After a crazy long 38hr journey across the pond, beyond excited and somewhat tired Transy students arrived in the Philippines. Over the few days that we have been here we have been having many exciting jeepney and trike rides (local transportation), rocking out to some karaoke, learning about the health and business concerns of our neighbors… and we even painted a local school (and ourselves) a delightful shade of “pepto-bismol” pink.
During our three weeks in the Philippines we will be working with an organization on Mactan Island called Island Ventures; this organization is a major asset for the surrounding communities helping local businesses schools and government organizations.
Yesterday we worked all day to paint a local school and while tiring, the result was very transforming for the appearance of the school and appreciated by all. We went with the intention to paint a school for a local community, but we had no idea the thanks we would receive. All of the school children and teachers came out, from their summer break, to stay with us throughout the day. The children played with us, helped with painting, and graced us with several flower crowns, bracelets and necklaces. The presence and conversations with the students and staff would have sufficed, but they also threw us a huge thank you presentation after the completion of the project. Just for the efforts of our labor, each class got on stage and danced for us, presented us with thank you necklaces, and prepared an amazing feast for our hungry tummies.
For our main project we have been split into business and health teams compiling surveys and questions for community members and businesses. Today was the first day we actually had the opportunity to interview the businesses and communities we have been preparing for. In the coming weeks we will be working to create training sessions and materials that may be helpful for the long term goals of the businesses and health and environmental concerns of the residents of Mactan.
Our team is excited to greet all that is to come with these projects… so pay attention to the rest of the coming entries if you want to know more about our exciting projects!
The Philippines are amazing! We are all learning so much and having so much fun and experiencing the culture here. In particular, we have been learning a lot about the environmental health here. The Public Health team has been working with the head of the health department of Lapu-Lapu City, Dr. Berame, and with community health workers to gather health data in one community, and to educate them about certain environmental health hazards. With a Filipino translator, who are either staff of Island Ventures or members of Young Men and Young Women's Outreach Corps, we go from house to house and ask questions about water source, stagnant water, pets, and garbage pick-up, to name a few. The people have been so welcoming to us, and are so open with us about the problems they face as well as the things that go well for them. They are so friendly, and it is wonderful to be in a community where people are so accepting despite the fact that we are foreigners!
We are also learning a lot about patience! The original survey we started with had a few problems because of the differences in this community and the area that was surveyed the last time a group from Transy came to the Philippines. We had to work through some of our difficulties, but in the end we have a much better survey because of those struggles!
We are also working diligently on education programs. The director of the health department here, Dr. Berame, wants us to develop a lesson for the people of the community in which we are surveying. We are going to go over things like proper garbage disposal and recycling, how to eliminate standing water (to destroy mosquito breeding grounds), and prevention of STDs. Our survey data are informing our lesson plans, and we hope that we can leave a long-lasting impact on the community here.
Well, after a week in the Philippines, I feel that I can say without a doubt that we are spending our May Term with the happiest, friendliest, and most gracious people imaginable. Everywhere we go, people wave and say hello, and many even ask to take their pictures with the 'white-faces'.
Our work here is really starting to come together; the Economics team hosted a seminar yesterday for some local businesses in order to teach them how to use accounting ledgers to track the expenses and inventory of their stores. On Monday, we will begin working with the Lapu-Lapu City Health Officer, Dr. Barame, on surveying even more local businesses in order to find out how they keep track of things on this side of the pond. We are learning a lot from them and are really getting a feel for their culture, I think.
It's not all work-work-work around here, though. Last night we found time for some fun at a discotheque on a neighboring island. We took some of our young translators with us and everybody danced the night away Filipino-style! The group is having a blast getting to know each other better and tonight we are going in pairs to stay with families in the neighborhood, which should be very interesting. They will take us to Mass in the morning (which I can tell you from last Sunday is very neat to experience in Cebuano, the local language) and maybe even to the beach! Here's hoping!
Rebecca Pasco and Megan Cleveland:
The past couple days have been anything but dull, here in Lapu squared. While conducting an environmental health survey for the Public Health team, a family offered for me to take their youngest, a five year old boy, back to America with me. While everyone laughed, I could only produce an awkward giggle. We joke about taking the beautiful Filipino babies home in our luggage, I was not prepared for it to become a reality. Don't worry mom, I declined the offer. Later the same day, I managed to make a child cry. The mother informed me he was frightened of me. It happened at the next house, too. Go figure.
Today we traveled out of the Island Venture Bubble and into the Cebu City. We visited the San Pedro Fort, one of the original spanish homes, and eventually a Taoist Temple in the Beverly Hills of Cebu (literally). The silence and serenity was definitely a change from the squealing of 14 girls and Brandon we usually hear. No worries, I only fell down five of the 94 temple steps. Luckily, Katie and Megan were there to laugh at me.
Good news for all the ladies, we had some mall time today. Not so good for Brandon who was a good sport about following a pack of girls around for 2 hours. I must admit, he was a great advisor on dresses and knock-off purses. The mall trip was wrapped up with a home favortie, a grande mocha from Starbucks.
It was nice to have a tourist day in the middle of a busy work week. Tomorrow we're all getting down to business wrapping up our projects. It will be amazing to see the changes and good that comes of all our hard work. No worries, we'll be home in a week and two days.
Elizabeth Anne Woods:
Where have the last three weeks gone? It seems like just yesterday our 36 hour journey ended and we landed in the Philippines. However, in just a few days we will again be going back to the states. After all the experiences we have been having I wonder how I will think and view things differently when I get back to the United States. Will I be conscious about the poverty in the world and try to use my money to help those in need or will I again return to my materialistic ways and buy things because I want them not because I need them?
I think my favorite part of the trip besides helping the Filipino people and learning about their culture has been the trip we took to Panganan Island. It was so gorgeous and untouched there. I have never been to a place so beautiful in my life. It was not only beautiful because of the scenery but also because their way of life was so simplistic and easy. There was no pollution in the air or trash on the ground. Everyone seemed to know each other and to help and care about their neighbor. I may want to move there one day!
My homestay was awesome! The people I stayed with were very kind and accommodating. We talked forever and took a night walk on the beach where we gathered seashells and sand dollars. Then we slept on a bamboo like cot. We woke up in the morning to the sounds of roosters crowing and radios blaring and had a wonderful Filipino breakfast. Another wonderful part of the trip to Panganan was the boat ride. Several of us laid on the front of the boat and it was so exciting because waves would splash us and we would scream and laugh.
In the last few days I have the opportunity to be in the Philippines I plan to talk to as many Filipino people I can and experience as much of their culture as possible. I have come to love this place and its people, especially the children, and I do not look forward to leaving in many ways. I not only came here to do service for the people, but also to learn from them and their culture. I plan to make the latter the focus of my last few days in paradise.