So I am back here in Buenavista after a great New Years extravaganza. As I mentioned in my last post we went up to Tibiao on late Thursday evening after we all finished work. It was about a 4 hour bus ride through some pretty big mountains for Philippine standards. The first two hours of the bus were very windy and all the divers here drive like they are trying to outrun the police… So needless to say we all had white knuckles trying to just stay in our seats. We arrived in Tibiao where Sam was first assigned, but was transferred to another site for various reasons. However, her old host family has lots of family in the states which means they are pretty well off. They let us stay in their beach house right on the water with a flat screen tv, cable, screens on the windows, pretty much everything you would see in an American house. They had a cook prepare us an amazing dinner and we sat around playing cards and watching an NBA game on t.v. We woke up early the next morning and Sams old host family arrange a municipal vehicle to take us to the port to get to Boracay, about 2.5 hours. They refused to take any money from us for the food, lodging, or the ride. I know I sound like a broken record, but the hospitality in this country is unrivaled. There were 7 of us, including myself, so it wasn’t like there were just a few people either. They dropped us off at the wharf and we took a quick boat over to Boracay. We took a tricycle to our hotel and I started to experience some mild culture shock because of the vast amounts of tourists walking around. Old guys wearing nothing but speedos, girls in bikinis, etc. All of us are living in mostly in rural province areas where everything and everyone is extremely conservative. Everyone wears shorts and t shirts at the beach and obviously you don’t ever see another American. There were people from Europe,
U.S., Canada, and it truly seemed like we were in another country after only a 20 min boat ride. It reminded me a mix of Cabo San Lucas and Australia . The beaches were amazing…white sand and clear blue water. We spent our days hanging out at the beach swimming and our nights roaming around from bar to bar. On New Years Eve we watched a great firework show from the beach. There were two bancas about 50 yards out in the ocean launching fireworks. We were able to eat some really good food as well. Some decent Mexican food, pizza, and American breakfast! It was a welcome change from the fish and rice that I get fed sometimes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The bus ride home was pretty miserable. It took me about 8.5 hours to get to Hawaii then another hour to get back to my house. But, the weekend was well worth it. There were about 50 PCV’s from all over the Iloilo , so it was nice to see old faces and also meet other PCV’s. This week I will be working on putting together an IEC (information education communication) presentation for some schools or whoever wants to listen. I am trying to take some initiative because everyone seems to be in a fog from Christmas and New Years. I have my last regular season basketball game today, with playoffs starting sometime next week. Philippines
I was talking to my parents on Skype the other day and was explaining to them the different sounds and faces Filipinos make during regular conversation. Here are some examples…. If someone is talking and they cannot hear what your saying they will open their mouth (very wide) and tilt their chin down into their chest instead of saying “ano” which means what. When passing someone on the street you don’t usually say good morning, afternoon, etc, but you raise your eyebrows at the person passing by. When I do this they get a big smile on their face because it is something one can only pick up on after living here for a long enough time. If your trying to get someone’s attention you don’t say their name or say “hey” you make a kissing noise with your lips. You keep repeating the sound louder and louder until they turn their head and acknowledge you. The sound is similar to when one would call for the attention of a dog back home. The last sound/facial expression is if you ask a Filipino the direction of something, like the bathroom, he/she wont give you verbal directions, but will just point with their lips in the general direction of the thing your asking about. If you continue to prod and ask for more specific directions they will sometimes point with their hands and say “didto” which means there, or “dirat lang” which means just there. That is about as specific as you’ll get…needless to say I have spent over 10 mins just looking for the restroom. I know when I get back home after my two years I will be doing these gestures involuntarily and my friends will think I am crazy…. That is all for now.