On May 23, 2016 the youngest son of my host family was wed. The married couple of Prince and Roan asked John and I to serve as groomsman and bridesmaid in their wedding.
Bridesmaid & Groomsman
For the Famero family weddings are their specialty! My host mom owns a business making wedding invitations and party favors, while my host sister owns a dress shop selling wedding and formal gowns. Therefore no detail was forgotten in the creation of this incredible wedding!
The morning of preparations included hair, make up and photo taking at a local hotel. (I’m pretty sure I got dusted in whitening powder. Everyone is always trying to look lighter. ) This was followed by a Catholic church ceremony and a garden banquet reception. Filipino wedding traditions include a cord ceremony during the mass to symbolically bind the couple. Later during the reception there was a release of butterflies, doves, a prosperity dance where friends and family pin money to the bride and groom as they dance, and cake cutting.
John was somewhat surprised to learn that the intermission number he had been asked to play on ukulele was actually the mother/son father/daughter dance, however even this was a big success!
My favorite part was watching their wedding video put together by “Same Day Edit,” meaning footage of all of us from the morning preparations through the reception itself was debuted at the reception’s conclusion.
Another highlight was when the immediate family of the groom was asked to take a photo and John and I were included. It’s now been nearly two years that I have lived in the Famero home and they truly are my adopted family. (I usually say I am their imported daughter)
The kids in my host family are all future movie stars, directors, and producers! Below are links to four videos they made entirely on their own through iMovie software. Be prepared to laugh, dance, and travel to mystical lands as you meet the talented Maxine, Andrea, Coco, Miel, Zyrex, and baby Barry Lee in the following four films:
Featured on the TV show Fear Factor, balut, or a fertilized chicken egg, boiled and served to eat is the Popeye’s spinach of the Philippines, said to make you grow strong. If balut came with a nutritious facts label it would boast high quantities of protein, alongside a warning: may contain beak or small bits of feathers, hence the tendency for foreign visitors to squirm a little at the thought of consuming an embryonic chicken.
For John’s Despedida, or going away party, eating balut was a rite of passage.
Step 1: Crack the egg and peel away a bit of the shell so you can suck all of the warm juices out. Arguably the most delicious part!!
Step 2: Remove the rest of the eggshell and sprinkle salt.
Step 3: Bon appétit! Eat the white and yellow parts avoid black or any feathered bits.
The white tastes similar to a hard-boiled egg but is more dense and tough. For all the apprehension prior to eating, fertilized chicken eggs are a challenge I would gladly accept if I ever find myself on Fear Factor. It was actually pretty tasty!
Check out my newest video with my host family here in Romblon entitled, “Ang Gabi ng Pamilya Famero” which means “An Evening with the Famero Family.” From my experience the most common evening activity in middle class Filipino families is watching TV. Soap operas are very popular as are singing competition shows similar to American Idol. The soap operas are in Tagalog, however many commercials are in English. I asked a Filipino about this and apparently it would take too long to say the same things in Tagalog. Although the TV is always on in my home as well, I have not had any time to partake in the tv dramas. My family seems to share my energy and many evenings we have instead found ourselves ballroom dancing, doing yoga or playing music. I teach yoga in exchange for lessons in swing, cha cha, and other forms of dancing. Watch my youtube video to see our family in action. I also brought some uno cards with me from the States and they have been a big hit for the young kids in my extended family.
Here is the translation for the Tagalog song we play together in the video entitled Bahay Kubo:
My Nepa Hut, even though it’s small
With varied plants around
Turnips and eggplant
Winged beans and peanut
String bean, hyacinth bean, lima bean
White melon, sponge gourd
White pumpkin and squash
And also there is more
Garlic and ginger
And all around are sesame seeds.
This song is extremely appropriate to my life here in the Philippines because I am always eating fresh, delicious, cooked vegetables. Some interesting foods include ampalaya, a very bitter, green vegetable and papaya if cooked before it ripens is served green with other vegetables. I am also a huge fan of malunggay, small green leaves used in teas or soups packed with vitamins and minerals.
My host family here is Romblon is absolutely wonderful! My host mom who coincidentally shares the same name, Jean, as my mother in the States, is a retired school teacher. Together with her husband, Daddy Barry, they have 5 grown children. Two of which live here in Odiongan with their own families.
We had a special dinner last week with three representatives from the Peace Corps office who visited us in our home. Below is a photo of our family and the wonderful feast they prepared for our guests.
Later that evening I had the first showing of a family video entitled, “Ang Gabi ng Pamilya Famero” or “An Evening with the Famero Family.” I have been trying unsuccessfully to load the video to youtube, however a slow internet connection has hindered my progress. Keep watching my blog and hopefully soon!
SJ Byce as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines. And Intern at CIEE Bonaire '17