Coconuts, tarsiers & typhoons


Tomorrow is the international Women’s World Day of Prayer (or World Day of Prayer as it is known in some countries); tomorrow there will be thousands of churches in hundreds of countries across the globe holding their own versions of a service written by Christian women of the Philippines. Each year a different country holds the honour of writing the service for its sister countries. The Women’s World Day of Prayer in the UK publishes a glossy brochure each year, Together in Prayer, with reports on the previous March’s services, the organisation itself and the work it is doing world-wide and lots of information about the country highlighted that year.

As a member of my church’s local WWDP committee I am naturally very interested to learn more about the spot-lighted country and even more so because I give a few talks and slide shows each year to different groups of people. It is really fascinating getting to know a lot more about a country, especially one that previously seemed very distant and unfamiliar. What is more, children find it fascinating, too! I spoke to a group of Brownie Guides last night who were genuinely really interested to see the pictures of the Philippines and hear more about them. They asked loads of questions and were keen to compare their own lives to those of Filipino children: what snacks did they like to eat if they were out shopping; how long was their walk to school; what games did they like to play; how much work did they have? There are even Girl Scouts in the Philippines and they were able to see pictures of the Filipino uniforms (green dresses with green spots, green hats and yellow scarves) and find out that the group we call Rainbows in this country are called Twinkler Scouts while younger Brownies would be Star Scouts in the Philippines. WWDP produces a free download with information and activities for children including puzzles, a board game, facts, colouring imag2205pictures and some cut out and make activities including a sewing card and a tarsier mask. The Brownies thought the pictures of the Philippine Tarsier, the world’s smallest primate, were very cute and were keen to make their own masks. They aren’t what you would call tarsier-coloured, exactly, as they used the Brownies’ supply of colourful tissue paper but they looked colourful and creative, which is perfect for the Philippines. The download has a recipe, too, which is a Filipino curry. Together in Prayer says that,’ Curries are very popular with children and do not contain any sugar!’ However, apart from children with Asian heritage, I do not know any children with whom curries are popular (although I love them and wish my children did, too!) and I didn’t think the Brownies would be very impressed if I turned up at their meeting with a steaming bowl of the stuff so I made Filipino Coconut Muffins from Together in Prayer for all the groups I visited this week.

Filipino Muffins with Coconutimag2196

Ingredients: 100g softened butter; 100g caster sugar; 2 eggs; 397g tin condensed milk; 1/2 tsp desiccated coconut; 80g plain flour. This mixture is meant to make 48 mini muffins but I am the only middle-class woman in the UK who does not own mini-muffin tins so I found it made about 18 muffins.

Method: Pre-heat oven to 180c (gas 6), put cake cases into the tin. Cream the butter in a bowl with a hand mixer (or use a Kitchen Aid) on a low speed. Add sugar and beat until blended and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating continuously. Add condensed milk and vanilla extract and mix well. In a medium bowl, combine flour and coconut and then add to the egg mixture. Mix all the ingredients together. spoon into the muffin cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Make sure you don’t make the muffins too shallow or they will come out rather hard.

These are very easy to make. My nine-year-old made them on her own for the school cake sale with no problems. They are also delicious! I am tempted to try them with a little dark chocolate drizzled on top…

Just to get you started, here are some of our favourite facts about the Philippines:

  • They were named after King Philip II of Spain after the Spanish colonised them in 1565.
  • They fly their flag with the blue colour at the top in peace time but with the red at the top when they are at war.
  • The indigenous people had a law that women had the right to name their children.
  • There are fewer than 100 of the Philippine Crocodile left; they are only found in the Philippines and are critically endangered.
  • The world’s largest bat lives there: the golden-capped fruit bat.
  • Filipino people love to mix salty and sweet flavours, just like salted caramel is popular in this country at the moment! One way they like to mix these flavours is by eating a stew made of pig’s blood and offal with sweet steamed rice cakes!
  • They are an archipelago of 7000 islands!
  • In the 1980s the dictator Ferdinand Marcos was deposed in a bloodless revolution and sent into exile. His wife, Imelda Marcos (now still a politician in the Philippines) was found to have owned around 3000 pairs of shoes which are now in a museum in Marikina! Her supporters call her the ‘steel butterfly’!


Enjoy learning about the Philippines! And if you would like to go along to a service tomorrow then find one happening near you here.















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