Archive | April, 2012

The forest

30 Apr

After just a van, a 90 minutes of lines, a half hour delay, 45 minutes of air time, another van, a mall and one last van, I have finally touched down in Gubat, which means Forest in Tagalog, my new home for the next 12 months. I plan to walk around tomorrow and aquaint myself with this amazing space. As I drove in, I couldn’t believe the colours in front of me. Bright yellow houses, blue office buildings, bright pink bus stops (waiting sheds) and of course the luscious green of palm trees in their natural environment with rice paddies, banana trees and grass grass grass everywhere!

I am not sure how I will face Manila again after living here. I had a serious moment last night of wondering how I would be able to handle all of this. I knew it would be hard, but it was heartbreaking to see people sleeping in the streets, children doing whatever it takes to get a peso from tourists and old ladies holding cups up to air conditioners to capture some drops of water. You see different levels of this kind of poverty all throughout the world, but the Filipino phenomena of endless shopping malls in every neighbourhood makes it so much more pronounced. This incredible level of poverty exists alongside the most empty kind of consumerism and I am not sure how to begin to deal with it.

The best way for now is to breathe in the beautiful provincial air, where the smells are so familiar even after nearly 10 years of being away and enjoy the huge smiles of the local people, especially when they hear my accent for the first time. I’m not sure I will ever stop enjoying that reaction.

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Blake's bday cake - perfect

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Pinoy skatepark in intramuros

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My first view of Mt Mayan

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My first dinner with the LGU - love them for all the vego options!!

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My baby 2nd cuz

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A few weeks of food supplies and about $30 excess baggage. Well worth it.

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Aside

Gratitude #1

29 Apr

Faced with the poverty in Manila and wondering what could have been my reality had people in my life not made the decisions they made, I am so grateful for the life I have led so far and the many opportunities that have led me to this place to take this on.

Managing expectations

24 Apr

Magangang Umaga! It is 8.30am on our 3rd day of in country orientation and we are all pretty pooped. We have had a LOT of information presented to us, lots of beer has been consumed by the group at large (and none by me… boo hating beer) and already, I am churning through my list of karaoke classics. I was doing my morning yoga practice earlier and heard a keen fellow resort stayer belting out a tune. What a way to start the day!

Our in country orientation has been underpinned by a key theme – manage your expectations. We can’t help but roll our eyes every time we hear this because it was the key theme of PDT too, and all our material they send us and all the communication we have with the other volunteers. Even though we are sick of hearing it presented to us, I have been thinking a lot about my expectations and know it is really useful to check them and check them again and change them and then check those a couple of times. We are trying not to have too many, but what a crock if you say you have none. Well, I guess nobody has really said that.

I expect I will be challenged a lot. And when I am, I expect I will hate life at the time, then look back on it fondly, hopefully write a hilarious blog post and be a witty dinner guest regaling my tale to the party. I expect the friendships I have made with the other intake 33 volunteers will get intense. We are all going through the same thing here, and in moments where we want to laugh at something Australians would laugh at, talk some shit and complain about how in Australia, it would be completely different (better?), it will be them I call upon and when we get home and the whole experience feels like a dream and our friends have heard the witty stories and don’t want to hear anymore, it will be them I will be with and know that it all really did happen. I expect that people will continue to speak to me in Tagalog assuming I am a local and laugh when I respond in English and we will have a glorious Tagalog English conversation and be able to completely understand each other and prove that there is a language of the universe. I expect to ride waves of total and utter happiness and crash down into foetal position and want to go home. And unfortunately, I expect I will be eating a lot of white rice when there are no other options.

Finally, I expect I will come back not necessarily a different person but in a completely different space because I have no idea how I could not. It’s weird, I prepared myself to leave Melbourne and come to live in the Philippines. But right now I am living in a resort, sharing a room with 4 of my gorgeous gals and being fed, told what to do, where to be, given money and plane tickets and am easily writing this post over a wifi connection. When I finish in-country orientation, I will need to go through all the mental preparation to leave this space and then, finally, I will go out to LIVE in the Philippines.

Sige, Babay for now.

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Our first girl group karaoke number... hey jude

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Blake and Ali bromance love song "I want it that way"

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One of our group exercises

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Tania's downtime

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More downtime

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Welcome AYADs!

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The view from our balcony!

Desperately seeking Billie Jean traffic cop

21 Apr

Mabuhay! Welcome to the Philippines!

Yes I have arrived and it is 35c, one of my least favorite temperatures. The air is thick with promise and humidity and I got over my minor freak out on the plane and am ridonkulously excited to have finally arrived after nearly 6 months of lead up.

It was an emotional few weeks of saying my see ya laters and goodbyes. I will miss Melbourne and eating whatever food I want, when I want, adding new words to my vocab weekly, talking shit, spooning and crisp morning yoga. But I’m here and I am ready to drink it in. Experiences like this always goes down smooth.

So we’ve checked into our hotel where we’re staying for 1 night. The yoga 4 have sussed out a class to take in the morning and on the agenda for this afternoon is yet more admin, getting a phone to go with my ayad sim, getting a micro sim to go with my iPhone and finding the Billie jean traffic cop and having a dance.

Miss you all already. Eat some haloumi cheese for me. I’m feeling a bit quesy from some questionable plane cheese and am not looking forward to a year without good Aussie dairy and questioning all the sauces used in every menu item

Til next time x KT

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