Saturday, December 5, 2009

Provincial Meet

Sports are HUGE in the Philippines. Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao is basically the greatest thing since white rice. Oh did you hear? He is running for Congress! Yes, I’m serious. Anyways, the people here take sports so seriously that student athletes have been excused from school for the past two weeks to train for the provincial meets. A typical day for those who are training begins at 4:30am with a morning jog through the mountains. There are several sports in which to participate including: Archery, Arnis (stick fighting), Gymnastics, Taekwondo, Tennis, Track & Field, Volleyball, Baseball, Softball, Chess, Boxing, Ping Pong, Basketball, Sepak Takraw (A Filipino sport which combines hacky sack and volleyball with a rotund ball), Badminton, and Swimming! For the past 3 months I have been spending my saturdays training 31 swimmers from Bontoc, Sabangan, Sadanga, and Tadian, all nearby municipalities. Finally the time has come for them to compete in the provincial meets! They are competing not only for medals, but for a place in the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association meet this coming February. For the past three days I have been spending the majority of my time with them. On Sunday more than 2,000 athletes and coaches walked in a parade and gathered for the opening ceremony in the municipality of Bauko. I opted to walk with the athletes from Besao so that I did not choose between the different districts that my swimmers come from. My walking partner ended up being the mayor of Besao.My little brothers Merv and Fengag Alawas (the Bishop’s sons) are also attending the meet. They are both competing in tennis. I was able to catch one of Merv’s games after the parade! He won 8 to 1. I was so proud.My swimmers, co-coaches, and I are having a blast together at the pool. It brings me back to those summer nights as a kid playing around and waiting for hours for our chance to show our speed in the water. Melanie West Goes…Provincial Meet


Usually, I write blogs about all of the fun adventures I am having in my free time, but I should probably tell you all a little bit about all of the fun I am having at work! The majority of my working days are spent at the Ubaya Food Processing Center. It’s about a 15 minute hike from my house to work where we make organic jam, jelly, chips, juices, and wine! We gather the fruit from around Besao and then we make things from it, and I wish it were as simple as that. My business degree has really come in handy here from accounting to marketing to human resource management. It’s a handful. There are 27 active members. They are all women and all Anglican. That may seem shocking, but that is normal in Besao. In a nutshell we are the…
Ubaya Organic Food Processors and We Make Besao’s Best Products! We are located in Domdomacog, Kin-iway, Besao, Mountain Province. You can E-mail us at
The Ubaya Organic Food Processors organization was created solely to enhance the quality of life for the people of the Philippines.
In many small villages in the northern part of the country, access to larger markets is nearly impossible. This is primarily due to poor road conditions and inaccessibility to affordable transportation of goods. Thus, the foods that are grown in these villages must be sold in smaller local markets. Unfortunately, the products that do not sell in a timely fashion will spoil and be wasted.
Our goal is to provide such communities with the necessary tools to conserve these foods and extend their shelf life by processing them into other products such as chips, jams, juices, and jellies.
All Ubaya products are made in partnership with The Episcopal Diocese of the Northern Philippines,The Besao Multi-Purpose Cooperative,and the Municipal Government of Besao.Every ingredient used is grown and processed in the Philippines and made from the highest quality products available. We never use artificial coloring or flavoring in our products. Just fresh delicious fruit picked daily!
Healthier Food and a Healthier Life for Filipinos… Mission Accomplished!So, you may be asking yourself, “What is Ubaya?” That is what I said when I first heard the word. Ubaya is a Kankanaey word with similar meaning to Sabbath. Ubaya is a day of rest after the harvest when the elders go to the dap-ay and wait for the people to bring all of their best foods to be given as gifts to God. The women here wanted to name their organization Ubaya because they wanted the foods that they make to be a gift to God.
I have made great friends and great jam in the past 5 months in my work at Ubaya. I can’t wait to see how our business continues to grow and change throughout my time here. Who knows, maybe we all will be able to buy a piece of Ubaya in the grocery stores some day.
Melanie West Goes…Ubaya


The sunsets are absolutely beautiful here. Of course they are impossible to capture in a photograph, but I thought I might try. The Besao sunset is often bright red! One word…breathtaking. Melanie West Goes…Sunset