Volunteering at Layog Country Farm
We’d found Layog Country Farm on a website called helpx.net, where you can volunteer doing whatever is needed at the host’s place: teaching english, creating campsites a new hip beach resort, farming, etc. The farm touted itself as run by the indigenous people of that region, which drew my attention. To learn from indigenous people is a dream of mine.
Instead, the theme at Layog Farm was uncertainty, and never knowing quite what to expect next.
Would anyone tell us what to do? Would we get dinner? Would it be at the time they said it would be or 2 hours later?What was Patricio actually saying with those mumbled phrases? Who fed the dogs? Were we supposed to cook breakfast or lunch that day? How would we make up 6 hours of farm work that day, when we hadn’t even gotten a farm tour to know where the borders began or ended, and what even happened on that farm?
Dinner was always cooked by Segundo, a deeply shy and quiet 20 something year old, who could always be found with a wad of the red Moma in his mouth. Marylene, the niece of the owner of the farm, was the matriarch of all the volunteers, and the only one that would eat with us volunteers. All the other Filipino family members and farm workers ate separately. This was never sufficiently explained to us. Were they shy? Did they not want to speak english after ‘work’ was done for the day? Did we smell? (Sometimes).
The next four days, us volunteers stumbled along, making up our schedule as needed. We regraded the steep clay stairway up to the sheep pasture on the top of the ridge, and spend two days with silent Segundo laying a cement path alongside our guesthouse.
The cast of volunteers was our daily entertainment. They came and went, staying a week or 2.
Erik and I are soon the ‘old hands’ on the farm.
Jackie, the sole Filipino volunteer from Manila. She bucks culture and family ideals by quitting her paid position in Manila and going to travel the world instead of starting a family or upgrading her career. Plus, she’s vegetarian, never a good thing if you are Filipino. I am sure her mother has no idea what to do with her.
Casper of Denmark, laughs often. He exhilerates in his young body, and is at the time of life that anything seems possible.
Anna. Romanian, dreamy, photographs everything, but most especially Casper.
Felicity from Brighton, UK. Traveler, hitchhiker, art, and 2 hours a day of meditation. She cannot stop talking.
Josh of Saskatoon, Canada. He did a 21 day water fast, runs a real estate blog, and beat boxes.
Robert of Czchek Republic, teaches us how to speak eschewing most vowels in favor of consonants, and eats the overly salted pork fat and skin filipino specialty with only a minor grimace.
Adele of France, the clown, goof, sound effects maker. She even makes Erik laugh. Which can be hard to do.
We cook and eat meals together, hitchhike together into to town where we buy cake and ice cream, mangos, and oatmeal bars. We talk with each other during the work of the day, often left alone by the farm workers after being shown how to do a task.
The days bleed together. I hope for days of Mindfulness practice, the early sunrise and slow pace lending itself to such a thing. Some of the girls never stop talking, playing board games, listening to music. The talk is unimaginable. It’s like a flock of Canadian geese honking in the living room. I become taciturn, grunting in response to fables that turn into advice that meld into travel exploits.
JUST. SHUT. UP.