I don't even know where to start.
But by the end of the working day I had adopted a puppy and had been signed up as 'Miss Santa Isabel' for the barangay fiesta.
What is my life?!?
I had anticipated another sweaty and exhausting day collecting surveys. But Captain Romeo was having none of it. Upon arriving at his barangay hall we were dished up our second breakfast of the day and before even explaining our purpose in Cabiao, he insisted that Lizzie and myself must be a part of the town's fiesta. We both nodded and laughed, convinced that it was all a bit of a joke. But no, Romeo wasn't joking. He swiftly commenced a meeting with his officials and occasionally called on Lizzie and me to smile and nod to some unknown question in Tagalog. Eventually our Filipino counterparts- struggling to hide their amusement- translated the outcome: we are going to lead the barangay fiesta this coming November where we will be crowned as honorary queens of Santa Isabel. The barangay is going to be our sponsor and so apparently we are going dress shopping next week- for one of those massive 'shuttle cock' dresses with the huge skirts.
My inner tom-boy is cringing.
In his excitement, Captain Romeo decided to tour us around the barangay (in an ambulance!) to announce the news to the local community. This worked perfectly for the team as we were able to merge the 'princess tour' with our survey collection and swiftly got the job done. But as if this wasn't enough already, Captain Romeo decided to give me a puppy. An actual, real-life, 3-week old puppy. To keep.
I didn't even know what to say. Or think.
It was a mix of disbelief, gratitude and a sense of 'what the hell is going on!?!'
But Tatay Teddy (my host-dad) said I could keep it (he texted me saying "that's cool.") So it's official. I've somehow managed to adopt a puppy in the Philippines. Her name is Portia and she is gorgeous. I'm not quite sure what's gonna happen in 9 weeks time when I travel back to the UK (as it apparently takes £3000 and 6 months in quarantine to fly a dog home!) But I'm hopeful that one of the Filipino volunteers will provide her with a long-term and loving home. As for now, Portia the puppy is the team mascot, a source of comfort and my "baby"- who I will love and care for...
...what a random, bizarre and unexpected plot twist!
:( the Philippines is a non-listed country (https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad#d) so looks like I'll have to find her home here in 2 months time.