Originally, I thought this should be a harmonic experience in dealing with everything, such as people and business. Their manner, dialogue and smiles only made me correlate to the positive and the beautiful side, superficially like the tourists understood. Yet, something underneath gradually floated up. Indeed, there are latent problems behind which have been taken for granted for the locals.
In the one-week time, I found out the negative impacts of extreme hospitality. For my host family, I finally figured out the relationships between all members. Actually, they are not directly bonded with each other; instead, they are aunts, cousins and nephews. Out of my surprise, John’s house is on the opposite side of my living place. Because of my curiosity, I requested John to give me a ride to his place. In there, I was shocked to find that all his direct relatives live there, including his mum, grandmother, more cousins and even his elder brother just backed to home due to annual vacation. But he is forced to take care of us and sleeps on the bench every night. Besides, the little boy in our house, despite his early school commencement time, I discovered he is the one who helps washing all the stuff in a tiny kitchen on his own. The old lady from my host family, accidentally, I discovered that her room has been shifted to a messy storage room because of our visit. Although I can still see their giggling faces, their generosity made me feel bad for myself, as never could I imagine they have committed so much for our visit.
When it comes to the most exciting part, the eco park business, our experience is like a roller coaster and we are still currently in the trough. In the first tour of all their facilities, we felt like there is such a great potential to enhance their business. We firmly believe that it may be the chance for us to make a difference to this community; therefore we quickly came up with a few constructive ideas. Following the first visit, with the friendly help from the local students, we were pleased to meet with their dean of faculty and also the person-in-charge of the eco-park. Disappointedly, the instant responses we got are their satisfaction on the current situation, unwillingness to disclose their financial information and endurance of their problems despite of their barely sustainable revenue. We all feel confused whether it is due to a lack of confidence on us or they are really shortsighted for potential behind. To clarity our thoughts, we took concrete actions in collecting feedbacks and delivered our sincere requests. In the second half of my journey, I hope the best is yet to come.
Also, I would also like to express my concern on the education system here, especially to men. The only two men in our host family, Niel and John, have really different career paths due to the underdeveloped education system. While the former one is an analyst working in HSBC in Manila, the latter one is still unemployed. In the connection between the college and university, the failed ones, especially men, will automatically fall into a vicious cycle. Because of gender, they have already missed the opportunity to work as a domestic helper. Furthermore, not only do they suffer from the low paid job, more importantly, this has deprived of their mobility to get out of the rural village. In an agricultural based region, without sufficient land, they also cannot make a profit out of it. Therefore I hope the local government can really do something to change the phenomenon.
All in all, it’s really good for me to experience some kind of sadnesses and challenges in the journey, because this is really a valuable lesson for me to put myself into other shoes. Anyways, journey has to carry on. Let’s see what we can leave for this island!