The day I had Internet
Magandang hapon (‘good afternoon’) as they say in the Philippines or ‘Maayo nga hapon’ which is the Romblomanon version. Apparently Romblomanons shorten all their words compared to Tagalog (aka ‘Filipino’) but to me, they’re both as equally hard to remember!
It’s been about a month since I’ve been in this country, The Pines. That’s four weeks of non-stop sweating, cold showers, sugary food, pork, and island hopping. I’ve seen about 10 different beaches, met close to a hundred different people whose names I can’t remember and have hardly done any work. Yes, life is tough here.
My first week in Manila is sort of a distant memory now. I remember feeling so completely exhausted in the 2 hour car ride it took to transport us over 30km from the airport to our hotel. Yes, the traffic in Manila is as bad as what everyone says! That part of the adventure was, in a nutshell, a good introduction to the Filipino culture and lifestyle. It was also great meeting all the other volunteers as well as getting mentally psyched up for our placements. Some things I took away were:
- You never go hungry here. Why? Because Filipinos love to eat. Not just the usual 3 meals a day. Merienda (snacks aka meals without rice) is taken at 10.30am and 3.30pm.
- If you are a vegetarian, forget eating out. There’s very little offered in terms of vegetarian food. Everything here has meat – even the salads and everything is cooked with some sort of meat stock. Be prepared to live off tropical fruits! On the other hand, if you’re a meat eater (like me) – HORRAY!!! You’ve hit the jackpot.
- Filipinos are PBR (powered by rice). Rice is basically accompanied with every meal and is the main component.
- Don’t stress out too much if the taxi you’re in starts to cross over into the opposite lane. Road lines/boundaries here are just a suggestion – that’s just how they do it over here! A number of times we were in the right line and several approaching cars were using the same lane because of all the traffic. However, surprising that there is no/minimal road rage here!
- Get used to not knowing until the last minute. Things aren’t really planned more than 3 days in advance here. You have to be prepared to up and go at any moment because plans can change including where my placement was supposed to be. I was told when I got in Manila that I would be based on Tablas Island, rather than Romblon capital. Then two days after that, I was told 2 weeks on Romblon and the remaining in Odiongan. Then 1 month. Kind of stressful, but now I’ve just learned to be more flexible (not that I have a choice!).
- Lastly, get used to not having fast/access to Internet. Seriously. It’s a miracle that I’ve even been able to post this!!
Well, that’s all for now. I would post pictures of a weekend trip to Sibuyan but I don’t want to wait 1 hour for things to upload.