One main reason why I went to Pangasinan was to document the simultaneous launching of two projects on goat, one of which is an offshoot of a project which our office funded. I was with Tito Madz, one of our senior agriculturists, who was there for the M&E activities.
It was in the launching of these projects that I met Peter. He is an intern student at the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in Ilocos Norte. To be precise, he is ¼ Swiss and ¾ Dutch. He studies in a university in The Netherlands taking up applied physics. He told me the name of his school but I have forgotten. I can’t even make myself pronounce his surname without twisting my tongue. He said he will only be here for 3 months.
When it was time for the photo op of the herd and the farmer, he was standing next to the fence (where the goats were). I would have totally ignored him had I not noticed the book he was holding. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. I said to myself, who in the hell would bring a hardbound copy of a book in the middle of a goat farm, and a launching of a herd at that? Simply put, I love that book so much that I had to ask him. He told me that, "Honestly, I still don't know what is going on here!" I nearly rolled over and laughed. He told me he came to Alaminos City to see The Hundred Islands. Our little conversation started there.
It turned out that we both didn’t understand Ilokano, the dialect spoken by the locals. Most of the participants were goat farmers and representatives from the local government and three-fourths of the program was in Ilokano. I did take basic Ilokano in UP but I have forgotten them, deliberately. So both of us were feeling weary while the program was going on. He told me he would have opted to study the dialect but his three months stay would not be enough. I asked him about being “lost in translation” and he did confirm some of his anxiety about not having to speak neither Ilokano or Tagalog. And most of the people he’s with at MMSU are not even that comfortable talking to him in English so most of the time, he is out there wondering. I can very well understand that. I reckon that there is nothing more depressing and sad than not having to effectively communicate with other people just because of language barrier.
I taught him that single phrase in Ilokano which I particularly know so well. "Diak mawatan" (I don't understand). He speaks a little French too and taught me "Je ne comprend pas" which I knew already. Thinking about it now, i wonder why I did not bother asking him what is "I don't understand" in Dutch? Ah, such a wasted opportunity.
A little pose here and there. I kindly ask him for this pose. I wanted to see at least a fourth of the boat and the background view but I guess he was too tall that he had to bend forward.
Gunning for the sunrise. We are both aiming for the sunrise, but he was blocking my view so I took the shot nonetheless, including our boatman.
Checking the camera. He likes to check his camera. The water splashes on us every now and then especially when we get huge waves so we had to be extra alert on keeping our equipment safe. He asked me about my camera and made a remark, "It's just too expensive for me."
I told him that the name Peter is so common here and its Filipino counterpart, Pedro. I told him, I know at least 5 Peter (including him). He concurred.