Strangers from Different side of the Globe

Cross cultural communication is not all about spoken words, but it is also about being sensitive in a way that is not offending to both parties.

Independent, confident, passionate about her volunteer experience is what I’ve perceived with my hhc. I thought, she is perfect, like a princess travelled thousand   if not millions of miles just to volunteer in a developing country like the Philippines.

I find it odd as well, to know that she is an actress way back in London and wearing different hats made me feel awkward. Why is this woman with a blonde hair, fair complexion, a vegetarian and has a good background will go as far as this community to do volunteer work/s?

Surprising Facts

Since we had this very intellectual stimulating conversation about random stuff, we even talked about how simple she is in her own country. She even know how to do her laundry by herself (I thought she has servants or what not), eating dishes using her hands ( I think, I taught her to do so, to be some sort of gain the trust of the fam? 🙂 ), cleans up our room (I thought she has a robot like asimo to do it 🙂 ), aside from her usual outgoing physique she has a big heart as well, she loves to listen to a loooooottttt of things, as if picking up bits of everything is part of the learning journey.

First Impressions usually don’t last

During our first socials with the UKV’S, I thought she’s picky and bit snob when dealing with a foreign counterpart. Also, when I talked to her, like asking for her name, I thought, she wear this mask of being friendly, but I was wrong; she’s really nice and has a lot of things to discover just ask (wink) .

It was during our in community orientation that I had the chance to know her more. We stayed in one room together with two more volunteers. We even talked about the the Filipino’s thinking time, ‘trust’ issues, how to handle it, even cultural sensitivity in both Philippines and U.K.

Keep the reel rolling!

I told her straight to the point that I felt awkward when it was revealed that I will be her host home counterpart (hhc), it was a nerve wracking experience for me(sorry for exageration 🙂 ) and I thought we came from two different worlds and just met half-way, but it is not.

On our first night as host home counterparts, I disclosed the fact that both of us should be honest with our emotions and if we are pissed off with one another, or even stressed out for the day, also, if we feel the urgency of having a ‘me time’ to reflect, self-check, or even do our own thing.

Cultural Sensitive

I am not sure if she just want to blend more with the culture or really wants to adapt to our very heterogeneous culture. The past few weeks has been a roller coaster like experience for us. She even asked me if she wears a culturally sensitive clothes, eating with her hands is culturally acceptable thing, nor refusing one thing is acceptable.She wants to engage more in the community but obviously she can’t because she came all the way from London, has blonde hair and fair complexion; I on the other side, is enjoying the thought of having my cup of coffee and no one notices me.

(part 2, Pros and cons of having and working with a Foreign Counterpart)

Pros and cons of having a Foreign Counterpart

Well, this is not to highlight all the good things we were accomplished (as hhcs’) so far in the programme, we also had this not so good experiences as well. 🙂

  1. Managing the language barrier- I, being able to speak the language(local) is in better position to get the ‘trust’ of the locals even our hhh; she has the eagerness to learn the language but find herself as rubbish in it (I felt the same, when I study foreign language/s).
  1. Should I say ‘yes’ or should I say ‘no’?- such phrase ‘would you mind…….?’ is like asking in Filipino ‘gusto mo bang….?’ whenever we gonna do something, like ‘would you mind having more rice?’ if I replied in no, for her it means yes! 😛
  1. If they say thank you they really mean it- I find it odd to say thank you whenever someone will complement whatever I did for a particular thing. My hhc even read my blog and find it organized but I reckon the thought, that I am not really good(like being inferior does not really make any sense). Being inferior and being humble are 2 different entities. You can’t say your humble while being inferior.
  1. If they say you can count on them they mean it- I don’t know, there is a gap (literally a large one) if you will able to see how we manage to have our socials, our team meetings, as if, there is this thing about being Superior-Inferior. Is it innate with us (Filipinos) to act in a certain way that a Westener will be treated like a Queen travelled thousand miles just to visit a pauper? Or is it part of each individual to be inferior over the other? Or it is just me who is reckoning to work at par with my counterparts?(this really causes me a bit worry) if I work that much(whose standard should we follow?)if I work that lame/lazy(again what is the benchmark?). I thought that working hard does not really makes sense, I’ve been in that situation before that working hard and not enjoying it does not help you to grow as individual (trust me, been there done that 🙂 ).
  1. Never been in the spotlight so spare me one- personally, I hate to be in spotlight(one thing that I wasn’t able to overcome even I already had a degree-which involves a lot of socials!) for the rest of my life?! It was a word from a fellow who said ‘weather you like it or not time will come and you need to overcome this social-phobia that you have’; spotlight is an inevitable thing, from time to time you will be talking with a lot of people. It was strange as well when my hhc, asked me to sit beside her to join the group and have some chat, I reckon the idea and got stressed for what we did, before the party: which was hilarious! We should have asked for their help, coz it was a team thing! We should not carry the cross all over just to overcome the problem (that’s the thing with us Filipinos) we recognize the problem, act on it as if we are atlas who carries the globe, but we are not! We are individuals with diversed skills and definitely has something to offer, so why bother?
  1. I will be your friend in need and in deed- I am not sure if it is just me and my counterpart who has this sort of implied arrangement/deal whenever someone is upset/down for a particular reason. At first, I thought my hhc, is soo independent and optimistic, but as each single day passed, I realized that we are pretty much the same- our difference? I am from the land of pearl in the orient sea and she came from the land of freedom and liberty (not sure though on the last phrase). Also, I never thought that she will be that pessimist at a certain point, while I on the other hand, keeps on telling her that at least I am assured that I am in a room with a human being not of a robot (because again, I thought she is as perfect as asimo:) )
  1. Be assertive as you are- being assertive does not happen overnight. It is not the same as having a nice snack in a fast food chain (wherein you give your order and wait for couple of minutes to have your food).

There’s more to share, but my glasses were already blurred. Trying to see more in a bit and write about it. 🙂

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Monday Courtesy Call

It is a monday flag raising routine, all of the members of the municipal/local government needs to participate and or mandated by the flag protocol to sing the national anthem.

We were joined by the municipal mayor and the rest of the municipal team. Students as well were encourage to participate in the flag raising ceremony.

We were encourage to sing the national anthem and yet, I think, that was the first time that I sung the song with full pride and honor (apologies for my protocol professor :P), but yup, I sang the song as if I am very proud to be one, -if that makes any sense?. (the phrase “is that make any sense?” Is what I am used to hear from my hhc when we engage ourselves in an intellectually stimulating conversation :)).

The Unconventional Tour

After our courtesy call with the municipal mayor, we were toured within the municipal hall about the various department agencies we will be working with for the next 3 months, also we were able to ride a typical jeepney wherein the group was divided into two groups (unlike the usual jeepney ride wherein there are lots of people inside like sardines), I think we were given much value because of our counterparts? -not sure though. 🙂  But we can work it on our advantage specially if we are going to have our workshops. 😀

The Spotlight

In my previous experience as a volunteer/leader wanna be in my school, I never had much attention as we had when we visited the St. Joseph’s elementary school. Well, for an obvious and not so obvious reasons in this programme we were paired with a ‘foreigner’ so basically the more foreign you are the greater attention you will get.

In one of the rooms that we visited, I’ve seen a queue of slippers outside the room, such depitcs how practical and simple life is here in Cabiao and even having a shoe is a kind of luxury (how will you appreciate the use of shoes if it will be soaked in mud anyway?).

 The Not so Tiring Day

We practically roamed around all Cabiao within the day, I could say that all of us got tired if not exhausted and want to grab our power nap. On our way home, I asked my hhc(katie) if she wants to drop by at the postal office which is practically a walking distance in our HH. We head off to the new public markey and even had the opportunity to send her package for her boyfriend in London. It was a fascinating thing for me since, I was able to see for myself how do the postal staff put on stamps on our package and letters (I usually give my letters to the postal staff and leave coz they gonna do their job-put on stamps in it).

A Proud Counterpart

Since this is my blog, I think I have the authority if not the privilege to be proud of myself and my hhc counterpart. We learned our lessons the hard way, as if being taught using textbook is dull and inefficient(I am not an anti-education, but I find it more effective if students will be able to learn the unconventional way? ). In our “intellectually stimulating” conversation I had with my hhc, I felt and realized that it is best to learn in a simple conversation and share thoughts and perspectives has a high retention rate than having it read in a textbook or guidebook. My hhc, has been a very good if not the best counterpart listening to my endless stories and being patient with my English. She even listened as well to my “suggestions” and read the things between the lines.. so fast learner! 😀

Saying hello and goodbye..

Last week, I just tendered my resignation; a sign of goodbye to my colleagues in the firm, and saying hello to my new apple of the eye. 

It was a tough decision to tender your resignation. It took me a lot of courage to tell to the person who referred me to the firm that I resign.

Response, reactions anything under the sun

The initial reaction was- really?  What are your next plans? Do you have new work? New environment?  Don’t be a hypocrite tell the mob!

I was fixed in awe, and I really don’t  know, why do I keep on entertaining their questions, can’t they understand that I want to breathe, I want to see the world in different perspective? See things in a brighter and lighter note?

Though they were happy for me, I know that it is a two-sided affair. Yes you’re right! Like a sword, what you say may use against you so beware. ! 🙂

Job Hunting

 

Real life starts when you finally leave your own comfort zone and accept that life is not as utopic as what the Republic by Plato suggests.

I am having a dilemma; I need to consolidate in my mind the idealism and realism that keeps popping in my head every time that I will drop my resume in HR department. There are jobs, there are a lot of jobs, waiting to be filled and companies are willing to provide their employees the perks and privileges that will make them stay.

Job hunting is like an investment

Job hunting is much like investing in equities, in real estates to name a few. Your four year college degree is also a kind of investment. Your parents spent thousandths if not hundreds of their precious salary to send you in a good and reputable university. Your degree of specialization will determine what kind of asset you will be when you finally leave the four corners of your classroom. Companies will hire those who is profitable, those who can make money for them, while on the job hunter’s perspective, they are looking for companies who can provide them career growth, and of course experience and benefits.

Degree of specialization determines your asset

Like any other fresh graduate in the country, I am one of those graduates with a multidisciplinary degree. Meaning, I can work in any field of study, weather in sales, marketing, admin, research, public and labor relations, outsourcing and among other industries which may require both critical and communication skills.

Like any other graduate, finding your own niche in a competitive market will be a big problem. It is because, first, you want to maximize what you have learned in the university and apply those theories in your prospective job. Second, since you have this thin paper called “diploma” you don’t want other people to underestimate your capabilities and even your intellectual capability. You might tell yourself, “ I made policy papers when I was at the university, I made presentations and researches about the global politics and economics, I analyzed the trends in both emerging and developed markets internationally, I made comments, argued, draw perspectives and even conduct a thorough research for persons of high value in society,  I formulate and synthesized events in history according to theories of International Relations and  even International Political Economy yet I will work as if I am not a qualified person?”

Let us define what qualified person is. Well based on my experience, a qualified person has what it takes to be on the position being offered by the company. Going back to my list, the third will be your idealism vs. realism mentality.

In an emerging market like the Philippines, there are actually four industries that pushed for the economic growth namely: the Business Processing Outsourcing industry, the Tourism, the Agribusiness, and the Manufacturing. If you studied hard when you were in the university, you will have a hard time to decide which industry you will fall. Why? Basically because, at first, university education plays a lot in propagating the “ideal”, the standard, the norm of how to decide on things. Do you think if you will apply the standard meaning of democracy what might happen in the Philippines for the recent decades? If the concept of merit and bureaucracy (ideally) applied would you think that there will be consul generals that will be recalled by the foreign ministry because of falsification of documents? Would the Philippine democracy wont be as elicit democracy as it is now?  

Think again buddy, the life you and I had for the past 20 years are just as ideal as it was. But the real world needs more aggressive, flexible individuals that will make profit for them. What is the reality? The majority of the population in the country is living below the 2 dollar per day as a standard definition by UN on poverty. How do they able to measure poverty? Do they have any idea how does a poor lives with a hundred pesos in his pocket? While the majority of the Filipinos read in the newspapers that the recent upgrade by Fitch is a good sign of development, the question of inclusive growth remains a cloud of doubt. Who benefits from such upgrade by the Fitch? Those who invest their excess money in equities, time deposits and even in bonds; but the ordinary “Juan de la Cruz” won’t benefit from such good news because he has no idea about banking and finance. He even has a little or no knowledge on how banks make profit out of his money, nor the role of banks and financial institutions that may affect his own job.

Welfare State

I will admit I am a beneficiary of the welfare state. What is welfare state? Allow me to give you an idea what is a welfare state. France is my primary example. In France, an individual who is born is entitled to social services, education, livelihood, and health. The French government subsidized these services to the people. Meaning, those who are both working and non-working French citizen is entitled to such services.

In the case of the Philippines, the government only subsidized those who are living as poorest of the poor under the 4 P’s of the current administration. They will provide an educational assistance and maternal assistance to those who qualify for the program. Quite interesting, is that, those who are beneficiaries of such programs owns a dvd player, an aircon at their abode, 2 cell phones and you might think that they are not really poor. While those who are newbie in the real world, doesn’t have a penny in their pocket to print their resumes, and to shoulder transportation costs. I may sound unrealistic, that I am proposing an unemployment voucher for those who are fresh graduates and this can be used for their job hunting game.

Job hunting is not an easy game. Neither surviving the game is not an easy one. I guess, it is just a start of something new (with ♪ background music of HSM: Start of Something New).J J J

 

 

Yasumimasu

Yasumimasu.

No class, suspended, because of monsoon rains

Rains that started last Monday

Rainy days in Mondays like the classic “The Carpenters” song

Making me feel sleepy.

Father arrived with bad news to say

As usual, the conference has started.

We talked about the work – his work

And found out that he will take  a leave for pete sake!

He will take a leave, not to say that he will retire,

Retirement is different from taking a 5 days leave

He will take the leave, so that he wont see

How problematic the office can be

I envy those who are educated,

They know how to make lies the truth

In the eyes of the majority he will win

In a battle of ideas that is inevitable of him.

I envy those who can make things worse,

Making a simple life in a catastrophe world;

I am not in the position to write this things,

But surely  I am entitled of my freedom of speech.

To speak needs to think,

Of what to say and how to say,

In this society that my family is in,

We are not entitled to make criticism

Over the big boss in front of me.

I am afraid that I might encounter,

Person like her weeping me in vain.

I hate those who see me, not as who I am,

Capable of doing things that can turn

Their lives in upside down.

Tipsy curvy life is what I want

For those who bought my father in tears,

Not because I want revenge,

Not only because of my father

But because of millions of  people who are also in vain.

I am sick of this life, making moves on how to advance,

Personal interest over public interest,

Which  keeps me inquiring,

Is there really a concept of justice

In country like this?

Viewing in international arena, we live in a capitalist- democratic society,

Free – flow of goods, services and even ideology,

But it is inevitable in a society

To have a contraction between the burgeosie and the proletariat.

Which  makes things worst; proletariats clamors for democracy and equality,

But let’s face the reality, egalitarian will never exists,

Since each individual personality has it’s own realistic mindset

That will advance it’s interest over the other.

We want to advance the human rights,

But certainly we can’t do that,

As long as disparity exists

No one can exit.

How to prove that I can make things better

Is what my parents told me

You’ve seen the status quo,

What is you antithesis for this?

You want change?

How will you make one?

How will you participate?

How will you make things better

If people like them still in this world?

All I could do,

As I said to them, is to study

Learn the basics of the game,

Make the most of the strategic planning

As deeper as it can be.

I will enter the game,

Not now but in the future let’s say.

I will make different strategies,

Not to lose in the game.

I remembered  what my professor said,

You are in an intellectual journey,

You need to become the philospher kings and queens.

To make life a better .

Since to govern needs intelligence,

But what if, the intelligence corrupted

Our  society that we should make a living?

A Closure to Japanese Culture

 

A closure to Japanese Culture

 

 

 

It has been three years and almost five months since I studied Japanese language. In that span of time, I learned a lot, and as I said in my paper in my university that, there is much more to learn, much more to experience in the Japanese culture.

 

 

 

I studied the language by force not because I like J-pop, anime, kabuki nor Noh. I studied the language as part of my university’s curricula. No foreign language no graduation. Among the languages that I could choose from are the following: Spanish, French, Chinese and Japanese. Unfortunately there was no available professor in my former university otherwise take it on the metropolis; I was forced to have Japanese instead of French.

 

 

 

During my early days as a college student, I took the words of my professors as the truth; it was as if I am indoctrinated to follow this, to accept that Marxism is good and other stuffs. It turned out that, religiously I studied well in my academic subjects but, it did not paid off in my foreign language. I got an almost failing grade in my Japanese 101; suffice for me not to be qualified for the academic scholarship.

 

 

 

My journey did not end with an almost failing grade. By summer of 2009, in our church plaza, I saw an advertisement, searching for Japanese students who want to learn how to write, read and speak Japanese language for free. It was a summer workshop on Japanese language; together with my classmate, we went to the address, and see for ourselves if it is worth to give it a try.

 

 

 

The outside university affair

 

 

 

It was an unforgettable experience for me. The outside university affair served me well for my Japanese class, and at the same time, gaining friends that I might never met if I did not pursue the outside university affair.

 

 

 

I had a Japanese sensei, who was a retired teacher in Japan, taught Japanese language in high school and a strict professor as I can say. He might be strict, yes, but behind those “ carrot and stick” principle, I know that he wants the best for the both of us ( me and my Japanese learning buddy). We are continuously studying the language and keep aiming high both for our careers and most importantly, our dream to go to Japan.

 

 

 

Why Japanese language?

 

 

 

It has been a perennial question that my classmates would ask me. Why?

 

Of all the languages in the world, why settle for Japanese language? The answer might be a tough one. Imagine, Japanese language is not an official language used in the United Nations, in ASEAN, perhaps, it might be used. But beyond those technicalities, I settle for the Japanese language not because of the fact that it may serve me well in the International fora, but because, there is more personal reason – I want to change the way Japanese people see the Filipinos in their country.

 

 

 

Too idealistic? I guess so………

 

 

 

I could still remember that, during my elementary days, I used to read in the newspapers about those Filipino entertainers who go to Japan, work and go back to the country with money.

 

 

 

When I enter senior high school, a good friend of mine, who has an elder sister working and living in Japan, used to send her Japanese textbooks and even mp3 players. One time, I borrowed her book, practiced memorizing ohayou gozaimasu, konnichiwa, the counting principle and a lot more. One of my teachers told me, why study Japanese? Do you want to work in Japan as Japayuki?? It was odd, yes, but as I remember it now, I can’t help, but to smile. Even our own ‘kababayans” has the same thinking as any other people that I’ve known. They looked down on their own “kababayan” without knowing that, in the first place, they did not want that kind of job, it was just that they don’t have any choice at that time, weather to take the job or starving to death?

 

 

 

Fast forward – when I enter university, I am lucky enough to have a professor who is a multimillionaire (I think) and he has a placement agency. His first client? – The Japanese. He used to send Filipina to Japan and later on, go back to the country. Sounds interesting.. ?? I guess so…J

 

 

 

The things that keeps me holding on to Japanese …….

 

 

 

First, I spent my 4 years studying the language, I invested my time, effort and of course money in going to my sensei’s house every weekend. I’ve learned from my friend who is an investor; “you’re investments should work for you and it should be compounding in interest”. J

 

 

 

Second, it is only the Japanese language that binds me with my mentors and friends that I may never meet if I did not continue this journey. Yes, they may serves as my mentors, my coffee buddy, my life coach, and of course, they are one of the reasons why I can’t let go of the rope. J

 

 

 

Third, speaking from the perspective of former Foreign Service student, the geopolitical mapping of today’s generation has shifted. We started from the industrialization of Britain, to the revolution and hegemony of US, to the balancer of International Relations – Asia (Tripartite relations). Tracing out the history of international relations; Japan, served well the region where it belongs and the international community.

 

 

 

Fourth, at the current status of Japan – Philippines bilateral relations, both countries are enjoying flexible and not so flexible agreements. To cite one, the JPEPA, where in, the Philippines will be given the chance and opportunity to send its overflowing number of nurses to the aging population of Japan, in condition, these nurses that will be send, should pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Test – level 1 or 2 (mind you, even I who studied the language for the past four years struggled to pass the exam in my first try). Aside from the condition for qualifications of the Japanese government, they are also entitled to send their old rubbish to the country. (this is one of the explanations for the growing number of Japanese surplus shops in the country)- Benevolent Realist?? –  とても たいへん ですね!

 

Fifth, there are very cute toys and accessories from a cat with a very cute smile and face!  – Kitty chan!!! I can’t resist to look at it, smile, relieved my stress and voila! I am happy again!

 

 

 

Sixth, 日本人 の 恋人 が ほしい です!!Ehem! J I think this is a bonus? Of course, you can not dictate to whom your heat beats, but surely it will, and hoping it might be Japanese! J

 

 

 

Will I be able to end my relationship with Japanese culture? I guess I will have a hard time to do so, unless, they will close all shops that sells hello kitty, Sony, sharp, Panasonic and other Japanese brands. I will definitely let go of the rope, but as long as I can see those products, I think I will not let go of the rope yet. Mada. J