November 2011 in the Philippines
It’s my first stay here in the Philippines, so everything was new for me as I arrived. I just knew the things other persons already told me and the information I got from the internet. By living here I could see, that you really can’t imagine how a country is like, if you’ve never been there. You have to live there and share the people’s lifestyle, tradition and culture so that you can understand the people’s attitude and behavior. I’m learning more about the Philippines and the Filipinos every day. In Philosophy (classes) we are learning a lot about the Filipinos, how they are and why they are like this; it depends from their tradition, culture and worldview. It’s very interesting, and the most things I learned in the lesson I also noticed by the Filipinos.
In Philippine History (classes) we are learning a lot about the Philippines, the geography, history, origin, mythic and culture. I’m enjoying this subject because it’s always funny and you also learn a lot. Through my friends in the dorm I’m also learning very much. I experience the Filipinos characters, values, traditions. I can see in what they believe, what is important for them, what is normal for them and what they like to eat for example. They are also teaching me Tagalog and playing the guitar, in return we are teaching them German. They also showed me how to wash my clothes by hand, I already knew how to do it but it wasn’t so efficiently. Furthermore, I had the chance to get to know the family from a friend in the dorm who lives in Naga. They are very poor, have a very small house, actually in Germany you would never see a house like this, because it wouldn’t exist anymore. But they seemed happy and were very friendly to me; they bought delicious rice sweets and bread just because I visited them.
There’s a big difference between the people in the Philippines and in Germany. The Filipinos are so friendly and always happy, because usually they don’t show their feelings, they take everything easier and are never in a hurry, they believe in God and that’s a big part of their culture, they celebrate Christmas about a half year, they attach great importance towards their families, they eat a lot of meat and fish and a meal without rice is not a real meal for them, they are so small and nearly everyone have black hair and dark eyes, there are so many differences between Filipinos and Germans, I can’t list them all. We are so different to them because we are living under completely different conditions. Different climate, country, origin, society thus we have different values, traditions, culture and worldview. I will share a few impressions which I gained by staying in the dorm and talking to my friends.
The girls in the dorm stand up every morning at 5.30 am to attend the mass at 6.15 am, the point is that they usually go to bed at 12.30 am, thus they are tired during they classes. That’s part of tradition or ritual to attend a mass every day. At Ateneo everybody, included us Germans, have to wear a uniform, but it’s not like this everywhere in the Philippines, it depends from the university if the students have to wear a uniform. From 8.00 – 10.00 pm, it’s study time in the dorm and we should attend it, too. After this, we are going to have the examen, there we are all sitting in a circle and one is the examen leader of the day who read out his written prayer. On Sundays they are going to pray with their rosary. You can see, that they are very religious and that God is part of their everyday life. In Germany the most people believe in God, too, but usually not that much like the people here. By living here in the dorm I can discover very well the Filipino lifestyle and culture. There are so many impressions which I all have to write down that I will still remember when I’m old, but I think the most of my impressions I will never forget, and they will influence my personality.
I’m so glad and happy that I’m able to experience all the things. This time now, I can’t imagine being in Germany, because in Germany I wouldn’t gain all the experiences which I gain here every day and wouldn’t have met all the friendly persons, especially the ones who are my friends now.
Monthly Report: December 2011
I like to tell you about our trip to Legazpi on December 21th.
I got up at 3 A.M. to attend the Aginaldo-mass (at 4.30A.M.) so I could have breakfast before leaving for the mass. The Aginaldo-mass is a tradition here in the Philippines, it’s every morning the nine days before Christmas. It’s kind of struggle to get up so early but it’s worth effort because if you attend every single mass you have a wish for the New Year. But now back to the main topic ..:D After the mass we were fetched at church and our trip began. Our ride lasted two hours, so we arrived at 7 o’clock and had a delicious breakfast, all-you-can-eat just by the way.
There we met our guide for the day who told us a lot of interesting things, about Legazpis’ history and its surroundings. At first we were just travelling around the city to see a lot of buildings for example the town hall.
My personal impressions are quite positive, i really liked the city. It’s not animate as Naga City is. And the buildings looked very nice. Next our eager group drove up to the top of a hill near the city where you can have a nice view over the whole city. If one looked really close one could discover an air port in the middle of Legazpi, here and there some rice fields in between the houses and streets and a few settlement surrounding down town Legazpi. Unfortunately it was a bit cloudy and there was also, from time to time, some gentle rain. But even this could NOT stop the boys to experience to fly down through the rain forest with a cable railway.
Furthermore we visited a zoo where we got to know a lot of animals which aren’t common in Germany. Most I liked the birds since they have so beautiful yellow eyes. But also the monkeys were very funny and cute, some of them escaped their catch and wandered around the zoo, some other even seized the hand of one of us, but this one was still inside of a catch.
Then we came, in my opinion at least, to the highlight of our trip, the Mayon Volcano. But we weren’t really near the volcano, we just watched it from a village which was buried by a former eruption. Only the top of the church remained visible. The volcano is indeed nice shaped, it’s so symmetrical! At this time we weren’t able to see the volcano because the clouds were hiding it. But fortunately we were never far away from Mount Mayon so our group could see it from all sides and from morning ‘till evening. After while we left the buried church and its the beautiful view and visited some other, still intact, church. Most amazing there was the breathtaking contrast between the black tower next to the ancient white church.
Before having lunch we stop by at a shop to buy the best Pilinuts one could gain.
So we had lunch in a lovely restaurant with most delicious food.
Afterwards we had a long ride again to visit some smithies where knifes and other weapons were made. We were allowed to watch the men while doing their hard work. It had been very hot, because of their work with the fire and we were sweating, even if we didn’t work!
We didn’t stay there for long, we quickly moved on to a shop where we were able to buy bags, shoes and purses made in Bicol. Also one could buy lamps and other stuff.
Our next stop-over was a ceramic manufacture where all products are handmade. It was so amazing to watch the men doing the pottery and the women painting it. After spending about an hour for choosing the most beautiful thing out of the pottery each of us bought something. Some even ordered some special design.
Now the day was almost over, our last stop-over was a Shopping Mall located next to a seaport, meaning one could see the wonderful sea and also still the volcano by night.
There we still bought some souvenirs and discovered a new coffee-shop. After spending just one hour in the mall we rather exiting ride back home.
This was a long day for each of us, thus we were all sleepy and wanted simply to get home in our dormitory.
Although it was such an exhausting day, it was fantastic and I gained a lot of new impressions of life and culture and art here in Bicol.
I am sure I will keep this trip in my memory and help to be convince you to make your own experiences, and they may hopefully be as great as mine.
Monthly Report January 2012
This month I’d like to tell you something about my daily life here in the Philippines and my experiences which I gain so far. Every Monday and Wednesday, my alarm rings at 8.00 am. I know it’s time to stand up, but I’m so sleepy, that I wish nothing else than sleeping at least a few hours longer. But there’s no way, I’ve a class at 9.00 am. I take my wash utensils and go to the restroom. There I usually have to wait for ca. 15 minutes to get one of the 4 showers, but sometimes I have luck and immediately get a free one. The 25 Filipinos with whom I’m sharing the 4th floor at the dormitory usually get up at 6.00 am to attend the early mass from 6.15 am to 6.50 am. The majority of them doesn’t want to attend the mass but they have to, because they are scholars and there are a few rules which they have to obey in return for living in the dorm. For us Germans it isn’t the case, because we aren’t scholars and the masses aren’t of our religion. After attending the mass they have their breakfast, and at ca. 8.00 am the majority of them are going to take a shower. I think it isn’t hard to imagine, that 4 showers for ca. 30 people are to less. On Monday, I’m going to wear my school uniform, like on Tuesdays and Thursday. Wednesday and Saturday are the “none school uniform days”, on these days one is allowed to wear nearly everything, except shorts, tops and slippers. The ID-card is part of the school uniform. Strictly, the rule is, that by not wearing of the school uniform or ID-card one gets an absent. 3 times too late are 1 absent and 3 absents you get a “F”. The grades here are from “A” to “F”, e.g. ”A” is 1 in Germany and “F” is 6. The Basic Algebra class is from 9.00 am to 10.30 am. It’s a reviewing course from the elementary and college lecture, for the students who have problems with mathematics. The lecture isn’t hard for us Germans, because it’s just reviewing of the lecture we had from the 5th to 8th year in “Gymnasium”. Honestly, usually, we are the best from the class. Mathematics is for sure not the intensity of the majority of the Filipinos, they are more talented in languages, music and arts. They grow up with at least three languages, Tagalong and English and the language which is spoken in the province where they are from. In the Philippines are 171 different languages, thus it’s normal, that you drive a few km to another region and there is spoken another language. After class I do different things like studying, sleeping, reading, talking or doing the laundry until we are having lunch between 11.00 am and 1.00 pm, it depends, either at the 2nd floor or at the Coko Café. At the Coko Café the food tastes better, because you can order a meal without rice in opposite to the 2nd floor, where the food is always rice with fish, meat, seldom vegetables, too. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend the Filipino food for vegetarians. From 1.30 pm to 3.00 pm we have Philosophy class. It’s my favorite class, because it has the most interesting subject matter and we are learning new things. The sad thing is, that my English skills are not the best, thus it’s hard to follow the lesson, but I give my best. In my opinion, the exams are also the hardest in Philosophy, because you have to write essays, where you have to express what you mean with using your own words, moreover in English, that’s kind of hard for me. After Philosophy class, I usually have taekwondo training from 4.30 pm to ca. 7.00 pm. Unfortunately, I don’t enjoy it anymore, because it’s kind of boring, because the training is specialized on practicing only kicks. That’s not what I like, I’m used to and prefer doing diversified sport, e.g. Alstyle-karate. On Monday I have to attend the German class. The most time it’s boring for us Germans, because we have no job to do, no partner works or something like this. In the afternoon and evening of Wednesdays I’m doing different things since I don’t practice Taekwondo anymore. Sometimes I’m staying at the dorm and I read, listen to music, talk to Filipino or German friends, or I’m going to Centro or SM to buy something or I’m hanging out in Beanbag with Filipino or German friends, anything like this. At around 5.00 pm we have dinner. We have to be back in the dorm at 8.00 pm, because from 8.00 pm to 10.00 pm we have study time, after this we have connex. In the connex is always one expected to lead the prayer and share his own written prayer. We Germans don’t have to attend it, because it’s not our religion. Then we have to clean. Everyone has a little assignment, thus we are finished after around 10 minutes. At 12.00 noon, we have to go to bed, but are still allowed to talk to each other in a silent tone. Tuesday, when I don’t have to study in the morning for any exams or quizzes, but this isn’t often the case, I can sleep until 12.00 noon or 11.00 am, if I like to have lunch before going to the Montessori school at 12.15 noon. In the Montessori we are helping the teacher there in teaching a Basic German course, sometimes we have partner works and talk with a Filipino student in German. It’s fun and it makes me happy to see, that they have success and are already quite good in speaking German. Then we have Philippine History class from 3.00pm to 4.30pm. It’s really interesting, but the time, when a Filipino student is presenting his work, have a presentation, news report or trivial, I don’t get anything, because they don’t speak clearly, too silent and too fast, that’s sad. But the time our teacher is talking, you can follow the lesson. Then we have our dinner. From 6.00 pm to 7.30 pm we have English class. On the one side it’s good, because we are reviewing the English grammar, but on the other side, we learn nothing new and it’s quite boring. Thursday, is equal to Tuesday except the Montessori school, we only have it one Tuesday. Friday I have class with the other Germans, the German teacher is teaching us in mathematics and chemistry, that we can follow the lecture we would have at this time in Germany. The class is from 9.00 am to 12.00 noon. Then we are going to the teacher’s home and cook there together, that we can eat “German food” like, potatoes, noodles, vegetables and sometimes meat. It’s always very good. The rest of the day, we start in our weekend, perhaps we are going to the cinema, to beanbag or we meet with Filipino friends. Saturday and Sunday we often have an outreach or a trip. If we are having a free weekend, we often meet Filipino friends or often only we Germans are going in a restaurant to eat better food than in the dorm.
Monthly Report February 2012
This month I’d like to share to you my experiences which I gain during my trip to Bohol from February 21 to 26. I had a great time, it was like holidays! Our group consisted of some peers the guide and me. Our journey started with a tricycle-drive from Ateneo, where we met our tour guide, to the bus terminal. We put all our heavy suitcases on the top of the tricycle. Honestly, I was afraid of losing them, but, fortunately, we didn’t. After a 15-minute drive, we arrived at the bus terminal, and got into our bus. Our bus had quite big and comfortable seats. I’ve never drove in a bus like this before, I think we don’t even have such big and convenient buses in Germany. The bus in which we drove wasn’t even a first class bus. I think the reason why we don’t have busses like this in Germany is that we also have train transportation. In opposite to Germany, in the Philippines usually isn’t any train traffic, because the money is rare, thus they’ve specialized on train transportation for longer journeys through the Philippines. Our bus left at 8.00 pm. The most time everyone was sleeping, because it already got dark outside and the seats haven’t been that bad for sleeping. Unfortunately, I wasn’t tired and couldn’t fall asleep easily like the others. At 3.30 am, after 7 ½ hours driving, we finally reached Manila. It was the first time I saw Manila, except the day we arrived from Germany. Manila is one of the biggest city I have ever been to. After staying for about 4 month in Naga, the impression was spectacular! The difference between Manila and Naga is like Berlin and Neustadt/Aisch, at least I had this impression. Since this time I understand why most Filipinos who are living in Naga want to move to Manila, it’s because, when you are intelligent and have enough money you have the best chance to make something out of your life, get a god job and might work in a foreign country. Manila also has many characteristics, which are also found in Germany and aren’t in Naga, e.g. highways, big roads with 6 lanes where are only driving cars, no tricycles, the traffic is faster, the houses are big and tall, the malls are bigger, there are characteristics which are also found in Germany, everything is more expensive, but unfortunately Manila also has poverty areas like Naga. The contrast, of the poor and rich so close side by side is in Manila much bigger than in Naga, even if it’s so extreme in Naga. To overcome the time we had to wait until our plane to Bohol left, we stayed at the flat of our guide, there we just lain down, because we were all still sleepy. Her flat was on the 39th floor of a skyscraper, you had a beautiful view out of the window over the big city. At 5.00 am we left her flat, for going to the airport already and having our lunch there at the Pancake house. At 7.30 am we could finally check-in, then we still had to wait until 9.00 am until our plane left. I had a place on the window and was able to enjoy the beautiful scenery. There I noticed that Manila is such big, and still the whole area around Manila was full of settled people. Unfortunately, I was so tired that I later fall asleep. After about one hour we arrived at Bohol, the heat made me sweating already in the 1st second I went out of the plane. At the airport we were fetched by a staff from the hotel, where we planned to stay. It took 30 minutes to get to the beach-resort, we drove through one city, which was much smaller than Naga, but it had the important things, like a hospital, supermarket, school, university and church, etc. It was cleaner and there hadn’t been that much poverty as in Naga and there aren’t any children who beg for money. The reason for this might be that Bohol is very touristic and of course, it’s not nice to see all the poverty when you are a tourist and staying there for holidays, so it’s regulated by the government that on tourists’ islands is not extreme poverty like on the other parts from the Philippines, where you can’t avoid it. Bohol is much bigger than I imagined, it has about 3 big cities and a lot of nature, too. Its entire surface is nearly 4000 km². The beach-resort where we stayed, was a holiday place for rich people. Their guests were mostly Germans, Americans, Sweden, Chinos, Russian and Filipinos and there still have been tourists from other countries. The appearance of so many foreigners in the Philippines gave me a new impression.
It’s really like this that here are a lot of Europeans, who enjoy being a special-one among the Filipinos and living here a beautiful life at the beach, perhaps they found a beach-resort and make a lot of money. It makes me feel sad knowing that the majority of us humans rather invest their money to open a hotel in the Philippines, in a country which is coined of poverty rather than open a school, hospital, retirement home, anything social for the poor people in this country. Anyway, I still enjoyed my holidays there. On the next day, we had a tour through Bohol, where we got to see the magnificent Chocolate Hills, the scenery is such beautiful. Nobody knows how they were created there are just a few myths. Then we watched the Tarsier monkeys, they are so cute with their big eyes. The funny thing is that they can’t see good, very bad compare it to our eyes. Their species is rare there are only in Bohol, somewhere else in the Philippines and somewhere in Asia. Then we had a boat trip, which had been very nice, we drove through the rainforest and saw natives dancing a national dance with Bamboo bars. Our tour guide joined them, because she also knows how to dance it. On the boat we had our lunch. When we got back I was very tired and went to bed early, but before we had dinner at one of the restaurant on the beach. It was a restaurant with German food. I ate “Bratkartoffeln with egg”. It’s crazy! But it tasted very good. On the next day two of my peers took part in a diving course, it has just been the two of them. We remaining ones have been allowed to join them on the boat and went swimming the time they were diving. Fortunately we had a mask and saw the nice coral riffs and fishes and the water wasn’t deep so we were able to swim through the riffs. It was beautiful! The next whole day we spent at the beach and in the sea. On Saturday at 1.00 pm it was already time to leave. This time I didn’t have a window-seat, because I gave mine to my batch mate. At 9.00 pm our bus finally left from Manila, one hour too late, because they were still waiting for more passengers. We arrived at 5.00 am in Naga at the bus terminal. Our journey ended how it started with a tricycle-drive to Ateneo. It had been a long journey again. I’m happy that I made this trip, because I gained a lot of experiences and had new impressions and enjoined the time.
Monthly Report March
This month I’d like to tell you something about our last weeks here in the Philippines.
On Friday, two days before we had to leave Naga, I finally visited a friend at her home. Her name is J.. She lives in La Parisima, a village near to Nabao. We drove by a Van one hour to Nabao. We shared the car with further 16 persons – Filipinos really know how to save space! In Nabao we took a tricycle to her hometown, the ride took 20 minutes at last. The village is surrounded by beautiful scenery, because of the wonderful nature, there are a lot of trees and plants. She showed me the store of her farther, one which is common in the Philippines. You can buy everything there, from slippers over cosmetic articles up to snacks, and all of this just in a small stall! Futhermore she showed me the parish of her village and the elementary and high school which she visited. For sure she showed me her home, too, there we cooked together. It’s quite a stable house. She’s the lucky one from her village who got a scholarship for studying at Ateneo. I think she’s pretty grateful about this – it’s really a chance. It was a really nice day. You can always understand one person better, if you know more about his life.
On Sunday, two days later we left Naga. It was hard to say good bye to everybody, to the people who became your friends. Anyway, we had to leave and fortunately we could look forward for our time in Palawan with the Philosophy-Department. Our bus left at 9.00 pm. As we still have been driving at 5.00 am , we were afraid of missing our flight. But we learnt from the Filipinos: “We’ll make it or we won’t make it. What come, should come.” We learnt to be relaxed. Good for us, we still got our flight, even if our bus has been 2.5 hours late. The airplane left at 9.30 am from Manila and landed at 10.30 am in Coron. Coron is a small island southeast from Palawan, it also belongs to Palawan. There we were fetched from the airport by to vans, they brought us to the harbor. There we first took our lunch and later at around 1.00 pm we drove 1.5 hours to Culion by boat. Culion is an even smaller island, where we stayed the whole week. Once it was the island where the people who were sick of lepros have been brought. Thus the island has a bad reputation, because it still gets in relation to its history, even if there is nobody, who is sick of lepros anymore. It’s an island of beauty but with a dark history.
The first 4 days we had a retreat. We had two companions who went with us through this retreat and lead this retreat. Our daily schedule during the retreat: At first we had the “input”, there we learnt new things, gained experiences and had new impressions. Than we had a few hours of silent, where we had time for our own, to think about the things we have learnt/ seen/ experienced in the input. Later we had a kind of an “output”, there we talked together in the group about our day, and shared our impressions. The aim of this retreat was in my opinion to have time for oneself to think or reflect and relax after a semester of work and before the new semester starts. Inputs had been e.g. a historical walk through the island, a presentation about geology, where the early beginning from life is demonstrated in relation to one self, a bit philosophical or a presentation about biology, where the beauty of our world is shown, and how humans disturb this is some way and how we should better save it.
Of course we also had breakfast at 7.00 am, lunch at 12.00 noon and dinner at 7.00 pm.
In the last two days, we did “island-hopping”. On the first of these two days, on Friday, we went out with the boat to two different places, where we practiced snorkeling. It has been very nice, we saw a lot of fishes and beautiful coral riffs. There was a big boat under the water, too, on which many corals find a place to live. We had lunch on the boat. On Saturday we drove to a nice island, where we stayed until 3.00 pm. We relaxed and snorkeled there. I saw a small young shark. On Sunday we left early in the morning at 6.00 am to get our flight. Unfortunately, our airplane was one hour too late. We arrived in Manila, at 2. 30 pm, we just had dinner and went to bed early, because we were tired of the long trip.
Now, I stayed for nearly a half year in the Philippines, and I can still say that I enjoyed the time! It was a great time.