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Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas, a Look Back & Happy New Year

It's Christmas Eve where I am at in Olongapo City and I am back to typing my posts at an internet cafe at least til school vacation is up,then it will be back at school since I am blessed that our school has wifi there where I can communicate with everybody.  My next post, I'll have photos of tonight's gathering of some Peace Corps Volunteers at a restaurant for Christmas Eve pizza. Yum!!  Tomorrow, I will be back at my host family's house where I stayed with for the past three months for Christmas. 

With moving in last Friday & this week, it's been hard to make time to write.  My one uneven table has too many things on it, I can barely get my laptop on there. Today's post will be one that I wrote in my journal in Dinalupihan (the spot I'll be headed to for New Year's Eve) on September 9, just before Swearing In as Peace Corps Volunteer.  I mention September 9 because that was the same date one of my Aunts' was writing to me as it had that day on the sheet of paper on top when I read it.  Pretty cool, huh.  We were were both writing at the same moment sort of.  For some reason, I was too late to translate this from paper to the computer, that's why it never printed.  However, I still love to journal when I can and I will continue to do that.  If you don't hear back from me before New Year's, Happy New Year!  Ingat na.

Reminiscing on the porch 9-9-11, 4:15 pm
I am sipping on Tsaa (tea) thinking about my times in Dinalupihan.  It’s pouring hard, but not hard where it doesn’t stop my pen from moving because I am on the porch and the roof is my umbrella stopping the rain.  The only reason I haven’t been out here as much is because of the mosquitoes.  They’re the ones that drive me into my room.   

I look up and see a lady walking under an umbrella.  Umbrellas are popular here regardless of the weather.  Whether it’s sunny or not, they always have shade.  I am starting to feel a drop, but nothing to keep me from moving.  I think about my times walking on the tulay (bridge) and seeing people see me & wave; I would wave & say a greeting such as Magadang umaga (good morning) or Magadang Hapon (good afternoon).   I’ll walk for a little bit tomorrow, but not on the trail unfortunately since I already packed up.  I’ll probably just walk around the Barangay.  Also, I can’t take a shower because I already packed my towel and I don’t want to pack a wet towel that will make my clothes stink.
I do remember arriving here in a sling and trying to wash clothes with that thing on.  I am glad & grateful my host mom Ate Loida helped me by washing my clothes.  It also helped that I wasn’t doing a good job & not doing it fast enough.  My ate said in Tagalog that the clothes were still marumi (dirty). 
Another reason I am writing now is because I am in my favorite spot in a rare moment where no one is home except Aldwin because he is sick.  It feels nice and quiet.  As I write I hear roosters, birds, thunder, with rain and a radio playing 80s music, along with sounds of the main street in the background (trikes, cars, and buses.)

I hope it stops before tomorrow’s Handog.  A Handog is a ceremony to honor the families for hosting the volunteers.  I wish they would just call it a fiesta so the families don’t feel obligated to stay that long.  I’ve been to two fiestas with my host family and the maximum they stayed at each was two hours, maybe.  Peace Corps wants us to stretch this to six from 8am-2pm.  My hope is that families come at different times and that the rain stops.

Another thing I will miss about my Barangay is the quaintness of this place.  In some ways this reminds me of Frankfort Square when I was growing up in the 80’s, kids playing in the street, neighbors talking to one another and local business (here it’s Sorry Sorry Stands) doing business as usual.  I hope it stays this way for a long time.  There some trouble spots, but for the most part, it’s safe.  Of course, I wouldn’t be here if things weren’t safe or there was a need for my services.  The Philippines used to import items they used to make, sound familiar?  That’s why education is so important here.

It’s 5:24 pm and normally that means nap time, but I am still alone and feel I have to take this opportunity and write until someone gets home.  Right now the neighbor’s radio blasted “Love Hurts” and that’s funny because that’s what if feels like for me now.  I am all packed up and ready to go, but it took me a couple of hours to get everything.  I’ll miss most of all the closeness of everything where it’s all just a walk or jeepney ride away.  The other day I lost my family’s umbrella and I took a jeepney ride  back to the palengke (market) and I was able to find it.  I’d rather pay 20 pesos (round trip ticket) than 100 pesos for a new one any day.  I’ll miss my cluster and my teachers.  Eva is the best LCF (language coordinating facilitator.  She takes initiative when there needs initiative.  For example, she was the first LCF to take us the palengke and she called PC to get us rain boots, which you need out here.  Sam is my TCF Technical coordinating facilitator and he gives me great tips on how to improve.  I would take his advice on anything.  My cluster mates are awesome as well; Katelin, Kevin, Phyllis and Julie.  Together, I believe we were the best education cluster in Bataan with the arguments I hear about in the other groups.  Our cluster gets along with each other.

It’s getting dark and I don’t feel like getting the light.  Even with all those misses, I still look forward to my new residence and adventures in New Kalalake, Olongapo City, Zambales at Kalalake National High School.  Ingat na (take care) 5:56pm, 9-9-11
Aldwin takes a picture of me that day writing in my journal.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hikes, Running & Moving Out

Although, I am moving out this coming Saturday, I will be coming to my host family’s house for Christmas.  I thought of traveling to Sagada, but I like the idea of staying with a family & seeing them open gifts.  I have the next 22 & half months to visit Sagada & the Rice Terraces.

Teaching Poetry
I’ve never taught Poetry before, but some of the poems I’ve read by my 2nd year students about the environment has inspired me to do something with them about environment.  The smoke from the buses, trikes, other vehicles makes the city feel like we have a coal plant here in Olongapo, which might happen too.  To be continued about the Coal plant.  But back to the students, I would like to take them to my friend’s site in Subic to learn about how to keep an area clean and my friend would bring some of the students from his community to my school.  Going to Bob's site would be an environmental camp, but it’s just in the preliminary stage now. However, I think the students would enjoy this immensely.  I’ll keep you posted on the status of this.

As mentioned before, I journeyed to my friend Bob’s site in Subic (which requires a half hour jeepney ride) and hiked up a mountain. Below are some of the photos from that day. His site is on farmland and reminded me of my training site in Dinalupihan, which I’ll be visiting again during New Years.
This is takbot. He came up with us on the hike too. Takbot is a strong little pup with an unfortunate abusive owner, but he likes Bob & I. Going up the hill, Takbot was even making steps with his feet to make it easier for us to climb.
 Bob, Albert and another member in Bob's community and I am in the middle.

This is the view from on top.  Don't worry, I haven't grown a blue tooth, that's just the camera.

Game 3 gone & forgotten
We lost game 3 by 20. Ouch!!  I bought the players some munchkins from Dunkin Doughnuts for their effort.  However, I should’ve waited, there’s another game for 3rd place going to happen soon.  The game was supposed to take place on Friday, but was postponed due to rain.  I don’t know when this will take place now.  

Red Cross 5K Run

Last Sunday I ran in a 5k run for the Red Cross and it was fun course, but like everything around here it started late, two hours late.  Luckily, we still got started at 7am and I was home by 7:30 in time for breakfast.  Below are pics from the run.
 To the left are two guys I don't know. The girl in front is Chelsey, who is now 12.  That day was her birthday.  In back is her Uncle and Barangay Kapitan Randy Sionzon with his son on the far right.

In the photos above are my students.  The first photo on your left is Abigail & Patricia from my I-5 class.  The photo to the right is Symon & Joseph from my I-6 class. 

The fellow standing next to me is Olongapo City Mayor James 'Bong' Gordon.  This Tuesday I will finally get to sit down with him along with three other PCVs to talk about our assignment here for the next 22 months.  This photo was after the race.

Moving Out
As I mentioned above, this is my last week with my host family.  I’ll miss them, but it will be nice to be on my own.  Everyday when I come home from school regardless of the time, I hear the song, "Teach me how to Dougie."  If you don't know the song, consider youself lucky.  On Saturday, I move in to my apartment just several blocks from here.  I’ll be riding my bike every day to school. 

Lunar Eclipse
Did anyone see it last night?  I did for a little bit, but it was very cloudy where I am at, so I didn't have the best view.   At times it looked like a glow n the dark ball, and that was a great sight.  Let me know in the comments section what it looked like in your part of the world.  Until next post, ingat na.