Month: March 2014

Learning from Museums

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[Post by Janet Smoak]

Museums that focus on community, culture, and a shared history are my favorite places to learn about others. And the guided tour of the Balay Cuyonon was inspirational.

IMG_5016Though I was in a place completely foreign and unexpected, when it came to learning about a culture, I did so in the exact same way I share who I am in my museum setting. Museums are common denominators in story-telling–the same tools, the same presentation style, different words and examples. The other cultural sites we visited were the same. Learning cross-culturally has no language barrier.

We embarked on this grant to understand and develop cultural heritage tourism through an exchange with the Cuyonon; understanding that the way we impart information has no language or experience barrier is the true value I received.

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Summed up with love

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[Post by Angela Flemming]

My travel to Palawan was a beautiful experience that I will never forget. It was wonderful to reunite with the group of Palawan delegates who traveled to Suquamish last fall. Their visit to Suquamish held special significance for my family. My mother, who is from the Philippines, had the opportunity to host them for an evening and was able to speak with them in her native dialect — a chance she does not often get living in Western Washington.

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Kate, Kirsten Mae, Cindy, Charmagne, Hannilyn, and Angela

The entire trip to Palawan was a comfortable and enjoyable time — but it wasn’t until I had been home for several weeks after visiting that I realized I was absolutely in love with the people. The moment we set foot on their sand, they made us feel welcome and at home. These are friends that I will never want to forget and it is this experience that makes me tell even my family in the Philippines that we need to go back to visit Palawan.

It’s a given that the beaches were beautiful and the sites wondrous; we were in the Philippines, after all. Every day of our visit included trips to amazing locations on the island that I would have never dreamed of. I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to visit along with other Suquamish delegates. We traveled there with little, in order to leave as minimal an impression as possible on the land; traveling light was also necessary, because we were flying on small planes. We were fed food from the land that was simple, clean and elegant and every morning I woke up energized and excited for the day. By night, I was tired and ready for sleep because there were so many activities to take in.

We did so many things during our stay, including a visit to Ille Cave, the Palawan Heritage Center, a day of island hopping in El Nido and much more. What I remember the most out of this whole experience is how welcome I felt. I felt like I was visiting family and friends and they couldn’t wait to share and brag about their heritage to me. I couldn’t wait to watch, listen and experience it for myself. This feeling of not being an outsider is what will make me come back as often as I can afford; and I can’t wait to share with my family. “Balik, balik” or “come back, come back” was what many of the locals told us as we left and everyone among us said that we will be back.

Pusong Mamon

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[Post by Kah-Ty-Ah Lawrence]

I am going to the Philippines. As the departure date draws closer, my interest in Philippine culture grows. I am reading an array of books, one of which expands on cultural differences between the United States and the Philippines. In a country that is dominated by machismo culture and the Catholic religion, one book says, a woman’s most important role in life is being a mother.

While standing at the bakery in New Ibajay, Palawan, looking at the shelves of bread and treats of all shapes and sizes, the connoisseur in me has absolutely no idea what to pick. Trying to make an extremely calculated decision off of nothing, I turn to my Pinoy crush and ask for his opinion on what I should choose. After much translation he finally suggests the pusong mamon and says, “This is the heart of the Philippines!”

The group slowly files back into the Jeepney after filling their orders of treats and sweets from the bakery. As I sit down and open my bag of mystery treats, I bite into the pusong mamon having no idea what it is going to taste like. It’s delicious and firm but, soft with very subtle sweetness to it.

Although a Pinay woman’s most important role in life is seen as being a mother, it is a highly respected role. I have come to learn that pusong mamon is the symbol for the Pinay mother. She is a woman who slides easily from the high demands of a husband to the needs of young children and disciplining teenagers so gracefully. She is a woman who is firm when she has to be, yet soft and sweet on the inside. I was warmed by the connection between women and this food to understand how representative pusong mamon is of the Pinay woman. She is going to change, but she is going to maintain her traditions as a 21st century woman.