Ellen: January 2008 Archives

I often find myself out of the loop, popular culture-wise. I don't have television, didn't know what Pink Berry was until recently, and still have no idea who "Jamie Lynn" is (other than she is on all the covers of grocery aisle magazines). So when I was looking for a reference to Vanuatu on the internet, where Seacology is about to launch two new projects (on Maewo and Moso islands), I was shocked to read that there was a Survivor series there. Not only that--Seacology has projects in nine of the sixteen countries deemed remote and exotic enough to merit a full season of reality TV. (These are Australia, China, Cook Islands, Fiji, Malaysia, Micronesia, Palau, Thailand, and Vanuatu.)

What fascinated me is that this television series--which has similar shows in nine other countries--is giving attention to these remote places. Of the 42 countries in which Seacology has projects, the United Nations classifies 37 as Developing or Least Developed. Seacology is working where people have the most trouble refusing the tempting offers of developers and keeping poachers away from critically endangered Leatherback turtles.

So just where are Seacology's projects?

Last August Seacology's Philippines field representative Ferdie Marcelo attended the opening ceremony of Barangay Rizal's Seacology-funded multipurpose building. The barangay (the Filipino term for "village") requested this community building in exchange for preserving 247 acres of a mangrove forest park (185 acres of which are now a no-take zone) for a minimum of 20 years. Seacology has seven projects in the Philippines and this post is dedicated to the food of this Southeast Asia country.

Last June I attended a family party to celebrate a couple's 45th wedding anniversary. The food spread was enormous, representing the delicious food of their homeland, the Philippines. There was pork adobo (pork stew) and mechado (beef stew) that went quickly, two full roast pigs (lechon), pancit (a noodle dish with vegetables, chicken, and pork), salads, rice, and a huge batch of lumpia, the traditional Filipino egg roll.

Lumpia Platter.JPGAlthough I, a vegetarian, couldn't eat the lumpia, I was serving the rolls to the masses and many people asked for them to be heaped on top of their already-full plates. Lumpia traditionally contains ground pork, garlic, onion, carrots, and cabbage, and I am lucky enough to have a Filipino auntie who eliminates the pork so that I may partake of the delicious pastries.

Both lechon and lumpia are traditional celebratory foods of the Philippines. An eHow article on "How to Celebrate New Year's Eve the Filipino Way" says the celebration should end by roasting a pig on New Year's Day to serve with pancit, adobo, and lumpia. I hope that the multipurpose building in Barangay Rizal is the site of many such celebrations, allowing the local people a gathering place for their community. Maligayang Bagong Taon! (Happy New Year!)