Monthly report: November 2013
D. and I decided to do voluntary work in the Philippines after graduating from the Gymnasium in june 2013. Both of us are eighteen years old. I decided to join the program because i wanted to visit Asia and do social work at the same time. Improving my English was another possibility i saw in this English-speaking country. Therefore it seemed like the ideal organisation for me. Before coming here, we attended meetings with the operations officers to prepare our stay here. Those included formalities like visa and passport, but also the comparison of the different cultures and the working out of our schedule in the Philippines.
We arrived at night in Manila on October 24. We were fetched at the airport to bring us to an accommodation in Quezon City. After two nights, we flew to Palawan to spend one week there before starting with our regular schedule. We were accompanied by associated friends and family who stayed with us for three days.
There we were guests of the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation for four days. They offered us presentations and guided tours to show us their project of reforestation for the mined out areas. Another project is the work with the indigenous people there. They provide them with electricity and water systems to improve their living conditions. It was surprising to us that it is possible to bring back nature to a totally bare place.
Palawan is also known as ‚drop of heaven‘ because of its magnificent scenery and vastly untouched nature. F. was our tour-guide and brought us to some beautiful places such as the Underground River. We also went island-hopping and snorkeling.
In comparison to The Philippines, public transports in Germany are very on time. Even the Deutsche Bahn would be considered as reliable and punctual. Our flight from Palawan back to Manila for example was delayed for more than four hours which was announced after we’ve already waited for two hours.
Another thing that we noticed is the so called ‚filipino time‘. If you agree on meeting at a certain time, people will show up about thirty minutes later. If they are unable to come, they often won’t tell you. Time consciousness is not considered as very important here.
Our usual schedule looks like this: Saturday morning to Wednesday afternoon we’re in the parish of San Rafael, Tigaon. On Saturdays, we work with the youth there. Monday we go up Mount Isarog to learn organic farming together with the indigenous people there. Tuesday and Wednesday we help teach Math and English in grade one to five in the local public elementary school. Wednesday evening to Saturday morning we’re in Naga. On Thursdays we teach German in the music orientated preschool ‚Jumel’s Learning Center‘. Friday is our free day when we do our laundry or meet friends.
There are some differences that we noticed especially in the first days of our stay in the Philippines: Showering is much simpler here. You fill a bucket with water and use a so called ‚tabo‘ (which is like a water dipper) to pour water over you. Since no one has heating systems, the water is always cold. Instead of toilet paper, the tabo is also used, basically like a manual bidet. Flushes are also rare, most of the time you just use the tabo.