Friday, December 11, 2009

longest day ever

Christmas vacation time! After 20+ hours of flying, some exciting airport food, and serious temperature shock, I made it back to Florida. Christmas vacation has officially started, and readjustment into American culture is well in progress. My first thoughts: a lot of people wear the color black, it seems like less people smile (or at least airport workers), and WOW it's super clean! I love me some clean public bathrooms :)

I must go now, giant portion sizes are calling!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

i forgot the capabilities of fast internet

sunset at Digyo Island on camping trip
Guacamole night with my students

Thanksgiving Dinner. We got to have pictures with the turkey prior to killing and cooking.

English Month '09, We had pre-school classes visit the library on field trips and the high school students helped read stories to them.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

mid way through the acronyms

MST is almost upon us. Mid-Service Training is when volunteers meet with Peace Corps Staff and hear old and new information. There always to seem to the big reminders they want to pass on: don't skip your malaria pills, don't ride motorcycles, don't visit Mindanao. They're also supposed to be telling us some new stuff, like elections. I'm kind of interested in that. It's looking to be a pretty interesting time in the upcoming months.

The past couple days I've been in Manila. WOW. Coming from Leyte, where the main roads are 2 lanes and transportation is in a bus that has missing parts of the floorboards or a van that is made for 11 passengers but routinely smushes 15 people in, this place is just that, WOW. Traffic is everywhere, people are everywhere, and every sink I've used has automatically not only had water but water pressure to go with it. I went shopping today and rode a taxi back with some friends... and they wouldn't move the car until 3 people got out because of capacity limits. HUH?! Whatever happened to, "There's always room for one more?" I know, I can't believe I'm somewhat complaining about that. Craziness on my part. I guess I've just gotten too used to practically sitting in the lap of the person next to me, I'm sure I'll quickly readjust to personal space.

Shopping in Manila is the name of the game. I've spent more in the past 3 days than in the past 3 months at site. The beauty of living in Leyte is the easiness of saving cash, and limited places to spend it. I have fully taken advantage of the shopping possibilities here, and really the only thing that limits me is the baggage weight limit. Luckily, international flights allow more :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

turkey on the table, with a head

Turkey day came and went, and guess what, you couldn't really tell it was Thanksgiving. Peace Corps does not get American holidays off. Well, that statement can be misleading... let me clarify, Peace Corps Volunteers do not get American holidays off from work. So the last Thursday of November came and went like any other work day.

The volunteers living nearby did of course gather together to celebrate this special holiday together during the weekend. Last year we gathered at a PCVs site for our "Very Leyte Thanksgiving," and this year we switched locations to nearby Biliran for another great feast. We had lots of American favorites like macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey (except here we got to take pictures with the live Mr. Gobbler prior to slicing, plucking, dressing, turning on a spit, and eating ), cranberry sauce, plus some Filipino favorites like biko (rice dessert), pancit (noodles with seasoning, meat, and some vegetables), rice, crabs, and manok (chicken). There was tons more, sooo lamit kaayo (very delicious).

One of the best parts is getting to see all your fellow PCV friends. We talked and laughed, and of course ate. We reminisced, talked about friends we miss, and got to know a new friend who was placed at a nearby site. We stayed at a nearby hotel, visited a nearby tropical paradise island, snorkeled, sunbathed, and ate some more. One cool thing that we got to do was use MAGIC... magicJack that is. My parents sent me this miracle phone jack thing that lets you make free international calls when plugged into high speed Internet. So phone calls were made back home, which made thanks giving even more. Nothing was very rushed or stressful, so I guess this year's theme could have been "Very Laid Back Thanksgiving," Gotta tell ya, totally the way to go.

Friday, November 20, 2009

duck eats worm, people eat duck, all around bad day for worm.

My host mom is the head nurse at the Rural Health Unit, or the RHU. She made a visit to the school this week to pass out deworming pills to all the students. As I saw her passing out the medicine, I just thought how different the priorities are here compared to in America. Hookworms, roundworms, and pinworms are all everyday realities for many of the students, and for the public health center to give out free medicine is extremely helpful for the families who would not be able to afford to seek treatment . During my schooling, I never remember hearing about worms, but I do recall putting on the bulky headphones for hearing tests and the 7th grade scoliosis test. Very different than the immediate needs you find here.

Other happenings this week included my first, and admittedly long overdue, taste of balot. Back when I was still in the application/nomination/I can’t remember it was so long ago and frustrating process, I did the basic google search of The Philippines. One of the big hits was always balot. There’s just something about the eating of fertilized duck eggs that attracts the average google user I guess. I know a lot of volunteers tried the hardboiled duckies as soon as they landed, but I am a self-diagnosed picky eater. I probably would have tried it earlier but it’s been out of site, out of mind and it wasn’t until I was talking to my host mom that Iremembered I always meant to try it. I’ve learned that once something is mentioned to my host mom it’s immediately done. So the next day she bought bllot for me and a group of students that came over. The overall verdict: not bad. The juice was the best part, and the worst part was this hard egg white portion that was slightly gag-ilicious. I think I’d rather eat balot again than try the chicken legs on a stick. I’m not to that point yet.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


a) i forgot what a GAP bag looks like, b) underwear for thanksgiving has never been so cool, c) American q-tips are just better, d) i threw my back out and would like it to come back in, e) i really like how if Love Story, White Horse, or Fifteen comes on the radio the conversation halts and singing commences, f) 23 days, g) my new favorite vegetables are eggplant and okra, h) if it’s not fried or have condensed milk in it i might not eat it, i) handwritten letters are special, j) my magic scale has turned on me, k) i’m reading the book ‘tis at the moment, l) i have a nasty addiction to coke, m) i’m trying to decide when is the best time to buy a house, n) the students are excited about new moon, o) some students are reading the book new moon, p) i have no control in the second year second section class, q) i love my other 3 classes, r) my grammar is becomingly increasingly worser..., s)my host mom claims manny pacquiao is from our town, t)mid-service training –mst- is quickly approaching, u) the kraft macaroni and cheese arrived in time for the thanksgiving feast, v) i opened the door to my host mom’s house this afternoon and found her sitting like 2 feet from the door, getting a life-size Virgin Mary dressed (one of the funniest moments of my life, she laughed too), w) i miss my mom and dad a lot, x) i wonder how much i’ve changed since i’ve left home, y) white malaria pills are THE worst and i feel guilty having them available when we don’t have malaria here and other people have the malaria but not the nasty white malaria pills, and finally, z) the new tv seasons are starting to be shown

Friday, November 13, 2009

so close to 100%

This isn't a funny Filipino story; just a funny teaching story. In my first year, second section class today we had a vocabulary test. I first call out the words that they were given at the beginning of the week, they write them down, and then they use the words to fill in sentences. Pretty old fashioned, I know, but just the idea of a type of an evaluation each week is a somewhat foreign idea at times.

So I had called all 10 words out, and asked if they would like me to repeat any of them. Of course they said, yes, all of them, so I start to go through and repeat. "Number 1, freedom. Number 2, emulate. Number 3, draft. Number 4, revolution." At this point, I hear one little boy, Roben, shout, "YES!!!" I look down and he's put check marks next to each of the words I've called out. He looks up at me with a smile, excitedly awaiting the next word I call out, hoping he'll get Number 5 correct.

Yep, good thing I was just REPEATING the words aloud that will be checked later for correct spelling. I kind of tilted my head and gave him this look that said, “but wait a second…” After that second, Roben finally realized what he was doing wrong. He slaps his forehead with his hand and just shakes his head. Too funny.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

David Letterman

In high school, my best friend and I used to write our top ten moments for the year down in our yearbooks. It kind of helps remind you why you are the way you are now. Today marks the one year point of being a Peace Corps Volunteer. Here are this year’s top ten:

Top 10 Moments of Peace Corps: Year 1

10. Singing Hanson songs with Willard and MariBeth. No judgment, all Mmmbop.

9. Seeing my first movie in Ormoc. It’s like a 2 hour bus ride to Ormoc, which is the closest large city. After probably a month at site, I told my host family I was going to visit it on my own. The ride there gave me this awesome feeling of independence. A day trip by myself into uncharted territory was nothing short of amazing. I explored the city, found a 50 peso theater, and watched Twilight in the air-conditioning. Aahhhhh.

8. Dinosaurs at Jesus’ birth. Last Christmas, I looked down at my host mother’s manger scene she had displayed and saw where the house helper’s son but a stegosaurus next to the sheep and cows. It made me laugh.

7. Riding a bus with Jasmine and watching a guy offer our bus driver beer. Don’t worry mom, he declined.

6. Cooking lessons at Dovie’s. Bananque, fish, buko salad. I’m one step closer to diabetes, but at least it was delicious getting there.

5. Digyo. Inopacan is known for having 3 islands off its coast, and the very last one is named Digyo. It’s beautiful, with white sand beaches and a marine sanctuary for snorkeling. Definitely a cool place to go camping…you know you want to come and visit it!

4. Valentine’s Day. I really love my students.

3. Watching any type of beauty pageant or dance routine. Have you ever seen the movie Little Miss Sunshine? You know the part where she does her dance routine for the talent competition; it’s kind of like that.

2. Friends. Some are still here, some have gone back, and some I’ll be seeing super super soon!

1. Library. I love the fact that the books inside of it came from people that I love back home for new people that I’ve come to love here. It truly has made a difference for a lot of kids, and helped me get through my first year here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Advanced Happy New Millenium

Mark it on the calendar. Today I got my first "Advance Merry Christmas." A student told it to me during class this morning. I just laughed. Dude, it's the first week of November, but thank you very much!

People are always saying "advanced so and so" or "Happy belated whatever." It's kind of nice, like they want you to think of them later on, and they really do wish you that extra happiness. I'll get other sayings from students, like "advanced good evening," when all I'm doing is walking back to the house for lunch.

But by far, my favorite advanced greeting has to be the one that followed today's Merry Christmas. Not to be outdone by the eager wisher, the kid next to him followed with, "and Advanced Happy New Year!"

Sunday, November 1, 2009


November 1 is celebrated as All Saint’s Day. Tomorrow is All Soul’s Day. Last year at this time we were leaving our training sites about to be sworn in as volunteers, so this year is my first year at site for the holiday. My host mom has been busy getting the family mausoleum retiled and in shape for the big day. She and her brother have taken a lot of time to prepare to celebrate their relatives and the saints that have passed away.

Tonight, we had a big dinner at her house with all of her family and then at 7 there was a mass held in the cemetery. When I say big dinner, I mean BIG, and with lots of people. I usually end up sitting next to my host uncle and his wife during meals like this. He has a tendnecy to make sure I try everything on the table. He'll even go as far as to crack the crabs for me and just place the crab meat on my plate. I don't know if he doesn't think I can do it myself, or if he's just being really helpful...either way, yum.

The mass at the cemetery was really like nothing I've ever been to in America. It is at this old cemetery packed with adults and kids, candles of all sizes burning on headstones or ornate candle holders. Everybody listens to the service and then most will settle in to spend the night among the graves.

Probably the one snapshot memory that I'll always keep in my head was a group of men and boys sitting on top of a double stacked vault, playing cards, with a sidewinding palm tree and the full moon in the packground. Seeing the place lit with candles was amazing, and made it a special memory.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

so, i'm open to suggestions for topic ideas...

I think it's official, October may have been the lowest blogging month so far in my 14 months of Peace Corps. Lately, the questions that have been filling my mind are: Why does October have to have 31 days in it? How long till I get to come home for Christmas? and How can I live in the Philippines and STILL be so pale?

Answers: Who knows, 40 days!, and maybe I really am albino?

November starts tomorrow, which makes today Halloween. I kind of forgot about it. My sister called to wish me a Happy Halloween and I realized my mental calendar was a day behind. YAY! So, anyways, I wore my orange pumpkin shirt and ate some extra pieces of candy. They don’t really celebrate the holiday here, but tomorrow will be All Saint’s Day, then followed by All Soul’s Day. Wait, wait, yep. Those sound like future blogging topics. Perhaps the blogging dry-spell has finally ended; we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

stop. drop. and i should have brought my ipod!

What do you do when you get a phone call from your warden that gives instructions to drop what you're doing and go to your safety consolidation point? ha, first you complain. SERIOUSLY? I got plans man. I had to leave my school's Math/MAPEH Month presentation. I mean, really, I had to walk out during their opening number of girls dancing to Lady GaGa while holding meter sticks and protractors. I may not have a chance to experience something like ever again in my life... or at least not until the next DepEd sponsored month festivities...

Second, you ask, is anything wrong? Answer: Nope, just a safety drill, but you got to leave NOW. Ok, I'm out the door, grabbing the passport and cell phone charger and dramamine for the cruddy 2-3 hour mountain drive it takes to get to our checkpoint; in other words, DUDE, IT'S LIKE THE AMAZING RACE! I totally could have won it too, if it hadn't been a non-elimination round.

So, for everybody who wonders (MOM, plus all my church lady looker-outers), what do you do if there's an emergency? That's it. No worries :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Word of the Day

I was walking back to school after lunch today when I met one of my students half way. His name is Alfie. He's a really sweet kid. He's always kind and fun-loving, just an all around good kid. As we were walking, I reminded him that he has a vocabulary test tomorrow. In response, he took out his vocabulary notebook and I quizzed him as we walked.

Each week they get ten words that are from stories that are in their textbooks or other sources that we use. A few from this week's list are: glimpse, cumbersome, arid, humid, and ferocious. Those words were all taken from their textbook.

Anyways, back to Alfie. We had just about finished our walk, and were approaching the hill that the school rests on. Just as we were about to start the trek up, a motorcycle zoomed by us with one of the other teachers riding on the back. You could hear the strain of the engine as the bike made its way up the hill.

Without missing a beat, Alfie turned to me and said, "Sir George is cumbersome!"

Friday, October 2, 2009

End of the Week... Super Tired

Thursday was my site visit by not only my regional manager, but also a pcmo and our Philippine country director. They came for a couple hours to chat, observe me co-teaching with my counterpart, tour the school, and eat lunch with my host mom. It was great to have a break from the norm, and they brought Tootsie Rolls, which is always a plus :)

They were all really positive about the library. I introduced them to some of the students who have helped organize books and have taken an interest in the project. It was amazing to watch one student, Denise, describe what she got from reading the teenage edition of Three Cups of Tea. The fact that she a) read the story from cover to cover b) could summarize the accounts c) tell her reaction and thoughts and finally d) do all of this in front of foreigners made me so incredibly proud. She is one of the students who came during the summer to help organize and also comes on Saturdays to help with the little kids.

Friday became our first day of "Reading Buddies." This is what I love/sometimes don't love about my site. I say something or think out loud, and then BAM it's somehow made reality; usually with me running to catch up. So earlier this week I said we need to get high school students to go to the elementary school and read them stories. So now every Monday, Wednesday, Friday I've got to get 30 high schoolers to Central Elementary by 4:15. It's going to be great, and the elementary school is really excited about it, but getting the routine of it down is a little rocky at the moment. Today wasn't a disaster though, so I have hope that it'll be smooth by the end of next week.

Another fun thing, my counterpart's daughter's pre-school class is planning to visit the library for a field trip! FIELD TRIP!! I'm so excited!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September 30

I'm trying to think of the best way to describe birthdays in the Philippines. I guess the best word to use for mine today was "Homemade." For all the card holidays, like Valentines and birthdays, the students always all out to make it special in their own personal ways. For example, when I walked downstairs this morning, the kids had put a poster saying, "Happy Birthday Ma'am Connie Hoover" in my living room. I later asked when they put it in there, and they're like, oh, around 5am. That is some dedication!

They also made each class today spcial. When I stepped into my first class, Jundie, one of my students had his guitar and everybody broke out with 3 rounds of Happy Birthday. My second class had collected flowers to throw at me...some throwers were a little overzealous...but all in good fun! Then my third class gave me red hibiscuses. I got cards, letters, necklaces made out of flowers, balloons on sticks, all the little things that made it a very special day.

Then to top it off, my host mom went birthday crazy. I got a special breakfast, lunch, 4 cakes, banana splits, pizza, yikes. I'm literally about to explode. I think I'm going to need another 364 days to recover!

Monday, September 28, 2009


The big news in the Philippines right now is the weather. There has been massive flooding in the capital Manila due to tropical storm Ketsana. Apparently this is the most rain that the area has gotten in over 40 years, and due to poor drainage systems, parts of the city have been reported as having 20 feet of standing water. Almost half a million people are displaced and the death count, which is around 100, is still rising. It's not a good situation.

The weather in Leyte however has been pretty mild. A couple days ago when the storm system was passing nearby, we had some thunderstorms during the night that made me jump out of my skin, and a couple of blissful days with no sun, but nothing like Manila's forecast.

Friday, September 25, 2009


There is one thing that is for sure, September has flown by! I never thought I'd be able to say that about any month while I was in Peace Corps, but the time really is going quickly. Which is awesome, cause in 75 days I'll be heading home for Christmas!! Yep, 75 days; you can start making reservations at Olive Garden now, cause I plan on camping out in their parking lot the majority of the time I'm home. :)

The only thing that's been out of the ordinary lately was I visited another volunteer's site to help at a training she was hosting. I did an afternoon session about teaching strategies for vocabulary development, narrative text, and informational text. There were about 50 high school and elementary school teachers from a nearby town that came to listen. It was a good experience.

My favorite moment of the presentation was during the time I was reading the book, The Most Beautiful Thing in the World. It's a folktale from China all about 3 princes who must go out and find the most beautiful thing and bring it back to their father to earn the crown. The teachers were supposed to listen and then we were going to use different strategies to help with vocabulary development. Anyways, I got to the second prince's experience and he finds a cave with an enormous dragon in it. I asked the teachers, what would you do about the dragon? Without missing a beat, all of these middle aged women (plus one guy) wearing their DepEd uniforms, looking downtrodden from being in meetings all day, yell out, "KILL THE DRAGON!" Too funny.

This upcoming week should also be fun. It will include banana splits, mail, and a site visit from PC staff. I know, I can hardly wait!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

yeah, pollyanna would be jealous...

Some days are good days, and some days are bad days. It seems like September 2009, while it’s only the 12th, is going much quicker than September 2008 did. This leads me to believe that the number of good days are finally outweighing the bad days! :)

Honestly, the good days have been around for a few months now. On a regular workday I’m pretty content to go to school, eat lunch, go back to school, and then watch tv when I get back to the house around 5. While I’m at school I really enjoy getting to talk to some of the kids, and reading with them in the library. The days where everybody is afraid to talk to me are long gone, and again, that makes the days bright.

On the weekend days, like today, I would describe a good day as one where I get to go into BayBay or Tacloban and do a little shopping, eat a few French fries, and go up to the school in the afternoon to do Library Time.

Today, was a good day. I went into BayBay in the morning to buy some seafood at the market and was back in town by lunch. I invited my host mom over for a home cooked meal. I made spaghetti with some sautéed scallops, shrimp, okra, tomatoes, and onion. I wasn’t sure if she’d like it, cause as I’ve said before, my recipes tend to flop, but she seemed to enjoy it. I even bought some French bread at Maayong’s Breadshop and showed her how Italian restaurants will give bread with olive oil and herbs. She told me, “You know all the secrets!!” Haha, yeah… I’m down with Macaroni Grill.

Next I headed to the school for Library Time. I used to call this the volunteer pre-school, but I’m not sure if that’s the most appropriate name. The students’ ages are between 3 and 9, so it’s probably safer to just say Library Time. Whatever the name is, today’s was amazing! The past couple weeks we’ve had to cancel it, and it’s frustrating some Saturdays when not enough high school students show up and I’m outnumbered by little munchkins, but today those little guys had no hope. 15 high school students came to help!! That’s by far the highest number so far. I had them sit down and read them a story, pointing out how to use expression and ask questions as I read. Then I sent them down the hill to bring back one kid each. Those are the odds I like!

The story time went smoothly, snack had no problems (and all the trash went into the trashcan…which seems like it shouldn’t be such a big accomplishment, yet it is), and the kids went crazy over the new toys that came in the last balikbayan boxes. Puzzles seem to be the big winners so far, with Memory a close second.

By the time the kids went home it was about 4:30. 2 ½ hours of no major dilemmas or drama means, yes, a good day. And then to top it all of, one of my students, Leo, shared his sugar cane with me on the way back to the house. Gotta love that!

Friday, September 11, 2009

"I would have felt sad." - RoseMarie

I wasn't sure if I would introduce the idea of 9/11 to the students here, but I really believe in signs. I walked into the library today, and the first book I saw was September 12th: We Knew Everything Would be Alright and then I turned open our text book and the topic for today was reading to understand other people's feelings...which yes, I took as major signs to take the time to share such an important event in America's history.

As I told the story of the morning of September 11, the students listened attentively. We talked about the ideas of innocence, terrorism, violence, and "putting yourself in somebody else's shoes." The kids know about terrorism in certain parts of the Philippines, so I think that kind of helped them relate to the situation.

I'm so glad that somebody decided to send that book for the library! Being able to share it with the first and second year students and then to have a conversation with them about how we can learn lessons from such devestation was a moment I think I will always remember.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Mama Mary

September 8th is the Virgin Mary's birthday, so my host mom asked me to go with her to go to a special chapel to offer prayers. We went to Maasin City and hopped a trike to Monte Cueva.

Monte Cueva is a cave where they hold services. Of course it was a cave that was at the top of a mountain that we had to climb up...holy cow was that a trek up! I was so sweaty I even used the towel down your back like the Filipinos always do.

Overall it's a pretty small cave I guess, but they hold regular masses there, so they had a keyboard and statues of Mary and Jesus, plus buckets to catch dripping water. They also had kids selling candles that you could light for prayers, as well as girls selling flowers to place at Mary's feet.

They only thing I question is, how old is Mama Mary?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Mr. and Miss Intramurals

I just got back from the Mr. and Miss Intramurals 2009 beauty pageant. The school has been getting ready for it for about a month. I was on the planning committee, but since my language skills are basically non-existent, they basically just gave me the job of writing and typing all the English that was said during the program.

Pageants are really serious here. They have to go and get money by soliciting to residents in town to be able to put on the show, buy trophies, decorations, and sashes... and of course snacks. They had the show at the tennis court, which was filled with adults and kids from around town. The theme was "Saving Marine Life," so the contestants did a big production number at the beginning which involved them dressing as different aquatic creatures. My favorite girl was a sea urchent and my favorite guy was a starfish. The other competitions were sports attire, formal, body profile, and beauty.

I was pretty hesitant about the whole pageant thing. I guess in my mind they usually have a negative conotation, but it was a pretty good time. I can definitely see how if you're in a small town things like this can really be a high light. People worked really hard on it, and I'm glad that the kids had a good time.

The only thing I still can't figure out though is how do handguns and whips fit into the sports attire competition?

And I'm super excited that one of my "sheet of paper" boys won!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

God I hope they don't like apple pie :)

My students and I have a game that we play called "Ask a Question." We play it when class ends short, or I can't get them to stop talking (which lately feels like is ALL the time). It's pretty simple, I ask a question about the Philippines and then they in return ask me a question about America. The first time we played, I got questions like, "What does 'biotch' mean?" "Why do kids get kicked out of their houses when they're 18?" After almost a year of playing, we're starting to learn more about each other's cultures, and the questions are more about abstract topics, like respecting authority and democracy. Ok, they don't use those words exactly, but they're the ideas that we're discussing!

One thing though, that has remained a popular topic, and I hope continues to be, is food. I love learning how the kids cook and what's for dinner in their houses as much as they love to hear what's on the table for Thanksgiving dinner or my favorite fruits in America.

This past week we took the game to the new level, and actually made one of my favorite snacks. I felt I definitely owed my students considering the feast they prepared last month for nutrition week, so I got a group of about 10 students together from my second year class and had them help me make guacamole. Avacados are in season, so some kids brought them from their homes and I supplied the tomatos, onions, salt, and kalamansi, plus the spring roll wrappers that we baked for chips.

The American's opinion: guacamole was AMAZING.
The Filipinos' opinion: "Ma'am Connie, it's too spicy. Do you have any sugar?"

It wasn't a big hit, but I think they had fun making it, and they asked that we make another "American Treat." So now I got to come up with another food. So far we've made spaghetti with Italian spaghetti sauce and parmesan cheese (big flop with the kids), peanutbutter and jelly sandwhiches (huge hit), Kraft macaroni and cheese (the one that I hoped they wouldn't enjoy so I got eat all the leftovers, but unfortunately ended up only getting a spoonful), coconut shrimp (mixed reviews) and microwave popcorn (another big hit). I'm thinking grilled cheese, but I refuse to use Eden cheese, I just can't do it. Maybe apple pie would be good. I'd just need to find some cinnamon and figure out some type of crust, but that's doable. I wonder if they'd like it?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Scat Goat

so, back to more examples of how i have changed since coming: i chased goats out of the library today and it wasn't until they were running out of the door that i realized I'M CHASING GOATS OUT OF THE LIBRARY!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

would it be insensitive to wear earplugs?

well, for the past month basically our school has been getting ready for Intramurals. That's like a two day sports celebration at school. All kinds of sports are being done, as well as a beauty contest and disco. Basically this has been put at the forefront of priorities, and I can't wait for it to be over. The school has been doing classes on a shortened schedule so that there are 2 free periods at the end of the day for students to practice their sports. They're going to hold competitions in lawn tennis, table tennis, boxing, volleyball, ballroom dancing, and a few other things I can't recall at the moment. I'm in charge of the lawn tennis competition...which should be interesting since we're supposedly not allowed to use the one tennis court in town.

During this "training period" for intramurals I've had some revelations. A) I've been in the Philippines a year B) I'm slowly but surely changing and not even noticing it. Case and point, I am incharge of typing the MC's opening remarks during the beauty pageant. As I was typing down what the judge's are going to be critiquing, given to me by the school, I texted my friend, asking, "Would schools in America ever have a 'best body outline' category in their beauty pageant?" She quickly responded with a, "No. But more importantly, they wouldn't be having the pageant in the first place!" haha, so very true! It never even entered my mind that only 2 crowns are handed out a year at public high schools, and neither of them are based off of "best body outline," ...well not officially at least.

Anyways, Intramurals isn't until next week, so yay for more band practices that seriously leave my ears ringing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

30 minute boatride from Paradise

Last weekend was super fun. Some friends and I rented a pumpboat, with a driver :), and island hopped around the 4 islands off the coast of Inopacan. The day was beautiful! Sun everywhere, fish jumping, snorkeling, and white sand were everywhere. The islands are pretty small, but they're right out of a travel brochure. Low rocky cliffs on some of them, coconut trees, thatched huts, fishermen in banka boats; it's all here. Amazing.

My host mom packed a HUGE lunch for us. We had fried chicken, rotessorie chicken, rice, pineapple, biko, coke, and enough water to fill a swimming pool. So much fun to have a picnic on a tropical paradise with fun friends!

By the end of the day we made it to the last island, Digyo, and set up camp. We had a bonfire, more food, watched the fishermen unload their nets, and watched the most amazing sunset. It was great...till 2 am when the rain started. Nothing like nonstop rain in a tent that leaks, but oh well, stuff happens.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A is for Absent... Almost

The high school helpers that were going to help at the pre-school I wrote about yesterday were supposed to be at the school at 7:30, and then the kids at 8:00. When 8:30 rolled around and nobody was with me in the library, I was thinking yeah, so much for that apple!

Kids eventually came though, and between the time of 8:30 and 11:00 there were 25 people who attended. There were about 7 high school kids who came and read to the children and I was really excited because the community adult volunteer came. He's a volunteer teacher at the other high school in town, and he seemed like he had a good time. It's so much better to have a willing partner in these projects!

The schedule was obviously way out of order, but that's not that big of a deal. We did our calendar time, practiced the days of the week, and covered the letter A, and of course had snack!

All hesitance of this project is basically gone. I'm really excited about all the different things we can cover in our classes. Next week we're moving on to B, so definitely going to make monster bubbles.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A is for Apple

Another school week down, and now I'm thinking, what was I THINKING?! My next project at site is a 2 hour pre-school on Saturday mornings for 3-5 year olds. So really, school week, NOT done.

I've got mixed feelings on the project.

A. Why did I give up all of my Saturday mornings?

B. I really love working with little kids!

C. Are people going to come?

D. I like being able to use all the pre-school experience that I've been able to get.

E. I miss the di-cut machine ALOT

F. It's fun to have a challenge to use what I have and make it work. Examples: Reuse every piece of paper, Use the boards that were in the balikbayan boxes as little bulletin boards, Cut out things by hand instead of using stencils or THE CRICKET

So I'm not sure how many kids to expect, or how many high school helpers will actually end up coming to help, but I have the snack money that all the teachers at the high school donated and pages to make the A page for alphabet books, so I'm sure it'll be quite a party no matter what!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Time's Woman of the Year, 1986

This past weekend Filipinos had to say a sad good bye to their loved former president Corazon "Cory" Aquino (pronounced uh-key-no). She passed away early Saturday morning from colon cancer and by the time I had woken up at 6, the news stations were alreadybroadcasting tributes to her and showing her son, who is a senator here in the Philippines, announcing his mother's death. They said she died with her family around her while they prayed the rosary.

From what I've gathered from my host family and others here, most Filipinos greatly admired Aquino. She was had a very active political past here, including being the wife of an exiled senator who was one of the leaders against the famous Marcos' autocratic rule in the 1980's. Ninoy, her husband was later assassinated in Manila when he finally returned to the country. From there Cory continued the fight for democracy. Eventually Aquino was nominated President in 1986 and was able to keep a peaceful presidency from 1986-1992. People say she was an icon for freedom and democracy, and as my host mom said, "She was a very, very good president."

To honor Aquino there will be a HUGE mass and memorial service for her in Manila. I can only imagine the millions of people who will turn out for it. Flags are also being flown at half mast and school will be canceled on Wednesday to honor her.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nutrition Month

Did you know that July is the official Nutrition Month for the Filipino DepEd. Yeah, exciting stuff. Today was their big finale day. There's nothing like a school wide celebration. All day I constantly found myself asking, "Is this really happening?"

The day started with an earthquake drill (did I mention it was also Natural Disaster Prep. Month?) . This was interesting, cause in Florida we dont' focus on earthquakes so much. I'm told that earthquakes don't happen very often in this part of Leyte, but still, always important to know the drill.

Next on the program agenda was food preparation. All the students brought food items to cook for lunch. It was cool to see students walking up the hill to school carrying coconuts, grates to cook on, squash, and all the other little ingredients that come in clear little baggies that you can buy at the market. All morning I watched kids who are the same age as American middle schoolers cook over open fires, use machetes to hack open coconuts, and plant lemon grass and fruit trees. I kept thinking... this is more working than I ever did in all my middle school years combined!

I then got to judge the best vegetable and dessert competition. Finally, a competition that I really want to judge! Delicious!

The afternoon a dish garden competition (a competition that wasn't very high on my list of wanting to judge) and parlor games. The games consisted of couples dancing with a lime stuck between their foreheads trying not to let it fall, a drag competition, and then this one game that involved the kids trying to make the longest line by laying down their clothes and accessories on the ground. yeah, that game involved all guys with their shirts off, and several in nothing but their underwear. I didnt' even know what to say, fortunately the game had to be halted for the 3:00 prayer...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

darn you slow smart bro internet... (j/k, i really love you... see you tomorrow)

I'm so disapointed right now... I wrote a whole long blog out... and then the connection froze. :( Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

heads up... the planes here are small and weight overages are big

I've been thinking lately about what I would pack if I were one of the next PCVs coming to the Philippines. I know I packed a bunch of stuff that's still sitting in the suitcase...although I'm sure at some point I'll need the garden gloves and light weight fleece sweatshirt that was on the packing list...

I've narrowed it down to 3 things that I would say are the most useful, regardless of your sector. First, and yes, I know this sounds incredibly cheesy, you've got to bring a smile with you. Filipinos are just so happy and welcoming, they're going to want their guests to enjoy themselves. I've also found that laughing at things is just a good way to let things go. It's not always easy to adjust to a new culture, but smiling seems to help me.

Laptop I think is a definite. I know the packing list says it's optional, but PC is always e-mailing us and most places will have WIFI. I don't think it's really an option. Make sure you have an adapter for your computer charger also. You'll need a 2 prong one.

Lastly, forget the last thing because you need to have extra space in your luggage. PC will give you a huge medical kit, a mosquito net, a lifevest, plus a bunch of manuals and other books to take with you to site. I could have used an entire other duffel just to drag all that crap around the 7,100 islands.

Next, if you're going to be an English teacher I'd make sure you bring a good English grammar book that you understand and can easily draw information from. I just remember thinking that during my 3 months of training I had no clue what I was doing in the classroom. I knew the function of a conjunction was to hook up words and make sure they all function...and that was about it. The lessons here definitely were getting deeper than my School House Rock foundation.

I'd also bring card games, like Uno or Hit the Deck, so you have something to play with the kids. There's going to be a lot of free time at your school, and I've found that the card games are something to play with the kids while you can improve their conversational language skills...ok, it's not so much about improving language skills as it is just having fun. :)

I know it's basically impossible to do when you're thinking that you're packing for 2 years, but honestly, pack light. You'll have opportunities to buy any last minute items that you have forgotten or want to have just in case.

Oh, and one last thing, tuck a pack of tissues in your purse before you leave the mainland, cause it's adios to toilet paper once you get here!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

girls rule, boys drool

I was sitting in the library the other day, giving a silent reading test to five boys. The boys are in first year, and some don't really speak a lot of English. It's interesting to give tests to kids that really don't understand what I'm trying to tell them, just lots of exagerated facial expressions and hand gestures. The test had gone well, I had timed them and they were finishing answering the comprehension questions. The only thing left to do was staple their answer sheets to the data sheets that each student gets, and that's where I started to laugh. I let the boys staple their papers, I swear, this was the first stapling some of them have ever done. The stapler gets to the last boy, and of course, it jams. He looks at me like, now what? I hold my hand out to help him, but before I can get the stapler, one of the other boys grabs it. I hold out my hand to him so I can fix it, but then another boys grabs it. Yeah, each boy at the table completely ignored me as the stapler was passed up and down the table, each boy thinking he could solve the terrible delima of the jammed stapler. I could read their thoughts like their were quote bubbles floating above their heads... "no way can this girl solve the problem." Yeah, well, I eventually got the jammed stapler, banged it once on the table, unjammed the stapler, and may have possibly earned the respect of five more boys at school.

Thank God I was able to unjam it on the first try...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Michael Jackson

What would be my perfect night? HMM... it could be a night full of funny Filipino kids singing Michael Jackson songs and dancing to hip-hop music in a serious dancing/singing competition...oh and off course my perfect night would include a Michael Jackson Look-alike Contest. Last night, was the perfect night!

The school that I'm volunteering at had their annual Acquaintance Party. Each year the school holds a ceremony where new students are formally introduced, and new student government officers are sworn in. It's also a time where classes compete against each other in singing, dancing, "muse and prince charming," table decorations, and specifically for this year, a Michael Jackson impersonation contest.

The theme for this year's party was supposed to be a luau, but when the students found out that Michael Jackson passed away, the theme was changed to a hip-hop theme. It definitely made the party a big hit with the kids, and gave them a lot of ideas for how to be creative. The songs that they used for the competition were Beat It, We are the World, Heal the World, and then for the dance competition they used more current songs, like Jai-Ho.

My favorite part of the night by far was the Michael Jackson look-alike contest. These kids were awesome. So funny.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Double yay for Freedom

The 4th of July has come, and gone, and it was a lot of fun!

Although the Philppines has a 4th of July, just like every other country in world, it doesn't celebrate it like all of America does! Luckily, a bunch of us volunteers were able to get together for a BBQ. It was great to get to see people that I haven't seen for a couple of months, and eat some potato salad... yum! We got to swim, talk, some played football, and others (yeah, I'm in this category!) took a nap.

A cool fact, though July 4th isn't a huge thing in the Philippines, it is a holiday here. It's known at Filipino-American Friendship Day because it's when the Philippines gained it's indepence after being an American territory.

Monday, June 29, 2009

This One's For You Mrs. Godwin :)

Wowsa, so school is off and running, and I guess you could say that things are just routine now. The small town feeling is definitely kicking-in, so any out-of-the-blue occurances quickly catch your attention and become the highlight of the week.

The big things the last week have been chicken harvesting and 4 boxes of books being delivered.

Chicken harvesting is done at the poultry farms, which the closest one that I know of is probably a 30 minute walk from my house, up in the hills behind the school. The only reason I can tell when it's chicken harvesting time is because of the major increase in flies, and when I mean major, I mean MAJOR! It's unbelievable how many flies can swarm around the entire town, even though the poultry farm is so far away.

The books coming in are unbelievable. I know some of them must be brand new, and I can tell some were loved dearly by their previous owners (those make me smile the most). Thank you to all who sent books, we're up to over 4,000 so far!

Due to a tropical storm that we had last week, the delivery man was really late in delivering the boxes. They're usually delivered in the early afternoon, but this time he wasn't able to come until 10pm, which is way past my Filipino bedtime. He also usually delivers them directly into the library, which is awesome because as you can imagine a box of books is HEAVY! But because of the time, and the school being locked, the boxes were delivered at the bottom of the hill at the Barangay Hall. This created a problem: how to get the 4 huge boxes of books up a hill that makes me out of breath when I just walk up to the school everyday. Solution: One of the other teachers volunteered to make the boys in her class to haul them up.

Questionable child labor, yes, but the job got done, and I bought them bananaque from the canteen as a reward. Win-Win situation, right?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

on the other hand

So, after my last post, I felt kind of bad, like I just focused on the negative. Of course every story has at least two sides, so here's the more optimistic, bright, sunny, "the reasons I'm still here" side.

1. The canteen- the canteen at school is the filipino style vending machine. However, instead of selling doritos, coke, and other high fructose corn syrup delicacies, it features homemade foods that certain moms bring up daily to sell. My favorites are bananaque, buko juice, and papaya with salt and vinegar. There are also casava cakes, other gelatinous rice goodies, and the peso candy. A trip to the canteen is the bright point of my morning.

2. The Library- The last past week has felt really rewarding for me when it comes to the library. There are more boys coming in to read during their vacant time that are from the lower classes. The kids are also starting to write down words they encounter while they read that they don't understand. We then go to the dictionaries and find the meanings of the words.

3. Filipino friends- It seems that a lot of the young adults in my town have left to either go to college or work in the large cities in the Philippines or in other countries. Therefore, it's sometimes hard to meet friends. I have gotten to become friends with a couple of my co-teachers, and I can hang out with my host mom whenever I want. This is probably kind of a borderline issue... I really, really, really miss my family and friends back home, so the friends that I have managed to make here are super important.

4. Fresh fruits and vegetables- It's true. The fruits and vegetables are very fresh here.

5. Simplicity- Things, for the most part, are rather simple. Filipinos count on their family for everything, and that's really cool to see. It's the type of simplicity that features a store that only sells glass, a store that only sells bread, and an actual junk shop that you can go to to find the obscure piece that broke off your electric fan. I really really like this simplicity.

So, there you go. Everybody I know should come visit the Philippines so you can experience all these wonderful, awesome, too cool things!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

i'm not sure if this makes sense, the heat may be getting to me

Lately I've been trying to decide what makes PC Philippines so difficult? It's definitely not the aspect of having to rough it, and yet, maybe that's it. When I was back in the states, I had all these expectations of what it would be like in service, I mean, who goes into a situation like this without doing some research or trying to have a heads-up on what's to come. Of course, expectations are shot out the window as soon as you leave your familiar surroundings of home. Anyways, back to my expectations. I figured that Peace Corps definitely meant roughing it. I imagined hauling water, no electricity, and bamboo houses. Yeah, if anything, I feel incredibly spoiled. I have running water, electricity, and Internet. You're thinking, what's the problem complainer?

But here's where the difficulty comes. The running water gets shut off for 12 hours at a time, brown outs happen periodically, and the Internet is dial-up style that shuts down unexpectedly at least twice everytime I use it. I know, you're thinking, seriously, this girl is complaining because she has all those things, but in a weird way, yes.

I think what gets to me is it's so similar to the familiar surroundings of home, that the expectations get raised, and are not met in the same way or fashion that they are at home; stupid expectations. It's so similar to America in ways, and yet, it's just not America, it's just not home.

You'd think that after 10 months in country, I wouldn't get hung up on things like lateness or lack of air conditioning, and yet, I constantly catch myself thinking of back in high school when they ran the air so low you had to wear a sweatshirt during the summer... oh the good ol' days. :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

let freedom ring

So this past Friday was Independence Day in the Philippines. They're celebrating the end of over 300 years of Spanish rule. I think everybody would agree that Filipinos are pretty patriotic. I especially find in school that patriotism is naturally a part of the curriculum. Many of the reading selections from the book are about national heros and Filipino pride. I guess because of that I was expecting some big happenings around town. Overall however, it was a pretty quiet day. There were no processions through the streets, or insanely long speeches given by the mayor and vice mayor, in fact the only thing I noticed differently around town were the Filipino flags that the put-put drivers attached to their bicycles. Low key, kind of like it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

school days, school days, dear old golden rule days

First week of school is finished! WOOHOO!! I really liked some parts, and really didn't understand some other parts. So, to end on a happy note, I'll do the misunderstood things first.

Ok, enrollement here can be described as nothing but "open." And by open, I mean, you just show up on the first day of schoool and walk into class. You're really supposed to come the week before school starts to sign your name on a piece of paper and bring your last report card from school, but of course not all people follow the rules. So as of today, there were still people settling into their final classes.

Our class numbers have skyrocketed it seems. I'm sure they will fall off eventually, but as of right now classes are averaging 50-60 students, compared to last year's 35-45. That's a big difference when it comes to having desks and having supplies for all the kids to participate in activities. I did a pre-fix activity with the kids, and had to think of 5o words with pre-fixes... which sounds like it should be simple...but so not.

The final schedule was finally published today, Friday, the last day of school for the first week. I'm expecting a new one on Monday :)

New teachers were still being added until Thursday. And the teachers who were designated to teach at the beginning of the year didn't have any clue what subjects they were teaching until the first day of school.

Ok, onto the things that just consistently made me smile this week.

I LOVE the first year classes. They're brand new to the school and continually impress me. They're excited to learn, are always ready to take the lessons a step further, and get excited when I ask the questions, "Who wants to impress me?" or "Is that a paragraph we can be proud of?" Too cool.

The library continues to be like this new treasure. New students are starting to come in and check books out, and I'm having a story time for the community kids tomorrow morning. I'm excited to see who comes.

I'm fitting in with the other teachers more. I've been given a new co-teacher in addition to my old one. The new teacher and I haven't taught together yet, but hopefully it'll all work out, and the lessons that I have taught with my previous teacher seem to be going smoother than the ones we did last school year. I think we've finally gotten into a rhythm that fits both of us, and the kids seem to be settling in with it. I hope this continues, because it makes everything so much more enjoyable!

So, overall great first week. I'm exhausted, but I think that just means I've done all I can, and am ready for the weekend!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hellmann's vs. Kraft

Yet another cool Filipino tradition: Flores de Mayo. Each May the children will meet at the tiny barangay chapels and bring flowers to honor the Virgin Mary. I'm not entirely sure, but I guess the closest thing we have in America would be Vacation Bible School, since it's done in May when kids are out for summer.

Tonight was the big parade the kids have to celebrate the end ofMay. I watched it from my house; I'm on the official parade route luckily. The streets were packed with kids, girls mostly in white dresses and the occasional veil, and boys in white shirts and shorts. They all had candles and flowers. There were also some girls that were dressed in gowns. They were supposed to represent different queens, like Queen of Charity and Queen Conviction, which all have been related to stories in the Bible or in Philippine history.

I think the best part about the parade for me was seeing all the kids that I've gotten to meet since being at site. We've been on summer break since the end of March, and school starts tomorrow, so it was fun to see people I've missed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Check it Out Now

I like the tv show Grey's Anatomy. They have it on tv here, it's just always a few episodes behind what is shown in America. That's no big deal, I can handle that. I was watching it last Monday, and was able to see the one where Izzie and Alex get married. That's the same episode where instead of Meredith beginning the show off with her monologue, Izzie did it. She pointed out how some days are the biggest days, but when they begin, you don't know how big or special they're going to end up being. The day after I saw that episode, I had one of those days.

I've been going to school almost everyday I've been in town during the summer break. It's pretty routine, I text to get the front gate open (or else I get to climb up this mountain of a hill, literally having to grab onto trees to try and drag myself to the top), label books by color, then number, then type all that information into the computer. It felt like an endless job, and no, it's technically not done yet, so yes, it is officially an endless job.

Well, this week is the last week before students return. I thought going to school on Tuesday would be the same as it has been all summer, but the ordinary day that I thought would happen turned into the day where all the hard work paid off. Instead of another day of encoding and sweating, it was a day of moving books onto new shelves in the newly enlarged library and sweating.

This is it. All of the boxes of books that have come in (all 2,800 books so far, with more coming!), all the organizing, and all the kids stopping by to help and to ask if they could borrow a book before school started has made this awesome room with enough books for not only the students at school but also the community. WOOHOO!!

Thank you for helping.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


It's avacado season here, so I decided today was the day I would make guacamole. I'll be the first to admit, I have no culinary skills whatsoever, and I'm a much better eater than cook. But I mean it's guacamole... how hard can it be to whip that up?

So, I got on the bus, and bought all the avacados, tomatos, onions, and whatever else google told me I'd need to make it, and then I got to thinking... what do you eat guacamole with when you don't have Tostitos? This is when my amazingness kicks in. I decide to buy the the spring roll wrappers in the market, which are basically really thin tortillas. They will be perfect once I toast them in the toaster oven...score for creative thinking.

So I get back to the house, and find out the avacados are practically rotten, yeah, this is where my amazingness was not kicking in, and i had to figure out what to do. I get my host mom, who finds some people in town that have an avacado tree, crisis diverted. Plus now I have my host mom there to help me make the guacamole.

Guacamole isn't really made here, because they tend to only use avacados as a dessert. There are avacado shakes, and my host mom said she loves eating them out of the peel with just sugar sprinkled on them. So, that being said, she kept wanting to add sugar to the guacamole... but I had a feeling that was just not right. :)

It was all super delicious.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Brigada Eskwela

Today is Monday. Ok, not just Monday, but the last Monday of our summer vacation... oh wait, that was until they unexpectedly moved up the Brigada Eskwela to TODAY. Oy, nothing like getting a text at 7am that summer is over, report to school now.

Brigada Eskwela is a really cool tradition they have here where parents come to the school and get it ready for the new school year. It's a way for parents to be involved, and cuts the costs of preparation by having volunteers complete tasks such as painting, pulling weeds, and yep, you guessed it, building new bookshelves for the library!

The brigada is announced with a small parade that winds its way through town. This is just a way for parents to know that it's time to lend a hand at the school. The participants for the parade were the police and their new police car (which I got to ride in and would highly recommend for the mere fact of its AMAZING airconditioner), 2 put-puts (bicycle taxis) with a Brigada banner tied between them, and then a small gang of motorcycles driven by teachers and PTCA board members. It definitely got the people's attention... especially with the police siren blaring the whole way.

So, it was a cool tradition to see, and it'll be fun to meet the parents throughout the week as they volunteer at the school, I'm just still adjusting to the fact that POOF, Summer is over.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

That pretty much sums it up

"Fiesta is over, next up...Christmas!"-- Anita, My Host Mom

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Viva Snr Isidro Labrador!

So how do I know it's fiesta time? Well, I've been listening to the drumming for the sunolog (dance) competition, I just watched them hogtie a pig outside my window and then cart it off to the place where piggies come back crispy, and lastly, which I can't tell you how much it bothered me, I went to write the word "feast" the other day, and it automatically came out at "fiest." So, without a doubt... It's time for Fiesta!

I know it seems like I've written about fiesta a dozen times on this blog, and that's because I have. They seem to happen all the time, but this one is for the town that I'm staying in. Their patron saint is San Isidro Labrador, a farmer. There are a lot of rice fields surrounding town, thus the choosing of Isidro.

The official fiesta isn't till tomorrow, but for the past week it's been a whirlwind of activitiy. A couple nights ago there was a singing contest, where the winner ended up coming from another town. And then last night they had the coronation of her royal Miss Inopacan 2009. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I'm told I could be a contender for next year's crown...hahahahahahahaha. With just a little stateside backing, it could be a reality.

So today starts the beginning of the feasts, and tomorrow will be the official "go to the house of everybody you know and eat until you feel like you might explode" festivities.

More to come, I'm sure :)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hello, my Name is

I just read that this year's most popular baby names have come out in America, and it got me thinking about names here in the Philippines. While Emma and Jacob are now the most popular names in America, and the number of Baracks and Mileys are rising in ranks,you won't find those on the top of the list here. I don't know for sure, but I would say Marie and Andre are the most popular names that I have come across. Others that I really like, and have stuck with me are Lyka Mae, Jevie, Janelyn, Rodjerick, and Jolever.

A trend here is for parents to give their children unique names. Some of the more unique ones that I have met so far have been Juggle and Princess.

I've been told that one of the ways parents come up with names is to combine their own. So, for example, my parents' names are Dave and Nancy, so my name could have been one of the following rockstar names:

-Dancy- I kind of like this name, different, one of a kind, pretty cool.
-Davy- Another cool name, I like it a lot.

and last, but not least

-Navy- so whether I'm old or blue, probably wouldn't have been that great of a name choice... although I could always use Anchors Aweigh as my theme song...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

kenny rogers

Holy Cow, I've discovered the peso gambling in town!

Fiesta is coming on May 15, so things are already starting to get put into motion. One of those "things" is carnival type games set up by the water. They had BINGO, which was played in rapid-fire, speed-racer speed and in Cebuano, so needless to say I did not win; also they had darts, a coin toss game, and my favorite, the basketball drop.

Basketball drop consists of a large square with the center cut out. The outside of the square is made of wood with the number 1-25 written in individual squares, then inside the square is another smaller square that has 25 divots in it, each numbered 1-25. Connecting the big square with the little square is netting. So how it works is, the better puts a peso on a number, and then somebody rolls the basketball down the net and it eventually settles down into one of the divots. If it lands on the number you bet on, you earn 20 pesos for each peso bet.

It's low risk, low skill, highly addictive.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tom Terry

Last night there was a major storm. It woke me up at like 4am, and even came with a brownout. It's kind of strange when you think about it. In America you'd have a tv tuned in to the weather channel or your local weather guy, and you'd most likely be on top of the most recent updates. I mean you can tell exactly where every lightning bolt hits, but you don't have that here. Here though, there's not a lot of warning... except for our routine PC text to warn us of safety alerts.

I guess it's scarier because you don't really know what to expect, but I think it's also better in a way. I had no clue how long the storm would last, and really could only take things as they came, but I didn't get unnecesarily stressed out. I guess what I'm trying to say is you learn to take things in for yourself, and come up with your own opinion without having to listen to the media's hype. For example, when the the lightning struck inside my room practically and thunder immediately followed for 16.5 seconds afterwards, I came up with the "Wow, this is a bad storm!" thought on my own. I know... weather channel ain't got nothin on me.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tie up the Kid

I was sitting at the bus terminal, waiting for the bus to leave when all of a sudden I see a goat being hogtied in the middle of the terminal. Wow. And then it got better, the goat got hung upside down off the tailend of a jeepney. Double wow. And then it got even better, the goat's friend got tied to the top of the jeepney. Uncontainable wow.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The 100 Year Tale

So interesting story.

During the Easter holiday, the house where I live became a big gathering place for several well known families in town... I know, I make it sound like it's the gathering of the 5 Families or something, but so not like that in any way. Anyways, so I'm sitting at the table eating massive amounts of food, and the man who lives next door to me starts talking to me.

He is a doctor who grew up in this town, and is widely respected by all. I think he used to be the mayor, which is top notch here in the Philippines. He starts by telling me, "My father was arrested by the Americans." Oh boy, not sure how I should go about this.

He continues to tell me how in 1900 his father was selling fish when he was stopped by an American soldier. The soldier called him a monkey, and then told him it was the law for kids to go to school.

Honestly, my first instinct was to profusely apologize for the past. I mean this happened over a hundred years ago, and the story of being called names and giving orders is still being told. We kept talking though, and he eventually told me the rest of the story. His father did go to school, was one of the few to finish, and became a teacher.

I wanted to know his opinion, did he resent Americans for coming over and taking control? Honestly, if it were me, I'd have been ticked off. But he basically said that he appreciated that they made education a priority and improved the transportion situation.

During our conversation, I kept thinking, wow, A. If somebody called my dad a monkey, or any name for that matter, I'd be super mad. B. I could have been related to that American soldier that came over and arrested his father. C. This man, and his family and friends, have welcomed me whole heartedly into their homes and community... knowing that I could have been related to that man who arrested their loved one.

What a great man to learn from. I mean, no, I'm not related to the actual man who was serving in the United States Army in 1900, but so often the human tendency is to link people that are alike in one group, even if that's not the fair thing to do. This man didn't do that though, and has taken the positive from a difficult situation.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Highs and Lows

So during this past week I've been at our batch's Language Camp/Inservice Training (IST)/ and for the next few days we're having a Project Design Management (PDM) training. I guess you could say it's been a week of some really hi highs and some really low lows.

First off, to get to the conference center, which is a beautiful resort near Cebu City, I got to take the Fast Cat ferry. AMAZING. Crowded buses get old, but this ferry is like being on a mini floating movie theater for two and a half hours. They have air conditioning that makes you need a jacket, comfortable seats, life jackets at every seat, and microwave popcorn with Coke Zero to wash it down. I know, amazing right?! So that was a definite high.

Cebu City has also been a fun distraction to all the training we've had to do. It takes 2 jeepneys to ride into the city, but it's overall quick, and completely worth it. I went to the mall with some friends and ate Pizza Hut... not just once, but twice!! Hadn't had that in a while. One of the good things about living in a small town is that when you do get to the big city, you've got money to spend. And that is what I did. I bought the last of the Twilight books, which cost way too much, and saw a movie. The mall we went to was huge, and also had a movie theater. We saw Monster vs. Aliens.

It's amazing how many of the little things slip your mind after a while. Like the smell of mall air. It's amazing. All the bakeshops mixed with yummy restaurant aromas, and then combined with cleaning product smells. Again, amazing.

But of course when you have the highs, the lows are always lurking in the shadows. For one, somebody I really admired passed away back home. What an amazing lady. When something like this happens, it just makes me want to catch the next plane home. So I guess you've just got to focus on the positive. Fortunately, with Susan, there are tons of positives to think of! I know I'm a better person for knowing her, and I'm sure most people who met her could say the same thing.

So now comes our PDM training. I'm not exactly sure what my next project should be. My supervisor is coming from Leyte to work with me on it... so hopefully we can come up with a solid goal that will be sustainable. It's all about that sustainability!

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I like Easter. I'm sad to be away from home during my favorite holiday, but must admit, Easter in the Philippines is pretty cool. Today is Good Friday, and the entire day was a preparation for the processional at the end of the day. In the procession are floats, depicting the different parts of the crucifiction, as well as almost every person in town holding white candles.

To prepare, my host family is in charge of preparing the body of Christ, literally. The town has a hundred year old wooden statue of Jesus that's 6 feet tall. I'm told it's the biggest Jesus statue in all of Leyte. Yeah, it's pretty big time. I'm also told that at times, the statue snores. So to prepare the body of Christ, they wash it with soapy water, and then annoint it with oil and perfumes. I felt lucky to be able to watch two old women, who have done this ritual for years, carefully wash Jesus.

Next, Jesus was moved into a clear case and then laid to rest on a carriage that was covered with decorated metal. Then I helped them cut ferns that were used, along with white flowers, to decorate the carriage around Jesus. The carriage with Jesus was just one of many. Other floats showcased him walking with the cross, Mary, and Santo Nino.

It was great to see all these traditions, ones that you know go back for generations. I think Easter is definitely a great time to come visit the Philippines!

Monday, April 6, 2009

would you like fries with that?

It's been brought to my attention that prior to coming to the Philippines, I basically lived off of macaroni and cheese. I'd like to clarify... my diet also included grilled cheese sandwhiches with no pickle anywhere on the plate, an occasional cheeseburger plain, plain cheese sandwhiches, and spaghetti. :) Ok, really that was what I would eat between the ages of 3 and 15. I eventually started to branch out, but of course once I came to the Philippines everything has changed once again.

I usually buy my groceries at the big market in Baybay, which is usually like a 40 minute bus ride north. I saw "usually" because you can never tell with the buses here. They stop whenever there is somebody on the side of the road that wants to get on or when somebody needs to get off the bus. The market in Baybay is pretty big, and it takes some getting used to. They have a meat area, which showcases hog legs, hog heads, chicken feet, and all the usual slices of meat. I pretty much stay completely out of this area. I do always visit the fish counters. Clams, crabs, shrimp, and fish are readily available. I've learned that crabs are at their best during full moons, and rain can put a damper on the fishing all together. Clams cost about 40 pesos per kilo, except if I buy them from the lady at the end of the counter who feels she can charge me 50 pesos per half kilo. So far, my favorite fish is white marlon, and I love crabs.

A quick crab lesson, there's a lot of different kinds! My two favorites are coconut crabs and then crab with coconut. I know, they sound alike, but are totaly different. Coconut crabs are the crabs that look totally different from the crabs we get in America. Their tails almost look more like lobsters, and they climb up into the coconut trees and eat the coconuts. You can eat their claws, but the really good part of them is their stomachs, that am guessing is the actual guts and left over coocnut. I know... it sounds so appealing... The other type is crab with coconut. It is my absolute favorite. They take these little crabs, scoop out the meat and fat and then add spices and coconut with it. It has a fancy cebuano name for it, but of course I can't remember it. They stuff the crabs with the mixture, and also wrap the extra left over mixture in banana leaves. You eat both of these crabs with rice... of course!

So back to the market. It also has people selling fruits ranging from jackfruit, bananas, oranges, and melons, to kalamansi, pineapple, and apples. Vegetables are also everywhere, as are eggs. There's even one lady who sells tofu. She has big chunks of it, just like you would buy at Publix or any grocery store in America, but hers are made by a lady in a nearby barangay and sold in a big open bowl. It tastes great though!

Food has definitely been a new experience, but one thing that hasn't changed is my undying love for french fries. The only place that sells them here is Jollibee's, and you know I always make a special trip there whenever I go to Baybay!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Can you find similarities?

In the past 24 hours I've gotten to do two things that I've never had to do before, and I can't say I really enjoyed them.

1) On Friday I was told that I'm going to a wedding on Saturday afternoon. It was my supervisor's niece, so I went. Another teacher, Dovie, picked me up at my house in a trike and helped me find my way to the wedding. In the trike, she says, "This is my first wedding." Wait a second... Dovie's like 35 years old, this can't be her first wedding. No way. Then comes, "Yes, a civil ceremony." OH, ok, that's not very usual here. I mean almost everybody is Catholic, and that comes with the whole mass shibang. Then comes the moment of enlightenment, "The boy is white." My automatic first question, "How old is he Dovie?" It turns out that the guy was 69 years old. Cute story right? Finding love, no matter what age you are, is always romantic. Oh wait, how old is the girl? Frickin' 18! This was not the wedding I was expecting.

2) This morning I got to scrub all the mold off my bedroom walls.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Graduation in 50 words or less

Last night was the fourth year stuents' graduation.

First we there was a mass that lasted two hours.

Next, there was a five hour graduation ceremony.

By that time it was 12:30 AM.

Somewhere in between there, there was a blackout.

Enough said.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

where's connie?

If you could choose any fictional character, who would you be? What a great question to ponder here, when at times you feel like there's absolutely nothing to do...except read. It's commonly said that Peace Corps provides you with the time and motivation to read more for pleasure than any other time in your life. I'd have to agree, whether it's the trashy romance novels that always have a happy ending, Three Cups of Tea that motivates and inspires, classics like The Great Gatsby, or the Twilight series that, yes, has even reached the Philippines in its uncontrolled popularity, all genres are consumed and leave you only wanting to read more.

But back to the orginal question, what character would you be?

I've decided, after careful deliberation, I'd have to be Waldo, of Where's Waldo? fame. I mean, think of all the interesting places and situations Waldo finds himself. He's probably one of the most popular people on the planet because everybody is constantly searching for him and always so excited to find him. I wonder if he ever gets tired of not blending in.

It's hard to blend in here too. While there are some foreigners in Leyte, there's nowhere near as many on this island as there are on other, more populated islands. It's still a big "shock" to see an American in certain parts, especially if you go up to the mountain barangays. And yes, when riding on the bus through town, you can watch people who are casually watching passengers go by, and they have the excited, "Waldo" reaction when they make eye-contact with you. It's like a brief, "OH! FOUND YA!" conversation that's only spoken through facial expressions.

When this happens, it just kind of makes you more aware that you're different than everyone else. Being different is ok, good at times. I mean who wants to be like everybody else, we're supposed to be individualists, right? I'll admit though, sometimes I wish I could really blend in.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I got to do one of the coolest things yesterday! I work at a high school, which isn't quite the age group that I'm used to! So I talked one of my co-teachers into taking me to one of the elementary schools that are in one of the farther barangays. We got to visit the school yesterday, and it was sooo much fun!

I got a couple of my first year students to pick out simple picture books from our library (which is quickly growing bigger and bigger, we're up to 1067 books!) and they joined me in riding a trike to the school. It took about a 15 minute ride by trike, and the road led us over rivers which had carabao hanging out in them trying to escape the intense heat until we finally came to a bamboo bridge that could only be walked across.

The school we visited could only be reached by crossing the the 20 foot bamboo bridge... this in itself made me love the school before I even saw it! The sense of adventure doubled once we got past the bridge and found a 117 step stairway going up to the school. AWESOME! The school was surrounded with a tropical rainforest. It was definitely one of the nicest school campuses I've come across, and you could tell the staff really took pride in their school.

I began reading to the grade 1-grade 4, but soon grades 5 and 6 joined. Honestly, just sitting in this beautiful campus, sitting under a huge tree, reading and singing songs with a huge group of kids that were excited just to hear stories, is one of the best moments I've had here. One of the kids' favorite books was the I Know an Old Woman who Swallowed a Fly. They could recite the entire sequence for me by the end. They especially loved to "wriggle and wriggle and jiggle," with the spider.

The students that I took from my school seemed really interested in learning how to read stories aloud, with enthusiasm and drawing the reader in with questions. I'm hoping that with practice, I can help those students start a program where they tour around the local elementary schools and raise interest in reading. They said the large group of students was intimidating, but that they might be able to do a small group of three or four children. I also want to show them how they can make manipulatives to add to the books, like puppets, masks, etc.

I'm really excited about this.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Born again

It’s Sunday here, and today I was invited to attend church by one of my students. While most Filipinos are Catholic, but Jundie, the student who invited me is Born Again. I’ve been to several masses here, so I was interested to see how a Born Again Christian service would be like here. Well, it was different.

First, I had to ask directions to the church from about 12 different people, because nobody knew where the church was. I think this just shows how the majority of residents here are Catholic. If I asked where the cathedral was, they’d all think I was crazy because it’s at the center of town. Eventually I got there, and I’ve got to say, it was a new experience.

The church was probably 30 feet long and 15 feet wide, made of bamboo. They had electricity, and even had an old drum set, keyboard, and electric guitar. Jundie played the guitar. It was pretty much all spoken in Cebuano, so I read my Bible during the 2 ½ hour service. I didn’t know it would be that long.

The other attendants were very excited to have a visitor. I had to go up to the front in the beginning and introduce myself. That in itself wasn’t that strange for me, I’ve probably had to introduce myself to large groups about 1,000 times so far. It was new though to have to come up at the end of the service and have the pastor put his hand on my head and pray for me. There was a lot of “amening,” and falling down going on during the service.

I guess it was similar to some churches in the states, just not what I’m personally used to. It was nice though to see people who worshiped so sincerely that they had tears in their eyes.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Have you ever?

I know this is a great experience, a once in a lifetime type of deal. Being overseas however, away from family and friends can be overwhelming. Not just a little overwhelming, but an intense "HOLY CRAP, I'M OVER A 20 HOUR FLIGHT FROM HOME!" overwhelming. Yeah, it's that big.

Something that helps me though, aside from my parents telling me to get a grip, is to think of the question, "Have you ever?" It feels good to be able to answer the questions with an affirmative. I'm not away from home for nothing, I can now answer yes to the following questions:

Have you ever had a student climb up a coconut tree for you? Why actually, yes. Today some of the boys (my famous -of paper boys) played along with a joke about me getting buko juice (young coconut juice) and delivered me a sliced open coconut at the end of school today.

Have you ever watched a sex ed lecture that began with the words "We all have a deep love... for God." Couldn't say yes until yesterday. But now, oh yeah, I can.

Have you ever watched goats outside your classroom door while you teach? Everyday.

Have you ever seen a dog in the drivers seat of a motorcycle? yes, but my favorite is seeing the babies driving.

Have you ever used chalkboards to teach with? So far, that's been all we've had. My dream is to have a chalk eraser that sucks the chalk dust up with a tiny vacuum while you erase.

Have you ever watched a cockfight? I love hearing the sound of all the betters shouting while I'm walking back to the house after school. It's like a distant roar. I'd say that's one of the true unspoiled sounds of the Philippines.

Have you ever had students over to your house? We play uno, and I make them American food. Last week was spaghetti, and this week they're having their first ever peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches. I know that would never happen in America, I'd be fired probably. Here though, it's no big deal.

Have you ever did a home visit to one of your students where it took you almost an hour to get there and when you finally arrived, you found yourself at the top of a mountain? It was one of the most eye-opening experiences ever. One of those experiences that leaves you with more questions about life than you'll ever be able to answer.

Have you ever watched a kid look at a book like it's something amazing and want to know where it came from? It gives you a pretty cool feeling.

Have you ever lived without airconditiong? I wouldn't recommend it.

Have you ever had a bucket bath? It's amazing how much you can do with just one bucket full of water.

Have you ever eaten an entire pineapple? It's good.

Have you ever bought tofu out of an open bowl at the open market? I admit, I was hesitant at first, but it beats eating seafood every meal.

Have you ever been told by the priest that you're getting "sexier and sexier?" um, so that one made me blush... a lot... but it should be known that sexy is an everyday word here, and you'd be feeling bad if you didn't get it said about you at least once a day.

Have you ever watched The Office, season 5? I can't say yes to this one... but I can say it after tonight because it's finally coming on tv here. YAY!!! No, it's more than yay, it's a DOUBLE YAY!!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

My Day in a Coconut Shell

My day could be summed up in this one scenario. I’m was reading a listening section from the textbook, titled “Are Human Beings Endangered Species?” It’s all about pollution and how humans are destroying their environment, and if change is not made then humans will not have the clean air, water, and land that they need to survive.

I’m on the last sentence of the short selection, when I look up and see Remavie pass a candy wrapper to another girl, who then throws it out the window.

So, we’re still working on comprehension and application.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Prom, Filipino Style

I didn’t know exactly what to expect when it came to the JS Prom here in the Philippines. Would it be fancy? Do they have dates? How much glitter would be used in this festivity? Well… I have my answers now. It’s fancy, the boys are assigned to girls to dance with for the Cotillion, and if you’re a Filipino girl, you can wear a whole lot of glitter on your body.

I luckily got out of buying a gown for the prom (which I was told I had to do by my counterpart and supervisor) because finding an American sized dress was kind of pushing it, and instead just wore a dress that my mom had mailed to me. I’m glad I didn’t end up getting the gown… cause did any of the other teachers wear gowns like they were supposed to? BIG FAT NO! Awkward situation diverted, for once.

The decorations were all natural. They did a great job creating a tropical forest around the tennis courts. They used orchids, handmade tiki torches, ferns, banana leaves, etc. It was fun to watch the students bring all the foliage from their homes.

My favorite scene from prom this past week, seeing a line of put-puts outside the gates of the tennis court, waiting to drop off all the girls in their prom dresses. Put-puts are the bicycle taxis. My second favorite moment had to be seeing all the boys wearing their dads’ suits.

It was an overall great night.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner

Tonight was fun.

It started at my host family's house, which I wasn't too excited about because the host mom guilted me into going, but then one of their cousins was there, and he was really funny. It turned out to be his birthday, so he invited us over to his house for kareokee. Again, wasn't very excited because, well, videokee is pretty much my mortal enemy. I mean, the videos they show behind the words is your ideal version of video hell. It's where all the pointless video footage of landscapes and bad American parades from 1982 go when they've died and been judged on their awfulness. yeah, you heard me, I'm critizing videokee... Ok, that being said, I had a great time listening to my host dad #2 sing Dean Martin and serenade my host mom #2 with Nat King Cole songs. They even got me to sing once. I usually get out of it, claiming I have about the worst voice on this side of the globe, but nonetheless they got me to sing My Heart Will Go on... which of course any girl who was in middle school when Titanic came out has a soft spot for; don't deny it, you know you do.

Then the second part of the night was filled with ballroom dancing. I have a confession... when I was three I had an extreme obsession with Dirty Dancing and would act out the final dance scene in my pink "dirty dancing" dress in my living room. I'm sorry to say, there's even video footage of this debacle floating around out there which my family has brought out on occasion to have a good laugh. So since that time, ballroom dancing has always been like this repressed dream of mine... and it just so happens that every student here knows how to dance AND the JS prom is this Friday, so everybody's in crazy ballrom dance fever mode. So the cousin's daughter, Scarlett, is trying to teach me. I know, I'm a white girl who can't dance... but it was still fun to try!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Q & A

I get a lot of questions, and these are the most commonly asked ones:

1. What is your religion? Methodist. WHAT IS THAT? Christian. OH, OK.

2. How old are you? 23. OH, SO YOUNG!

3. Are you married? Do you have a boyfriend back home? No, no I'm not married. I'm too young.

this is always then followed with #4:

4. You will marry a Filipino? (Ok, honestly this isnt' really a question, more of a statement. But I like to think they're at least asking me what I think about the subject.)

5. May I touch your hair? Ok, but just once.

6. What skin whitener do you use? None, I'm naturally albino.

7. Do you get lonely living alone? No, I like to be independent.

8. Do you speak Visayan? Gamay lang. GAMAY LANG! HEHEHEHEHE

9. Do you eat rice? Yes, everyday. HEHEHEHE

and last, but not least

10. What do you want to eat? Nothing, busog na ko. OY, 2 ORANGES, I LOVE YOU.

(#10 is courtesty of host mom #2. one day she literally said, "I love you, so I give you food." and even if I'm already full, I can never leave the house without bananas, oranges, and some stype of sticky rice.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

My Secret Unicorn

Funny book stories... well at least they were funny to me, who has been breathing books 24/7 for the past 2 weeks.

First, one of the books sent in the last box of books (which arrived yesterday night, from my parents) was The Night Before Christmas. It was one of the old Little Golden Books, a tale that most Americans can probably quote the first few lines verbatim. The kids were looking through the books, and one girl, Diane, happened to choose this particular book. She came up and asked me, "what does this word mean?" The word was chimney. True, Filipinos are constantly using fires for cooking where we are, but chimney is just not an everyday word used. It just reminded me how things can be so different sometimes.

Next story, another girl had read one of the books that came earlier, titled something like The Magical Unicorn. I can't remember if that was the exact title, but it was definitely something with an intense sense of magical fantasy... something any girly girl would probably thrive off of. She had found a page in the book that previewed a sequal to come, titled My Secret Unicorn, and she told me how she really wanted to read it. I told her I'd try to get a copy, but it would probably take a while to find one. I happened to find one though when I was going through some of the new books, so I was really excited to tell the girl that it would be at school on Monday for her. She was so happy, gave me a huge smile, and left the library for the weekend. Literally about 2 steps behind the girl, a boy from second year stops and looks at me, with the most hopeful looking eyes ever and asks, "Really, there's My Secret Unicorn?" I tell him yes, and ask if he'd like to borrow it when the girl is finished reading it. He has a huge smile when he tells me, "Oh, yes ma'am!"

haha, so great.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pacquiao Wannabe's

So I find that while I'm teaching here, I really have to stay on my toes all the time. I guess it's just a cultural thing, but I can get lost in the conversation or have no idea of what's going on. It's exhausting trying to be on the same page that everybody else is naturally turned to, and today I think I was at least a chapter behind everybody else.

My second class today was a first year one. We're reviewing simple tense verbs again, as well as beginning to get in the routine of taking vocabulary tests each Friday. So during class, that's what we were doing. I'm standing up front, trying to see if they have any clue what I'm trying to get across, when all of a sudden one of the boys walks over to the other side of the classroom and just throws a crumbled piece of paper at another boy's face. OUT OF NOWHERE! I mean the innocent kidwas just sitting there, trying to follow along with the geeky American. So after about 2 seconds of complete shock, the second kid stands up and is obviously getting ready to hit the first kid. HELP!! They did not go over how to difuse fights being done in other languages during our technical training. Luckily, another one of the boys who is older than the rest and is looked up to by all, see's my look of pain and automatically jumps up to settle the second boy down. Crisis diverted. Both boys go to their own corners and look like they accept the draw.

Sounds like a peaceful resolution, right? Yeah, well that's just the first match. Next, probably 15 minutes later the first boy jumps up and walks outside. This is kind of normal in the classroom. In every school that I've visited here it's pretty much the norm for students to just get up and walk out whenever they want to. I really didn't think anything of it when he left, but when the second boy got up and left I felt like I was standing in the classroom yelling NOOO!!! in a loud slow motion scream. THIS IS NOT GOOD! I walk outside, hoping to talk to the boys, but they've already gotten away, so I leave them to the school's security guy who roams around campus throughout the day.

When I step back into the room though, the entire class is standing around the windows, clapping, and yelling PACQUIAO! PACQUIAO! Not a good sign for the teacher! Manny Pacquiao is a famous boxer from the Philippines, thus meaning that the boys had snuck behind the classroom and were getting ready to box. OY! HELP! I go tell the teacher next door, who is also the guidance counselor SCORE! and she tells me to send them to her office. YES MA'AM! THAT I CAN DO!

So I go to the boys, who haven't begun the official hitting yet, and in my most authoritative voice and awsome teacher eye, tell them to get to the guidance counselor's office. AND THEY LISTENED! WOOHOO!

I know students are going to get into fights occasionally, that's just how the ball rolls. Here's the thing though, in America I could have been able to tell you just by reading the student's body language that things were coming to such a boiling point. In this situation however, I had NO CLUE that the boys were going to just get up and start fighting.

My question to myself, Will I ever get on the same page?! Answer: Probably not, but I always eventually catch up! :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

sorry, not interested

I got pulled out from teaching classes today because a couple of salesmen stopped by trying to sell water purifiers. Clean water, extremely important, totally agree. But maybe not pull your teachers out of class to listen to a sales pitch, which on a side note, the American volunteer doesn't understand because it's in Cebuano, and instead make the salesmen wait till a break or at least tell your teachers to expect it.

These things frustrate me. I'm getting better at going with the flow, but things like this get to me. I guess the world's not over though, we'll just make up the work on Tuesday... but not Monday because the president just declared Monday a holiday.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

We shall see

I was wrong. Yet another misunderstanding. Jundie didn't have polio. The new story is that he has hemophilia. I'm not sure what to believe, so I've decided to just deal with the facts and observations that I know from my own personal experience: Jundie is 19, his legs are partially paralyzed, he's in extreme pain, he has the best smile ever known to man, and he's moved back to the mountains to stay with his parents because the pain is so bad he can't go to school.

I got my hostmom #2, who is a nurse, to get a truck to drive us to the outer barangay of town where Jundie lives. It's a really difficult drive, and even more difficult to get a truck available (PS. Thanks PC for the rediculous rule of no motorbikes when that's the way all Filipnos travel!). When we got to the house Jundie was in bed, and I was so excited to see him! I brought him some books to read, and told him that was his homework until he could get back to school. He was afraid that he wasn't going to get to school before the fourth quarter finals. What a cool kid to be nervous about not being able to take a test and care about his education.

So, on one hand amazing day because I got to go to a barangay that I'd never been to before and see Jundie. On the other hand, it's not so cool to see somebody in pain and not have a way to relieve it. Today was the first time I ever wished I had finished nursing school so that I would have some inkling of what could be done. Something will happen though, it always does, and hopefully it will be Jundie being able to return to town soon for school, or me being able to go up and tutor him every weekend. We shall see.