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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Q & A & My first water bill

Recently, I just answered a few questions from the students of Ms. Damon's AP Human Geography class at Stillwater Junior High School (SJHS) in Stillwater, MN.  Before departing the United States last summer for the Philippines, I signed up to be part of the World Wise School Program.  It's a program where it allows a volunteer like myself to be connected with a school in the U.S.  SJHS is the school I will be in contact with.  Here's a link to the Q&A I answered for them; just scrool down to view the entire Q&A.

My first water bill came to me last week and my eyes & ears couldn't believe it when I was told it was over a thousand pesos.  It was p1098, which is pennies in the United States, but I receive my stipend in pesos and I thought this was only going to be p200-p300.  I was lucky I saved and this wasn't a problem.  The reason it was so high is because I had my water pressure turned up.  My landlord suggested that I turn off the water pressure, if I know I am going to be away from my apartment for more than a couple of hours.  Hopefully, this will do the trick. I'll keep my fingers crossed.  Tommorow, I am off to the beach with friends and Sunday, I'll run in another 5k run. Ingat na.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Apartment Living

After five & half months living with two gracious host families, it’s now time for me to step out on my own.  My apartment is new and when I stepped into my apartment, it smelled like paint because it was just painted by the landlord’s son, Manny.  It was also dirty, I had to get on my hands & knees & scrub the floor because there was so much dirt.  I’ll have to do that now & then because my sandals & my bike scoop up dirt from the streets better than a vacuum cleaner.  I got a broom to sweep the dirt away, but these tile floors need more than sweep.  Currently, the bottoms of my feet are black, but don’t worry I keep them clean.  Below are pics of my place.

So far, I’ve just made easy meals like rice, pasta, Pancit canton (ready-made noodles-just add hot water & cook 5 min) and oatmeal (I add different fruits to my oatmeal).  I addition to oatmeal, my other saving grace for breakfast has been & will be pandasal (dinner rolls), but better and fresh out of the oven from a bakery shop less than a five minutes from my front door that makes them on the spot; they’re delicious and just 10 pesos (less than a quarter).  However, I want to learn to cook pancakes and even try cooking local Filipino cuisine like talon (eggplant).  Hopefully, I’ll tell you more cooking stories of those & other recipes I’ve received in future blogs. 
Before I get to eggplant, I have to master the basics first.  This is a plate of my pasta that I cooked a few days ago.  This was delicious, this picture doesn't give it enough justice.  No laughing.  Joklong (just kidding).  It did taste good though, but you're right I could use more sauce.  Thanks to everyone who provided recipes.

Teaching is something I haven't been doing this past week.  In fact, these past few weeks have been busy as our school is getting ready to announce who is Mr & Mrs Kalalake, which will take place today.  There is a dance number that all the students have been practicing, but looking from their performance, it looks like they were just forced out there, but some of them are actually good dancers.  All the other students who aren’t in the dance just skip class & watch, which makes my job harder because I’m trying to get the students’ attention while they’re watching the dance practice.  I told them they had an opportunity to join, but they just want to fool around. 

Yesterday, two of my four classes got cancelled because of dance practice, which I believe should be done after school or on the weekends.  This reminds me too much of sports fest last year where everyone says they want to practice, but they really just want to get out of class.  The solution to this is difficult, but I would like to start a Physical education program or something after school or even before school, similar to zero hour, which I had at my high school, but never signed up for.  The physical education program is just a concept in my head. 

The other day I heated my water not for coffee, but to shave.  I was reading my friend's blog and his host family told him that you should always shave with warm water.  Well I missed the boat on this piece of news too when I was younger.  Anyway I tried and that feels good to the face.  It reminds of being at the barber shop.  Now every time I shave, I will heat my water & dip my razor in it for a better shave.  I recommend trying it out if you don't already do so. Ingat na.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Eve & Christmas Photos

Below are photos from my first Christmas & New Year's Eve here in the Philippines.  I had a great time & it will be tough going back to school tomorrow, but I'll manage. 
This is picture of Aja, Carmen & myself eating Pizza at Cafe Espresso in SBMA (Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority) on Christmas Eve. The pizza tasted delicious.  We ate with 6 other people as well.  All total, 5 Peace Corps Volunteers & 4 from other countries.

When I saw an opening to get across the street to get a pic of Subic Bay in the background, I had to go for it.  After this photo I am heading towards Subic for Christmas Day.  In the Philippines, all the action takes place on Christmas Eve. Christmas is business as usual.  So I got out the bike and rode from Olongapo City to Subic.  It was an hour bike ride that was mixed with hills and urban city bike riding.  I loved it and plan on doing it again.

The pictures above are from my friend's Aja's site in Subic, who is in green in the picture above.  In the photo lighting the candles is Jessa and she is from batch 268, the Peace Corps Volunteer to the left is Pa and she is from batch 269.  The picture to the right is our homemade meal, devil's eggs, potato pancakes, and chili.

Back to Dinalupihan
To followers of this blog, these people may look familiar; they're my training host family. The bottom right is Ate Loida, her daughter to the left and smiling, Irisz and her friend.  Another family is sitting right next to me.

Sitting next to me at her training site in San Benito, a Barangay and 5 min walk from my training site is Phyllis, my cluster mate.  It was nice seeing her again.  Her site is six hours south from Dinalupihan in Los Banos.  She teaches at a University down there.

The photos above are of Phyllis and myself walking on the trail and taking adavantage of a gorgious day outside.

The photos above are of my host sister Irisz, host dad Kuya Rolly, & host brother Aldwin waiting in anticipation for the duck to cook.  It's a tradition here in the Philippines to have a main course at midnight, however I can't speak for every family in the Philippines.  That's it for now.  Happy New Year and welcome 2012; it's going to be a busy year. Ingat na.