Friday, May 29, 2009

Biliran photos

Co-volunteers. I love these girls!
Can you count all the cariboa?

Hable Hable in Biliran

Small rice terraces in Biliran


A very busy couple of weeks at the center. The last 2 weeks or so I have basically been trying to keep the kids engaged and learning at the same time. It still baffles me how difficult that can be! It has made me learn so much about teaching...hard stuff. I've realized that the best part about it is just having the kids around. They have so much energy and are so much fun to hang out with, even when we are not doing technical lessons, there is always a form of teaching involved. I've really fallen in love with these kids, I feel like they are a mix of my children and my best's been really hard telling them that I'm leaving. I'm going to miss them so much! But most of all I just worry about what they will do all day without a volunteer around to keep them entertained. In the last couple of weeks they have brought in a music teacher which is great. Nelbert, Renalto and Raniel have been learning to play and it's really fun to see them progress and work hard at it.

Yesterday (Friday) was technically my last day at the center, even though I am going to stop by and hang out for a couple of hours today. I took 11 of the boys to the movie theater in town to see XMen Wolverine. They had never been to a theater before so it was a very exciting experience! Not only that, but I think most of the boys that came haven't even stepped out of the center for a couple of weeks, so any time they can go out to do an activity is always fun and new. In the theatre they blast the air conditioning, which I love and could live in, but it was hilarious how cold the boys were! As soon as we were in the theatre it was like a different world, freezing cold and pitch black...we walked in all loud and stumbling over each other laughing...way too much fun.

It was too bad that all the boys couldn't come, but 5 of the older ones who I've grown close to got in trouble last weekend for sniffing rugby out back. It's basically like sniffing glue and getting a pretty good high off it...but so bad for you, and It's exactly what we are working to stop. It's also sad because someone from outside the center supplied it for the boys. It puts me in a hard position because they all tell me about it and laugh about how fun it was...and I feel like I'm in the position that we are friends; that's why they confide in me, but I also can't condone them sniffing rugby. So I play a little middle-man and tell them about how it's killing their brain and all that stuff, in all seriousness...I really don't know how much that gets through to them though. I am just SO concerned about them when there is no one there for them to hang out with, there is little to zero adult interaction and no parental example so these kids are literally raising themselves. It makes me feel a little better that they are starting school on Monday, so about half of them will be there during the day to keep them out of the center and distracted doing something else. Hopefully learning...but the public education system here is still questionable to me.

Last weekend I went over to Cebu and took a bus to Moalboal which is pretty nice, not as great as I thought, the one beach there was beautiful...but way crowded with locals, which I wouldn't mind if every single one of them wasn't staring at me every time I stood up and sat down, asking to take my picture or pose in a picture with them, and wanted to know about my family and religious background. When there are literally hundreds of eyes on you it will make you a little insecure. I almost feel like I might know how it feels to be a celebrity...and I am no Paris Hilton.

After that I headed back to Cebu city and went to Ayala Center, which is a HUGE shopping mall where I had...hold your breath...Starbucks. Walking through the mall and drinking real coffee felt a lot like home, not sure if it was a good thing or not. Got to do a little shopping and met a nice guy from Kuwait who joined me for dinner. We had a nice time talking and laughing, did the "good to meet you thing" and I went home early for the night before heading back to Ormoc and the center Monday morning. I can't get over the deals you can get here...for a whole weekend of tourist-ing, traveling, shopping and eating with almost no regard to prices, I spent about 70 USD.

So now I am about to spend my last weekend here in Ormoc before heading back to Cebu City to tour around and then up to Malapascua Island for a few days. I hear its really wonderful there, and there are some great dives to see. Yes, I am 90% sure I am going to get dive certified. The Philippines is suppose to have the best diving in the world, I don't think I can miss out! I excited to see more of the Visayas for the next couple of weeks. Wish me luck!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Weekend

So I have been coaching the boys at the center for a little basketball tournament that they participated in. It is just a little 3 on 3 tourny, but they kind of asked me to be their coach since they had seen me shoot around and play a little pick up with them at the center. So I did...or tried to, not knowing Bisaya is quite the challenge when you are trying to tell the kids what to do. was awesome. Definetly one of the most fun things I have got to do with the kids. Individually they are pretty goods players, they are just missing basic concenpts (i.e. defense) to really keep up with the other teams we played. One of the kids on the team speaks English better than the rest of them so when I would coach she would translate for me.
We had a game Friday night at 7 o'clock, which actually started at 8 because of the ever popular excuse; "Filipino time" which I don't know if could ever get used to, and our other game was Sunday night. The boys on the were team really were excited to play and wanted to practice with me, so I decided to stay in Ormoc this weeked and went in Saturday and Sunday morning to give them some practice. Even though we ended up losing both games, it was a ton of fun. It was the older group of boys who played (13-17) so many times, they arn't big on hanging out with the volunteers or participating, so it was a great way to hang out with them and they really would listen and respect what I had to say since I was a basketball player for such a long time. It really gave me a way to connect with the kids, and after the game we went down to the plaza (Ormoc city center) and hung out for a couple hours, just talked and laughed and hung out. Turns out that one of the funnest weekend I've had here consisted of hanging out with teenage boys who don't speak English...who woud have thought?

Holy Caribou

Ormoc City
Beach in Padre Burgos

On the empty multi-cab, our "limo" for about 5 minutes until it was packed again

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

2 weeks

I've realized I only have about 2 weeks left at the center, and I can hardly believe it. I feel like I am falling in love with the kids more and more everyday, only to leave them in a couple weeks. They are so much fun to hang out with, play games and try to teach some lessons...although many times unsuccessfully.
Saturday we had a thing referred to as saturation. In Ormoc there is a mandatory 10 o'clock curfew for children 17 and under if you are without an adult, and many times this is broke by children who are there for a variety of reasons. Some of them have no where to go, are abandoned and live on the streets, many times doing drugs or stealing to try to keep them self ahead. Others are there to just be out at night to hang out and drink with their friends, some are runaways, and I just found out that about half of the females are picked up for child prostitution. Most of the boys I work with are there because they have been abandoned by their parents, or their parents can't financially take care of them so they live at the center, which literally gives them just enough to survive. As in food, water, shelter and that's it. They do provide them with an education which is about $40 a year.
Other are there because they have committed minor crimes, caught doing rugby which is basically sniffing glue, or they were found on the streets begging. Meeting the kids you wouldn't think that there backgrounds were so unfortunate, because they are generally very good kids, who just want someone to hang out with and give them some attention. That is basically what I've been trying to do is just be there to play and show them a good time. It is also really unfortunate because despite of the unnecessary amount of staff there during the day, (literally like 15 employees) they have little to no interaction with the kids. If it wasn't for all the volunteers from abroad the kids wouldn't only have nothing, they would have no one.
Fortunately it is summer here, so the kids are not in school, and when school starts back up many of the kids will be there during the day, so that will keep them busy somewhat.
Today I did a mini geography lesson which consisted of continents, oceans, and some Southeast Asian countries, then spent the rest of the time playing basketball and dancing. We have a little speaker that we've attached an MP3 into so they love dancing to "Low", "Soulja boy" and "Saby Saby Tayo".
On Friday a few of the older boys are competing in a mini basketball tournament so I am working on teaching them some simple concepts. We'll see how it goes.
Now the rest of my Wednesday will be spent trying to put together mini lessons for the rest of this week and next. Any suggestions feel free to let me know! I need as much help as I can get!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Dalutan Island

May Day weekend

Spent this last weekend hanging out in Ormoc, it is one of our volunteers last weekend here, so we all decided to stay and hang out in town. Turned out to be a really good time
Friday night we got a room at Zenaidas for P800 a night and went to a karaoke bar down the street, drank Red Horse and sang all night. When we're out and about its impossible to keep to yourself, there is always an unnecessary amount of unwanted attention because we're foreigners. I'm all about meeting new people and making friends, sometimes it's just a little awkward. At the bar a table about 5 meters in front of us literally turned their chairs completely around, with their backs to the stage so they could watch us...its funny but pretty uncomfortable after awhile. Every time one of us would go up on stage there would be like a hush over the entire bar, so they could listen to us sing. It's pretty funny because they think we're good because we sing with American (and Swedish) accents. I met a (wo)man named "Shakira", not sure if that was real name or not, since every sing that s...he karaokeed to was Shakira, which was pretty hilarious.
The rest of the weekend was nothing too special. Saw a 44 kilo brought to the house strapped to the back of a motorbike, hang out in the yard, killed, gutted and ate right in front of my face, all the while Mariah Carey's greatest hits blared in the background.
I thought I would watch the killing of the pig...sick I know, but I really just thought that I should, I mean is happens every day in way worse inhumane ways and, and I am the one who benefits from the death of this animal, I should at least suffer a bit by having to watch it die.
So I did-or tried to- from a safe distance, but the 4 men it took to slaughter it insisted that I stand a meter away and take pictures. I tried to decline being that close, I was perfectly uncomfortable enough in my hiding place, but it is literally impossible to say no to an insistent Filipino, so yeah I took some pictures. Pretty sure it was more stressful for me then it was for the babe.
Turns out that wasn't the worst of it.
Not only was it insisted upon that I sit a meter away from the pork chop, they forced glasses and glasses of tuba (Filipino palm wine) down my throat. So when they gutted the pig it wasn't as disgusting watching its guts fall into a bucket as it would of been had I been sober. I don't take responsibility for this.
Surprisingly not only were the grilled liver and small intestine fresh, they were also quite good. Dipped in a little soy sauce, vinegar, calamansie (kind of like a lime) and chili's they tasted like, well pork, only better. Normally I am not too fond of pork, but hey, cut it straight out of freshly killed pig and grill it on an open flame, and-turns out, I'm all in.
Did I mention that Mariah Carey was playing the whole time, while grown Filipino men took turns singing "Hero" and "Day dream"? Made for a very interesting day.
Thought I had to share this story, it gave me a good look at something that is very normal in this culture, and very very foreign to me- from Mimi to pig liver.