“Hope I don’t look like a fool…” Name that movie. As I sit here in my apartment, it’s a balmy
74 degrees (Thank you Mom, for the thermometer!) The past two weeks have felt much cooler than
before. It could be that the worst has
passed or it could be that I’m getting used to it. I doubt the latter. My northeast US upbringing has certainly not
conditioned my blood for these temps. So
I’m a horrible blogger. I feel bad that
I haven’t updated y’all in over two months. I’d like to say that it’s because my summer
has been insanely busy (and it has), but there have been a few slow days. However, a whole bunch of those slow days
have consisted of me, lying on my concrete floor because it’s too hot to move
or think. (Unfortunately even the
concrete’s hot, but anyways…)
Nonetheless, here I am now. So
let’s see, where did I leave off?
Well the school year wrapped up in the end of March. I got to make quick trip down to La Trinidad
to see my first host brother graduate high school, which was pretty great. It was the same school we trained at, so it
was a bit nostalgic going back. The
first week of April was Holy Week, so my friends and I took a trip to
Marinduque, an island south of Luzon, for the Moriones Fiesta. Moriones (today) are these men who dress up
in elaborate costumes with masks, like warriors almost. It’s a pretty big tradition there, and it was
really fun to experience. Yet another
unique cultural experience of the Philippines.
One thing that I really appreciate about this country is that it can be
super diverse with its traditions and ways of life from one place to the
next. Not at first glance, but once you
get in deeper, it’s there for sure. So I
find myself always pleasantly surprised, traveling from one place to another.
The following weekend, several volunteers and myself took an
overnight hike up Mt. Pulog (poo-log… try not to laugh) in Benguet. It is the 2nd highest mountain in
the country, following Mt. Apo in Mindanao.
However, due to security reasons, we PCVs aren’t allowed to go to
Mindanao, so this was a perfectly good alternative. And man, I am so glad I went! We began our hike late at night and reached
the summit at 4am. I’ve never seen so
many stars, or stars so bright in my entire life. I need to go back again. Take another route. We got to see the sunrise above the clouds,
take some amazing pictures, and then hike down seeing everything for the first
time. Pretty amazing, and I’m super
excited to go back at some point.
Right after that, we had a week of Language Camp in La
Trinidad. Great to see other volunteers
again, and really great to work on my Ilokano more. We were all able to clear up questions about
language we do and don’t hear at site, practice with our original language
tutors, and with each other. It was
definitely beneficial. I just wish we
could do it every six months. Anyways
after that week it was sooo nice to return home for a few weeks. I facilitated at a youth camp nearby for a
day, judged a beauty pageant, and gave a mini-presentation regarding my
freshman orientation to the Dep Ed division office. It was pretty exciting, and the first time I
had ever done anything like that! Very
The beginning of May, I took a trip down to Manila for some
MAJOR research. The Peace Corps office
has a library with books on all sorts of things, so I was able to work on my
remedial reading program, my English club, freshman orientation, grant
proposals, etc etc. Plus… free
printing! AND the fastest internet since
I’ve stepped on American soil. I’d click
the mouse and suddenly be at the next webpage.
I forgot what it was like. So it
was sooo incredibly productive; I left feeling fantastic.
The FOLLOWING week (sheesh!) my friend and I held a teacher
training in Lagawe, Ifugao, at the office of another PCV who lives there. Based on classroom management and (for lack
of a better term) child management. That
sounds bad, but my melting brain can’t think of a more eloquent way to put
it. Anyways it went so well and was such
a success, that they asked if we’d do the training again at another of their
sites! Also if we’d partner with them in
the future, as well! Yeah yeah!
Next up was an HIV/AIDS Workshop down in Baguio, so another
lovely excursion to pleasant weather for a week. Thank goodness. It was amazing. The training was really awesome, too. Its focus was on how to create and facilitate
HIV/AIDS awareness programs. It’s a huge
problem in the Philippines. This is one
of only five countries in the world that still has an infection rate growth of
over 25% per year. The statistics are
crazy scary, and public knowledge of the disease itself is very poor. So I’m hoping to begin some work at my site
with local projects, working with the health department and nearby universities
to get something going. Peace Corps has
allotted each of the workshop participants with funds to do such activities, so
as long as I can organize such things and write up grants (which, please, let’s
be real), the money is right there. So
it’s very promising.
Then, da da da daaaaaa!
It was time for the grand finale of my summer, my freshman
orientation! Monday we had a training
for the upperclassmen facilitators, and Tuesday to Wednesday was the program
itself! It was such a hit; my PCV friend
was my partner in crime on this one. She
did a ton of the organizing and development of it all as well, and we worked
really well together. There were 55
students that attended, and (almost) everything went smoothly! We have a lot of notes and good feedback from
student surveys and a debriefing with the facilitators, so next year’s will be
even better! Our goal is to bring it to
her site, too, and possibly expand this one in my town, Lamut. But we shall see. That’s for another time. Lots to look forward to now, for sure!
Maybe my lack of updates has been somewhat due to the fact
that this is all my reality now, and a lot of it doesn’t seem so new and
exciting as it did before. Yesterday I
was spit on by the jeepney driver sitting in front of me, when his loogey came
back through the window after it was projected from his moma-chewing
mouth. (Google moma, aka betelnut. Not while you’re eating, though) Yup.
Inspired me to splurge on some Pringles.
I hardly ever buy American brand merchandise or food, because it is
grossly overpriced and I can’t afford it.
But I figured after being spit on I deserved a little bit of a
I STILL haven’t finished painting my apartment, and it’s
driving me nuts. It has just been so
incredibly hot. It might only be 74 now,
but it has to be 100% humidity, because it feels like 90+ ALL.THE.TIME. So I feel uber lazy for not having finished
it yet, but there’s no motivation to be so uncomfortably hot. Mehhh.
Oh well. Rainy season is on its way—it
rains most evenings/nights here now, so it’ll start cooling off a bit, I
hope. It’s going to look really
awesome. I just gotta get on it.
Anyhow, that’s it for today, I think. Two more days of summer, time to get
everything together for the new year!
Hope all’s well back home! I’ll
do my best to not be such a stranger!