo on a tree. A house along the dirt road belonged to a disaster warning volunteer of the community. The bamboo was to be hit when waters begin to rise. They were also drying something else on the branch. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a piece of pork fat!

Pork fat draped over a branch.

12 December 2011


One of the few large mammals in the Philippines-- the water buffalo.

08 December 2011

By The Rivers of Simsimon

There are several rivers dividing the sari-sari store drop-off point and Simsimon.
The first river that a Matigsalug encounters on the way home. Also, the famous raft.
The Matigsalug people, a Manobo subgroup, derive their name from the Salug River (now the Davao River), whose mouth they had originally inhabited. Matigsalug means "people of the Salug". Of course, they would inhabit the banks, as it is much more natural an efficient for human beings to inhabit an abundant "edge" habitat, by the water. Accounts point to pirates and other lowlanders eventually driving them up from the more fertile waterway edges onto the mountain ridges-- a classic story of indigenous communities. They currently reside more than a hundred kilometers from their original 'hood. Such is history.

Fishing by a placid river nook, a benefit of riverside living, which the Matigsalug don't have, actually.
A dog making his way across. We watched him and followed his path.
The Matigsalug now have to cross several running rivers to get out into "town". The rivers constantly change their shape and course. After a few months away, our friend walking with us was greeted by an already completely different river-path altogether, with the previous waterway beds now exposed as stony earth, or sometimes, mud.

A river is moving and eating the valley up. A natural progression.
A particularly aggressive and deep river has necessitated a public raft made of bamboo, to be pulled from one side to another. The community uses it to ferry themselves and their animals to "civilization" and back. A quite serene and convivial way to cross the currents.

The raft.
"Driving" the raft, i.e.
Edible kurakdot mushrooms growing on the raft.
One of the tribal elders carrying his animals.
Said animals--passengers of a passenger.

03 December 2011

Valencia Palengke Improvisation Sightings

A guyabano or soursop as a weight to hold a sign's corner down.
Rain protectant plastic bag on head.

17 November 2011

Peanut Emporium in Palengke

Varying levels of roasting, all skinless.
On the left, a price change resolved by making dark circles with the markers on the old numbers.
Peanut vending from a permanent wet market space in Valencia Bukidnon. Peanut butter, freshly milled and sweetened a la Lily's Peanut Butter (put in cheap plastic cups and covered in foil-- a cheap way around a jar, in the tradition of using glasses as jars), skinless, sugarcoated, salted, raw, any way you like it. Get a kilo and it's cheaper, get a "salmon" (a term based on the measuring receptacle they use, an empty salmon tin). and it's a bit steeper.

06 November 2011

Improvised Saddles, An Albino Horse

The flat lands before the rivers of Simsimon.
From the bustling center of Valencia, Bukidnon, we took a 3-hour motorcycle ride towards more mountains. We passed many muddy, half-made roads. Until there were no more.

We stopped in front of a small sari-sari store (where people were hanging out and talking, waiting for nothing in particular), made our way across the first river and started walking.

Poly sacks sewn roughly with plastic rope.
At that point, I wasn't thinking at all about horses. I'd seen a few along the way, but thought nothing of them. Later on in the trip (i.e. the next day), 9+ hours of walking under my belt, I was praying that my fanny pack would drop onto the ground, have a supernatural vibration of some sort, and morph into a savior horse, like a scene in some folktale. 

The sack is stuffed with more plastic and old clothes.
Horses are perfect companions in the variable landscape going to Simsimon, where the rivers change course every few months or so, and the mud can consume your slippers just like that. Horses eat wild plants, and create nitrogenous fertilizer as a byproduct. When they die, they compost right into the ground. How's that for "green" transportation?

A fancier saddle, still improvised, for an albino horse. The thing around its neck is part of a plastic water hose.
A closer view of the sack saddle, this one with elaborate machine-sewn padding and a wooden groin nest.

04 November 2011

Chicken Feeder Maker

Welcome to a roadside chicken feeder fabrication and retail shop in Bukidnon.

The finished product.

A dude pounding the edges in.
Same dude, pounding the edges in.

Commercial plastic feeders that are probably prototypes for the in-house ones.
Wire-molding machine.
Unmolded wire.
Molded wire.

17 October 2011

We Call It A Skylab, Because...

Bobong, our motorcycle dude.
Like a Filipino town name, the etymological origins of the skylab (a motorcycle with a plank to accommodate a life-threatening amount of passengers) are numerous. My sister-in-law, who grew up in Mindanao, says that it is a contraction of "sakay, lab" ("ride, love"), a driver's holler to potential female passengers.
Some rubber strips to secure baggage...
Others say it is named after the Skylab satellite that fell to the earth during the 70s. And so on, and so forth.
... or squish it, as they did our vegetables.
Unfortunately, the most boring explanation is usually true. In this case, the Skylab was a brand of tuk-tuk from northern Thailand. The local incarnation has neither the roof nor the paltry safety features of the Thai version, but is fun. Take a cue: more terrain-versatile, cheap, modifiable (according to load) vehicles are in order.
The ride.
A skylab, not quite fully loaded yet.

06 October 2011

Urban Headpack Potential Evidence

Fake LV doormats and whatnot in Paranaque.
Crates of unidentifiable merchandise in Divisoria.

Don't say I didn't tip you off about headpacks. The method is indeed more physically efficient, but still socially awkward-- I carried 12 kilos of coffee on my head last month, and didn't break a sweat (but drew a lot of stares).

29 September 2011

Coconut Merienda

A sheath style that seems to be popular in Ilocos.

The sweetest coconut ever.
Entertaining is easy with coconut trees and large knives. Coconut meat for eating, coconut water for drinking.

22 September 2011

A Barber's Pangontra

This barber, who cuts hair inside a carwash, was from Samar and used to be a barber at the Hyatt. We got to talking about his rings. He wears them as pangontra or to protect him from evil spirits and kulam (curses).

One ring was crudely cast from bronze and purchased in Quiapo after he fell victim to a jealous neighbor's ill wishes (it's always about a jealous neighbor, I notice).

Apparently, bronze and gold can keep you protected. This was one of the reasons why old folks in Samar would put gold in their teeth.

09 September 2011

Crate Bench

The physics all work out for this bench made of old fruit crate pallets. I had a little rest on it.

More crate reuse, as a crib and tables.

PS- I'm trying larger photos out.

29 August 2011

Worn Armrests

New fabric on the armrests of a swivel chair, parked in Teka Market, Little India, where private space becomes public.

Bottle-Pole Improvisations

A Pop Cola bottle serves as a pole to wind a rope around, for securing an out-of-service rain-cover tarp.

18 August 2011

Bike Attachments: Bamboo

Improvisations on bikes to accomodate extra baggage (people, merchandise, appliances to be sold at junk shops) are fairly common. This particular one is made of bamboo.

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