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.

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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!

Chefs’ Wannabies

All soul’s day and all saints’ day are approaching very fast as fast as time goes by before we say goodbye.

 

Why do Filipinos Celebrate Holloween/all saints’ day/all souls’ day?

To make this explanation short, we (Filipinos) try to reminisce our departed love ones. In my fam, we always cook something for our departed love ones. We even share it to them, go to the cemetery and spend couple of hours or the day with them (as if they gonna talk and ask how are you sofie? πŸ˜€ ).

Out-of-the- box #……

Well, basically, our host home is very family oriented individuals, they have this ‘mini-reunion’ thing during family events like: a. Halloween b. christmas and c. new year. Here’s the catch! They prepared a lot of foods for the fam. (since they consider us as part of the fam, we are entitled to eat as much as we want to), we prepared pancit as well to share. Cooking seafood pancit was one of a kind experience for me. Cooking my fav dish made me proud (I also aknowlegde my HHC) and another step-up of the ‘adult’ ladder, like, hey mom/ hey dad! I know how to cook porridge and pancit! And soup! (aside from making Japanese Maki).^_^

We’ve got massive loads of banters, sodas (I had 4 bottles, and 3 for HHC), and meeting the expectation stuff along the way.

Meeting Expectations

I am not sure if I’ve been too offensive/rude with the fam, with my HHC (Katie) whenever I try to think and decide for myself. Am I being selfish? Being rude to the fam or my HHC? There were times that I can bear the thought of explaining to the public that I am not here (in Cabiao) to be a translator/interpreter of my British counterpart. I am here as volunteer as well. The only advantage I have is the local language- no more no less. When it was revealed to the fam that we are about to leave the community in 4 weeks, they kept on asking me if I’ll go to London as well and even work there. I kept on insisting that I’ll stay here (in Phil.) see my fam, find job or another volunteer progam, but not go to London, via my host home counterpart. Yes, we practically established the fact that our relationship is far beyond the surface of being ‘ host home counterparts’, it is pretty similar to a best of friend or an elder/younger sibling, settling in the other side of the globe. Definitely I’ll go to London, and might meet her, but not now. She can also go to my home (my parents to exact), in the future and not in a snap. It is as if, I am a gold digger/social climber waiting for someone to bail me out.

Down day on Saturdays

I may find myself rude to my counterpart if I gonna tell that I am not pissed off whenever someone would ask me questions which I already answered before. Is it about cultures? Or about our personal differences? I don’t know, perhaps, it is just about seeing things in different perspective/s, no more no less.

Carebear

Sometimes, the more you care for the individual the more it stresses you out.

I think it was a remarking failure for me to express how much I care for an individual. Yeah, sounds creepy and awkward to say this, but I think, it consumes me now more than ever.

Since I just had a nice ample amount of phone credits, I tried to ask my HHC if she had already had her lunch, and I think this sounds awkward when I tried to care to someone, yet, used to be the one who’s being taking cared of.

I’m not saying that HHC is a snob, she’s not. I think she’s not used to see me or even know me well (), and how do I care for a person. For quite sometimes, I used to send the same messages to the members of fam, and I think, they’re getting used to the same routines that I have-send some message/s or even giving them a ring or two.

I find it weird because, as much as possible I want to tell or even express how much do I care for an individual yet, there is something that pulling me back. I am not treating someone like a child, because it makes the learning experience toooo tedious and unchallenging. I am not sure if it is because I’m getting used to be an independent woman who can stand up with tides? Or just sensitive to be up for beat?