Week 3

I got down to work my third week here in the Philippines. 

 

I did not have to go to work on Monday at the usual time because I went to a slaughterhouse during the night to collect samples from pigs. The slaughterhouse was located in a province outside of Manila, in a small district called Tondo. Tondo has a horrible reputation for being dirty and filled with heaps of trash, so it was not surprising to see the condition of the slaughterhouse once we arrived. As I arrived to the location with ate Jonah and ate Issa, the first thing I noticed was the pungent stench permeating throughout the air. It was akin to rotten trash. As I slipped on some boots and walked towards the pork farm, I heard it, the sounds of pigs screaming as if they were trying to call out to someone for help. We had to collect the tonsil and jejenum (part of the intestines) from thirty pigs to test for their salmonella content. This was not an easy task, because as soon as we stepped into the slaughterhouse, the stench and sight were unbearable. The slaughterhouse was literally like one out of a horror movie; intestines were just getting thrown on the unsanitary floor, the employees were not properly sterilizing their workplace and equipment, and their exposed body parts were wading through the mixture of blood and water on the floor. As soon as we were able to collect, the samples, we headed out of there as quickly as possible. Interestingly, the day after we went to the slaughterhouse, the mayor of Tondo visited the same slaughterhouse and closed it until the conditions were fixed. I think this experience really opened my eyes to the discrepancy between the United States and the Philippines. 

 

After my experience with the slaughter house, PHEIRL welcomed the world renown Dr. Haruko Takeyama to the University of the Philippines Diliman campus. Dr. Takeyama is known for her work in microbiology, specifically with her knowledge on microbial technology. Her two lectures included: Using Microbes in Advanced Technology and How to Get Treasure from the Ocean. Both of her lectures were extremely interesting and hopefully the technology that she has created will be used in the Philippines in the near future! I was able to assist my fellow labmates registering students, professors, and other guests for the lecture! 

I then attended one of the most spectacular conferences ever, the National Science and Technology Week Conference in the World Trade Center in the Philippines. The NSTW conference involves numerous jobs, corporations, and labs that present their research and description of their professions, to highschoolers in order to attract their interest for future science and technology careers. PHEIRL was fortunate enough to partake in the conference. We presented with another research lab because we conducted joint research under Program SCALE (Synergistic Capacity Advancement in the Management of Laguna Lake). Program SCALE aims to address the impacts of watershed disruption, ecological land degradation, and aquaculture pollution by identifying the emerging water contaminants, tracking the sources of microbial biological pollutants and quantifying the extent of contamination in commodity fish in Laguna de Bay. Our part of the research included using MST (microbial source tracking) for fecal contamination in Laguna lake and all its tributaries. After collecting fecal samples from numerous species (humans, pigs, ducks, chickens, and cows), we analyzed the DNA within the fecal samples and compared its fingerprints to water samples we collected. We then determined which fingerprint of the fecal matter matched with the fingerprint of the water samples! The other program checked the concentration of heavy metals in fish, specifically fish that are consumed by people. 

In my free time, I have been constantly practicing my Filipino and I think I have improved! I can carry on a conversation as long as I carefully think about my words. I still find it difficult not understanding the language, but adjusting to the slight nuances and mannerisms of the country. I have noticed that I seem to be to forward with my actions, like actively talking to strangers around me or blasting music in my cousin’s car as I stick my head outside the window and sing to people just walking on the streets. I am not sure if it’s the American in me, or if I am not doing well enough adjusting to the culture here. Either way, I think I should be more conscious of this entirely new culture around me. 

It’s already the third week, and I can happily say that the Philippines is my home! I can’t wait to see what next week has in store.

Maraming salamat sa pagbabasa ng aking blog! (Thank you so much for reading my blog!)

 

Luigi Almirante

 

Word of the Week: baboy → pig

Food of the Week: crispy pata 

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