When in Guimaras…

-By Haider

Over the past four days, I have realized that grappling with and going against the local way of life is pointless. While it initially may not have been very convenient to deal with all of my ‘hygiene rituals’ in a small washroom or to wake up early every day, I have tried to blend in smoothly with the way our hosts live without worrying over issues that now seem trivial. In fact, I may have embraced the Guimaras way a little too strong as evidenced by my host mom’s surprise at my insistence on swimming in the sea every day along with Carlos and Anjielo (the host family’s sons) and following that with a refreshing hand pump bath behind the house.

We had a very insightful presentation on the dangers to corals and mangroves in the Philippines on Saturday morning which was followed by an entirely unexpected trip to a beautiful beach resort. My lack of preparation resulted in me not having any swimming trunks but I was determined not to let any opportunity pass. While in the past, I have often let minor issues prevent me from fully enjoying every day to the fullest, I have now made an internal pact to always (Read: mostly) say yes. As I swam around the different islands in my full-length jeans, I was content in the knowledge that I had made a great decision in applying for this course.

Anthony Jay, Conqueror of the Seas

Anthony Jay, Conqueror of the Seas

I had been expecting Sunday to be relatively quiet but our very gracious hosts drove six of us over to Rosy‘s coconut farm. Two rounds of delicious coconut milk were enough to induce a comforting feeling of lethargy all over which was only broken by Charlie’s thoroughly applauded jaunt on the cow plough. I learned later that our hosts missed their Sunday visit to church because of our trip which helped me fully appreciate how welcoming the local families have been.

At the coconut farm

At the coconut farm

Our first day on the job was unlike any other as we followed Sonny Gamarcha, the business owner, to his client’s home barely five minutes after we met him. After he worked out the problem with the customer’s internet connection, we walked back to his business in the San Miguel market where we had a detailed discussion with him. Computer-related businesses are quite scarce in Guimaras and Z-Network, our assigned business, is one of them. This would seemingly be a strength but is in fact indicative of the low demand for computer systems on the island as most people only use mobile phones for communication and internet access. Most of the competition actually lies across the Iloilo Strait in the City. Our goal will be to target and capture the local market as far as possible on the island before we consider expansion.

Mr. Gamarcha was extremely forthright with his answers to our questions and helped Joyee and I understand the different aspects of his enterprise. His attitude has clearly demonstrated his willingness to work with us. I think that our time in Guimaras will go by very quickly so our team will need to put in maximum effort from the get go in order to repay our client’s trust in our abilities.

Diving In

Diving In

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