Monday, August 23, 2010

current events

On this side of the globe, in the sunny nation of the Philippines, I heard several current events being discussed at school today.

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

...and this was one of the most exciting parts of my week... i'm not sure how to feel about that...

I am no good at cooking. I burn things, leaving the kitchen filled with a wonderful layer of smoke, which slowly permeates through the entire house. It's never good when I try to fry things, or grill things, or saute.

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!

I know, it's kind of a no brainer, any heat will cook an egg... but for me this was some inovative stuff! My mom sent some Mexican rice seasoning packets (but if I wanted to make this Filipino, maybe adding Magic Sarap would work?) so I added that to the rice before it cooked. Once that was done, I added the chopped tomatoes, egg, and wait for it. wait for it. cilantro.
Yeah Martha, I grow my own cilantro!!
Then you just let it sit with the lid back on until the egg is done steaming. Steaming? I guess, but there's no water. Eh, I don't know, I'm not a cook, whatever. You let it sit until the egg is ready to your liking. Then you just take the pot out of the cooker, and here's the best best part, for that classic "eat it straight from the kitchen" feel you eat it straight from the rice cooker pot... and one less dish to wash. :)
It's a good thing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

i got the seniorirtis

Senioritis. It's what seniors get in high school during the last part of their final year before they become, as my dad likes to say, "just one of the statistics (aka unemployed adults.)" I had it then, I had it during my last part of college. And yeah, I have it now during my last part of Peace Corps. But I think, dare I say it, my case is even more severe this time around!

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

Bahala Na

Dear Bahala Na,

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.

Connie Sue

big laugh.

i was in my first year class last week, which has a boys on one side-girls on the other seating arrangement. after prompting the class for an answer, students had to raise their hands once they knew the answer. 3/4 of the girls had their hands up, but the boys only had around 1/4. i ask, "boys, come one, are the girls smarter today?" one boy's answers with a flat out, "yes." we all started to laugh.

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."

big smile.

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

High Speed

soooo... with the coming of the long awaited landline, comes somewhat of a tranformation to the small munipality that I'm living in. One of them, Facebook has taken on a life of its own! I literally have over a hundred Facebook friend requests from students sitting in my friend request box. (which will be accepted in October, when I'm not your teacher :) )

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

and the Oscar goes to...

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

Fact: Chow King has the best halo halo.

Halo halo.

Can I say its changed my life in the most serious tone and not be over dramatic? I guess if you say it like "an angel's halo" you may think I'm referring to some type of religious epiphany or something. That may deserve a "changed my life" statement. But then if you say it like I mean it, "hollow, hollow" you would have to find out that I'm referring to a shaved ice dessert, and yes... yes, that would be over dramatic. Ha, whatever, it's the love of my life!

Halo halo means "mixed-mixed," and that is exactly what it is. You start with a foundation of crushed/shaved ice. Then you traditionally add evaporated milk, but if you like it sweet, just pour on the condensed milk. Then the mix-mix comes in. If you have the jackfruit, add the jack fruit. If you have the nata de coco (really stiff jello type material) throw it in. Why wouldn't you had some red beans or corn in if you have it lying around? Buko (young coconut) is delightful on halo halo. And if you throw in the buko, don't forget banana and rice krispies and leche flan... oh the leche flan!! And then, to really make it "fiesta halo halo," go ahead and throw on a scoop or two of ice cream on top.

The funny thing, no cherry on top! Ha, I know, beans and corn galore, but I've never seen a cherry on a halo halo. Weird!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

what's on my mind

a. 78 days till i come home. b. i wish i had a can of chocolate frosting in the refridgerator right now. c. they play doogie howser here once a week, and i love it. d. i can't imagine the last two years without having michael jackson, taylor swift, and lady gaga in them. e. if you want to change the world, wear a condom and volunteer to read a book to a kid everyday. f. georgia or florida? g. do i take the plane ticket to america or the cash in lieu? h. i came to the philippines a young 22 and will leave an ancient 25. i. graduate school right away or finally work in an american classroom for the first time to gain experience? j. i want me some tijuana flats. k. it's the rainy season here, and so the mold grows, and then the allergies come to life. l. i like that i get a text from the postmaster whenever i get mail. m. rambutan. look it up, love it. n. no, the classrooms here are not airconditioned, and some of them don't have electricity. o. i love glee. p. australia is supposed to be needing english teachers. q. i have way too much laundry that needs to be done and not enough sunshine to dry it all. r. any leads on public schools hiring a "hard working, optimistic, committed to the job, returning peace corps volunteer" in the florida/georgia area after the holiday break? s. i need to sit down and write my description of service. t. if fazoli's is closed, where do you eat lunch after vbs? u. from my room right now, i can hear a group of people walking from house to house singing a prayer and playing guitar. v. facebook has taken over the town i live in. w. here you still say things like, "give my regards to so-and-so." x. i'm excited to be able to drive again... but not so excited to pay for gasoline and car insurance. y. this week my mom reminded me that i'm going to have to stop calling airconditioning "aircon" and after going to thailand with my friends i realized i can't hiss at waiters to get their attention anymore nor can i use my teeth to open plastic bags as has become the norm for me. z. ha, yep, hissing and using my teeth to open things, i am so classy folks!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Shut Up and Dance

I'm a white girl who can't dance. I know, stereotypes are bad... but sometimes they're true, and the one that says that white people can't dance accurately describes me. I don't have the beat and I don't have the rhythm; I mean I can barely stumble through the electric slide. I never used to dance in America, but here in the Philippines it's not the worst thing in the world.

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. :)