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!