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˜€

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.

Proper Dinner at last!

Sometimes, all you need is a glass of wine and down it till you’ll drop.

It was a nice Saturday night to end all the ‘cheat days’ that we have. We’ve got salad as our appetizer (which is an English thing), have rice and nice prawn, crab and squid dish(a Filipino thing), and pizza and fries(pretty much American) over a glass of red wine!

3 Brits and the Fil.

My work counterpart, host home counterpart, my friend’s host homecounterpart and I; had this awesome dinner courtesy of our HH brother(a birthday party!). We spent the night having a nice chat, nice food, nice wine all the nicest things that I could think of the moment. There was a time that I felt I’m already drunk (I kept on talking to them in straight English! πŸ™‚ ), and even had a nice conversation with them as if we are friends catching up with each others’ businesses – no distinction of whose nationality one belongs with. I was even up for a challenge of finishing my glass of wine and half a bottle of beer in 15 sec. The prize? A week worth of allowance plus buko juice! I tried, yet, I didn’t made it! My time was 20.something sec!

The Call that made my eyeballs Roll

Reeda, a really good fellow and Lizzie’s HHC called me while having our nice red wine. Asked me if I was with her counterpart and I answered in affirmative, made her a bit more worried- if her counterpart would get drunk, if the proper permission was executed before the party and even moan me about being responsible, culture sensitivity and trust issues.

Let me clarify….

  • I know how to play games-pretty much, they find me a bit conservative made me wonder-are they still having this stereotype in me?
  • I’m not tolerating someone over something-yep, some may find me tolerating someone doing ‘something’. I’m not tolerating someone, perhaps, it is just about allowing ‘someone’ to commit mistakes (more often) than teaching them not to commit one(which is quite contrasting and will saves your time-I’ll assure you! πŸ™‚ ).
  • Trust issues- I’m not saying that I’m good at disclosing even addressing ‘trust issues’ with the group-I am not. Perhaps, I’m just like a litmus paper, trying to gauge if the person is willing to extend their trust or not- if the otherwise-so be it (I can’t change someone’s perspective in a snap).
  • Baby no more- I find it weird, because some if not all volunteers (esp. The UKV’s) find themselves hanging and even being treated like a child in this journey. No one is treating someone like a child (it is only in my perspective πŸ™‚ ). I don’t treat my counterpart as child, I’ll let her fail-forward fast for her to see what’s the real world is all about; and I think the same goes with me- letting me fail-forward-fast as well- so no one is being left behind.
  • Cultural sensitivity- it is a big word for me. Too dynamic, and I don’t know which perspective should I see it. Is it about the values I have (as a Filipino, as an individual), or is it about confining to the norms that the society sets in?

It is not about being ‘someone’ who does out-of-the-box things made me different from the team, perhaps, I’m just to loud to ask the unquestionable questions dare to do things unconventionally, yet, my ‘cultural values’ are still intact.

Counting, Planning, Staring at the Ceiling

Down to 5 weeks, and I am not sure how are we going to end this.

My HHC and I decided that we will go for hikes for the rest of the remaining weeks we have before we go back to the lives we had before the program.

4 hours of non-stop talking about random things, literally anything under the sun. But hey, there’s more! I thought out-of-the-box things is about “doing something” but it is not, it is also about having strange emotion/feeling yet, you face it, you choose to bang it on rather than stay still and stare at the ceiling.

A lot of questions popping in my mind, random things to talked with, but my HHC and I managed to deal with each other’s talkativeness. We are working on the same page- we love to talk, walk, think of random ideas, asks a lot of unquestioned questions and try to act like a child for quite sometimes.

Pack now, Fly Later

We were exchanging views/ideas/perceptions about the world in random. How do we do this? Simple! Just mention something and someone will give an insight!(fill in the blanks πŸ™‚ ) Since we pretty much enjoy the fact of travelling the world, we talked about:

1. Seeing the Angkor Wat (Cambodia)- this majestic temple(I’m not sure if it is really a temple), with gold on top will make you feel loved.

2. Taj Mahal (India)- personally this is a must for me, my HHC’s parents have been there, she even shared how majestic it is without even ‘showing off’ to me. A plain and simple explanation of the features!

3. The Machu Picchu (not sure of the spelling! πŸ™‚ ) (Peru)- again, another must go before I die! πŸ™‚ !

I want to see how the Incas/Aztec civilization disappeared, what an Aztec looked like, how do they make a living, how do they teach their daughter/s or son/s? What is the medium of communication? How do they write? Do they have ceremonies? How do they conduct such? πŸ™‚

4.Russia- always fascinated with Vladimir Putin, but I’ll go to Russia to buy Matryoshka doll (I love dolls but when I was a child, my big bro cut all of my barbies’ hair and right then and there I don’t play barbie dolls anymore, I’m fascinated to collect traditional dolls πŸ™‚ ).

5.Czech Republic- disney like castles and cool breeze that struck your face will make you feel in love for the rest of the trip!

6. Japan- of course this is a must for me! I really love Japanese Culture no matter what! Watashiwa nihon ni ikitai! :), regardless if I speak Japanese Language or not, I’ll find a way to be in the land of the rising sun, wear my yukata, kyoto no machi ni arukimasu! Kitty chan no mono wa kaimasu! (sorry for using Japanese language, spare me one for this πŸ™‚ ).

7. Egypt/Greece- We love history! What else could you ask for more but to see for yourself how the Egyptians built the pyramid of Giza and to think that it is thousand of years existing!(HHC has been in Egypt before together with her grandpa for a holiday). How about the Greek philosophy and Mediterranean cuisine? Sounds fun?? Sounds awesome! πŸ™‚

7. Thai’s red district- my uni friends and I has this plan of going to Thailand and see for ourselves what it looks like. No worries just havin fun!

Both of us want to see the dynamism of each country’s cultural heritage blend with the modern, fast paced environment. The list might get longer, complicated and tedious, but I think that is the most exciting part- to see how far you go, how flexible your plan is, how will you make the list a reality to savor, to enjoy. πŸ˜€

Let’s Meet Halfway

The reality of volunteerism does not end when the placementΒ ends.

We hit the 6th week of the programme. We are half-way done to this thrilling and challenging volunteer experience.

Realities sets in..

HHC and I had this talk (21st of October) last night, we acknowledged the fact that we are already half-way done. No one thought that someone will be working, even living with a foreigner 24/7 for 12 weeks. No one thought also, that they gonna share room, mattresses and such. But the catch? Sharing room with someone you really don’t know can be a start of beyond the surface relationship (friends). Working with foreign counterparts has been a not-so-easy thing for the rest of the 12 weeks. Mixed emotions, tantrums, mood swings and a lot more. But what made you stay? It is the experience, no matter how gloomy, sunny, cloudy or rainy your day is, it is still an experience to capture, to savor, to learn. No one will tell you to scrap the feeling, because it is part of growing up, of moving forward.

Reality Check

Seeing the sunrise again, made me think for a sec (I think it is no longer sec but for a couple of minutes πŸ™‚ ) :

a. I’ll surely gonna miss seeing the sunrise in the morning(in my hometown, it is surrounded by series of houses, might go for a hike to see the sunrise),

b. I’ll miss my counterpart, seeing how we progressed in the half-way of the programme made me think, it is about conquering fears and doing out-of-the-box, seeing things in positive way rather than on the other side of the coin, found a sister living in the other side of the globe;

c. Active lifestyle-surely, this thing will definitely be a part of my routine once I go back home, whenever I’ll go for a walk, I’ll always remember my counterpart, walked for straight 2 hours,approx. 15kms? Record breaking isn’t? Can’t hike Mt. Arayat, so better go for a long straight hike (walk);

d. The MeALS!- I’ll gonna miss the prawns, the fish(catfish) in particular, my HHC taught me how to eat one, and whenever I prawns? It’ll remind me that I have no allergies to prawns, it is just about having hypochondriac syndrome πŸ™‚ ,

e. The girls- they may naive for a number of reasons, but they our de-stress ball; whenever we want to play with them, talk or even just a simple joke, they are always on the go.

f. Our lola Emma- who really loves us, prepare our meals (take note of the fish, veggies and prawns), asks questions like: do you have a boyfriend back home? Don’t you miss home? After the programme, what’s next?

g. The pets- I’m not really fond of having puppy, cat or chicken within 50 meters from me. Having them around made me feel uncomfortable, yet, I realized that I really don’t have allergies with their fur, it is another hypochondriac syndrome.

Image1261 Image1291

h. Our host home dad- even though we don’t really talk/have proper conversation with him, I find him like my real dad; he even told me once that we are now family here, so if we need anything just tell it to him, he even gave us a shirt as well, I am not sure if it is being mushy of him but we appreciate it.

i. Our counterparts(Filipino and UKV’s)- I don’t know how are we going to bid our goodbye to each other when the time has come to say goodbye. I am not sure if I can manage the fact that I will not see them again, interact with them, crack jokes with them nor share endless stories with them makes me in teary eyed.

British and Filipino Volunteers after the matching game revealed (for host homes and work counterparts)

British and Filipino Volunteers after the matching game revealed (for host homes and work counterparts)

This entry might be a bit mushy and a bit emotional coz I cried before I finished this. I hate saying goodbyes and farewells, because I don’t want to be left behind, and staring at the ceiling again. But I think, this is what growing up and learning starts to enter the picture, when you realize to let things go but at the same time moving forward.

First Impressions- NEVER- LAST

A Question of……….

I find it weird for us Filipinos complimenting someone but does not literally mean the ‘real’ compliment. We find ourselves accommodating, but at the end of the day, got hurt when hit by negative comments nor exaggeration of one thing that might lead to a bigger thing.

Is it about Personal Difference/s or is it just about bitching one another?

I thought, even at this level we are still subject to theΒ  differences brought about by our respective countries’ and cultures’, but, I personally reckon the idea. We are no longer being controlled nor made ourselves comfortable in any way we want it to be. It is practically about each individual differences and how we are coping to such.

I am not comparing my hhc (host home counterpart), with the rest of the gang, but the fact that we established beyond the surface level of relationship is hardly to define.

Stop bantering when I am pissed off!

I find it rude and offensive whenever I am down and someone tries to make fun out of me or even make something to pull my spirits up (I am not saying that I hate my counterparts for being funny, but there are times that all you need is -Time).

First impressions……(part 1)Β I know that first impressions don’t last. But here I am trying to reckon the idea as I get to know more about my counterparts..

ICV's

  1. A chic with a bubbly and big heart- this chic loves to smile if not laugh out loud. ‘Who cares if someone will judge of what I am doing, as long as everyone is happy.’
  1. A guy with an exceptional background- weak, vulnerable, but resilient and down to earth. This guy has a lot to offer, but always bother, just make him comfortable and everything will fall into their proper place. Ask, and he will answer, anything and everything under the sun, just make sure you have the probing questions with you.
  1. A chic with a to-go life- this chic loves to see places, been there done that thing will make you feel roaming around the country (without making an effort to book a flight), with her stories (inspiring, motivating or just a simple moaning) will give an impression that she is independent and confident, but at the end of the day, she is still a human being, subject to stress and being ‘introvert’.
  1. The Jack-of-all-Trades guy-this guy (so far has the answers to an nth number of my questions (wink) ) has a very well versed lifestyle, even been in a lot of places as well, loves travelling (backpacking to be exact) and I really envy his outdoor gears!
  1. The chic with a chillin attitude- this chic loves to do outdoor stuffs as well, exploring the developing world, trying to consider each and every opportunity that comes in her way.
  1. The sweet guy- this guy is really nice, loves to chat but shy to initiate one, loves to dance even under the scourging heat of the sun. He knows if you’re upset, and send you a message to lighten up your day.
  1. The Chillin guy- I literally envy this guy, made me think if he even got mood swings and try to beat the beast. Always have his cam ready to say one-two-three cheese!
  1. The Chic with let’s get it done attitude- I find her bubbly, kind and receptive, walking around the streets with her bags on makes an impression, we have to move on.

The list may sound crazy, but we are for sure for sometime; loves to kickin and rollin like a newcomer in the scene. πŸ˜›

Working in Random

Working while having fun is like enjoying your hot coffee under the heat of the sun.

Working and having fun are two entities which are at the opposite side of the world(if you are part of a linear/straightforward organization). Working and having fun are yep! Two entities from different side of the globe yet, you may do things simultaneously(trust me! You can, just tell yourself)!

While everyone is cramming about our activities, my work counterpart and I were just chillin and having a nice chat, with background music, even snack/s with us, just to be casual and informal does not make you lame/lazy, but a sign that you are an unconventional one.

It is hard not to compare

Flashing, dashing, beaming and striking lights will hit your eyes when you go out of your house to work; you will hear a lot of buzzing horns, noise coming to and from the hierarchy of cars upto the rushing workers who are late for their work. – that is a typical life in the metro where the biggest companies and branded goods were sold.

On the other side, you will hearΒ  a ‘cry of chicken'(tilaok in Filipino), feel the cool morning breeze that will pass through the window, the chirping of the birds, smell the dish being prepared for your breakfast and packed lunch. – that is what me and my hhc (most if not all the time experienced), oh! Before I forgot! We also have the leisure of time to walk to our workplace (which is the Municipal Hall) and have the luxury to grabΒ  a cup of coffee in our favorite coffee shop (note: it is not as fancy as Starbucks, nor as cozy as Coffee Bean) but, the lady is sooo kind and we even had the opportunity to have a nice chat with her during our ‘coffee break’. They even know our favorite spot, the time we mostly have our coffee and even the routine (I’ll gonna ask for some coffee for me and a hot water for my hhc πŸ™‚ ).

What am I really doing here?

Well, to be fair, I want to disclose the information that I am working as a volunteer in the Municipality of Cabiao, Nueva Ecija. I am working with other 19 volunteers (9 Filipino and 11 British)Β  with the community in making a 5-year Disaster Risk Reduction Management Plan (DRRM-Plan) for the whole municipality.

Sounds good?

Pretty much, I would say that I am fortunate yet pressured to work on the plan. We were given a ton of appreciation, a lot of fun and relaxation time and of course the challenge to go out of your own box.

I just never thought that, in such Saturday (which was my A-day), would be the start of my ‘out-of-the-box’ experience. It was really an out of the box experience, I did not even told my mom about the A-day (I did not told her about my whereabouts which is unusual) and asked her what if I will go to a place in the country to do volunteer works?

Questions Overheard:

1. Β The funding-where will I get my support for my daily expenses?

  1. The fragile health status- my parents in particular are really health conscious, they keep on telling me that ‘health is wealth’, they even worry about my allergies but rest assured that I am not having it (hypocondriac syndrome?)
  1. After the programme where will you go?- this question was raised by my big bro. I’ve been working in the corporate world, been in rushing things and I thought it is about career mobility and security (stepping up the corporate ladder) which made me believe that will give me happiness (but it is really the simple things).
  1. What will happen next?- this question was raised by my father before getting his approval for me to join the program. Basically, it is a normal parental instincts which made him a bit anxious of letting me do my own thing. But, I think, he is now a proud father for having me stepping out of my zone and explore more about myself.

This is just a cumulative list of what my family perceive what I am doing, no one is being hurt(hopefully my fam won’t). πŸ™‚

In-Community Orientation

The Real Thing

It was almost a week since we land our feet in Cabiao. The past few days has been too accommodating and too friendly for all volunteers like we feel we were in a holiday.

Our supervisors break the leg in bringing us back into reality- the DRRM plan.

We had our Disaster Preparedness workshop wherein most if not all of us were mentally drained. For the next couple of days, or even weeks, we will conduct our baseline survey on how prepared the people are when a disaster hit their community. Next, we were introduced to various matrixes/tools that we should extract from each barangay (e.g. Social venn diagram, disaster timeline and etc.). In such span of more or less 9 hours of mental gruelling, most of us felt drained, want to hit our pillows and even ask for meds. By the way, we were also grouped into various clusters wherein steve and I will be working with pauline and ollie in clutser 4.

The stressful-yet-not so stressful counterparts

I was paired with Steve as my work counterpart. Steve is veerrrryyyy nice that he considers my opinion and we actually did our CRA program, right just on time before we had our precious break. The thing in cross-cultural teams is that, there will be lots of translation as if you are there (in my case in Cabiao) to be some sort of translator for the UK volunteers. This is not to offend anyone of anything, but this is my opinion though…

Good thing my work counterpart and my home counterpart are different people. On our way home, my hhc, ask me if I am okay; since I did not have much for lunch due to acidic reflux, a pile of nonsense stressors (e.g. Being stressed if I am a vital part in the group, stressing/thinking too much if I should stay or should I go)- very childish isn’t?

My hhc and I hit the public market to buy some shorts. When it is time to pay, I was surprised that my hhc is verrrryyy good at doing barter! She is! I never thought that she does that, and I even consider myself as poor at her standards :P.

Ladies and Gents, lend me your ears.

Tomorrow, we will be conducting some sort of symposium at Cabiao National High School in partnership with Engr. Hidalgo, and a representative from Department of Agriculture of the Municipality of Cabiao; wherein they will have a talk about climatye change and we’ll followed it up with a workshop.

The A-Day!

The time has come to an end that we need to face our fears. Well, almost, if not all volunteers are anxious if they’re performance will be good enough for the rest of the students of Cabiao National High School. Even my hhc, memorized and practoced her line to be perfect when she’ll deliver it to the students. To be honest (since this is my blog entry) this was the first time that I got an extraordinary attention from a school administration. We were even seated in a presidential table and had a chat with the principal and the rest of the science teachers.

Rude culture

My hhc and the rest of the UK volunteers find it rude that when the speaker did the talk or even the principal is talking the students are also busy with each and other businesses; for the UKV’s It is very rude not to listen to someone is talking as if you really donLt care on what the other person is saying or talking about.

I felt guilty as well when I heard that it was rude (for UKV’s) that we use our phones or even have some small chats while they are talking; it is soooo strange as well and I find it odd reminicing my uni years having a chat with my seatmate while my protocol professor gives us a lecture. Perhaps, one of the reasons why the country is not that well off yet, is because we lack DISCIPLINE in almost a lot of aspects of our society. Yes, we respect one another, but we pretty much enjoy if not abuse the liberty that is being laid out to us.

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 thousandΒ Β  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? πŸ™‚ ), cleans up our room (I thought she has a robot like asimo to do it πŸ™‚ ), 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 πŸ™‚ ) 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. πŸ™‚

  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! πŸ˜›
  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 πŸ™‚ ).
  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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚Β  But we can work it on our advantage specially if we are going to have our workshops. πŸ˜€

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?).

Β 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! πŸ˜€