Monday, November 22, 2010
I think it's this line of thinking that will wrap up this epic blogging that's continued for over 2 years. So often you don't get the full picture of something or really know your true feelings on something until you look at it differently. Perhaps you see it from somebody else's perspective, or you lose it and then are able to find it again, or maybe you just let yourself really think deeply about something for more than 5 seconds before you are off listening to your iPod or checking your email; no matter what is making you see things in a new light, acknowledge it and let it change your life.
Durian was a smelly disaster, and now, it's seriously a delight that just made my night.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
A part of leaving Peace Corps, it seems, for many people is the post-service travel that many go on. I guess it makes sense to take advantage of the readjustment check that you get and the lack of employment that you suddenly find yourself in to travel while you can. I chose to travel to China, Italy, and then Paris. I know, your stomachs are probably growling already, and I'll admit, my scale is showing the results of this trip!
The Chinese Pavilion at the World Expo.
Hillside homes on the island of Capri, Italy.
The light show on the Eiffel Tower.So the last 25 days of living ou of my backpack are done. They were busy days, which probably was a blessing because it kept my mind off the missing of friends back in the Philippines.
But now, on my second day back at home, I've got all the time in the world. EEKS. I find myself trying to find cheap quotes on car insurance and trying to figure out how to fit a resume onto one page and then trying to find people to send said resume to. Oh, right, and trying to walk off Italy and China. Well, on the bright side, if I can't find the cheap quotes for car insurance, at least that will help me with walking off the sad leftovers of ravioli, wine, and spicy tofu. :)
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
In one of the last blogs I wrote, I said that saying goodbye was made easier by knowing that my friends at site are just a quick e-mail away...and I'm not even out of the country yet and have talked to some of my students more on the Internet than I have in the past 3 weeks. Facebook, it changes everything. While living at site, I didn't accept my students as friends on the social network because I didnt' think that would be the wisest thing, but now that I'm done teaching, I addressed the 300 friend requests that had accumulated through my time at site. EEKS, sooo many! Some I didn't know, I think the wow factor of seeing a foreigner prompts people I don't know to request. I'd like to think it's because I'm just SO cool...but nah, I know better.
So now I leave the Philippines tomorrow, with lots of new friends, and glad that leaving doesn't mean waiting months for a postal reply as it would have in the past.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
My host family hosted a big beach party for all the students and teachers at my school to say good bye. I know, they're big on hosting! :)
Check out their plates, banana tree trunks and leaves. Coolest. Thing. Ever.
I had such a great time being able to just have fun at the beach with the students and teachers. My host mom once again went above and beyond my expectations when she put together this amazing lunch for so many people. Good times.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
I've been 25 for less than a week, and it's already old. NO, I'm not ready to get married, NO, I'm not really worried about it right now, and NO, my life won't end if I end up not having kids.
America, will you be like this? Here's hoping NO!
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Then we all sat down and had a breakfast of sticky rice, bread, and chocolate.
Breakfast of champions!!!
I got to school and the party continued. The student body surprised me with a great rendition of Happy Birthday, and I kept getting birthday treats throughout the day. For example, I walked to my desk and Genelyn and Lyka Mae had made me this poster. They wrote "Saranghae" all over it... Korean for "I love you." I laughed soooo hard when I saw that. We're always joking about how much they want to go to Korea and be a Korean popstar... even though we all know Lady GaGa is waaay better than any Korean popstar...
But I don't doubt Genelyn and Lyka, they'll get to Korea one day. :)
Monday, September 27, 2010
With 24 days left in my Peace Corps career, I have certain things that MUST get accomplished. I will get to see the window grills put on the library before I leave, host a couple of groups of new trainees at my site, master the art of making biko (my favorite rice dessert), and learn how to open a bottle by using another bottle.
But what did I just check off my list of things to do? Seeing Cebu's Internet famous Dancing Inmates!! AAAHH!!! Yeah, I know, what is cooler than that?! I know, not much.... :)
I had seen the youtube video of the prisoners before I arrived in the Philippines, and marveled at the oddity. But after being here for over 2 years, it's not odd anymore. They first became famous for dancing to the song Thriller, and anybody who stays in this country for more than a month can attest to the citizen's strong devotion to Michael Jackson, and there's never a day that passes that I don't see some type of dance routine being done. So the fact that all those people choose to dance to hit music and then put on a show, is just natural.
So on the last Saturday of every month, the inmates do choreographed dances to both current and past musical hits. The show lasted for over an hour, and included Justin Bieber's Baby, MJ's Billie Jean, and Shakira's Waka Waka. I think the Waka Waka was my favorite one... so here it is!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Oh Manila, what a love/hate relationship. How can an entire city smell like a urinal? Why is it that 95% of the times I get into a taxi there I have to struggle not to scream "SERENITY NOW!!" But man-oh-man, how I love to eat you Manila. Cheeseburgers cooked to medium with non-eden cheese (aka, made with real milk that has to be refrigerated!!), McDonald's french fries, pizza with mozzarella cheese... I mean yum.
But back to business, medical check is finished. Apparently the Philippines is rotting my teeth, so I get to have 6 fillings done before I return home. I told this to my host mom when I returned to site, adding how I can't eat sugar anymore. Her response was, "I have ice cream in the ref for dessert... so very hot today!" ...and the cavities continue!
Friday, September 17, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
It seems like it is coming from above my ceiling. Imagine a long fingernail slowly and deliberately going at a piece of plywood and that's about what it sounds like. The only thing that brings to my mind is the ghost story you hear in elementary school about the escaped lunatic who was found on the roof of the girl's car slowly scratching his way through the metal roof... as a girl, and the driver of a canvas top convertible, that always left me feeling a little uneasy. Now, as the girl trying to sleep, it just irritates me.
WHAT IS IT?!
Rat? Tuko lizard? Crazy lunatic guy?
The world may never know...
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
It's always exciting to wait for this special occurance. I've been eagerly anticipating it since September 1... the beginning of the Christmas season here. Other signs that it's the most wonderful time of the year? Christmas carols are already being played in the shopping malls.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Other interesting facts about the movie theaters here? Well, first off, it all depends on where you are in the country. Manila and Cebu have HUGE theaters, where they let you reserve your seat on a computer system at the ticket counter. Then once you get into the theater, don't get comfy in your seat because it's likely you'll get to stand up for the singing of the national anthem.
On the other hand, if you're in a smaller theater in the province or a smaller mall everything is a little more informal. If I go to the theater in the Robinson's mall in Taclobon, they won't play the anthem, and at the ticket counter you get a little yellow ticket from one of the giant rolls of generic tickets.
But you know the coolest part about the movie theaters here, aside from it only costing between 50-200 pesos (a sweet $1-$4)? You don't have to sneak your food in! And when I say you don't have to sneak in food, I mean real food. Not just a cruddy like bag of pretzels or an illegal bag of skittles. I'm talking fried chicken from Jollibee's, wine from the grocery store also found in the mall, drinks from Starbucks, popcorn you bought not from the movie theater but from the Holy Kettle Corn kiosk right next to the theater.
But be forewarned, don't have your digital camera on you when you go to the movies. Pirating is big here, and if they find out you have a camera on you, you're expected to check it in with the security guard!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
What started this feeling of anxiety was looking at friend's pictures on Facebook. My degree was Elementary Education, so I know people who were excitedly decorating and making strategies for what would be the best ways to set up their classrooms for the new school year. These pictures, in all their amazing beauty, left me breathless; literally, on the verge of hyperventilating. THERE'S SO MUCH STUFF!! Laminated posters, die-cut shapes, computer printed signs, cute bulletin boards decorated with ants that have titles like "Anticipating a Great Year," window decals, textbooks, classroom libraries, white boards, smart boards (I didn't even know what that was... I had to read the caption), fluorescent lights, computer projectors, classroom computers, pocket charts, that giant yellow manipulative clock, and I'm pretty sure I could feel the aircon through the picture; all the things that have come to be expected in an American classroom. You know what made me feel the most uneasy when looking at these pictures? The empty space. The classroom was so big you, as an adult, you could lay down and make a snow angel on the floor and not touch a single piece of furniture or another person. There was room to be an individual, a separate person from the mass.
Um, yeah, that's not what I've worked with for the last 2 years. (This is when the overwhelming feeling really kicked in.) I hope I can keep up. I hope I can take advantage of all the technology. I hope I remember to think of using an overhead projector instead of just a sheet of manila paper. I hope I can be best friends with the tech support guy at whatever school I end up working at. I hope I don't disappoint/make a complete fool of my students, the parents of my students, the principal, my co-teachers, or myself.
I hope I don't ever forget that you don't need stuff to be a good teacher.
Haha, and you know the best part of all this overhwelming business? I don't even have the job to worry about yet! Yep, it's all in my head.
Monday, August 23, 2010
In America, since 2001, we have paid particular attention to those who surround us. Of course neighborhood watches were using their binoculars on their neighbors long before that year, but with the terrorist attacks that used a trusted mode of transportation to kill thousands there was a reminder of observing others around you, just in case. Now, our country has an entire generation of kids who know nothing but post-9/11 thinking; never leave your baggage unattended, report if somebody acts suspicious, and HOLY COW, use hand sanitizer... cause you don't know where his or hers hands have been!
In the Philippines, despite terrorist attacks in the southern island of Mindanao, you don't feel a constant fear radiating off people in public areas. I have my guard up against pickpocketers and kids trying to stick their hands into my pockets while I'm in the city, I'm not wondering if there's a bomb in somebody's box that I sit next to on the bus and I've learned just washing your hands with soap, the good ol' fashioned way, can keep you just as healthy as 99.9% Purell. I have boarded airplanes without having my id checked, and yeah, the naked woman at the bus terminal was acting shady but I never thought she'd harm anybody. Aside from some high tensions during election times, I feel like most people are just doing their own thing; getting from point A to point B and living their lives.
Unfortunately, yesterday didn't turn out that way. I didn't now about it till I turned the tv to CNN at 8pm, but since earlier in the morning in Manila, a tourist bus had been hijacked and 25 hostages were still, more than 10 hours after being taken over, waiting to be saved by police. Ironically, the hostage taker was an ex-police officer who had been dismissed due to extortion and wanted to be reconsidered. Sadly, 8 innocent lives were lost and 7 were wounded. Such a tragedy. It makes me wonder how the public here will act in another 20 years. Will the innocence be converted to the guarded once-over look?
To end the post on a lighter note, the second current event? One more common to the Philippines... beauty pageants! Yes, I've observed that there are few things higher on the list of favorites for many Filipinos than a glittzy beauty pageant. News of the latest Miss Universe was already making the rounds hours after it aired live. Congratulations Miss Mexico!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
How do I eat?
I boil things and microwave (very, very carefully... cause yeah, I've been known to make things explode,) and now I rice cooker things. And here is where I say, KISS IT MARTHA STEWART!!
This rice cooker thing, (don't judge me because I'm in the Peace Corps and own a rice cooker, there are quite a few Filipinos who use electric rice cookers!) is doable. Even I can handle just adding water and rice, then plugging in a cord and pushing the button. this week however, I took it to a whole new level, a Martha Stewart level. Yeah, it was THAT good!
Thursday, August 19, 2010
I'm a countdown kind of girl. Let me describe my geekiness for you. I started counting down the days until my COS (close of service... last day of Peace Corps) waaaaay back, at around day 150; here's where my brilliant geekiness shines through. I don't just count the days, I make it into a game. I make myself not look at the calendar just so that I loose track of the days, and then when I finally do let myself recount the remaining days, it makes it feel like I'm so much closer because I got to skip all those inbetween days. Did I really get to skip all those days? No, but I have to make a little excitement for myself!
The tricky thing is, I know I'm going to miss my site once I return home. I'll miss my host family and co-teachers, and I'll definitely miss my students. It's kind of confusing to be so excited for something, but then know that once I'm on the other side of the Pacific I'll still be counting days till I'm able to come back for a visit.
But one countdown at a time, and for now, 63 days till COS.
Friday, August 13, 2010
I'm going to be honest and upfront and just say it, sometimes I don't like you.
Oh, I'll admit there are times when I say your name. The bus is late, "Bahala Na." I have laundry to do, but the water is turned off, "Bahala Na." Brown out, "Bahala Na." You're a comforting thing to say when I accept that there's nothing I personally can do to solve the situation, so yes, "Bahala Na," I will let God take control of it. Why stress? You're a close relation to Timon and Pumba's "Hakuna Matata," and Big Mouth Billy Bass' "Don't Worry, Be Happy," and I like that, you're just missing your own catchy song.
But man, there are some times I just want to turn around and shout, "Dude, who invited you to this party?!" You're an expression that people say when they come to a metaphorical wall and are resigned to just stand there without getting a ladder to climb over, or better yet, a stack of dynamite to blow the obstacle to smithereens. Instead they'll just accept that they can't go further, shout out "Bahala Na," and forget about the goal or greener pastures that were on the other side of the wall. Sometimes I feel like you're a dream killer, Bahala Na. You're an excuse that turns to laziness; a reason to accept second, third, or even fourth best. Sometimes, you're a crutch that I find myself saying when I could just work harder and not have to call out your name.
You visited me this week, and I really wish you hadn't. Test scores were not what I was hoping for, "Bahala Na." No, not "Bahala Na." I will work harder. Enough said.
I'll give you this, you have great potential Bahala Na. Instead of taking anti-depressants or having panic attacks, we could just say your name and trust in God because we can't control everything in our lives. But really, you need to shape up and remember what you're really for.
later that day, i was walking back to my host family's house for lunch when i overheard a boy, this little short guy, from that same first year class as above, singing the song destiny to himself as he walked. i started listening when he came to the "you and i were meant to be, with all my heart and soul, i give my love to have and hold, as far as i can see, you were always meant to be, my destiny."
OH, and happy 2 year anniversary. today marks the day i left sunny florida to start my adventure in the even sunnier philippines. and it also brings me to day 69 in the return to home countdown!
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Another recent discovery... this blog! I'm getting this a lot around town, "I saw your blog!!" Which is when I get this nervous smile and say something like, OH, I hope you liked it...! I try to keep the blog about the optimistic reality as I see it, but I worry that my forienger's perspective may offend somebody. I apalogize now if it does; I mean no harm. It's only been positive reviews so far though, so that's good.
With my outsider's perspective, I'd say Internet is definitely changing the pace of our town. I saw one student yesterday doing a speedwalk, that would make all those early morning mall walkers jealous, as she was weaving in and out of the large group of students leaving the school for the day. Why such a rush? She wanted to be one of the first students in line at the Internet cafe. Her super fast speedwalking though, dodging innocent bystanders, too funny!
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Folks, wow, you are in for such a treat... really, you have no idea. May I please present to you, a group of my amazing students as they lead you on an adventure through Inopacan National High School's library. All I can say is, watch out Hollywood! :)
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
This past weekend I was one of the facilitators for a training another volunteer was leading, and one thing I loved about this training, and the Philippines in general, was the music and dance. Can you imagine going to a professional development training and everybody just listening to the Glee soundtrack and dancing as their opening energizer? I for one know I would have hated it if I was ever expected to dance at some type of conference, but now it's just fun! Everybody participated, even the woman who was breastfeeding her kid... I mean that's some dedication to the art of dancing.
The rest of the training went really well. We talked about Phonics and Phonemic awareness and how to use those unfamiliar teacher words in the everyday classroom. It was very hands on, and hopefully they can take some of the activities back to their classroom. It was a good weekend. :)
Monday, July 26, 2010
A couple of friends and I caught a plane to Thailand, the Land of Smiles, last Sunday and took a week to explore Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The entire time we were there I kept thinking how great it was to be with friends. Jasmine, who was another volunteer in Leyte, is half Thai and ever since we met she's given Thailand such a great story and I finally got to put a picture to her words. She and her family took us around to see all the attractions, which included the pictures above, as well as riding those beautiful elephants, shopping in bazaars, and visiting a floating market where I had my first Thai massage and fish foot massage. Yay to thai massage, nay to fish massage... waaaay too ticklish! It's kind of exhilarating when you're in a lake and a little minnow pecks your toe, but imagine if you stuck your feet into an aquarium and a school of the little suckers comes and laches onto your skin like blood sucking piranhas. Ok, I exaggerate... but there were a lot of fish eating away at dead skin on your feet!
I liked Thailand, and was really surprised with Bangkok. It seems so clean to me. Maybe Manila has gotten to me too much. I think of the city, which before Peace Corps brought a picture of small Orlando where you just basically have to watch out for pooping ducks at Lake Eola, and now I think of pulsating Manila. Manila, where everywhere you turn there's a group of street kids, guys peeing on the street, women trying to get you to buy things, jeepneys pouring out exhaust, and taxi drivers trying to rip you off, where you just sigh and mutter, "uh, Manila." I didn't get that feeling in Bangkok. It was clean, I didn't hear any roosters, and don't you know those are my two criteria! I don't know, perhaps we stayed clear of the trouble areas, but on the whole, super impressed with Bangkok, and Thailand for that matter. I will say though, you got the traffic too man!
Friday, July 16, 2010
Last year's theme was Michael Jackson, and to date is still one of my best memories of Peace Corps. This year they had an jaw dropping Lady Gaga impersonation contest. Unfortunately, I'm afraid I could be arrested for posting the pictures, so for viewing purposes just imagine Lady Gaga in her ukay ukay finest, dancing her heart out. So funny, and outrageous at the same time.
After the official swearing in that the new students do, and PTCA members pledge to do their best for the school, the lights drop down and the words DISCO bring on a roar from the students that I'm sure could rival any Lady Gaga concert. The kids had a great time, and well, me too :)
Lennie and some of the 3rd year boys in their dance competition
And here is the innocent side of Acquaintance Party, the side of the traditional Philippine School... the Inopacan National High School Hymn (they sing this at flag ceremony every morning). I will without a doubt, completely regret missing next year's party.