What you see might look like a grave yard but they are bamboo sticks that are used to differentiate numerous variety of rice. I had a chance to take part in seeding on dry beds last Monday. This is basically the first step in the harvest of rice. After the different variety seeds have been placed in their assigned rows, they were covered with the soil. They also broadcasted complete fertilizers and herbicides on the plot of land. The other thing they need to successfully grow rice is obviously water. They set up the pipes for irrigation, and they wait 21 days until it is ready to be pulled and transplanted. In the afternoon, I was able to meet with Kuya Tapas, who is a PhD student from Bangladesh and works under my supervisor for some of his projects. He was able to give a brief explanation of his projects and what he does on the daily basis in the lab. He usually worked on the identification of strains of rice that are disease resistant. Some of the diseases that he is working on is Tungro, BLB and Blast. He is also working on the bio fortification of the rice, where basically you biologically add some features for the betterment of the rice. Some of the usual things he does is DNA extraction, PCR and gel electrophoresis in order to see which stains are susceptible and which are resistant.
For the next couple work days, I was assisting him on these tasks and learning how to use some of the equipment. I wasn’t able to do much because I haven’t had my lab orientation and taken the lab safety exam yet. I was learning by watching and taking some pointer.
Wednesday was a holiday in Los Baños. It was Saint Rizal’s Birthday so we had the day off. The crew and I went to get a massage which was freaking amazing and worth every penny. We were also able to go to a Korean restaurant for dinner, and I got to try some food that I’ve never had and never thought I would try. I totally forgot what it was called but the part that was new to me was that it had mussels. But I gathered up the strength to try it and it was a little too chewy for my liking. It was a great mid week break.
On Saturday morning, we had to get ready by 5am to get on a bus to Cagbalete island. After a 2.5 hour bumpy bus ride and a 1 hour boat ride, we were finally there. The place was so beautiful and mesmerizing. We got to swim in the Pacific Ocean, go snorkeling, and to a sand bar. The whole trip was organized by the IRRI scholar’s association so we had the chance to meet some of the people who work at IRRI and make some more friends. It was such a great time.
We slept early Saturday night so we could rest for the second trip we had planned. The IRRI crew met up with some other kids from IWU to hike Mount Taal. Mount Taal is an active volcano located in an island. We got ready by 7 am, drove, and took a boat to get there around 10 ish. We were all ready to hike that mountain but we didn’t expect it to be that steep. It was a difficult journey and some of us ( Anaol and Micheal) gave up and took a horse up the mountain. After a 4 km hike up the mountain we were there and got to see the view of the lake in the crater of the volcano. It was spectacular and quite the reward after such an exhausting hike. It tested our physical capabilities and I think it was a great experience to have.
Some more new things I noticed in the Philippines is that they are big on recycling. Everything we bought was handed to us in paper bags and straw. Most of the trash bins are labeled as biodegradable/ non-biodegradable, recyclable and others. It forced me to learn how to recycle and know how to sort out my trash. I was so impressed.