Spending your valentines day with the family and good set of friends feels like you’re already having a date of your life.
It was not because I don’t have special someone to be with on this so called “couple’s day”; I prefer to be with my family rather than spend it on a solo backpacking trip. 21 years ago, my mom would always keep on telling me and the rest of the fam, that she met a nice woman, who loves backpacking, travelling and mountain climbing, went to our home and talked a lot of things.
I think I am destined to be a single. These were the words that popped in her head yesterday when we talked. She finds tranquility and peace of mind by herself in her own home right just at the back of my parent’s home.She hosted a nice valentines day gathering at her home, where she also invited some of our neighbors and their children (unfortunately, I am the only single person – aside from the host). They shared stories how life has been, they’re excited to see how generations just come and go ( and I thought, what if, I go old, will I still have the same set of friends like my parents have?)
I just find it fascinating, even if time really passes us by ( and as fast as you can’t get hold of it), there are people who will still be there no matter what.
I envy my parents for having friends whom at their back when their down, or whenever there is something to celebrate. I envy and wished that my set of friends that I have at the moment will be the same as my parents. Even if, we don’t talk that much, even across miles, I wish it is far beyond the spoken words, but of meaning, of feeling.
We may live in different places, with different timezones, with different ways and means to spend our time (here), but what matters most? It is the time we spend with the people we most cherished.
* this may sound mushy, and for the valentines date that I could think of, it is best to celebrate with your family and friends! 🙂
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! 🙂 ), 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! 🙂 ).
- 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 🙂 ). 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.
The reality of volunteerism does not end when the placement 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.
Seeing the sunrise again, made me think for a sec (I think it is no longer sec but for a couple of minutes 🙂 ) :
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 🙂 ,
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.
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.
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.
It has been days since I got a message from fam. The thought of having the bubble burst and the ‘reset’ button pressed made me realize that ‘oh! I am not living in an aquarium like a goldfish – subject to a lot of strange looks and attitudes’.
Worry now ruin later
I cried to a volunteer about my not-so-personal dilemma. The good thing about having friends at your side makes you a better individual, not because of their advises, but because you can see the smaller picture of what you perceive as ‘big’.
I can’t disclosed the reason why I worried toooooo much for that day. I am not sure as well if it is just a symptom of being home sick, or just an act of being childish?
A lot of volunteers(ICV’s) told me that: ‘worry now, and you’ll ruin your experience in the program’. Obviously, you can’t do something out of it, because you’re not capable yet of acting on it. Also, you’re not allowed to go back home and fix things for the fam; if you’re allowed to do so, what can be done?
My HHC, noticed how stressed/upset I am during the day, and even noticed that I only ate 4 strips of banana and a cup of coffee for my breakfast-which is an indication that I am in disoriented mindset.
Proper Walk or just simple Stroll?
Since my HHC noticed how upset am I (and kept on asking for reasons, which I find awkward, because I don’t want someone pity me for a not-so-good/valid reasons to be pittied).
I thought it was just a simple walk to the market, I did not wear my trainer’s (rubber shoes in Phil.), but I had only my flops (slippers in Phil.). The walk lasted for 2 hours, approximately 15 kms. under the scourging heat of the sun. My HHC, talked about random stuff/s, from finding happiness in small ways/deeds/things to deciding for yourself. At the end of the hilarious walk, we ended up having the goal for the week: perfect-imperfect, the quest for positive impact (I am not sure about the word ‘quest’ 🙂 ). Aside from our action plan regarding our perfectionist-imperfect dilemma, we were burned by the tormenting heat of the sun.
End the cycle now and be free
After couple of days, I finally learned my lesson. It is better for me to feel this, to think about this(referring to the dilemma that I have), and work on it. It is not about finding answers in a snap but finding way out of it. It is not work against time, but working with time. Fear nothing, regret nothing.
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 the 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) 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..
- 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.’
- 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.
- 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’.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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. 😛
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. 😀
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! 😀
I felt quite challenged and at the same time inspired by my host-home counter part-katie, to at least update and organize my blog. She has been updating her blog about her volunteer experience in the country.This is I think the 2nd week that I am with the team, and as part of being cross-culturally linked, we shared lots of informations and perceptions about a lot of stuff.
Going back and challenge the old lifestyle…
I am not really a health buff, because I find not ‘cool’ to become one but a neccessity though to be one; my host-home counterpart (hhc), is much more into doing an exercise every morning and she’d been into participating in a marathon (in UK). I find it strange as well, that I run walk and run, but she does all the running, and I felt I am not fit, or I am weak beacuse I can’t even at par with her. After the jogging/running, I find strange as well to pay a visit to the gym, (I thought if you ran already that is enough, but I was wrong, I even don’t know how to use the gym equipments that they have, and much more acquainted with muay thai than weight lifting). It was fun yet exhausting, Bev(another volunteer) and I were doing some stretches, I had enough, like, I’m not really used to that kind of excercise to be fit, but for them, it is the usual thing.
The not so healthy advise
My hhc, has been anxious if she’s been being rude with our Host Homes, since she got the spotlight (well, Filipino culture will tell 🙂 ), and even skeptical about having rice in every meal. She has a lot of the dishes but not of the rice. She even disclosed the information that in England, she only have rice once a week, which in contrast in the counrty we favor rice in each and every meal.
It may sound strange that I even suggested that she takes all the dishes(ulam) first, and have the rice the last thing to be put in the plate; but here I am, in every meal loves to have rice and I think a cup and a quarter of it.
In most tropical countries like the Philippines, you can see a lot of coconut trees (buko), which has lots if not tons of nutrition and or vitamins in it. Last saturday (20 Sept.), we went to the poblacion/bayan to do some community mapping, we went to other volunteers’ HH, and we had lots of food (if I can say a food overload? 🙂 );our group saw a buko stand and the UK volunteers tried to have some coconut juice. Unfortunately, the buko juice that they bought was not the fresh one, it has sugar in it and not the lil’ bit sour in taste of fresh buko.
Last 22nd day of September, my hhc and I had our first fresh buko experience after we sent some package/ did the postal thing at the post office near our house. It was fun yet another out of the box thing for the both of us having it tried for the first time(for her) and doing it like a local. We felt full already and want to skip our dinner but we don’t want to offend anyone in the house so, we still had a sumptuous dinner. 😀