Maupay nga aga!
I arrived here 9 days ago and it has been a whirlwind and a tiny bit crazy. The plan had been that my first few days I would observe and get my feet under me. After talking to the teachers covering my Christian Formation classes I realized that those classes had not begun yet and so my “CF” classes scheduled for Monday I taught and my other classes I gathered intelligence on. Monday afternoon I also ventured out in traffic for the very first time. While I was in Manila I realized that the lines in the road are considered suggestions and not many people follow the suggestion! I was warned about driving here from my new friend Romel and after observing Margie a few times I nervously ventured forth. I am please to announce I survived! Not only that but I have managed to get through a very busy intersection and cross traffic like a champ. If you are thinking no big deal, I would like to add there aren’t any traffic lights and few stop signs. There are no hard and fast rules like car to the right goes first. You just sort of wait your turn and guess.
The other American teacher was ill last week and so on top of starting my classes a little sooner than planned I covered many of her classes. I didn’t know which end was up at some points but God was good and through it all and used the stress to show me how the Filipino teachers regard me. On the hardest morning on of the teachers asked if she could give me a hug. Another teacher came in and asked if she could pray for me. I had messages from home with words of encouragement in the moments that I needed them most.
I my first lesson in Filipino culture on Monday. August is the “National Language Month” all schools celebrate Filipino culture and the language of Tagalog, which is spoken across the islands. The students are encouraged to wear traditional Filipino clothing throughout the month. Teachers are asked to wear traditional clothing the first day and may wear throughout the month. On my first day of school I wore a mylong. A mylong is fabric sewn together on the sides so that it forms a tube. You can use it as a blanket, or a sleeping bag. It is also used as a changing room. Lastly it is used as an outfit tied over the shoulder. I wore black leggings and black shirt under the mylong. It was very WARM, wonderful on a cold Connecticut evening but not so much in front of a class in the Philippines!
On Mondays there is an assembly and I was introduced to the school during the assembly. I a bit out of my comfort zone, I was in a strange country still getting use to the weather, and jet lag. I was wearing an outfit that felt strange to me and I had to go on the stage and talk t the students for a few minutes. I think a bit is putting it mildly! I was unsure what to say to the students so I opened the floor to them. I figure my as well answer what they want to know. “Ms, what is that on your face?” and so I found myself answering their pressing question about my cyst. Not what I was expecting them to ask! I have learned that Filipino culture is direct and that it is customary to be in each others business. This was not considered a rude question here. In America we would not dream of asking a question like that of a stranger. We start teaching our children at a very young age, “not to stare”, “We don’t ask people questions like that”, and other such lessons to protect the dignity of others and not embarrass anyone. Here the natural curiosity is encouraged. I am pretty sure the lower grades are taking bets about if a dragon lives in there. One adorable little guy greets me every morning and I have to try not to trip over him. He on the other hand is doing his best to get under my feet and make me stop so he can get a good look inside the hole. The other day he ran off shrieking, “I saw it I saw it!” Good thing he is cute! lol I am glad that the kids feel so comfortable with me. One parent told me that her shy daughter said that she was not afraid of me. These words gladden my heart!
Rainbow Joy had some adventures this week but I think I will have her adventures be stand alone posts while my posts will be reflective of many musings and stories.
I was given a tour of Tacloban and Palo yesterday, we went all the way to the San Juanico bridge. The Samar side is curved like an S while the Leyte side is straight like a lower case L.
Throughout the tour I was also given a history lesson. The tour was kindly given by the school Principal and the school Registrar. Here we are at the MacArthur landing site.
I will have some other fun pictures from our outing but I will save those for another post. I will share some of what I saw of the storm recovery. In 2014 Yolanda rage through these islands and the storm surge flooded much Palo and Tacloba. The official death toll is around 6000 but the people think it is more like 12000. People have shared stories with me of bloated bodies floating in the streets. I have heard stories of people who lost everything and stories of people whose creditors gave them a chance to recoup their losses and waited to be paid.
Everywhere you look there is construction, between road repair, building repair, and new construction there are signs of survival / renewal. What I really admire about everything I have seen is the resourcefulness. I see a “Make do and Mend” attitude, nothing is wasted. Including the large boat that was stranded ashore by the storm surge, it is now a memorial/museum for visitors to visit.
I now have to focus on grading and lesson plans. I will write more later about about the fun parts of my morning out and share Rainbow Joy’s adventures.
Damo nga salamat
Thank you very much