Pre-Birthday

We asked our Lola Emma if we could invite some of our closest friends in the team to have a nice dinner and few drinks to share with the group and she replied in affirmative.

We were having this plan of going to mall and grab a venti starbucks cafe americano while doing an actual work of proof reading and translation; we ended up by having a nice ride with Paulina (a very good friend of ours and the team), at SM Pampanga with her sister.

Spending? No worries!

HH and I has this detachment from money. We don’t really make a big fuss out of our finances, how much we spent and how much money we left on our purses.

Since it was a day before my birthday, I treated HHC-katie for a nice frappuccino and I had my blueberry cheesecake and venti cafe americano-an absolute birthday treat! πŸ™‚

Stressorsssssss..

I found it funny and silly when HHC was stressed out of the internet/wifi connection that we had (thanks pau for the laptop and wifi πŸ™‚ ) and rushed on the things that the ‘managers’ kept on asking for us. She was a bit (I think far from the word ‘bit’)upset when I am turning again from my indecisiveness and uncertain attitude that triggered the bigger stressor.

Β ‘it is no longer funny, you can’t decide on anything, wasting everyone’s time‘.

Yeah, I admit, I was a bit stressed out as well with her, with the team, with my family, with my friends, the work, the future, my birthday, and etc. But what made me stay and decide? The assertiveness of my counterpart to make a decision at that time- no more no less.

She was supposedly planned to buy me a cake as birthday present, yet, I reckon the idea and suggested to sneaked in to other stores. We opt for pizza than having a nice cake, and she bought something to share- a delightful garden salad!

Time to go home and dig in for pizza and drinks!

Upon reaching our humble abode, there were no ‘guests’ yet (I did that intentionally simply to lessen the damage from the ‘dragon lady’), and I talked to our lola Emma if we could have our party at the veranda rather than the dining area (she insisted on the dining area yet, we kept our grounds on the veranda so that she could rest well as she had been rushed to the hospital the night before) in the end lola Emma replied again in affirmation.

Party like no other

We spent the night having a nice food, company and drinks, yep! We had 3 bottles of wines, beers and nice chats from the people that I considered as ‘close’ friends. Since it was my birthday, I had the privileged not to accept any negative vibes at that moment, yet, there was the ‘dragon lady’ roaming around waiting for the next victim. I find her really rude as well for slamming the door at our guests, for criticizing/judging us for who we are and for being assertive with our decisions.

I wanna end this entry not in a hanging bad vibes. Basically my long time buddy-Reeda told me about ‘change’ and the world I am living now. I can’t expect them (the fam, my counterpart) to be what I want them to be. For instance, if I gave 100% of the pie, I should not expect that the other way around would be exerting the same effort as well. Put some barrier of professionalism in terms of this volunteer experience(that’s why I think I kept on contemplating the idea for the next couple of days…..) it would be tough because you made it more personal but it could be a learning experience as well-perhaps the hard way if not the other way around.

PS: I was surprised when the 3 Brits gave me their present (a starbucks tumbler), I am not into the brand(having a starbucks tumbler) but, it was more of the thought that they consider how coffeeholic I am and I could not imagine how come my HHC was able to buy it without (me) noticing it.. πŸ˜€

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A Chat like a Gunshot

It was week 10, and nearly down to week 11 when I got this opportunity to have a nice chat with a volunteer placement staff.

Well, out of the blue, while siting in our veranda waiting for my free data to logged-in, kuya Tom had this nice question for me. ‘what will you do after the program?’, what do you get from being a volunteer?

I replied in enthusiastic way and kicked it off! Well, basically, I want to search for myself in this program which I assure myself that I was able to do so. Also, I want to have that ‘kind’ of experience that I want before I enter another field (e.g. Corporate v. Development world?). If I fail to find a nice job, I’m opt to take my board exam which would entail a year and hopefully to pass it before I reached the maximum age for the position.

All it takes is that ‘bang it on’ attitude and out-of-the-box!

Basically, he kept on saying that job hunting in the country (and even my host dad agreed on me about it) is as tough as going to gladiator war πŸ™‚ . Who would have thought that after you’ve finished you’re degree say IR, you’ll gonna get your dream job.

If you really want something, be assertive that you can have it, rather than staring at it from afar.

There is this nice opp which is up for grab, either I’ll take it or leave it, it is entirely up to me.

The same thing goes when HHC keeps on telling me instead of staring why not face it? If you fail, at least you’ve tried. You will never now that you can do it unless you try.

Perhaps, until now, I’m still struggling to face my fears. Yes, it is really a roller coaster ride feeling once you face your fears, or face the world of I wish I did this and that when I had the chance to do so.

Exit Plan

In search of tranquility and silence, I found peace and serenity on our favorite coffee shop in town while having a nice cup of coffee and writing this blog entry.

I really don’t know why I am having this feeling. So strange, I really don’t know what is happening to me. I’m scared, I worry, I am excited and I am happy, rolled into one.

The exit plan

To welcome week 10, two weeks from now, we will go back home, to the lives we left before the program, before this roller coaster ride.

I could still remember what our supervisors told us during our in-community orientation. He told us, that the first 2-3 weeks will be a community integration, and the last 2-3 weeks will be formulation of our own ‘exit plan’.

Am I ready to make my own exit plan?

Seeing the word ‘exit plan’ made me realize:

  • I built relationships that will lasts and some are just the surface level, which is a fact of life (like you can’t please everyone).
  • Inspiring someone is like having a nice trip to nowhere-scary at first, yet, once you ‘bang it on’ all you can feel is a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.
  • Drawing back to past does not mean dwelling on it- I tried to review my ‘Japanese listening exam’, and got a bit stressed out(worry to be specific) about my upcoming examination; seeing how I built relationships with my Nihonjin friends and how it fades made me think, will it be the same thing for my counterpart?(hope it will not).
  • A nice chat with someone you’ve just met is as fantastic as exploring the other side of the world- I thought, having a surface level conversation is enough to formulate your own ‘stigma/brand’ to someone. Sometimes, it takes weeks or even months of conversation to end up with a nice person.
  • Being alone does not mean you’re lonely or anti-social- I love doing things with someone(a friend, a random stranger or even a driver or a vendor) in a random place at a random time. But, today, I spent most of the time having my own ‘me time’ without my counterpart, without anyone from the group of friends that I was able to build during the program, and I enjoyed it! I felt, again – a stranger looking for an oasis in a desert. Yet, similar peolple who will come across, will recognise you not as with counterpart but as individual-which I loved most!
  • It is okay to be immature- I love the way I am exploring this journey called life- I acted as immature (most of the time) and my counterpart can attest to that, the same way that I acted mature in several ways as well. Before, I thought, once, you received this thin paper called ‘diploma’ you’ll become mature, yet, when I entered the ‘professional world’ I find myself in a total lost. When I got my first work, I thought I am good enough to take a bigger responsibility/ am I overqualified(that’s why I resigned), yet, when I went to the business district, I find myself too little for big boss’s to spare their time to engage a nice chat with me. Now I was given the luxury to talk, to chat with the community, yet, I found myself taking aback from this good opportunity! Why? Perhaps I’m still scared to try- so what if I fail? Failure is part of life. So easy to be said yet, so hard to live it up.

It may not sound as a perfect plan (there’s really no structure in it). To be honest, I don’t want to leave the community yet, I love the community, how they accommodate us, how friendly the people are, yet, there are times that ‘missing home’ and missing my comfort zone strikes me. Perhaps this is just one of those days.

I thought, I won’t feel this kind of ‘missing home’ thing; I’m in my own country, living my life as if out-of the box, yet, there are things that will remind you that your past/background is not your benchmark to move on. It is just a pretty much reminder of how you progressed in this journey called -life.

Tour de Manile (Part 2)

Have a break, grab a drink!

To be honest, I am not feeling well when I woke up this morning and had breakfast with my counterpart (both of us woke up by 8am?) and a family member joined us, even asking me how to get to my hometown, what will be the bus routes and etc. Since I was with counterpart, I told her about the plan of this fam member to go to my hometown; and guess what? We had this idea of ditching the team meeting and the preparations for the fun run, because we were branded already as the lazy and lame host home counterparts.

We’re not lame, we’re just chillin

I think (and HHC thinks) working in the community is like having a nice drink in a nice and fancy bar- all you have to do is ‘bang on it’ rather than staring at it as if it is a dream that needs to be come true. We are not in Cabiao, to change it in a snap! We are in Cabiao to help them to be resilient and prepared in terms of ‘disasters’ not really acting as experts in DRRM but rather to bring positive impact to get the ‘youth’ to partake in this ‘hype’ on development world.

Moving forward(not backward nor sideways πŸ™‚ ) since we were buzzing on going to someplace where we can find tranquility, silence, peace, away from the group nor the team (not from people of Cabiao) but from the ‘managers’, we went out of Cabiao as if we were doing a backpacking thing.

Go now, plan later

We always have this idea/s of doing things spontaneously(who really cares if we planned it or not?) like an ‘out-of-the-box’ attitude whenever we want to do things which would not include the team or even a larger group of friends. I think it worked this way for us because no one is dominating someone on doing something, just like having a nice rice bowl over soy sauce. πŸ™‚

The Spontaneous itinerary

Basically we had this idea of going to my hometown-Cavite which was roughly a four or more hour of travel. While nearing to the bus terminal in Manila, we just decided to have a nice cup of coffee with my dad roam around the metro, take train rides, bus, or even jeepney rides and stroll around-like a child in search for a nice candy shop.

We decided as well to buy our costumes for the fun run around the shops within the business district. Looking for a nice costume really stresses me out! Why do I need to participate in such event? I really don’t know- a tick of ‘out of the box’ perhaps? Counterpart saw how uninterested I was looking for a nice ‘costume’ yet she stayed her adrenaline/ bang it on attitude and we ended up with a nice one!

Indecisive before, yet till now

Yeah, I know for a fact how indecisive I am before the program and I think there are times that I just want to go with the flow? Yet, I am paired with a person who loves to push someone to do out of the box things even making an indecisive person to become a decisive one. We were at a nice Japanese restaurant (longing for a bowl of ramen), when she asked me if the price is a good one or a crappy one. I gave her the idea that another Japanese store is comparatively cheaper with unlimited rice! So we looked for it, after our ‘costume hunt’.

Since we were that flexible, we had salad, a bowl of noodles, a beer for our dinner in a nice korean restaurant.

Sounds fun? Yeah definitely

After our nice and balanced/healthy dinner we went to a nice bar at Greenbelt 3(I think? πŸ™‚ ), she treated me for a drink and talked about random things (again as if asking how insects multiply? πŸ™‚ ). I told her a couple of times that definitely I gonna miss her presence whenever Β I go for a drink nor passing by the district. I will remember how silly we were roaming outside Cabiao, and doing things as if we are not part of the program- but as 2 individuals with pretty much the same attitude/personalities yet came from different side of the globe.

Rush hour in Manila

As much as possible we wanted this trip to be as discreet from all the members of the team. We found ourselves a tranquility out of urbanity, yet, we felt that it was unfair to let the team do its work. Honestly speaking as well, we were contemplating how we were able to ‘contribute’ to the team, and how well we are in handling our issues (in terms of ‘team work’ and beating the red light). Basically, we worried too much if we would be able to catch the last bus trip going to Cabiao. Every station counts, and every station nearing down to our station is like having a sip of every ‘drink’ that makes your mind at ease.

It was an awesome/perfect day for the two of us. Yes, we found ourselves in the middle of the metro, like exploring things in new perspectives yet, we don’t get used to the presence of each other. We kept on learning, we kept on acting like a child, a student, a teacher even a nurse (for quite sometimes πŸ™‚ ), I think that is one of the fascinating things about life, you don’t have to live up the stigma nor the stereotype that every single individual would put on your name, it is more about how you appreciate the simple things, the simplicity of this world and not on the complexities that we always put in it.

T-shirts, Anyone?

I’m not really good at selling something, not even selling myself for a promising job.

HHC and I had this plan of selling shirts in front of the Municipal Hall where the people just come and go.

Turned down, not now

I really find it hard to approach someone to buy something that you’re selling.

I’m supposed to give up, not in the upbeat of doing out of the box, all I want to do is go home, hit my pillow and have a good day sleep. It was just right in time that a teacher from one of the barangays in Cabiao approached us and bought a shirt and ask her colleagues if they fancy buying a shirt.

Why I find hard to sell one?

I don’t know, perhaps, I’m really not into ‘marketing’ and selling, but I also should take into consideration that Cabiao is at par different from the vibrant Makati City’s Business District. It is far from having the diverse culture and what else? Nationality? What we’ve got were very dynamic and genuine individuals who were willing to take charge..

How They Met my Father…

It was one of a kind experience that I had when I finaly walking down the road to my Father’s office. Deja vu would say that it was pretty much more of seeing Makati again in different perspective, with more vibrant, enthusiasm and ‘bang it on’ attitude. I got mixed emotions when I approached the same person in the lobby of the building, saw the familiar face made me wonder, will I carry this ‘out-of-the-box’ attitude when I go back home? Or is this just a facade of my entire experience in the program? Familiar faces of my father’s colleague saw me and even asked what I’m doing in the metro? When time came and had my face to face approach to my dad, all the not-so-good things were washed away like a river/stream that keeps on flowing. I really missed my dad, and I was really excited to met him, share stories of what I’m doing for the past few weeks and months, and basically, the beaming smile of my father when he saw made me moved – as if I am a survivor who went to a warzone :). I kept on talking with him in English and most of his colleagues would wonder, why would I speak in the English language whereas,I am in a bunch of Filipinos? (I kept apologising as well to my father for speaking in the language that is foreign to him). We had a nice lunch and even told him that if he got an opportunity to meet HHC, probably he’ll gonna find HHC pretty much the same as me(the difference? She’s British!), too chatty, having her own ‘me’ time, a random thinker, doing ‘out-of-the-box’ things-pretty much the same as what I’m doing. πŸ™‚

 

He asked a lot of questions like:

  1. How do I get my food? – well basically, as part of the host home agreement, volunteers have their food from host homes, luckily, we are with a very accommodating host homes(all host homes are accommodating!), I told my father that in a particular meal, we have at least a variety of foods(e.g. Prawns, veg. and fish), which I find thankful for!
  2. How’s your A-S-T-H-M-A?- proudly( with flying colors and honour)that I told my father that I am no longer having my allergies and asthma attacks. So basically I am free to do what I want to do and eat whatever I want to eat! I even told him that HHC and I went for an almost 20 kms. Walk and he find it weird and crazy(as always they would find me weird for doing random things πŸ™‚ ).
  3. Still up for 500 peso challenge? Basically, he also asked me how well I am in terms of my finances(he knows that I know how to handle my money πŸ™‚ ), I told him, I’m okay, still up for the challenge of living with an ample amount of allowance that I am getting from the program.
  4. What are you doing? He asked this simple yet intriguing question. All I got to say is that- I a happy doing work in the community, living with an ample amount of resource/s that I have, walking to and from work, working with the barangays, and the local government.

 

Opportunity came in and I invited my counterparts (Steve and Katie) to met my father (good thing about having a beyond ‘counterpart’ relationship with someone is as if they are part of your family, just having a mini-reunion); establishing an honest-to goodness relationship is as good as having a nice cup of warm cafe americano-so good and therapeutic. :).

I know for a fact that my dad is not that fluent in the English language, yet, as much as possible he tried to speak with my counterparts, how are they doing, and how he wished to have a nice chat with them. My counterparts even invited him over a cup of coffee-yet he declined and I found it hilarious! He sent me messages that he wished he did not decline the invitation and had a pretty much nice chat with them (seeing how indecisive Filipinos are, makes me smile πŸ™‚ ). I find i funny as well that my HHC even asked someone to take a photo of us with my father (she even mentioned that we are having a mini-reunion! πŸ™‚ ).

After that not so usual encounter/meet up with my father, I told Katie(HHC) that seeing my father is like having a nice gift for my birthday, I couldn’t ask for more. πŸ˜€

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The Brits. Me and My Father. πŸ˜€

Deja vu! Tour de Manille

Saying goodbye is not as hard as having a bottoms up of hard liquor.

It was a fun fun fun Friday, UKV’s and ICV’s went to Manila for a day, and for UKV’s to renew their visa in the country, whereas, us, the ICV’s spent the day running our own personal errands.

Tour de Manille

A good friend of mine and I were asked to do some tour in old Manila together with our co-volunteers. It was a bit pressured, stressed and out-of-the-box thing again for us (me to be specific, because I need to talk pretty much how versed I am in the place), but don’t get me wrong, I used to live in the old Manila before that’s why I am pretty much well versed in the area. All the familiar faces, the places rushing back into my memory as if I’ve been here for couple of months ago and not years.

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Churches here and there

One of the highlights of old Manila (Intramuros) is its highly influential yet, preserved churches built during the Spanish era(the country has been a colony of Spain for 333 years, from 1921 till ___ spanish-american war πŸ™‚ ). These churches has been a witness of how influential the Spanish culture was in the country till now,(I can still imagine the population of students who would grab for Spanish as Foreign Language in uni.). We went to Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church (which is known for one of the oldest existing church in the country).

Challenge #:Romantic Coffee Date

HHC and I saw this good restaurant with in the old Manila(Barbara’s to be exact), and I told her, that it has a nice scenery(pretty much a romantic one) while having a nice cup of coffee, will make your day(I enjoyed staying at barbara’s before when I was in uni for coffee).

The challenge? In a year, I should send her a photo or even a blog/ a nice chat that I went to barbara’s and had a nice chat with someone(like a date πŸ™‚ ). Am I up for the challenge? I don’t know. Pretty much, I can go to Barbara’s and have a nice cup of coffee with someone who I’ll meet along the way of this crazy journey- no one knows and can tell. πŸ™‚

The not so usual walk around the historic walls

Walked through the walls of the historic landmark, made me realized that I’ve been in these places before, as if I am part of theΒ  history! Living up the “International Relations”Β  mentality does not make any difference, it is a matter of again- going out – of – the- box!