Hello Philippines

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Toilet paper

Image via Wikipedia

Update: I found another blog post from the time we landed to the start of this post, so I've put them together here.

Hi everyone. I am safely in the Philippines and have obviously found Internet, however I've been writing this in various places that didn't.

We all cleared customs with 60 days except for David, our co-leader, who was only given 21. We will all need to get extensions at some point so we can stay the full 77 days but we expected this. I guess we will have to see what happens with his visa but there is a decent chance he can get an extension.

Right now we are in the heat waiting for our contact to pick us up. We have been waiting for quite a while and Plan B has been formulated. Since we don't have her address or phone number we're a bit stuck to contact her. Did I mention the heat? It's like a sauna, we were told 32 degrees celsius with pretty much 100% humidity, and it's 8pm here but my laptop and my body both think it's 2am. A sauna isn't too inviting at 2am but I hope my muscles enjoy the heat and loosen up a bit.

Still it's far too early in this trip to get frustrated so I'm putting my time to good use and writing this blog post. We left Kona at 8am with a wonderful send off from everyone else in the class (we were the first to leave). We were prayed over, hugged and then given a mexican wave as we did laps of the flags in the van - I got a video of it. I didn't cry but I will really miss everybody. Give it a week and I may miss the base too.

Shortly after we left the base my little camera battery died, which is annoying because it was only charged 2 days ago, I may have to buy a new one over here. We flew to Honolulu with no incident and my lunch was chow mein, hot chocolate and a choc chip scone, dinner was plane food - some meat on rice with a nice sauce. I'd forgotten how cold planes are and stayed tucked under my blanket for a lot of the trip. The plane ride over was pleasant but long - I watched Alice in Wonderland on the plane entertainment system and Band of Brothers, Futurama and Big Bang Theory on my laptop.

Looks like Plan B is being actioned, time to pack up and move our gear.

Okay, we're at the airport hotel, which is more expensive than we thought. However we are sitting in an air conditioned area while our leaders try to email or facebook our contact. I just had my first encounter with a begging child as we walked the 200 meters from the airport to the hotel. He can't have been more than 6 years old with an empty drink cup asking for money in English. I have no Philippine money yet and I know that all the money I have in the world could never look after all these kids, it's my first real taste of how much poverty there is in this country.

The poverty drives a lot of things, including prostitution. Many girls enter prostitution because they need to support themselves or their family and if they're young and pretty they can earn what is good money to them but to us is pocket change. The younger they are the more they can get too, there's also a premium placed on virgins.

The thing that gives me hope is that we will be working with Project Hannah, who give these girls a chance to get off the street and get a skill they can use to earn a living without having to service up to 20 men a day. My body feels like it's 3am and I know things seem worse at night but it's hit me how real this issue is. It's not a statistic anymore or an issue - I can put a face and a voice to the poverty now. I'd appreciate any prayers I can get for strength and hope for all the team in this outreach. I don't want to see us overwhelmed by the challenge before us.

"We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of freedom in this, because it allows us to do something" - Oscar Romero (Paraphrased)

It looks like the mystery of the missing contact has been solved. They were waiting for us in a different area, by the time we got there they had gone. We have her number now and I'm hoping we can arrange a lift soon. It's 9pm local time and I really want to get to bed - Erika is the same way, she has fallen asleep on the couch, with both her backpacks on.

I've had less culture shock right off the bat than I expected. Since the base is multi-lingual it's not weird to have people talking and me not know what they're saying. The people here seem friendly and everyone I've talked to knows English, which is good because I don't know any of the language yet.

I know this outreach is going to push me in new ways. I know I'll need to seek God in all I'm doing because these issues we're going to face are so much bigger than we are.

So, last night we eventually linked up with our contact and found our way to our accommodation. We took a Jeepnee from the Airport Hotel lobby (where I was falling asleep) to somewhere in Manila, not entirely sure where we are but there is lots going on.

Culture shock has started to set in - mostly with the bathrooms. The water here is undrinkable which means brushing my teeth required having a bottle of clean water there. The bathroom is fully tiled and also doubles as a bucket shower area so it's often wet on the floor. I have shoes I wear just in the bathroom too. The toilet is european style, but has no toilet paper - the pipes are not big enough, they would clog if we flushed paper down them. All I can assume is that Philippinos wipe with their left hand. The right hand is used for food. This is not unique but to me it's very different. We have set up a trash bag and toilet paper.

Filtered water is easy to get over here and if we run out and need a drink we each have a very cool water bottle with a filter built in which will remove a load of nasty stuff leaving drinkable water at the end :)

Things are very cheap here - I've converted some of my money to Pesos and bought a SIM card (that doesn't work yet), a universal adapter, toilet paper, hand sanitiser and some snacks. A 500ml coke bottle here costs 50 US cents, which is about 71 NZ cents, things are cheap. We are going to go to a mall this afternoon and get more supplies - I need an umbrella and sunglasses. After we get back we have been told we're doing a Fear Factor. I don't think balut is involved but I'm still not looking forward to it.

I think I'm just going to have to get used to sweating all day. Even when I'm not expending any energy my body still feels the need to shed heat. Our room has a fan which helps but it's not a fix for the problem. I also need to grab my ear plugs - we are close to a big road and we have the windows open for the air. We're safe though - there is mosquito netting and big iron bars on the outside, not an easy target. We are also keeping a close eye on our bags. I have been meaning to take more photos but the battery in my small camera has been acting up and emptying ridiculously quickly :( I've bought a replica one here and I'm hoping that will be better.

Kit, our contact, has given us an introduction to the culture here, which we mostly already knew, but it was good to have a reminder. My time in China has really helped me here because it's not the first time I've been in a busy Asian culture - it's different here to be sure but I knew to expect the difference.

We're at days end now and I've had my first ever bucket shower. It wasn't a great experience but it wasn't too bad either. The worst thing about the water here is that it looks fine but you know it's not - Kit said it's called "Funeral Water", which makes me feel so much better about it...

Anyway, on a lighter note I'm actually getting to bed at a decent time - 10pm (ish). If I sleep well that's 9+ hours before our 8am breakfast. Kit has Internet on her computer, but not in the building we are in. Tomorrow I aim to get these posts online for you to see them.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://dts.photogenx.crimson.net.nz/mt-tb.cgi/15

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by crimson published on July 7, 2010 4:59 AM.

Preparing for Outreach was the previous entry in this blog.

Slums and balut is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.