October 2016, Arrival, first impressions, orientation of daily things
After a long journey we arrived here at the Fatima Centre on October the first. The Fatima Centre is a foundation for human development and integrates a farm school. Here we stay only in October. After that we go to Naga and work there in a school too. When we arrived at the Fatima everybody wanted to help us. The children showed us our rooms and brought our luggage there. Everybody was very helpful and cordial. After a little rest we asked them to show us the area of the Fatima Centre. My impression was that they were happy with this. So we go around with approximately ten children and see the different places like the school and the farm. We see lots of plants which we haven’t in Germany like bananas or pomelos. The children wanted to share a pomelo with us. It was just a small one but everybody gets a little piece of it. In the following weeks I see the same again and again. It doesn’t matter how small a fruit or something else is, the things are shared with the others. In my opinion in Germany everybody wants the biggest piece and don’t care about the others. So my impression is that the people here are not that selfish like in Germany.
Another different point to Germany is the food here in the Philippines. The people eat to every meal rice normally with cooked meat. Mostly after the meal we eat here different fruits. The fruits are very delicious. For example the bananas. They are very sweet here and I haven’t known that so many different kinds of bananas exist. And also I haven’t known that you can cook with them. My impression is everywhere we put in potatoes the Philippinos use bananas. I think it is a very special taste. At breakfast here they often eat scrambled eggs, smoked fish, roast sausage and fish. I mean it is very solid. When we have here in the Philippines some bread, it is toast bread only. This is very sweet. Also cake is sweeter than in Germany. In this point you can see the influence of the American colonial times.
In kitchen are often ants. All the food is in receptacles. No insects can touch the food but for me it isn’t normal that insects are in the kitchen.
Here in the Philippines they pay with Philippino pesso. One Euro is nearly 50 pesso. The first days when we make little trips I always had not enough money by me side because it was hard to think 50 or 100 isn’t a lot of money. In Germany I would never take 100€ when I go to the supermarket only because I need toilet paper and a cleaning agent for the bathroom. But with the time I get used to the other currency. The most things here are cheaper than in Germany for example food, clothes or eating in a fast food restaurant. We bought some cocoa powder (Milo) for the Fatima Centre. This is one thing which is expensive (one kilo cost around 5€) because they have no or only less (very expensive) cow’s milk here in the Philippines. If the people want to drink milk they normally use milk powder.
The climate here in the Philippines is different. There it has around 25°C and a high humidity of the air. The first days I was sweating the whole time. I think now after one month I’m dealing a bit better with this but I’m still sweating more than in Germany. It rains nearly every day because till November here is the rain period. The rain doesn’t cold the earth that much as in Germany. Sometimes the plenty rain results in power failure.
For washing our clothes the rain is a problem. We can’t hang up them outside and inside there isn’t that much space and because of the high humidity the clothes are not that dry as we are used from Germany but this is OK.
Washing is in general different then in Germany because we have no washing machine. We have to do it by our hands. The children show us how to do it right and which soap is the best. It takes a long time to clean your clothes by hand because first of all you have to clean all with clean water, after that you have to soap und brush every piece extra and at last all pieces again with water. In the end you have to spin the laundry like in a washing machine. The machine does all the same steps and also needs around two hours but I haven’t recognised it because in the mid time you do something else. And another different is that the washing machine in Germany uses warm water and here we normally wash with cold water.
Taking a shower here is different too. You have bucket with cold water then you use a creator take water and put it all over your skin. After a few days it was normal for me taking a shower in this way. To use cold water isn’t a problem because it is always warm outside and in the morning I’m awake after the shower.
We had the luck that we have a toilet with flash. It is typical that the toilet has no flash. In this case you put water im the toilet instead. Philippinos don’t use toilet paper. They clean with water. Luckily you can buy toilet paper so we use it. Sometimes there is no toilet only a whole in the ground. This I seen one time when we stayed at a resort.
Everywhere we go the people look at us. The most time I can ignore it but sometimes it is a bit annoying because in my opinion we are all people. The only different is our skin colour. Some people ask where we are from and what we are doing here in the Philippines. I like this way of acting because German people normally won’t do it and we recognise the staring anyway.
The traffic here in the Philippines is slower than in Germany. Most of the people drive with Tricycles. A Tricycle is a motorcycle with assessor. My impression is that here no traffic rules or most of the people ignore the rules. For example only a few people stop at a zebra crossing. In Germany nearly everybody would do it.
We had a special experience when we wanted to buy a normal shower gel. It wasn’t easy to find one. The most shower gels are whitening ones. In Germany everybody wants to get a browner skin and here it is the other way round.
The first month passed off really fast and I enjoyed it.
November 2016, Poverty in the Philippines
First of all a definition of poverty. It means a lack of the basic needs to clothes, food, home and healthy. So you can’t only refer to the prosperity and standard of living. Poverty is a word which is influenced by subjective and cultural moral concepts. Poverty is a social phenomenon and I understand it as a social discrimination.
Second some general information about poverty in the Philippines. The destitution in the rustical area is higher than in the cities. Maybe a reason could be that in the rustical area you normally have a farm. When a taifun is there, he destroys everything also their fruits, so they haven’t an income anymore. Some people who hope to have a better life in the cities so there. In general the weather especially during the rain season is very unpredictable and if a taifun comes he always destroys a lot. So the people have to spend a lot more money to fix their houses. The money you need for pretending and fixing the houses can’t be saved or used for other things like to send their children to school. I would say this weather phenomenons like taifuns are a reason for the poverty too.
To send children to school is really expensive here in the Philippines. A lot of families haven’t the money to send the children to school or haven’t the option to get a scholarship for them. To have no education is another form of the poverty and it is a vicious circle. If they have no education they can’t find a good job, etc. One person told me that lot of uneducated or less educated people often open this Eateries. And I heard only one person can live a very simple live with the money they earn at the Eatery. Maybe the reason for this is the concurrence between the Eateries because you can find much of them. Often also the kids have to support the family. So they sell things like Calamansi. This we often see in Naga. There are children who sell those fruits and they follow us and ask if we want to buy some. When you walk through the streets you sometimes see children who sit next to the street and ask for money. Their parents think people rather give money or something else to children than they would give to them because children look cute and helpless.
Sadly the money problems redound that people start to snaffle things for example food or they start selling drugs. They take or try every option to find ways to survive. Also they consume the drugs because they think this is the only way to forget all their problems for a while. In my opinion this is also a kind of poverty because when this is your only option to forget a while how bad your situation is, is really sad.
Most of the people here in the Philippines have no health insurance. The medicine is really expensive so most of the people haven’t the money to pay the bill to get health. So the people have two options: to rupe up a score to get healthy again or do nothing for their health and risk to die early especially when they have crab. Both of these options are not good because each shows the poverty. On one hand that the people have not enough money or the other hand one a privation in health. I was really shocked when I saw children in the preschool who have already brown tooths.
In general you can’t compare the standards of the houses here in the Philippines with them in Germany. The houses are easier. The really poor people are lucky when they have a quonset or a house made of natural materials. But also a lot of people sleep on the street. We saw that on our first evening in Malina. We were driven to our overnight stay and we could see people who slept next to the street. This are people who scan the trash if there are some scraps which they can eat. This phenomenon we see sometimes when we go running early in the morning. But this people don’t look for scraps, they also look for deposit bottles and special kindes of plastic. The plastic they sell to get money. On a sunny day I saw hard paper which was dried next to the street. I asked for what they do this and now I know that this paper will be sold. All the trash which can become money is searched by the poor people that they can survive.
I was confronted with poverty in another way too. Some children in the Fatima Centre told me that they haven’t seen their families for a few years now. When I asked how often they call with their families they said maybe twice a year. It is really sad that they have no money to see or only to call their families more often. Most of this children have scholarships to live in Fatima and to study there.
An observation is that the poverty is for some parts accepted because if their very strong believe in God. One girl in the Fatima Centre which hasn’t seen her family for a long time told me that her situation without her family and that she stays the whole year in the Fatima Centre is okay with herself because God wanted that she lives a life like this. Of course you have to remember that she has the luck to stay in Fatima and get education.
Another thing I observed was that for the people here it is really difficult to deal with money. Not only for the poorest people also for people who have a job like teacher. One week after receiving the payment one teacher told me today I spend my last money. I was really surprised because the moth has three weeks more. When you don’t save money how should you pay your bills especially bigger ones.
The Philippines government doesn’t support the poor people the way the German government does. Here you can’t get something like living money or Hartz4. I hope one day there the government starts with really simple steps to do something against the poverty in the state. I know it is a big problem and it isn’t easy to solve it but to find a better situation you have to start one day. My idea is to take care that more people pay taxes because at the moment around 90% of the population pays no taxes. Than the government has to give this money to the poor people.
December 2016, Religion in the Philippines
The Philippines are the only Christianized country in Asia and around 90% of the population belongs to a Christian religious community. More than 80% of all Philippinos are Roman Catholics. In the Philippines live around 60% of all Catholics in totally Asia and so the Philippines are the most important outpost Romes. In the south of the country ( mostly in Mindanao) live most of the 8% of the population who believe in the Islam religion. There are conflicts between Christians and Muslims. Also in Naga City live a few Muslims but there all people accept the religion of the others and live peaceful together.
The majority of the population belongs to the Roman Catholic church so the question is what’s the reason for this. The population of country became Christans because more than 300 years the Philippines were colonized by the Spains. The Spains belong to the Catholic church and they brought their believe along. The Catholicism is a important part of the daily life because it is link between the different social parts of the society. For the poor people and also for the rich people is the church a very important part of their life.
All the schools where we helped or helping are Catholic. Every morning before the school starts they have a morning ceremony where they first sing the national anthem and after that all people pray together. In October all students visited a mess in school every day because there was the rosary. The children who live in the Fatima Centre go every morning at six o’clock to church and every evening at around 5pm they have a short mess again. So in October this children went to church three times a day. In Germany we normally go to church with school only twice a year at the beginning of the school year and in the end.
Also the subject religion is really different. In Germany we get to know all the different religions and talk about the differents between them and Christians. Here the students learn (only) the stories of the Bible and the meaning of the stories. Of course we learn this in Germany too but we also discuss if the stories can be realistic. The children pray before and after every meal to thank God for the food. I think it’s a good thing because then the children get quiet and learn that it isn’t a matter of course to have food. Another thing I observed is the of the different classes. Here in the school they say for example grade 7 San Pedro instead like in Germany 7A. So the class is named after a saint. The director told us that this saint takes care about the students in this class.
In one of the schools we help the first question was who of us is the Protestant. I’m the one. I was really shocked that this was the first question we had to answer and in my opinion here is no big gap between Catholics and Protestants. But for me this situation has shown how important it is for some people to be Catholic or at least part of a Christian church.
In December we celebrate Christmas. The birth of Jesus Christ and I observed that the people here celebrate it a bit different then in Germany. The first observation I have already had when we arrived in October. During this time the people have already sang Christmas songs. I was really surprised and asked why. They explained they do it because Christmas is the celebration of love and you need love not only in December or on Christmas Eve but the whole year. I think this is a very nice and true though.
Here in the Philippines you can’t find any Christmas fairs but most of the people save the whole year money which they spend in December to have a nice Christmas party and make others happy. This is the time in the year when all people think about how they can make others smile. The people are in the mood to spend money so in all malls especially at the weekend are lots of people who buy Christmas presents and of course the stores offer a lot like Christmas packages. A Advent Calendar we couldn’t find. Maybe the reason for this is that you can’t put chocolate because of the high temperature in and the birth of Jesus is around midnight. But what you can find is a lot of Christmas decoration. The people have already decorated their Christmas trees at the beginning of December. Here the Christmas trees are plastic or make creative ones like made of old plastic bottles or paper covered with green clothes. Nearly everywhere are nice Christmas lights and often you see Nativity scenes. They are all really creative and individual. None look similar. So the Christmas story is really present during this time.
Another thing I haven’t seen before is Caroling. Children practice in groups some Christmas songs and a few days before Christmas they go form door to door, knock on the door and if someone opens they present the songs. In exchange the people give them money or sweets. In Naga I only observed practicing. I spend my Christmas Eve in a hostel in Manila and during the evening a few groups came in and sang for us. In exchange we shared our food with them. It was a nice exchange first they made us lucky with their singing and after that we with the food. The Christmas story is presented as a role play very often. The children in the preschools start and also a quire where the people are all around 20 presents it. There main presentation is in March. I think this shows again how important this story is for the Catholic church because then the story is present three months more. This story is in some way the beginning of the Christian churches.
The ecclesiastical difference is that preparation for the arrival of Jesus Christ is celebrating a big mess nine days before Christmas every day. This messes are a big foreplay of the arrival of the holy child.
Another observation I have made is that people often say instead „I cross my fingers“ „I will pray for you.“ I think this shows again how present the believe is and how important it is for the people. The know God can always help you. This are little phrases which show how important the church is. In some way the believe explains the people their destiny. He helps to accept it because they say God wants that life for me and so it is good. Believing in God unites the people here in the Philippines it’s a social link between the poorest and rich. If they have to speak with each other religion is probably a common topic.
January 2017, Climate in the Philippines
The country Philippines are located in Southeast Asia and is part of the ring of fire and close to the equator. This location makes the Philippines prone to earthquakes and typhoons.
Around twenty earthquakes are registered daily, most of them are too weak to be felt. I already experienced one while I was sitting in a Barbar Shop. It was interesting how the people deal with it because nobody stopped working. Everybody was going on as nothing special happens.
Most parts of the island is covered in tropical rainforest and volcanic in origin. Situated on the western fringes of the Pacific ring of fire the Philippines experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity.
The Philippines has a tropical maritime climate that normally is hot and humid. There in the Philippines are not the same seasons as in Europe: winter, spring, summer and autumn. They differ in general a rainy and a dry season. The rainy season is from June to November and the dry one between December and May.
Sometimes when Filipinos want to be really exactly they subdivide the dry season in a cold dry season and a hot dry season. The cold dry season is between December and February and the hot one between March and May. The people here call April and May summer. Then all pupils and students have their summer break. It think it would be very hard to concentrate and study. I’m excited how I will deal with the hot dry season because all Filipinos I have spoken with told me that it is also very hot for them. They say the only way to survive is stay the whole day inside the house, take a shower and eat ice cream. The Philippinos are used to their climate and I’m not really. For me it is already hot at the moment or from October to December. My experience is that January is the coldest because it was the first time that I freezed and needed to wear a jacket. The temperature in general usually ranges from 21° to 33° but depending on Monsoons are large-scale sea breezes which occur when the temperature on land is warmer or cooler than the temperature of the ocean. Most summer monsoons have a dominant westerly component and the winter monsoons a dominant easterly component which normally send or bring the drought to the Philippines. The summer monsoons normally bring a lot of rain during May and October. During this hard rain fall normally the wind is strong and the waves are high.
In the North of the Philippines around 30 percent of the annual rainfall normally is falling down by tropical cyclones in the islands only ten percent by tropical cyclones.
In the North of Luzon especially in the city Baguio the temperature is in general a bit cooler. Because of the mountains. This region is often visited by Philippinos during summer (April and May) because the annual temperature average there is around 18°. So also during the summer months there it is not that hot as for example in Naga.
Like I said before the Philippines are known because of typhoons. First: What exactly is a typoon: A typoon is a tropical cyclone that is formed in the western part of the North Pacific Ocean. In the Philippines the most dangerous time space is between July and October but also last December one reached the Bicol region. Northern and eastern Luzon are popular for hazardous typoons. Around an average of 28 typhoons reach the Philippines every year. The climate and weather organisation PAGASA categories the typhoons into five types according to the wind speed: Tropical Depression (30-60km/h), Tropical Storm Servere (61-88km/h), Tropical Storm (89-117km/h), Typhoons (118-219km/h), Super Typhoons (above 220km/h). We experienced two typhoons. One in October, it was type two or three. We had no electricity for a few hours and because of the rain it was very muddy. the other one type four reached Naga or the whole Bicol region on December 25. Lots of people had and still have damaged houses, lots of trees folded over also power poles. Here in Naga was for ten days no electricity but for example in Iriga there is still no electricity. It is even harder to see the damage, the people who lost everything and to experience having no electricity in real than seeing it in TV.
Relative humidity is high in the Philippines. It means a high amount of moisture in the air. I’m not used to a humidity like this but it makes that the temperature feels higher than it is in reality, I observed that I sweat more than in Germany and feel sleepier.
Because of the warmer and humid climate also other plants than in Germany grow here. So for example the pineapple, mango, banana, coconut and papaya. Of course all this we also can buy in Germany but imported. The fruits here taste much better because they are fresh. Also it is interesting how they grow. Pineapple doesn’t grow on a tree. The plant looks like a mix of Cactus and bush. Other fruits like apples don’t grow here because for apples it is too warm. Here it is the whole year warm so fresh fruits are always available not like in Germany where we have to store our apples in winter.
It is a great experience walking around wearing a T-shirt instead of a thick long shirt in December and January. It is also nice not to have a running nose during winter time because here is no cold winter.
February 2017, Professions and companies in the Philippines different to in Germany
Before I start reporting about the professions and companies which are in my opinion different to them I Germany or which don’t exist some general information about the economy in the Philippines.
First of all I observed a different image of Iriga and Naga. Iriga is really a countryside area. There in the centro was one small mall with a supermarket, some food shops, one clothes shop and one with electric and household stuff. There is a public market and one big church. In Naga is near the terminal a big mall named „Supermall“. There are a lot of different clothes shops, nearly every fast food company you can find in the Philippines, wellness centers, a hiking and adventure shop, a huge supermarket, also electric and household stuff shop and a big cinema. In the centro of Naga there is another a smaller mall named „E-mall“. This one is comparable to the one in Iriga. Around the E-mall nearly restaurants of all fast food companies I know in the Philippines. Naga has a very big public market near the centro. Futhermore has Naga belong the main road Magsaysay lots of bars and restaurants. There you can find also a Spanish or Italian restaurant. In Naga are more building sites than in Iriga. In the centro of Iriga you can find all what you are need but in Naga the bigger city and somehow the cento of the Bicol there are more different shopping types and opportunities. In SM the people who are richer can buy their clothes and have the option to go to the cinema, can go out and have some drinks in Magsaysay while the „normal“ people buy their things in the centro. The city Naga is more industrial than Iriga.
A general observation I have made is that normally in every store you go there is more stuff than is needed. Normally two to three persons are only standing around. It is nice that the companies have more stuff than they needed because so more people have a job but for the company itself I would say it is not really effective.
Nearly in very supermarket there are two persons at the cashier. One who scan the articles and receive the payment in the end and the other one puts the articles in plastic bags. This one we haven’t in Germany because you don’t get plastic bags for free (which is really good) and you bring your basket where you put the bought stuff on your own. Also if the cashier makes a mistake like the scanned an article twice and need to remove one because the customer only need one he has to call another faculty member who is probably in a higher position to correct this error. In Germany the cashier is able to do this on his own. The boss explains such processes at the beginning. I mean if the cashier can do it himself it safes time.
In front of every store – it doesn’t matter which kind of store- is a gard or at the entrance of a mall. Inside the malls is not in front of every store a gard but in front of the ones which sell more expensive articles like televisions. The guards always check your bag if you have something dangerous inside and also check you that you are not able to destroy or nick anything. All the guards where a uniform and have guns with them. At the beginning it was really confusing to see guard that often so I asked someone for the reason. He told me that you first are able to open a shop when you have a guard in front of it. Otherwise are you not able to open a shop. Now for me to be checked always is normal and somehow it gives me safety because all people are controlled who enter this shop. Luckily normally their only task is checking the people but if it comes to a conflict like between the customer and the cashier the guard will come and help.
Another profession I don’t know before is Jeepney Conductor. The is sitting next to the driver and checks that all people are paying and the receives the money that the driver can focus on driving. When you drive a longer distance with a Jeepney he also enters the sitting areaof the guests and collect the money. The also helps to look over the traffic or when the driver should stop next to the highway that the guest can leave the Jeepney safe and sound. Somehow this profession is comparable with the conductor in the train in Germany. In Germany they only check if you have a ticket and if not they will give you a paper to pay extra money. Of course the train conductor helps with the departure at the train station too. In my opinion a Jeepney is more like a mix of a taxi and a bus and there we don’t have real conductor.
The profession filling station attendant we don’t have in Germany anymore. Maybe we had this in the history but nowadays you drive to the gas station, go out of your car, refuel the car and in the end you go to the shop of the gas station and pay. Here you drive to the gas station, tell the filling station attendant for how many pessos you want to refuel your motorcycle or car, then he fuel it for you and in the end you pay him. When I experienced this process the first time I didn’t get it what happing because it was so new for me and I’m used to doing it on your own.
When you walk through the streets you often see little kiosks in front of the houses of families. There you can get nearly everything ready food mixes, drinks, sweets, junk foods, cigarettes, lighter, … . The families improve their housekeeping money with this little business. When the store is already closed or you know there is a little kiosk nearer the people go there. And the people really use the advantage of this little stores because in most of the families more generations live together so mostly anybody is at home and can sell.
I also know some people who have additional to their normal job a loading business for the phones. They buy the loading cards and put it on their phone. Then the people come to them and say I want to have this amount and so they transfer it to the customers phone. While they are transferring they always safe a few pessos for themselves. The advantage buying load form a person with a loading business is that you can order every amount you want. If you buy loading cards you only can get a amount like 100 or 500 pessos. If you see like it could happen for me in the end that I can’t consume 500 pessos but I need more than 100 it is easier to get load in a loading business. If you know the person you can get the load everywhere because you just have to text that you need this load amount and pay later or when you see that person again.
Most of this professions I have named are services. This is typical for the Philippines because around 50% of the population find work in services. The Philippines are famous for calling centers. Big companies of the western states give their orders to call centers to save money. The people here get around of fifth of the wage in a call center compared to the US.
Companies in the Philippines:
In general my impression is that here in the Philippines you only find supermarkets and no discounters. In Germany you normally have for every big brand a lot of different discounter brands in the different discounters. But here you find in every store the same brands. Of course you have also different brands for the same product like milk powder you have „Bearbrand“ and „Alaska“. But you find them in all stores. I think you you just have a few big supermarket brands and not so many different like in Germany. A few of them are open 24 hours. This was also new for me because in Germany the stores normally cose at 8pm and if you need something after that you have to go the next gas station, hope that you can find it there and then there it is really more expensive than in the store. Also all stores and malls are open seven days a week. First I thought how could this be in such a Catholic thinking country but for me here you can see the influence of the American colonisation. This is in my opinion a very American phenomenon that a everything is open seven days, somestores are open 24 hours and the others close late in the evening around ten pm.
Famous Philippino fast food brands are Jolibee and Manginasal. Jolibee is famous for the chicken joy. This restaurant is the Philippino version of McDonald’s. The burger bread taste sweet because all Philippinos love sweet. Manginasal is a restaurant where you normally eat grill chicken or pork with rice with your hands. There in Bicol the company Graceland is famous. The serve Philippino dishes and include a bakery where you can find baguette which taste like at home.
In the Philippines are a lot of private health care center.
March 2017, Traffic in the Philippines
I will start my report about the traffic in the Philippines with the longer distances where you need a plane or a ship. Traveling by plane in the Philippines is for yourself not that easy because you normally have to go first back to Manila. The flight plan for domestic flights here is big. That means that you can reach nearly every region in the Philippines by plane. Nearly every island has an airport also in the North of Luzon are three airports. Form Manila you can flight to every other city with an airport. So for example when I want to go from Naga to Puerta Princessa (Palawan) I first have to go to Manila and there I take another plane going there. For organising it is the better and easier solution. They can’t organise a plan were it is possible to go from every place to every other place. For only a few people. In some other famous places they offer also to travel directly to another place. For example it in Legazpi it is possible to flight of course to Manila but also to Cebu. The plane is mostly used by travellers or business people.
Visayas is a region of the Philippines formed of a lot of island. There it is normal to go by ship. It is fastest and often the only way to go there. Some islands you can only reach with a ship.
Now I will come to the land traffic.
First of all the quality of the streets here is not the same as I’m used to it back in Germany. Especially in the North of Luzon I was really shock because most of the highways had the quality as the German dirt paths. This streets were partial unpaved and I was afraid what will happen when you drive a bit too fast and lose the control over our vehicle. It can happen that you overturn because the North of Luzon is the mountain region of the Philippines.
In general the streets are not so wide like in Germany and have more bends. So it is harder to see the oncoming traffic.
In Manila there is a special street net you have to pay for it when you want to use it but this streets are the best streets in the Philippines I have seen since I’m here.
The traffic is very slow because of the used vehicles. I will represent and explain them in a later point.
For me it seems like here in the Philippines exists the rule the stronger one wins or no rules exist because everyone drives somehow the way he wants. Next to the streets you can see some signs like STOP. For in Naga also traffic lights exist but most of the time they are turned off because the city government and the police observed that the traffic works out better without them. The drivers most of the time don’t care if the lights are red when nobody is coming they drive. To bend is somehow challenging. The drivers have to be really careful if someone is coming fast to go straight or if there are pedestrians (but most of the time they don’t care about pedestrians). To be a pedestrian you really have to pay attention because most of the time people don’t care about you as a pedestrian. As a rule you can say nobody stops at a zebra crossing to let the people cross the street. Sometimes it is easier to start crossing the street instead of waiting because this is faster and the drivers recognise you rather.
Now I will explain the different vehicles.
Badjak: This is a bicycle with an assessor. This vehicle you use for very short distances up to around 1km. It is famous because of the climate. Most of the time it is very hot and you sweat easily. The people don’t want to arrive already sweaty at their working place or school. Normally the ride costs five pessos per person. Normally in the assessor one to two people can fit.
Tricycle: This is a motorcycle with an assessor. It is normally used for distances between 1.5km to 4km. The price is 8 pessos per person. In my opinion this is the most common vehicle in the city. Some tricycles have a sign which says „private“. Some families own one because you can transport most of the stuff with a tricycle and than you need no car which ich more expensive. Sometimes I’m surprised how much you can transport with one tricycle and that it doesn’t break. For Filipinos one tricycle is good for five persons. But they also drive only with two persons. In this case they stop sometimes and tell the people who stand around in which direction they drive to get more passengers.
Normally it is easy to get a Bajak or Tricycle. The drivers drive around and ask if you need one and then you can say yes or most of the time it is enough to give them a sign. You tell the drivers where you want to go and then they will bring you there.
Jeepney: These vehicles are originally made out of US jeeps of Word War 2. They have in the the front a driver seat and a front passenger seat. In the back there are two benches. In a Jeepney fit around 20 persons. If the weather is good and the benches are already filled the people sit also on the top of the roof. It is a vehicle which is used inside the city but also going to cities up to 30km around. The price inside the city is 8pessos. Every Jeepney has a sign with the direction it will drive. When you want to use a Jeepney you raise your hand to stop the one with says it will go to the direction you need to go. To pay you say „payat“ and the money will be given to the driver by the people who sit nearer to the driver. To leave the Jeepney you say „para“ and it stops and you leave.
For longer distances you normally use a van or a bus. This vehicles leave at the central bus or van terminal. The terminals look similar to them in Germany. You find a lot of souvenir shops and little shops where you can buy drinks and junk foods. The busses are as a rule cheaper then the van but the van is faster. Normally there is no fixed plan when they leave. For example the vans leave when they are full. The busses in the Bicol region I really like because they have no windows and so you are able to enjoy the landscape more directly.
Going to Manila by bus is also possible. This busses have a fixed schedule when they leave and you can buy your ticket already one month before you will do your trip. Then you are safe having a seat. This busses are really cold because of the aircorn. I have already used this busses twice and both times I wore a thick jacket and used a blanket.
In general I can say the quality of the tyres of all different types of vehicles is really bad and I’m sure most of them would fail in a German control. Very often the vehicles here are overloaded and I would say everybody breaks the traffic rules. For example it is very common to overtake on the hard shoulder if it’s free.
I’m always surprised how good the traffic works out and inside the city it is very easy, cheap and uncomplicated to come around. I’m sure it will be hard to pay for vehicles when I’m back in. Germany because compared to the Philippines the vehicles are very very expensive.
April 2017, Family in the Philippine
First of all the official meaning of family. Family is a group of people united by birth or marriage. But my impression is that the definition of family here in the Philippines and in Germany is a bit different. In Germany you normally definite family as the parents and the children so in around 4 to 5 people. Grandparents, uncle, aunt and cousins are relatives. In the Philippines also the relatives are counted as family or the extended family.
A lot of people here also count their friends as family. Also some people call us now as members of their family. So for example one woman introduced us to her friends as her daughters.
The families in general are bigger than in Germany and the family planning starts earlier. Germans are normally around thirty when they will have their first child because we are more about first studying, then working a bit and then family planning to offer the children a good life.
Here in the Philippines most of the time the women give birth for the first time when they are in the early twenties. I think the reasons for this are that Filipinos are really conservative, here in the Philippines you can’t find the pill, abortion is prohibited. You can buy condoms here but it isn’t common to buy them. The Filipinos feel shy to buy it and they are afraid that the cashier will look different to them. Another reason is that the children have to take care for their parents when they are old and they are not able to work anymore because here in the Philippines there is no real system for retirement pay.
Another fact is that in rural areas and in the Noth of Luzon the families are bigger. In this regions there is partially no electricity so the nights are long and the people sleep early in the evening. Some families also need their children for the work. For example the Banaue rice terraces are all handmade and need a lot of care. The parents teach their kids how to do this and then they need to help.
The next point is that sadly you can say the bigger the families are the poorer they are. This point entails a problem because education is very expensive here in the Philippines. So in most of the cases the big families haven’t the money to send all their children to school. They have to hope that they can find a scholarship. Sometimes the oldest children who already finished schooling and work have to save the money for their younger siblings that they can be send to school. I already met people who told me that they had to broke up their schooling because of financial problems. One guy is now working in a bar where he doesn’t earn that much money for sure. Now he has a bad paid job which is at least something but he is not able to save money to go studying in the nearer future.
Here in the Philippines marriage is really for lifetime because separation is not allowed. When you marry you do this with the church and the Catholic church here is really strict. So the wedding means you live form that day the rest of your life together with your husband, take care of each other and the children. This sounds really good and it seems like marriage should look like.
Mostly the people are young when they marry and somehow everybody is changing a bit very day and it isn’t always possible that both partners can manage this change. If you can’t manage this process together the people become dissatisfied and unhappy. It isn’t that rare that the women end up to be slaughtered.
The reasons are the church and that separation isn’t allowed it is also that to women are not strong enough to say stop this. Normally the women take care of the household so they have no income and they depend on their men.
Of course there are also women who live alone with their children because they never get married, the child was not planed or they are so strong to say I better live on my own. In this cases the men are not forced to support their children. This mums have to manage all on their own like to earn enough money, take care of the household and of course also to still have time which she can spend with her children.
My impression is that the children here in the Philippines are forced in an earlier age to help in the household. For example when they are 7-8 years old they are teached by their parents how to wash. So in this age they start washing already. In Germany the parents do the laundry normally till the children finished school.
When Germans finish highschool we normally move for studying in university to another city. Here in the Philippines if a collage or university is in the their city the children go there to study and still stay at home. In a lot of families more than one generation live in the same house. So the older generation still has the control what the younger ones are doing and can support each other.
All in all I like that the families here are a bit bigger because for me it seems to be nice having more than one sibling. Additional i like the fact that the meaning family first really exists. But I think for example that separation is prohibited and that women who live alone get no support is not so good.
May 2017, Education in the Philippines
Before I really want to explain the school system here in the Philippines something obvious. Every student wears a school uniform. Every school has a different one so you can see which student belongs to which school or university. Back home in Germany we have no uniform and before i came to the Philippines for me the meaning of a school uniform was for the very famous schools like Oxford university in England. Here in the Philippines my opinion about this changed because the uniform makes you equal. You can’t see how rich or poor a person is, it only shows which school or community you belong to. Of course some are known that they are more expensive than others but in general the uniform just hows to which school you belong. We had the chance to teach in a school and get to know from a few students where they life and also this students life in different parts of Naga so we meet some who life in the really poor area where the houses are built really simple and others stay in houses which are similar to them in Germany. When very one is wearing the same the teacher only sees only how the student behaves and the way how the studies. So the uniform helps to be judged fair.
The school system in the Philippines is nearly the same like in the United States of America because they start with preschool, then they have six years of elementary school, after that four years junior high school. After that they go to college normally for two to four years, this depends on the course. After that you can go to university. For this coming school year which starts in June in the whole Philippines they have know senior high school. The students learn already in preschool how write, count and read. They youngest start preschool in the age of three. In Germany we learn all this things in the first year of elementary school. Of course there is a study that you keep things you learned in a very young age easier but it is so sad that this cute little children don’t have a real childhood like I had. During my time in kindergarden and preschool we only went there to meet others to play with them, sing and dance. Also there in the Philippines they play a bit with each other but preschool and kindergarden is really about studying already. At least the school day in preschool and kindergarden is only half a day. Starting from elementary school all students have morning and afternoon classes every day. But this doesn’t mean that they don’t have homework. During school days the pupils are really busy with schooling. I know one girl she was in grate two and she normally was done by 7:30pm. In my opinion that is really too long for a seven year old girl. Everyone needs time for himself, hobbies and social contacts.
Another thing is that already get grades in this young age. In Germany during your preschool times there is no judgement and during the first school year you only receive a comment about your behaviour in class and if it is easy for you to memories the teached things. Here in the Philippines there is a pressure from the first day of schooling even if the children don’t really get it that what the grades mean but this young students compare already who was more points than the other one.
School in general is teached in English language. For the younger ones of course the teacher translates it most of the time in Tagalog. So all the people here in the Philippines are used to English which makes it easy for foreigners to communicate with people and also with little children. A negative aspect of the teaching in English for me is that when there is for example in mathematics or science a complicated topic which is already hard to understand if you get to know it in your mother tongue but here in the Philippines you first have to understand what the English text or explanation means in Tagalog before you can understand the topic. Even the fact that the people are so used to English language they always have the so called „nose spleed“. It means they are feeling shy to speak English especially in the beginning.
The teached subjects are nearly the same as in Germany. They also have their mother tongue, Tagalog, English, Physical Education, IT, History, Religion, Science. The difference in teaching science is that here it includes Biology, Chemistry and Physics which are all teached as separate subjects in Germany. I observed that the way of teaching the subject Religion is very different to Germany where we learn of course the stories of the Bible but most of the time we talk about the other religions, there relationship between each other and discuss if it is realistic what is written in the Bible. There in the Philippines you only get to know the stories of the Bible and they teach you the Catholic church is kind of the real religion. Most of the people don’t know the difference between Protestants and Catholics and think the first named is a completely different religion. I think it is kind of unfair for the students that they only get to know the Catholic church because for understanding the world you should at least know that there are more than one religion and most of them have kind of the same idea especially Catholics and Protestants.
It seems like the education in the Philippines is quite good because you start teaching so early and you have very long school days. But in general I think the standards are not that high as in Germany. For example only the one way teaching religion or another one is that an engineering student in college did is mathematics homework. This was about the sides in a triangle which I learned in grade seven. When I saw that I was really shocked.
The grading system in the Philippines is also different to Germany where we have up to grate ten the system one to six and you need to answer 60% right to get the last four which means to pass. In senior high school there is another point system because the two years will be together with the final exams one grade in the end. In the Philippines they only have a percentage system where you need 75% to pass. It depends how many percent you have so you have different degrees. For example if you have 95% or more you are most outstanding student. The students here also have grates which were given by the behaviour during the lesson, for attendance and per quarter they write one big exam. All the exams are in one week unlike as in Germany where they are to different times. The exams don’t look like the German ones. Most of them are multipichoise. In Germany you normally have to give answers in whole sentences or have to write a short essay. The exams are easier for the students which is also a fact why the education standards are not that high as in Germany.
Another thing I observed is that the relationship between students and teachers is very different. The students see their teachers somehow as their friends. The respect to the teacher is shown by calling them „Teacher“, „Mam“ or „Sir“ and the first name. The students and teachers are often friends in Facebook which is in Germany first possible when the students finished schooling. Once a teacher told me that he is invited to his students 16th birthday party. Such a situation wouldn’t happend in Germany. Also both sides talk about their personal problems to each other. Back home the people avoid to do that because it is just a teacher or just a student and the students don’t want to care about their teachers or school outside that building.
It is a well known fact that the private schools in the Philippines are the better ones. In Germany it is the other way round, the public ones are the better ones. To enter a school most of the time the students have to take an entrance examination so that the school can see how much they already know or if they have to many applicants to choose whome to accept. The fact that private ones are the better ones explain why education is so expensive in the Philippines. The school fee Is in college around 35000 pessos. Then they haven’t books yet. Here in the Philippines is now borrowing system like in Germany where you copy or answer the tasks in a notebook and I the end of the school year you give the book back to the school and the next batch receive them, no everybody needs to buy his own books and books are also here in the Philippines expensive. For example for a grate three students all books together cost 5000pesso which is 100€. In my opinion it isn’t fair that education is so expensive because this is the basic for everything and everyone has a right to get educated. Lots of people hope to become somewhere a scholarship because for them it is the only chance to study.
At least they are trying to improve the teachers in the public schools because the government highered their income.