It's been a while since I've updated - I know it has. I'm not dead though. Definately still alive. My tooth hasn't even fallen out yet!
My last update came just before I set out on more travel -- first a visit to Iloilo for the Dinagyang festival. Outside of Panay island, the Ati-atihan festival in Kalibo is widely recognized as the country's best, but in this region it is a hot contest between Kalibo and Iloilo, and people in either region are likely to tell you that their's is the better festival. Dinagyang was fun, it focused more on the coordinated dancing than on the costumes. By contrast, Ati-atihan had great costumes and there are no coordinated dancing - however they also feel proud of this because without coordinated dances anyone in the audience who chooses is welcome to join in the parade.
I had mixed fortunes in attending this festival because on Sunday, the highlight of the festival, I had to leave in the morning for a Program Development Management conference in Dumagete (around 8 hours south of me). So I had to miss the best of the festival, but it also means that when I'm asked by locals which festival I thought was more beautiful, well I'm able to dodge that question.
So I traveled to Dumagete city. It was a very nice place to say the least. It was a tiny city, but it had a beautiful park area along the sea wall where people would bring their families and walk their dogs. And the dogs there were well kept, beautiful dogs all on leashes. My experience in the philippines has mostly shown me areas with many stray dogs, and where even the dogs who are pets roam free and look rather mangy. I made me happy to see some pets that looked cared-for. There were a few nice restaurants in Dumagete including an indian food restaurant which made me a very happy man.
The conference itself is not something I would talk much on. It focused on how to design and execute projects in very general terms. Most of the things focused on felt rather obvious. But it's just one of those subjects -- if I wanted to completely design a major project in my center, with grant funding and everything, I really might not know where to start or quite how to proceed. The steps involved aren't difficult, but sometimes something of that magnitude needs to be broken down for you to help you sort things out. Anyway, the conference was fine and probably did me some good.
Afterwards we travelled to the nearby Apo island. I knew virtually nothing about this island when I left, except that there was supposed to be excellent snorkelling and that everyone else was going there too. But I think Apo Island merits its own entry.