P is for the Philippines

I grew up attending the same church congregation as one of the most amazing Filipino moms in all of Arizona, and true to her nature, she was eager to help when I asked for her time to get some answers and directions about what I should know about their beautiful country.  Not only is Mitzi an incredibly selfless woman, she is also an accomplished author, teacher, and a true professional in the topic of her country’s language and culture! It was such a privilege to be able to have such a well-versed source, and family friend, to point me to some interesting facts and topics.

With all my dreaming of traveling overseas to visit the island nation, I thought I had built up some pretty good expectations of the things I might witness in their hospitable land. Buuuuut when I started reading things like “monkey-eating eagle”, “Noche Buena”, and “Mano po” in the answers Mitzi sent to my questions, I realized that I am way undereducated in my fantasies, and it was such a privilege to get some things straight.

If you missed anything this month, don’t worry. I’ll throw in a few details or links throughout this to help you out too, because no matter how you use this information with your children, they are going to LOVE it. Honestly, the best part of what I learn happens as I try to simplify and enjoy it with my son. And this month, everything from the Philippines has had his stamp of approval so far! I mean, I did just mention monkey-eating eagles, right?

AND LOOK AT THIS VIEW BELOW! It’s really incredible, isn’t it?!

james-connolly-363036-unsplash.jpg
Photo by James Connolly on Unsplash

Animals.

So why not just start with re-mentioning the most straight-forward, yet eyebrow-raising name in the animal kingdom?

If you missed out earlier this month, the Philippine Eagle is from, well, the Philippines; and is often called the Monkey-eating eagle because, well, it eats monkeys! There! You’re all caught up!

Just kidding! There is so much more to these beautiful animals. If you didn’t guess by the name – “monkey-eating eagles” – these bad boys are huge, measuring in at a wingspan of about 6 feet wide! They are the largest species of eagles on the planet, and in my opinion, the cutest too. Check out my Monkey-Eating Eagle Activity to learn more about these awesome predators and even see a video of them in action!

But the most important thing to tell your kids, after all the fun stuff, is that these birds are endangered. Maybe you don’t live in a place where you will ever get an opportunity to see one in person, but there is still so much you and your little ones can do! Talk to them about what ideas they have for helping animals, who cannot survive with so many humans or natural predators around. I mean, where could a 6-foot eagle hide anyways?! What can we do to make it easier for these animals? You might be surprised at the brilliance that shines out of your child’s helpful little heart. You can always prod them with ideas of recycling. Recycling is an especially great chore for young toddlers just starting to help around the house! Pop tabs from soda cans, and cereal box tabs are other fun recyclable tasks that can see a more tangible reward!

Special Jobs.

Many countries have unique forms of transportation, and in the Philippines you might expect to find yourself traveling with the aid of a Jeepney driver! These drivers take kids to school, adults to work, and common people to anywhere else that might be on their route. Mitzi shares, “Jeepney is the most popular means of [public transportation]. They are known for their crowded seating and kitsch decorations which have become an ubiquitous symbol of Philippine culture and art.” You can see an example of such a Jeepney in the featured image on this post!

Maybe you’re thinking, mmm that’s great, but I want my child to aspire to be a doctor or teacher or something, and just talk about those types of careers. The reality of the world right now though, is that most people can’t even begin to hope to accomplish such a feat as becoming a doctor. You know who represents the face of a nation though? In the Philippines, it’s the Jeepney drivers! It’s the men and the women that have the least gratuitous jobs, yet help tons of people every day. Read Jhaira Grace Huervana’s personal thoughts on the respect she has for her father’s career as a Jeepney driver. I love what she had to say! So yes, inspire your children to reach for the stars, but also let them know about all the other important jobs that make the world go round too!

I think of the quote, “I was raised to respect the janitor the same as the CEO.” The Philippines not only believes this, but has absolutely integrated this level of respect into their culture with a beautiful tradition called “mano po” that you can learn about by clicking here. This is the kind of respect that makes people into leaders and such a great thing to show and start in our homes.

Traditional Games.

Mitzi listed a few traditional games to me, such as patintero, piko, and tumba preso. Whatever I try though, I need to be able to sort of involve my bouncy little ball of a son, who currently likes to jump over everything. So luksong tinik looked like the perfect option after some further research and explanation of how each game is played. Whether your child is just gaining interest in climbing rocks and pumping their legs for a big (or little) jump, or they’re heading to a middle school basketball practice this weekend, this Filipino game really is easy to keep a group of kids entertained and exercised anywhere at zero cost! All you need is something to jump over. Traditionally, a willing pair of friends or parents sits in as the thing to be jumped over. But if that sounds risky, you can pick up a stick and just play like it’s reverse limbo instead! This is wonderful physical activity for any kiddo, and easily tapered to fit any skill level.

The game is played best with a group of people. Two children, or adults, sit on the ground facing each other, soles of their feet pushed together. This is the first level. Everyone who is able to jump (or step) over the legs laid flat on the ground, gets to progress to the second level, where they have to jump over the feet raised one on top of the other. In level three, the hands are placed above the feet, and then every level finds a way to make the others jump higher and higher over the bridge. Watch these kids give a demonstration of this super easy game that you can play anywhere!

Holiday Celebrations.

If you know me well, you know that I would rather set up my Christmas tree than go trick-or-treating on Halloween. I’ve also been known to leave it up almost just as long after the holiday has ended! For example, it’s almost April, but the chalkboard in my entryway still has a Christmas scripture written across it. I just love Christmas. And so do Filipinos.

Imagine how I felt when Mitzi explained, “Filipinos start Christmas songs and decorations as early as September (when the month ends in -ber-) and end January 6 in celebration of the Three Kings. Children go caroling house to house and [expect] to receive money from the owner of the house [where] they sang carols.” It was like I’d found my people! (I’ll keep you all posted on whether this helps me win any sort of battle to set up my tree in September later this year.)

They also practice something called “Noche Buena”, in which families have a midnight meal together. It feels to me like New Years, but in celebration of the Christmas events the next morning will bring. As much as I love Christmas bedtime is sacred time in this sleep-deprived house, so I probably won’t be trying this any time soon. If you decide to celebrate into late hours of the evening and serve up a Filipino national dish for Christmas this year though, I would love to see and hear about it!! You can check out the recipe for the traditional Chicken Adobo right here.

Let’s Connect

As always, I hope that you and your family can use this information and the activity ideas this month to open your hearts and perspectives to every corner of the world, and every type of people! Sign up below to get monthly freebies, updates on where else in the world is discussed, and opportunities to share your own cultural experiences and styles! You can also scroll down to the bottom of this page to follow along and see what’s happening on my social media accounts!

Filipino Chicken Adobo – A National Dish and Dinner Discussion

Sometimes the most nerve-racking part of experiencing another culture, is being introduced to new foods and cooking styles. But sometimes, you run into some serious soul food.

I think that’s how I’d classify the national dish of the Philippines – soul food.

I’ve actually been putting off cooking this adobo because I’ve had things like Philly cheesesteaks, chimichangas, and chicken curry calling to my palate. When we went to D.C. this past summer, I remember commenting at every meal about how they managed to add a hint of vinegar into everything we ate! Even the Five Guys we stopped at had a vinegar-y taste going on in the sauce! It was just so bizarre to me! Not bad at all, because vinegar is great, but bizarre that things I had never eaten with vinegar suddenly had it. So, when I saw that this recipe called for vinegar, I think that I misread my own memories and was put off a bit by the idea of it. But now that I have made it, I wish we would have tried sooner!

It was SO GOOD, y’all! I loved the flavor, and it was simple enough for my son to eat and enjoy too. And we just went easy and threw in a bag of frozen veggies on the side, added some rice like we seem to do to every meal, and voila! A delicious dinner, and tasty left-overs too! You can also try this recipe with pork instead of chicken.

And what better time to sit down with your kids and talk than at dinner time!? Growing up, I think the most common question at dinner time from my parents was, “What did you learn/do at school today?” Cooking meals from foreign countries is a wonderful and fun opportunity to let your kids share what they know about a particular country! If they don’t know anything, then tell them what you’ve learned, or share a story about someone you met from that place. You could even designate this meal to be eaten on a special holiday, like their Independence Day – June 12th – and share a little about someone like Andres Bonifacio! Bonfacio, among others, played an extremely important role in Filipino history and their revolution against Spain, and became an honored leader in the Philippines. You might even use one of these great videos about the hero that I found on YouTube to learn about him:

If the video doesn’t work, click here to go to it.

Now back to the food. There are so many adventurous foods from the Philippines that I just am not skilled or brave enough to try cooking at home at the moment, but if you find one you like, please share! I hope you enjoy this one!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 (3 pound) chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1 large onion, quartered and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 2/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf (or 3 oz spinach leafs)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Tip: I cut up my chicken into cubes before cooking – partly because I have a toddler, and partly because that’s just how this not-so-sous-chef cooks. And also, it speeds up the process.
  2. Begin cooking your rice according to packaging instructions.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet and cook the chicken to a golden brown. This can be done on Medium-High heat.
  4. Add in the garlic and onion. Cook in until the onion is soft and brown.
  5. Add in soy sauce, garlic powder, vinegar, black pepper and spinach/bay leaf. (I used spinach because that’s what we usually have in our fridge anyway.)
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat back to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15-30 minutes. (Most recipes call for a longer time simmering, but with a hungry toddler, I gave it about 15 minutes and started serving him. It was still delicious.)
  7. Voila! Ready to serve.

If you try this out, let me know what you think! What other Philippine dishes have you tried? Which would you recommend? I would love to hear!

If you want to follow along and try more foods from around the world, then sign up below for my monthly newsletter where I’ll keep you updated on some of my most recent culinary pursuits along with other fun cultural activities!

What Kind of Philippine “Monkey-Eating” Eagle Project Can I Do With the Kids Today?

I’m sure at least one of you woke up this morning asking yourself this question, right? Your brain was just repeating “Monkey-eating eagles. Monkey-eating eagles….” And then you shook your head and thought, “What the heck? Eagles that eat monkeys?? ” Yup! You got it! Also more formally known as the Philippine Eagle. Less formally known as me 😉 (Scroll below to see how you can give a poor, but entertaining, imitation of these huge birds like I did for my son.) I really went “all in” learning about these birds as soon as I saw their name mentioned by a friend from the Philippines, and hope that you appreciate them too!

A sneak peak at this wonderful specimen. PC: Harrybalais

So let’s go back to the beginning. Do these eagles really eat monkeys? And how big are these monkeys that the eagles are eating? What exactly is happening over there in the Philippines? Excellent questions.

YES! They really do eat monkeys, and not just the itty-bitty spider monkeys either. We’re talking about eating 2-ft tall macaque monkeys and lemurs, along with island snakes and lizards! Yikes! As you are probably wondering now, these are indeed the largest eagle species in the world (although not necessarily the bulkiest), with a wingspan of about 6 feet! Look out, monkeys! These magnificent birds are truly huge and exceptionally gorgeous! Sadly, they are nearly extinct! If you have an animal activist in your home, talk with them about how they think they can help animals like the monkey-eating eagle. Do they want to go help do some yard work, and pick up any litter in the street? Can they help take out the recycling, or start a recycling movement in your house? Plant some flowers, a tree, or other plants that can help your local environment. Maybe they want to see if their zoo has a volunteer program, which typically applies to teenagers. If all your children are too young to volunteer, why not spark an interest and plan for it early with a trip to the zoo now?!

And if its too rainy, windy, or snowy to go to the zoo this season, then the good ol’ internet still has your back! National Geographic was able to capture some amazing footage of these fluffy-headed predators raising an infant! It’s actually pretty amazing.

An amazingly rare opportunity by National Geographic.

I mean, come on, did you see how big that fledgling was?! For the future zoologists, who might want to understand exactly how big this bird is, try this little demonstration at home:

Materials

A Lot of Paper, or poster board/cardboard, or newspaper

Tape

Ribbon or Yarn

Sticks or Hangers

Scissors

You can see in the picture above that I’m not suggesting anything fancy. You’re at the wrong place for fancy art today, sorry. But I got your back if you’re looking for easy and entertaining!

Spread out some newspaper, or unroll a giant roll of paper, maybe even use poster board. (My personal preference was obviously newspaper, because I don’t mind wasting it on art projects when it would otherwise waste on the street.) You want to make sure you have enough to make a 6ft long eagle. Depending on your chosen material, you may need to tape or glue pieces to hold it together as one. Your child doesn’t need it to be perfect and last forever. It just needs to be fun for the afternoon. And if you’re little one is too little to wear 6 foot long wings around the house, I personally think that’s even more fun! Scroll down to see how I was the one wearing the eagle wings!

If they are big enough to sport some heavy feathers, have him or her lay down on the chosen material while you trace the outline of their arms and hands. Once their upper body is traced, you can draw some giant wings around your child’s outline and cut it out. Or just skip straight to the wings. Or don’t even worry about the shape at all! (I didn’t.) The rest is like building a kite. If you’re a real go-getter, maybe that’s exactly what you’ll do – make a kite out of this! Tape down sticks or hangers to each wing to give it a bit of a skeleton, maybe hang some ribbons on it for decor, or just tie a small loop around your little one’s arms and the hanger for an easy way to flap their wings! Is your child suddenly looking like a monkey swallowed up by a massive eagle with huge wings? If so, you’ve done a good job on this art project. Now, go teach your little Philippine eagle to fly and see what they hunt down in your backyard!

Here is a short clip we caught of me pretending to be an eagle, swooping in to catch my little monkey! Seriously, can you believe how huge those wings are?! That’s a 6-ft wing span I’m wearing, and I’m about 5’7″!

That monkey had fun running around, trying not to keep out of reach of “the eagle” (sometimes running straight to me to be flapped at) and eating all those snacks you see on the kitchen table haha

I would love to see pictures and videos of how you made your monkey-eating eagle! You can find me on FB, Insta, and Twitter! Just search for ColorMeCC! Or leave it in the comments below!

If you and your little one thought that the monkey-eating eagle was amazing, then use your local library, Google, or a local zoo to learn more about other Filipino animals,  like the Kalabaw and the mouse deer! Teaching our children to turn to the right people, like zoo keepers and librarians, when we have questions is not only a vital skill to set apart successful people, but also opportunity for such great memories!

If you want to learn more about the Philippines, check out my description of their amazing tradition of respect and learn how you can apply it in your home by clicking here.

And don’t forget to sign up for my monthly newsletter to get updates on the most recent freebies, interesting world news, and other fun facts I’ve learned but maybe didn’t have time to share in a blog post! I’d love to hear back from you too about what people you’re meeting around the world!