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Monday, November 12, 2012

Moving On

Just like the United States President Obama's campaign slogan; I have to move forward with the news I've been given by Peace Corps.  To most of the readers of this blog, you already know where I am at and it's not in the Philippines.

INBOX 
RE: October
On October 11, I suffered a seizure at my site Kalakake National High School (KNHS).  Two days later (Saturday), I was cleared to leave the hospital, but was told by the Peace Corps Doctor that I had to stay in Manila till the following Monday (Oct. 15), so they can consult with the Peace Corps main headquarters in Washington, DC.  As soon as I heard this, I started to worry about what they would say.  When I arrived back at the hotel, I took a walk along Manila Bay.  I recalled some memories of my stay in the Philippines.  Memories that occurred were trying to hand wash my clothes in the basement of my host family's house with a sling on my arm in Dinalupihan, Bataan during training to helping the girls & boys scouts do a cleanup along subic bay to teaching students about certain historical events such as September 11, 2001.
















As I write this, I realize there's been so much I haven't written that when I finally sit down in front of a computer to type an update for a blog, my memory can't keep up with what has happened.  The next morning (Sunday), I do remember eating a good breakfast at the Pancake House near the hotel, then took another walk along Manila Bay, but then realized I have to check out the Pasay Public Market, which I'd never took a visit to during my stay in the Philippines.  I bought a battery charger for my phone, a tank top, and some underwear.  I had worn the same pair for three days.  That's the Peace Corps budget for you.

The next morning I arrived at the PC Office early as I didn't sleep very well the night before even though I felt confident that I would be heading back to my site just like any other visit from Manila.  As I walked closer & closer to the office, my hands & feet were sweating waiting in anticipation.  In fact, they're both sweating now as I recall this.  I head to the PC nurse's office & she gets the PC Doctor to come in the office too.  Then, they both tell me that I would be (Medsep) medically separated from Peace Corps service due to my multiple seizures in the Philippines.

One of the PCVs I trained with before we became a PCV
Hearing the news was a shock & tough to handle even three weeks after landing in the U.S.  Furthermore, I couldn't travel back to my site to say goodbye or even go to my apartment to gather my things.  A PC Driver had to go pack my belongings from my apartment.  I had to say goodbye to my fellow teachers via skype, talk about fighting back tears, that was tough.  On top of that, I had to summarize my service in two pages for my Description of Service.  This is my first time to reflect on the hours leading up to hearing that decision.

After coming to realization that my time was ending in the Philippines, I made the most of it and sent a ton of texts out to friends saying goodbye.  There were many Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) from another batch leaving for the U.S. or other destinations that finished their two years of service.  I was lucky that some PCVs from my batch were heading to Manila for a meeting & were staying in Manila on my last night.  We went to a Cuban restaurant in the Greenbelt part of Manila called Cafe Havana.  I remember eating there during language camp with many PCVs and our Country Director.  Last time we ate inside, this time we ate outside & what a difference that was.  Not so much in the food, but in the surroundings.  It was a funny, but an awkward experience seeing old U.S. & foreign expats hitting on young Filipinas or most likely paying them to sit next to them.  Our table was the only one that didn't have an escort sitting at it.  It was awkward because I recommended the place, but I kept repeating throughout the night that we sat indoors last time.  Had I noticed earlier, I would've moved us inside.  It wasn't until a friend of a PCV who lives in Manila pointed out that this place was a hook up spot for rich foreigners.  We had already ordered our food & inside was filled up already.  Nonetheless, the food was excellent, I had a steak, and a desert in the shape of a cigar with chocolate inside.  Afterwards, we all walked around & took last photos.  I set my alarm for 3am, but then a hotel worker came into the dorm room & said my ride was here.  I looked at my watch and it was 4:10am, I was supposed to leave the hotel at 4am.  I just barely caught the plane.

The flight home was around 20-21 hours.  I'll admit feeling the cold air in Detroit when boarding the plane to Chicago felt great; I'm glad I wore my fleece because that air was brisk.  Arriving in Chicago and seeing my Dad for the first time in months, priceless.  We ate Mexican food an hour & a half later.  I think I ate that meal in about a minute.

NOW

Since then, I've been able to see family & friends that I haven't seen in quite awhile and I've even made new friends in the Epilepsy community in Chicago. I couldn't believe how much weight I lost, which was around 15 lbs.  I'm slowly gaining that back due to a new bakery shop in my neighborhood; it's very masarap (delicious in tagalog).

The toughest thing has been updating my resume.  The first resume & cover letter I sent out to a company was too rushed, but I'm getting the hang of it, but I'm going to have a lot of practice in the next few weeks.

NEXT

A few weeks ago I submitted a revision of my grant for the Kalalake National High School (KNHS) Reading for Life Center.  This week I'll find out if my old site receives the funding or not.  Also, I'm going to try to start an Epilepsy support group in the suburbs where I live.  There are many in the city of Chicago, but none further south, so we'll see where that leads, it may take awhile, but I'm hopeful that I'll get some visitors to the group.  Take care & safe travels.