June 28, 2001 - Personal Web Site: A Peace Corps Experience in the Philippines (Part 2)

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A Peace Corps Experience in the Philippines (Part 2)



A Peace Corps Experience in the Philippines (Part 2)

Begging for Care Packages

10/30/98

Great to hear from you!

As for my wish list, goody goody. I think maybe some thing you can help me with is maybe some fabric. I want to make some Linen pants, but can't find the linen anywhere. That would be awesome. Also, music is always a good bet. If you can make me a mix of your music, I don't care what it is. The weirder the better. The music here is chalk full of the Titanic soundtrack and Michael learns to rock crap... Also, some nice coffee beans would be nice.

anything!

Dang Nguyen
Coffee

10/30/98

Hey chic!

I am on this coffee high this morning, I can't seem to type faster then my mind can think. I haven't had a good cup of coffee in months. This morning, my host mother cooked up a nice brew with real beans and a coffee maker! I am in heaven. It beats the hell out of this instant coffee Nescafe stuff the Filipinos love so much!

I'm not too familiar of where Lucban is but I know about Bagio. That is northern Luzon closer to Manila then here. But its suppose to be a nice area.

Dang
Update about Peace Corps Life

10/30/98

Lets see, what have I been up to since the last you heard from me, which is probably around the time I left for the Philippines. I haven't been very faithful when it comes to writing to people, but I will try to make amends. I've been living at my site now for 3 months, after about 2 months of training at the training site. My site is what you can describe as a large town, Filipino standards, with about 43,000 inhabitants. Its got many of the amenities that I like but not everything. I must get around to sending pictures of what I am doing, I'm sure you guys will get a kick out of what the world looks like on this end. It's not the cleanest place in the world, but it has a lot of character, and is full of life! There is at any one time, Jeepneys and tricycles filled with people, overflowing on the back and sitting on the roof, it is truly a fascinating site. They say there is always "room for one more" on these vehicles.

My work is progressing along. Haven't built anything concrete yet, just been running around, meeting with people, trying to get established and begging for money for my projects. I did get lucky with the Department of Health and may be receiving a P100,000 ($2500) grant to construct some sanitary toilets along a coastal community here. They are in dire need of some proper sanitation and much needed education. I am excited about that.

Travel wise, I haven't been in too many places. It sounds funny, but after a while, nice white tropical sand beaches just aren't as appealing anymore. I mean, they are nice and nice to relax in but it is just so damn hot here, that when I am at these beaches, I just sit in the shade. Not that I am in this situation often. The beach here, a 10 minute walk, is a larger darker sand material, which isn't so nice but the water is clear but warm, not very refreshing.

Sorry, I seem to just be mumbling and saying things at random. That's the problem with not writing for so long, there is so much that wants to come out, yet they do, but in no particular structure or order. Which ends up making it sound like complete gibberish!

Dang
My View on Re-Culture Shock

10/30/98

Its funny you mention your re-culture shock. Many people who haven't traveled aren't really familiar with the concept that after an extended time away abroad, you come back and get culture shock again. There is a good book, called "Americans Abroad" that has section on re-culture shock. The things that come to mind are :

1) Your friends and family are interested in hearing about your adventure for all of 15 minutes. Then they'll all start talking about themselves and what's happened in their lives while you were gone. A very common incident with me, and it left me feeling I couldn't relate to anyone. Which isn't true. You should keep in mind that people around you had a life while you were away, and that they should get equal consideration.

2) Friends felt different to me also, not so much with family. For family, it was pretty much the same, too much the same in fact. But with friends, I felt I couldn't relate so much with them and couldn't be bothered hearing about their little quarrels with girlfriends or the number of times they got drunk while I was away. Here is an excerpt from my journal that I wrote when I got back from Sweden. Its funny even now reading it.
#
# "I'm home now after my 360 day stay in Sweden. A lot has changed in me since my departure on the 22nd of August, 1995. I have changed inside, the way I act towards other people and the way I look at things. I find myself more aggressive towards people, more demanding-- I think it's self confidence. I've always felt a little timid around people around me, maybe it's that Asian cultural thing. But now, I am feeling equal or better. Most people I know or meet have not traveled abroad. It leaves them very narrow minded. I find myself seeing things that they don't see, I notice things that they will never notice. I've grown a lot this last year, I hope it continues."

3)Another thing the book talks about is your desire to get back out in the world. In other words, you've caught what is known as the "Travelerís Itch". It shouldn't be surprising that after you've had a taste of something good, you want more. Travel is like SEX! I remember when I got back home, after about a week I was already looking for funding opportunities to do research work abroad again. But my motivation was to return back to Sweden to some friends. I wanted to return a year later, to the life I had in Sweden before. But I realized that the one year was special and returning would not be the same. Friends have left, changed and the entire dynamics are different, as I found out when I returned for two weeks a year later. But your motivation sound different, you seem to want to travel, travel, travel, which is a good reason.

You asked if studying abroad affected my decision to join the Peace Corps, and the answer is "YES". I remember deciding to either do the study abroad or Peace Corps back when I was a junior. I decided that the study abroad would be the best, and even though I've always wanted to go into the PC, I thought that 1 year "wasted" was enough. But after being away a year and meeting different cultures and experiencing the world, I knew I could never get enough. Plus, traveling and living in another country are two separate things and I knew I liked living in a country, so the Peace Corps was the obvious answer. I mean, most people surveyed, when asked, "What they would do if they won the lottery?", somewhere in the top 3 will be to "TRAVEL". We have this opportunity now when we are young and relatively responsible free, so I am taking advantage of that. I will continue traveling and being abroad for as long as I enjoy it and it satisfies me.

I think the Peace Corps has been a definite right move. I won't go into people's perception of the Peace Corps experience(which is almost always positive and well respected in the career field), but I'll talk about the personal gains I think I am receiving. As I mentioned above, I love living in another country and getting a deeper glimpses into a culture. So, personally, PC is fulfilling it beyond belief. I mean, sometimes, I'm walking the barrio and talking to people, riding tricycles and mountain biking through rice fields and on tropical beaches, I stop and think, "man is this unbelievable or what?" And it's the everyday things that excite me. Everyday is a new experience.

My personal choice to go to the Peace Corps has mostly been selfish I think. And I believe that is perfectly okay. I am living out my travel desires, contributing to my career (I hope to work for the UN or other international relief agency afterwards), and having fun. Plus, along the way, I'll be able to help people in a little way. I warn you, as I warn other people, that joining the Peace corps solely to change the world will sadly disappoint most people. You will be more goal orientated then and this will put too much pressure on the Peace Corps experience. And those frustrating days, when you truly believe these people don't want to be helped, you will surely be tempted to give up.

I hope this long and exasperating reply has been helpful. I am only too glad to share some of my thoughts with you. I know exactly what you are going through, as I was obviously in the same situation. Think carefully about what you want in life and go for it, and don't let your parents stand in the way. They will eventually understand.

About your desire to study in Hanoi, thatís great. But as another option, as a way to get deeper is to join "Volunteers in Asia". It's a small NGO based out of Stanford that assigns people to developing countries. They have a program in Vietnam. You should look into it. You must pay for it yourself (unlike Peace Corps) but there are funding opportunities. I have a good friend teaching in Saigon now and she got the entire two years paid for. So there is hope.

Best of luck and I'll be happy to answer more.

Dang

PS. I loved Istanbul too, and I had hoped that my article on Istanbul wasn't too negative. I mean, I think it is one of the most enchanting cities filled with mystic and life. I loved it and wanted to stay longer. My experience was unfortunate, and I wrote about it in hopes that others are able to avoid it and enjoy the country as it should be. I think my biggest disappointment was the "GRAND BAZAAR".
My First Debut

10/30/98

Well, the Philippines! Last Friday, I went to my first Debut, you know - the coming of age for a 18 year old girl. Anyways, this thing was extravagant beyond belief. It was obviously a family with too much money to spend. It was held in a sports complex, where some of the people had to even sit in the bleachers, including myself. There were sequence dresses, long gowns, small skimpy spaghetti strap things, fireworks, smoke machines, and putrid pink balloons strung everywhere. It was pretty fancy and disgusting.

Me drink cheap beer? Well, if you call $0.35 cheap. Its what you can get at the bars here, P12.50! But I've stopped drinking mass quantities of beer like I did when I first arrived. You remember, I said I was drinking about 7 San Miguels on average per night. My stomach kept getting bigger and bigger and it was getting ridiculous. When I do drink now, which isn't as often, I drink hard liquor usually cheap vodka or Tanduay Rhum. As a result of the beer thing, I have lost some weight. I no longer have that belly and maybe I'll actually do some push ups and sit ups, one of these days.

Dang
Boracay Bike Ride

11/3/98

Can't really write too much now, I'm in the office on a Sunday. I just did a two day bike ride up the coast to a white sand beach resort where I stayed for two days. It was a real hassle getting back home, we were on the bus from 10 am to 5 pm and missed the last one so we had to spend the night in another town. I am leaving tomorrow for some training and won't check e-mail until maybe a week.
In Service Training

11/21/98

I am doing fine now. I have been spending the last 3 days here in a college for some Peace Corps training. It has been great seeing the other PC volunteers, some that I have not seen for 4 months. We did a lot of catching up with a lot of unbelievable stories. I have it pretty easy where I live, with all the luxuries and stuff. Some have to fetch their own water and have no electricity and no sensible form of entertainment, pretty brutal!

I will be here one more day then I am back to Manila for a few more then I don't know what else. I think I'll go around for a few days around the north, where the temperatures are around 50F, really cold! I am really use to the 85F daily temperatures and the humidity.

I would like to go home for x-mas too, but I think I should at least stick it out here. I mean, when else will I have an opportunity to spend x-mas in the Philippines? So I will take advantage of it now. But it sucks since all three of the other volunteers at my site will be away too. Two are going home and one is on a training, so its just me and my Filipino family! Yes! But I will be fine...
Tropical Life

12/3/98

Tropical Island life is good. I just got from an extended vacation/conference that let me travel for about 1 month around the Philippines. I didn't do much except drink and hang out but it was fun. Somehow, I need to motivate myself and travel, hike and be a tourist. I think I do that better in small groups. I was traveling with 7 other people and we just hung out, drank and played asshole. The last few weeks have been a big blur. I did do a little surf trip where I tried surfing, which wasn't too successful but I did get a bodyboard and did that for a bit.

But besides that, all is well. Still healthy but missing the little things from the states such as damn good Mexican food and dark beers.

See ya

Dang
Update from the road

11/10/98

So what's happening with the family? I've been on the road now for about 5 days, constantly traveling and not spending the night in more then one place at a time. It's been fun. I've been on one of the most disgusting cruise boats for 12 hours, after that, on a bus for 5 and then walked around the capitol, Manila all day getting my fill of Burger King and air-conditioning. It's great!

I haven't checked my mail and the other person that I am sharing this with is probably got the messages back home, so don't know if you replied to my message written on Sunday.

Anyways, I am healthy and happy. Just got my 3 month vacation allowance from Peace Corps, a whole $72! That's a lot of money here believe it or now. I am seriously thinking about going to Thailand and Vietnam next year for some vacation with some of the guys here. So that money will definitely come in handy. It costs $225 to fly to Bangkok round trip from here! So I must avail!

Anyways, see ya

Dang
Sending Packages

12/3/98

Things are back to normal now in Antique. I have just returned after about a month attending conferences and vacationing. Man, I've just about gone on every kind of transportation in the Philippines, buses, jeeps, small outrigger boats, liners, and planes. It's been an adventure and I feel tired physically but refreshed as far as getting work done and motivation. I feel a little more informed about certain things and will now definitely pick up the pace and pressure on the projects here.

That's great to hear about the package. Whatever way you send it will be fine. I was wondering about the FEDEX deal though. I live in the province, which is a little ways from Manila. I wonder if FEDEX will deliver out here. They probably have some subsidiary like LBC or DHL out here.

I wonder if they will be able to send it here within 1 week.

About the contents, there are always possibilities of being taxed on items that you send. And the FEDEX thing probably would be the least risky considering the x-mas glut and the speed that they need to process. But make your best judgment. Also be sure to put "God bless this Package" all over the box. It will help prevent thieves from opening up and taking things. About the aerosol, I prefer the dry stick anyways. Its the Arrid XXX dry stick that I always use. So that shouldn't be a problem. Thanks for the racquet man, I hate using these cheesy racquets here and don't forget about throwing in some balls too.

I might call James and Gam today or tom morrow about things. They offered to buy me a ticket to go home to the states. That sounds really tempting but I should probably stick it out here for x-mas. So, I think I'll have to decline on that one.

Also, it looks like I might be heading off to Vietnam/Thailand Feb. 1999 for about 5 weeks. I hope to make it there for Vietnamese new years and travel around the two countries for about 5 weeks. I might as well do it while work is still not overwhelming. But that all depends on prices and visa requirements. But man, I think I will have a blast.

Besides that, things are well. I'll write more about my escapades later, now I'm just clearing my head of all the alcohol I consumed the past 3 weeks.

Dang
Abroad or not Abroad

December 4, 1998

I am now back at "home" after a month of travelling around the Philippines. I went first to Tablas Island, a small island where I had some language training and hung out with 2 other volunteers and our language instructors. I mean, this was typical Philippines. Small villages, with really nothing to do except hang out with the locals and drink beer. There isn't any TV, there is electricity sometimes and just in the middle of nowhere. The people seem happy and content with doing nothing, but I think prolonged exposure to it can make one go mad. At least, my few days there I had fun, and getting there was an adventure in itself. I rode about every possible form of transportation possible, from jeeps, motorcycles, small outrigger boats, and buses. I think one of the best things with the Philippines is that you can get just about anywhere and the transportation can be one of your biggest adventures.

Anyways, about going abroad. I can tell you how I feel about it. I think that what I am doing now is not goofing off but sometimes I think it is selfish. But whose life is it anyways? I mean, eventually this experience abroad will pay off sometime down the road, no matter what direction I take. I mean, if I go towards the development route, then the advantages are obvious, but if I go some completely different route, then my experiences will help me indirectly. I mean you noticed how much you matured being away one year, in a country that isn't too different from the US. Imagine a longer period where people don't speak English, where customs are completely different. Imagine how much one matures and how ones perspectives completely evolves into something much wider then western culture allows us to see. What I am saying that living abroad isn't goofing off or wasting time, it's an investment in your self, a character building part of ones life.

Of course one needs to consider the responsibilities back home. But think about when you will have an opportunity like this again in your life. Simply, you won't. Now is the time that you're not married, without kids or mortgage. If you feel boxed in now, imagine 10 years from now or 20, you won't be able to leave your home for more the 2 weeks at a time. That's why I want to get as much travelling as I can at this stage in my life.

Thinking about your question as to if all study abroad students change after their experiences. I think they do but some to a lesser extents. Some that I know of, after 3 years of being back home, have settled into a normal life. Others have been vigorously travelling or trying to travel. I think it is a very common phenomenon to get that travel itch after studying abroad...

Can't tell you much about the volunteers in Asia. And you being back in the states probably have more resources then I to look for info. I suggest looking on the internet first. Then if that fails, look up some books in the library about volunteerism, or call up Stanford and ask them about it. It is definitely something worth looking into. I've known of some people in the Japanese program. I think there is a lot of money to be made in it but your wont' get that development experience...

Good luck with your decisions..

Dang
Alone in Antique

12/6/98

Don't be mislead by the "From:" heading, it's just me, Dang. The sole volunteer in Antique. The rest have fled home to take refuge back in the states during this x-mas season. So, I am here to consume all the food of the fiestas, x-mas, and weddings that seem to coincide with this month.

I'll answer your Qs first. The municipal doesn't have a server. I am still connecting with a service in Miagao. It is descent, besides I mostly send e-mail. The nipa house is nice. I occasional spend the night out there but its usually just the two girls, Gina and Tina. Your parents haven't brought the pictures by yet, as far as I know. Arleen hasn't mentioned anything about it. So get on your parents!

Lets see what's happening in Antique.. We have a new Peace Corps volunteer, Kristina. She is also a school teacher like Tina, I bet they must think all teachers in the states are at least 6'! Anyways, she is "cool" and is enjoying Antique. She will be moving into Gina's old room beginning next year. She was staying out in Belison for a while.

I wonder if I should tell you since it just might spoil your day, but heck, I never believed in sheltering poor innocent college professors from the real world. Anyways, it seems the Philippines Navy decided to remove and replace the lighthouse tower on Nogas Island. To do this, they brought in heavy machinery on the island, which basically wrecked a lot of the coral since they needed to make a temporary dock. Out of what? They used coral to build it. Truly depressing, isn't it? Sometimes, I just don't understand engineers.

Yeah, Norman helped me get about P80,000 for some sanitary projects along the coastal barangays. I agree, I need more then money, and I think Norman is willing to give me a lot of support. I think he is one of the few movers in this community, besides Fe and Julie in the PPDO. So, I hope to begin some substantial work by next year, after the holidays of course.

Gina got lice. Yep, don't know how that happened. I think she wanted to keep it a little hush, hush, but I just can't help blabbing about people's health problems, especially when it affects us all. Gina shared my baseball cap a few times, so I was a little worried but I don't have any symptoms, YET! But it must be the Kalbo(shaved head). So it was worth something besides the constant staring I get from people. I have decided to let it grow back after having it shaved since you left.

Tradetown's official opening is Tuesday, Dec. 8th? The vice-president is scheduled to show up, Gloria Arroyo? Seems like a big thing beginning with a parade, then a mass, ten million speeches, etc. Amazing!

Saw Boracay finally. Gina and I rode our(actually I borrowed one since my P17,000 bike was stolen from Madranca!) bikes up the Antique coast. Two days and around 180km later, we found ourselves in Caticlan. A beautiful bike ride I must say. I thought it was a nice place but a little to commercial for me. It's great for the food and the bars, but for a tropical paradise, I like seclusion better. Gina did take me to Yaka beach, on the northern tip where there was no one, so we have mad passionate sex on the fine white sand. HA!

Anyways, stay immensely busy and don't think about all the pork skin you are missing out during this holiday season!

Dang
Gobble Gobble

12/9/98

Its funny how you mention being "old and unable to control my bodily functions", I mean, at times on the volleyball court, I feel that way too. But I surely don't want you to shoot me!

Anyways, I've been out of town for about a month. It's been a hard life man. I've been attending conferences and mixing in some vacation time for the past month. I've been able to travel around the Philippines, it's been great, and all on my Peace Corps travel expenses. Actually, if I think about it, my stipend really allows me to live comfortable in this country. But the occasional splurge really can be painful on the budget though.

To answer your question about Thanksgiving, I must say I had a very traditional one. We were in Manila at the country directors house, and he and his wife cooked up a good 'ol thanksgiving dinner with all the fixins. I mean, everything from the 3 turkeys, 10 pies (pumpkin, cranberry, apple etc), stuffing, cranberries, etc. They even had four jugs of wine that I helped devour, which left me with a pretty massive headache the next day but hey, it was good wine! Heck, even Gallo tastes good after not having wine for a while.

Actually, for about a 1-2 weeks, I was living large, eating McDonalds, Burger King, Kenny Rogers, Subway and was even tempted to go to TGIF, but that was too expensive. I even went to a microbrewery and had a few good Ales. So, in all it was good. I don't know if I told you but I've lost about 15-20 lbs since I've been here, I am lean, slim and mean! But I managed to gain 5 lbs after the intensive 2 weeks of junkfood. But I plan on exercising more now and getting all cut up! Oh babe, watch out!

By the way, to make you feel guilty and utterly low, I did just have my b-day on Nov. 17th, turned the big 2-5! I hung out with other volunteers and we hit a lot of bars, how else do you expect me to spend my b-day.

My x-mas will be here in my town with my host family. I think it will be a good experience. I was tempted to visit home and see the family but how my chances in my life will I have to spend x-mas in the Philippines. So, I'll do that. For new years, some other volunteers and I will probably meet at some beach resort and hang out for a few days. I hear the Philippines is absolutely wild during new years, with bombs and guns going off anywhere. No one even thinks about going out on the street...

Later and until next time chick!

Dang
A little Sarcasm is Necessary

12/9/98

Oh oh oh,

Antique is just chalk full of excitement. To start, the Manokan has been completely vacated(you should have seen the exodus of prostitutes and fat bellied men towards tradetown, if you could imagine such a sight). Tradetown opened yesterday beginning with a parade which of course would not be complete without a marching band blasting away at 6:30AM. The opening culminated into the vice president not showing but to substitute, her brother in-law showed up, which isn't too bad, right? In the evening, I was able to visit Tradetown and was surprised to see a hopping disco, courtesy of the municipal. Arleen, Che and I took the dance floor and shook our hips to some of my all time favorite songs, "Tamagouchi, Dr. Jones, 5-6-7-8". What else, Mama arrived and has kept me entertained since. Just looking at her makes me just all happy and amused inside, she is just something else. We'll see how that works out, but I guess the best news about her is that she is staying until MAY!!!!!!!!! AHHHAHAHAH!! Arleen seems to be handling the situation rather well, she is often found in the living room, blasting the radio and playing along with the guitar. I think she is just avoiding her problems (i.e. Mama).

Sorry to say I have not made it out to your house. I mean, what with talking with mama, reading, listening to my headphones, and looking at my walls (including the plethora of faces ominously floating around) seems to keep my day very full and I am just too darn busy to watch some beans grow. But I did dispatch your favorite worker, Juanet, out there to water your plants and trees, oh, and to clean your room, including the sexy piece of underwear I persuaded you to leave behind. So, if you find any undergarments missing then ask Juanet if he has it or look in "THE BOX" for I might have worn it and mixed it with my own laundry.

But back to the serious business at hand, Arleen called you to say a last "Farewell and happy trip", nothing urgent. Re: your e-mail, wala wala gid! You received one from Jody today which I have forwarded. But besides that, none, which leads me to conclude your friends just don't care and are merely entertaining your fantasies by telling you they sent e-mail.

Good luck at home and I know you can't wait for the next installment chick!

Dang
Alone in Antique Still

12/10/98

As always, you are slacking on the e-mails. But that's okay, don't worry about me, your poor friend all alone in this big god damn country. But your probably busy checking your list, and checking it twice, and finding out whose been naughty or nice.

Anyways, things are better then expected here. I am officially alone here, which hasn't been bad at all. I am working everyday now, unbelievable, so that keeps my mind focused. There is a youth group I am supervising, and we have been planning and will build two sanitary toilets next week and also implementing a solid waste program here. I'm really excited about the work, since it is the first real substantial work I've done here. By the way, there are a few eligible girls in this youth group, you want a pen pal from the province? Ha.

What are you plans for x-mas now?

See ya

Dang
Burping Mama

12/13/98

Well, things in Antique are rapidly changing. It's weird how much changes when one is absent from a place. I mean when one is here in Antique, things seem so stagnant, never changing but the minute you get on the Powerstar and take that ominous ride to Iloilo then things seem to miraculously change.

Jing is once again back in Antique. He missed Che so much he came back to Antique from Manila and is hanging out with her as much as it is physically possible. Jun-Jun went to the movies with one of his female co-workers last night, they are talking MARRIAGE!!! Some sad news with the good, Nole (of Ohhhh-fame) is transferring to Bacolad so that means wara Nole in Antique! Bummer isn't it. I guess its good for his family but sucks for us, doesn't it. I'll miss that old guy. Mama is buying a new computer for the house, and we'll have internet access here at the Loza's! There are plans to remodel the entire house so that means construction for months!

The more I get to know Mama the more amused I get. I mean its the little things she does that just makes me crack up inside. The other night, after Jing and I finished off the vodka bottle, I went into the house semi-drunk and there was insomniac mother dusting. I invited her to sit down and share a donut with me. She said she can't because once she eats one, she keeps burping donut. Anyway, after much arm twisting and torture, she had one and sure enough, she burped and said, "See, a donut burp", I almost fell on the floor laughing. Hey the other thing I found out, her favorite thing is vodka-cranberry. She says the vodka is good for the liver. So, be sure to bring some nice oceanspray back. She said she almost brought some back but changed her mind last minute, SHIT!

I have actually been busy and going to DOH everyday last week, can you believe it? The project with the kids is good, we bought some culverts and plan on beginning construction next week. They have also collected some trash cans and plan to implement a small solid waste program in the barangay. So, I've been busy running around with them and being a good volunteer. But I hope to find some time to build that damn volleyball court.

How's home? Was everyone surprised at your sudden appearance in old PA? Tell me all about it.

I received my first package today. I got some coffee, chocolate, a shot glass, some biscotti and a nice b-day card. Aren't I special. There is another box coming from my friend who baked me homemade cookies, but she sent that off a month ago. Wonder how that'll taste.

Dang

PS-Don't be surprised when you come back and Mama calls you the puking girl. Somehow the conversation digressed to vomit and I told her about St. Joseph puking and the all you can drink scene. Sorry but it kept everyone really entertained.
Tropical Christmas

12/16/98

Well it is pretty rough spending Christmas in a tropical environment. I mean, even in California there wasn't any snow, heck it usually is sunny but at least it gets a little colder and the days get a little shorter to make you feel that it is suppose to be winter. But here, it still is fuckin hot and the days are as long as they were in the hot summer. But its nice not to have to worry about bringing a jacket when you go outside.

I'm spending my Christmas here as you have probably guessed. My family did offer to fly me home to spend x-mas there but I think I should stay here and check out the scene. But next year, I plan on going to Vietnam and Thailand for my vacation, so I need to save the cash for that trip.

Things are good here, built my first crapper today. Not finished yet but when it is finished, it should allow people to crap in it. Oh, I also played volleyball this past weekend, with the local high-school girls team. Can you believe how low I've gone after leaving California? I mean, I'm playing on a low net with inexperienced girls. But I did work up a sweat since it was outside in the sun, on the cement court during high noon when it was 90F outside. Heck, I'm still soar from it today.

Tell everyone I said Merry Christmas and happy volleyball.

Dang

PS. You said in your last message, "Send some pictures of the tropical ladies.". Now to clarify, did you like the more rural girls poses(rice pickers, walking caribou, planting plants) or the more urban scene(market vendors). I can accommodate any kind of tropical fetish you may have!
Projects

12/16/98

How are things on the home front, probably extremely busy with the two kids, eh? I just had a conversation with the grandmother here, she's visiting from the states. She said that in the Philippines, its so easy to be a working mother since hiring help is so cheap. So people have maids that do the washing, cleaning and taking care of the children. She had five kids and worked full time. But now she's in the states with one of her daughters, and she watches her grandchildren. She does the cooking, shopping and generally babysits, pretty ironic.

Which reminds me about my situation here. I mean, I don't think I've told you but we have two maids here and two handy boys also. So, I basically do nothing. It's pretty pathetic, they even clean my room, which I don't like since they organize my disorganized desk so I don't know where anything is. But I am getting very spoiled here and can see how the men in this society can be chauvinistic. I guess that's common in many Asian cultures.

Anyways, things are going well with my projects. I can't believe I am actually getting things done, which could have been done before but there hasn't been anyone to push it. I am working with a group of youth workers this past week and we are almost finished with a sanitary toilet. It was along the coast, so these two families(11 people total) didn't have a bathroom so they usually went on the beach or somewhere more private. So, now, hopefully they'll use the new facility and take care of it. Also, I was able to persuade the municipal government to start having trash pickups in this barrio. So, that will alleviate a lot of the pollution. We will build 1 more toilet after this.

My next project will be to hopefully organize the vendors in our new market to segregate there biodegradable and then compost to make some organic fertilizers for profit. If I can do this project, I think it will truly help the people here.

I saw something truly disturbing today though. I was at our dilapidated hospital here in town and the doctor wanted me to look at a case. He showed me in a room with a lone girl, curled up, with boney limbs, bulging eyes and just staring into space. She was suffering from 3rd degree malnutrition and had been in the hospital for one month so far being rehabilitated. It was absolutely disgusting. Apparently, the family can't take care of her since the mother just delivered her 11th child! Can you believe that? It made me so angry yet made me feel so helpless. But hopefully something can be done about this case but that leaves hundreds of other similar children who haven't been reported to the hospital.

That experience really made me appreciate what I have. More people should see a scene like that...

Dang




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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Philippines; Special Interests - PCVs in the Field - Philippines

PCOL3024
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