Manila, My Manila!

Nine months ago I tested my adventurous side and accepted a full time position within the Archaeological Studies Program at the University of the Philippines (http://asp.upd.edu.ph/ ).  I had just finished my PhD at Queen’s University Belfast. I knew it was a gamble….but…..it has turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. Here’s a snapshot of a typical day as the newest recruit to the full time faculty of ASP.

Me! Happy Digging in Manila

Me! Happy Digging in Manila

06.00am – 11.30am

Friday morning kicks off at home with a coffee and Skype session to the UK around 6.30 am. A quick check I have everything I might need for the day (including a huge umbrella, it’s the rainy season here!) and I head out into the Manila morning. I love the short walk through my local neighbourhood, it’s always bustling with life, and everyone says ‘Good morning’ as you pass by. Arriving at the main road, I flag down a jeepney to take me to Philcoa. I love taking jeeps; they’re great, as long as you remember to hold on! Today I need to stop at Philcoa and visit the cake shop (more on cake later). From Philcoa, it’s another jeepney ride to take me from the frantic traffic of Quezon City into the oasis of the Diliman Campus. Stopping for cake means I’m cutting it fine – just time to stop in the lecture room to say good morning to the early students and turn on the air con, before depositing the cake in the administration office fridge. A quick dash back to the lecture theatre, it’s bang on 08.30 am and I’m good to go! I take two Undergraduate classes for the module, ‘Archaeological Heritage: The Past is Not a Foreign Land’. This is an introduction of Archaeology course and is great fun to teach because you can cover all manner of interesting topics. Today was focused on the discovery of ‘The King in the Carpark, Richard III’ by Leicester University. The classes run back to back, so I will be teaching until 11.30 am.

The home of ASP

The home of ASP

11.30 am – 3.30pm: Class is over, so it’s time for lunch (we eat early here). I’m eating in my room today, working lunch for me while I check e-mails. So far so good; I’m confirmed to present a paper at the IPPA’s 2014 in Cambodia and will meet with some colleagues from another department to discuss a forensic project next Monday. The rest of this particular afternoon is dedicated to grading Undergraduate papers and finishing up a chapter for a book. I also spend some time drafting a check list of tasks for a rescue project I am supervising in Manila. This particular project involves the recovery and recording of a large quantity of human remains which were discovered, quite unexpectedly, by workers on a church restoration project. We have a small team of excellent human osteology students on site cleaning and recording the bone, and it’s a great opportunity for my graduate students to get hands on experience with the identification of fragmentary remains.

Inspecting skeletal remains in Manila

 

 

3.30 pm – 5.00pm: Fancy Friday! Merienda

I stole the title ‘Fancy Friday’ from my old office mates back in Belfast. Basically, it means it’s Friday, let’s have cake. It’s a great way to get everyone out of their office and into one place to chat. Also, I love any excuse to eat cake in the Philippines, they taste so much better than in the UK…I wonder if it’s connected to the humidity….anyway, the remaining time until 5pm is spent organising paperwork for a generous research grant I am being awarded by the University of the Philippines. This will allow me to head up my own project, conducting research into the taphonomy of human bone in Island Southeast Asia.

 

The Director of ASP, Dr Armand Mijares

The Director of ASP, Dr Armand Mijares

ASP Masters students grab some cake!

ASP Masters students grab some cake!

5.00 pm – Beer o’clock. Monday to Thursday, I usually work quite late, but on Fridays most of the faculty go to the near-by watering hole to unwind after a long week. Inevitably, we while away the next few hours discussing our projects and plans over some cold beers. This evening, I imagine, will focus on next week’s conference on Heritage and Prehistory being held in Puerto Princessa, Palawan, Philippines; organised by one of our PhD students. Bring on Monday!!

Excavating beads from the Ille Cave site in Palawan. April 2013

Excavating beads from the Ille Cave site in Palawan. April 2013