In the paddy field, greenhouse, forest and more

 

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IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) Orientation:

Learning about the existence of cobras, prominence of earthquakes, immensity of rice science and actually being involved in rice plantation in the scorching heat were what out IRRI orientation was all about. They have their own museum that boasts varieties of information on rice around Asia. From instruments, farming equipment to rice product varieties like food and beauty products, they had it all on display. The love and dedication for rice here is clear. The highlight of the day for me was being involved in the laborious field work by preparing/tilling the land and planting the rice like how farmers do. For some reason although I am so familiar with the practices, I felt so excited as if it were my first time seeing it; hand planting, mechanical planting and pushing the tractor plus carabao to plow the soil was a very intriguing and surprisingly fun experience.

Start of my internship project:

I was excited to return to the office and labs after a very long weekend because I was finally going to meet my mentor who I am going to be working with and learning from. I had already met my supervisor, the Crop and Environmental Sciences division head at IRRI and had received a brief overview of the projects done in lab. But Wednesday was the day that I would know exactly what I am doing for the next few weeks. I did finally meet my mentor for the week Tita (respectable aunt) Bong, who was the most friendly and nice person ever. I was more than happy to hear what she had to offer me: I was going to be assisting with a project related to flowering plants and parasites of rice pests. The project was seeking to see the function of flowering plants in inviting more insects that are natural enemies of pests that kill rice. The experiment was supposed to determine which vegetable plants that bear flowers are more useful to us to keep pests away. The flowers to be tested were of cucumber, string beans, mung beans and ladyfinger/okra. The natural enemies we were looking at were lady bugs and Oligosita parasites

On Thursday we started the experiment set up in the insectarium that had controlled temperature. It took four hours of preparation; we plucked flowers, cleaned them, wrapped their ends with wet tissue (water source) and put each in a plastic cup. For each kind of flower the sample size was 15. Then we introduced one ladybug in each jar. We did the same with Oligosita. The observations we had to make were of where the insects are: flower, just hanging around the cup, the wet tissue or the cotton plug at the small round opening of the cup. We did this every 6 hours; so 9 am, 3 pm, 9 pm and then the next day we changed the flowers in the cups without having the parasites escape. The experiment should last five days, so tomorrow I will be going to the lab make observations and wrap up the experiment.

Hiking at Makiling botanical gardens:

Sunday was another accomplishment with hiking. We started our walk right from our dorm up to the path that lead to Mount Makiling. It was about a 40 minute walk up to the botanical garden. Then some more walk through the garden as it was a hiking area of its own. Although the uphill climb seemed torturous, it was only a few instances. All in all, it was a great exploration of nature in a sunny Sunday morning.

Now, here I am at a café called ‘Productivity café’, winding down the weekend, being productive writing a blog post. The best way to end this post, is with a quote of the day (that was written on the walls of this café): Focus on bring productive instead of busy. Have a happy week ahead!!

Philippines so far

Friday June 9th marked the start of my journey of a two- month  stay and internship in the Philippines. The last five days has been an exciting whirlwind of Filipino cultural explosions. As a South Asian hailing from Nepal and studying in the U.S. for three years, I find that Philippines is an interesting in-between of eastern and western cultures.  It did not take me much to make an impression, feel loved and feel comfortable. Why? Keep on reading ! 🙂

The place: Numerous shops crammed next to the side walks,  crowded roads, electrical poles running along the side of the streets and the rolling green hills, all  remind me so much of home. The Asian lifestyle is so much prominent yet the high influence of the western world is also embedded in this place.  The presence of fast food chains, of which some were American chains like (7 eleven, Mc. Donald’s and KFC), was very fascinating because my home- country does not have such chains. Majority of the population seems to know English and are very familiar with the western (American) culture. They love their Jeepneys (popular form of public- transportation, pictured above) as well as their fancy cars. You are bound to see a variety of vehicles being driven on the roads.

The people: “Are you Filipino?”, “You look like a Filipino” and even “Maybe you were born or raised in America but..you ARE Filipino.” ; these are the remarks I get from people here in the Philippines. Although I could not agree with them I certainly felt the instant connection made between us, something that made it easier for us to have conversations.  Even if I did not look like a Filipino I know I would get along with the people well because they always have a warm smile on their face. I think I will have a nice time getting to know more locals here at Los Banos.

The highlight: The people’s expressions while they tried to figure out my nationality as I stood beside my other American friends…. or when they attempted to talk to me in Tagalog.

The food: The top Filipino foods on my list before I left America were chicken adobo (Filipino style chicken curry), pancit (stir fried noodles), lumpia (like fried spring roll) and halo-halo (desert in a glass). It was just fantastic that I got to try all of those within two days of my arrival to the Philippines. I must say that my favorite is pancit ! I like when I get to eat unique foods and I have been impressed by the food so far. The things that are unique to me are ube (purple colored yam that is popularly used in drinks, deserts and snacks here) and buco (young coconut). Turon was like a deep fried spring roll filled with bananas and yam. It was a  new flavor to my palate but it was delicious. I have also been enjoying the fresh drinks infused with flavors of fruits like mango and lychee.

On the other hand , the food reminds me of home too. There is rice in every main meal, just like home (in Nepal). The meat dishes have well spiced gravy but  sweeter. The grilled pork (pictured in the plate of meal above) that I have eaten two times so far is the same cooking style. The fruits also taste much fresher just like home.

My exciting experiences: I did rafting, specifically bamboo-rafting, for the first time when we were taken to Villa Escudero which is an hour away from where I am living in Los Banos.  I had never rowed a boat before but me and my friend maneuvered it pretty well. It was just the most peaceful feeling. Then the cultural show of dance performances was a spectacle. Our group also got to experience a Carabao ride!