On a Lighter Side…

Magandang hapon, po! (“Good afternoon” – for me; At the time I am posting this, in America, the greeting would be “Magandang gabi,” or “good evening/good night”). I think I’m going to do something a little bit different for this blog. Instead of talking about my specific research and what I’m doing specifically, I will talk about meaningful things I have experienced, what I have learned on a broader level (outside of my academic work), funny and interesting things that I have learned, and other random tidbits. So here goes. First, the funny and random things:

Some of my favorite foods in the Philippines:

  • Tinolang Manok – a chicken soup with green papaya, chili leaves and fresh ginger. You scoop it out, and eat it over rice. This is masarap! (Masarap means “delicious” in Tagalog.) It’s NOT spicy – chili leaves don’t have spice. This is a dish I will certainly try to recreate when I’m back in America.
  • Adobo Manok (Chicken Adobo) – this Philippine classic dish is very tasty (“Malasa”). Basically, it’s chicken in a soyish-sort of sauce. Like every other Filipino dish, it is served with rice.
  • Suman – this is a sticky rice that is wrapped in coconut leaves. It is sweet, and can be eaten as a snack (and sometimes for breakfast too). This is also malinamnam.
  • Turon – This is a banana that is wrapped in a thin wrapper and is cooked. It is sweet, and very good.
  • Banana-que – This is similar to turon, except that it is cooked on a stick. It is coated in brown sugar.
  • Lumpia – basically, the lumpia is like a spring roll that you would purchase at any Chinese restaurant in America (it’s a little different though, and I really like it).

Things that I learned about international travel until too late!

  • The phone card that you purchased in America? Worthless! (Unless your in America or Canada). The 800 number on the back of that card only works in America or Canada. Otherwise, if you dial that 800 number, it will still be counted as long distance! Fortunately for me, I also have Skype on my computer, and I brought a headset and microphone. Skype is a program that you can install onto your computer for free. Using it, you can talk with other people who use Skype for free. You can also purchase “Skype credits” that will allow you to call any phone number (that’s right – cell phone, land line, you name it) from your computer. Of course, you have to be on the internet to use it. But even in a place like the Philippines, the internet is easy to find.
  • For those of you who have never traveled away from your home country, you probably don’t know what I didn’t: there’s custom declaration forms that your supposed to fill out BEFORE you reach the customs officer. Nobody told me I had to do this. The plane I was on handed the forms out, but because I had been travelling for almost 24 hours straight, they didn’t hand the forms to everyone, and I couldn’t hear the flight-attendants very well over the speakers, I had no idea I needed to fill one out. Needless to say, I got off the plane, stood in line for an hour, reached the customs officer and didn’t have my form. He stamped my passport and pointed to a desk behind him, let me through, and told me to fill out a form and bring it back to him. By the time I was done, my luggage was the last one from my plane waiting to be picked up, and I claimed it RIGHT before the flight-attendants were going to take it away! (This goes for pretty much any country that you travel to, I get the feeling, so heads up!)

Random things that happen to you or that you see in the Philippines (some of these were offered by or added to by my friend Adam, who is another intern with Food for the Hungry Philippines, and is also from America) :

  • The American music you hear being constantly played on the radio starts to get old, and you hope you never hear it again for the rest of your life.
  • When doing research, you are looking for people to talk to, so you walk up to random Sari-Sari stores (very small stores on the streets that sell snacks and food and stuff). When you do, a beautiful young Filipina is working, and you ask her if she is familiar with FHI. About 3 sentences in your “I’m doing research” speech, she starts laughing, doesn’t talk anymore, and things just get awkward, so you walk away, saying “maraming salamat, po” which means “Thank you very much.”
  • Wherever you walk, Filipinos stare at you, and some yell or say “Amerikano” or “Hey Jo!” You sometimes smile or nod back to them, and sometimes say “hello”, but NEVER stare back, because, while it’s ok for the Filipino to stare at you, it is considered rude for me as a white person to stare back. (“Hey Joe” is a common phrase for white males to hear, because it refers to the American soldiers, or GI-Joes, that fought in the Philippines when Japan invaded the country during WWII.)
  • Burger King is the only place you know of that offers free wireless internet.
  • You spend more time in the mall in the Philippines than you do in the United States.
  • You get over 8 hours of sleep every night, and are constantly tired and don’t know why.
  • You are taller by a head than everyone else.
  • You sometimes spend more time travelling than you do at your destination.

I hope you enjoyed these. For you guys that have been to the Philippines, (I know some of you are reading this) please feel free to add more in comments!

Every week, I am required to turn in a 2-page log answering questions about what I have learned in the Philippines to my professor. Being forced to write these logs every week has truly helped me think critically about what I have learned and experienced here, and I feel that the logs have helped me personally grow mentally (academically), emotionally and spiritually. I want to share with you a portion of the log that I turned in to my professor this past Monday:
“Even though I have studied and learned many things about responsible community development, relationship building, living in a different culture, etc…, through my study at Covenant College, my thoughts have been reinforced that experience is the best teacher. Cross-cultural living is, I have come to the conclusion, hard! Being in the Philippines for the last 8 & ½ weeks has helped confirm to me that even with a lot of head knowledge, deep down inside, I was still born and raised an American.
In addition to living cross-culturally, I have had a lot of time to think recently. I have been challenged and have thought a lot recently about the importance of doing your best work, and doing the best you can even if the organization you are working with doesn’t conform perfectly to community development theory that we talk about in the classroom.
So this summer has helped me get outside of my “head knowledge” and embrace the good work that is being done even if it isn’t perfect. We live in a sinful, fallen, broken world. Relationships are broken, and organizations do not work perfectly. Does this mean that, as a community developer, I should refuse to work with or work for an NGO that doesn’t conform to perfect “theory” standards? Never!
At the same time, it is important that, as a community developer, I look for opportunities for improvement. When these opportunities do arise, it would be wise to first consider the cultural setting I am in before offering my opinion, as well as to find the strengths of my organization and build upon these.” (This is the end of my Log)

I hope this gives you another picture of what I am learning, studying and doing in the Philippines. As I mentioned in the part of my log that I copied above, living in a different culture is not easy. But I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. Thank you so much for your continued prayers as I work to learn more about this thing called Community Development, as I try to finish my academic work here, and most importantly, as God continues to transform me and lead me while I continue to realize what it means to follow Him.

Ingat po kayo. In Him, David.

PS: If you are wondering why I have stopped posting pictures, it is because my camera got broken here. That is a long story in itself. Fortunately, I am still able to take pictures, and so will continue to do so while I am here. But I am unable to get pictures off of my camera. I will wait until I get back to America to either fix my camera or purchase a new one, and copy pictures from my camera to my computer. So, unfortunately, I don’t think I will be able to post any more pictures until I get back to the States.