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Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, a Spelling Bee and a New Bike

First, to all my family and friends in the United States and elsewhere in the world, Happy Thanksgiving.

I am Thankful this year for being placed close to volunteers I can work with and I am in a peaceful environment.  I also give thanks to those back home who had second thoughts of me coming here, but trusted my instincts and eventually supported my decision.  Finally, I am thankful for coming from a country (U.S.) that allows me to do this.  Not every country has a program where citizens can serve their country on foreign soil and see different parts of the world.   Furthermore, I am thankful to the Peace Corps for choosing me along with 54 other volunteers in my batch to represent the U.S. in this beautiful country.

Ok, let's eat.  Pictured below was some of the helping I had.  The Lola (Grandma) in my family had her birthday and cooked a feast.  Speghetti, Beef, Shanghei rolls, Chicken Gordon Bleu, cole slaw & fruit salad.

This is Rianne, she lives next door and is the daughter of Barangay Kaptain (they don't use the letter c in the Philippines-the letter isn't even in the Philippine dictionary except for English dictionaries.) 
She is two and saluting.  I thought this was cute and had to take a shot. 

Before my Thanksgiving meal, my fellow volunteers and I hung out at Starbucks for a Frapaccino or whatever they call their cold drinks.  From left to right; Steve Sierra (myself), Kevin Matlock II, Rachel Kooy (Kevin's wife), and Lucy Craft.

The Spelling Bee
Yesterday, one of the students I coached this week participated in a spelling bee, which represented the school I am volunteering at, Kalalake National High School.  Moments before the spelling bee I was nervous.  My hands were sweaty and I had a look and feel of frantic as if I was going on stage for the spelling bee.  Luckily, the student I'm coaching didn't feel that way or at least didn't show it.  Now, I know how a coach or parent feels right before a performance.  Part of you is on stage in the body of a much younger person.  For me that person was Carlei Gomez.  Age 12.

I am proud of her, she gave the best she could.  It takes a lot to be the sole representative of your class representing the school.

Last week, I bought a new mountain bike for about 1/3 the cost it would be in the United States.
She rides great.  Tomorrow morning, I'll take her up the hills and see how she rides long distance. 

Next week is game 3 of our basketball series with Columban College High School.  Last week we played two games against them.  We lost the first one, but won the next day.  We had to play with one less player because he was 18 and this league is for 17 & younger.  The winner of next week advances to play another school in the best of 3.  The other goes home.  Next post you'll find out the result.  Ingat na!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Made a visit to the dead then traveled to Manila

In the last blog I told you about why November 1st is so special here in the Philippines.  Below are some photos from that day.  The line going to the cemetery is at least two miles long.  It was a long hike up the stairs, but when we arrived we had a great time.

Ok, it's taking forever to upload so just go to my facebook page to see the photos.  A few days later I made a bus trip to Manila for the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary at the Mall of Asia.  First, I made a visit to the office thinking I could see my regional manager for a few things, but that wasn't going to happen since everyone that was participating in the event was meeting there.  After my brief office visit, I took the LRT & MRT trains to get to meeting I had in Quezon City.  The LRT & MRT are equivalent to the Red, Blue, Orange & Green line trains in downtown Chicago and run about the same speed as those trains as well.  The meeting was about a possible partnership with a school I went to in the U.S., Dale Carnegie Training.  I want to do a leadership program with the students, but this could get expensive for the school if they go with this company, so I will improvise and make my own program.  To be continued on this one..  Anyone with any ideas for this or programs on this, please pass them onto me.

For dinner, I ate at a Mexican restaurant with some friends called Chiwawas.  I liked the the place because it's the one type of food that I've missed the most and I saved some of the food for breakfast the next day. 

On Friday, November 4, was the event at the Mall of Asia and it was great seeing friends that I trained with back together only for a short time, but a great time.  The Mall of Asia is huge, too huge in fact to see the whole thing in one visit.  After seeing everyone, I had to go back to Olongapo City that night because the US Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams along with the Philippine Country Director Denny Robertson were making a visit to my city the next day.  I've met the Philippine Country Director plenty of times, but this was my first time meeting the US Peace Corps Director, director of Peace Corps in all countries we serve.  He is a very nice man and served as Peace Corps Volunteer himself. 

On Tuesday, it was back to school and again I taught solo again.  I think I'll be teaching a lot by myself so I wasn't surprised.  Just like the first time, the first year students were rough and 2nd year students-not as rough.  Every job as it's growing pains.

Yesterday for the first time, I coached solo and our team won 73-53.  The players were leaders themselves by calling out plays in tagalog.  They made me look like a king.  All I did was bring the water for them to drink during the game.  We're 6-0 now.

Watching Manny win & Apartment hunting
My family bought the pay per view we saw Manny Pacquio vs Juan Manuel Marquez.  I saw the bout as a draw.  I think each fighter had six rounds.  At best was Pacquio by two, but I would've called this a draw.  After the fight I walked down several blocks in my neighborhood for an apartment when I move out next month.  I found a few good ones, but I am still looking around.  Until the next post, ingat na.