By William Chan
‘Mum, I’ll be spending a month in Jordan this summer.’
‘For internship? That’s just a few MTR stations away from here!’
‘No, it’s not Jordan in Hong Kong. That’s a place in the Philippines.’
I have been to various capital cities in the south-east Asia, such as Bangkok in Thailand and Jakarta in Indonesia. These cities seem like well-developed and as prosperous as other major cities in the world. Yet what’s behind the vibrant and modern image of the capital city of the developing countries? How large is the gap between the development of the city and rural areas? What’s the difference between the development paths of these countries and the developed ones? All these questions have motivated me to join in the course, gaining first-hand experience by visiting the local business in the Philippines.
Sunrise from the Iloilo International Airport
The first impression for me towards Guimaras people is that they’re friendly, kind and generous. Nana, one of our host that we first met at the pier, had been treating us with local delicacies once we have arrived and showing us around the city like a tour guide in the past few days. No matter its going up to the church or down to the beach, I was really impressed that Nana knows almost everyone on the island – she greeted her neighbors on the tricycles and chated with locals one by one when one pass through the shop houses. It seems like the neighborhood relationship here is as close as relatives and friends, and all of the citizens have a great sense of belonging to the island. I wonder if this could happen in the neighborhoods of Hong Kong – we can’t even tell the surname of the family in the next household nowadays.
Sceneries along the coastal area
I’m currently having my homestay in Ida’s house, which is just a few steps away from Nana’s place. There is a large basketball field right next to the house, in which Ida’s children as well as kids of the neighborhood hangout and have games together every night at 7. The group of youngsters seems really fascinating when they know that some foreigners are visiting them.
‘What’s your name?’ ‘Where do you come from?’ asked by the overwhelming kids.
Those kids are good at playing ball games, yet neither Eric nor I are good players. At the moment I was thinking of anything to play with the kids so that we can know more about each other. At last we decided to play a few ice-breaking games that we’ve played in university orientations. Those kids were interested and enjoyed the game so much. Seeing these active and outgoing kids had made me think of the contrasting situation of the kids in Hong Kong nowadays. They were so pressurized and were scheduled for endless studies and tuition, as well as extra-curricular art and sports classes. Are these classes really ideal for children’s growth? I think that soft skills like inter-personal skills and time for recreation should deserve more for early childhood development.
A large group of kids hanging out in the basketball field outside Ida’s house; we were getting to know each other by playing ice-breaking game.
The most unforgettable thing in this weekend is definitely the province-wide shortage of power supply in the midnight. I was taking a shower in the lavatory at the time that the power was cut off. I find it a little bit difficult to locate things in a completely dark environment, and it took me some extra time to finish showering at night without light in halfway. Maybe we are so blessed and lucky to have lived our life in Hong Kong, in which we will never face shortage of resources. It is really an unforgettable challenge for me to learn to adapt to environment in different parts of the world.
I consider this visit as a kind of two-side interaction and learning between the locals and us. While we are providing suggestions and proposals to the local businesses based on our insights in the successful business models, we are also having a chance to step out from our comfort zone, and to revisit the fundamentals of the building up a person and a community. While we aim at economic development in Hong Kong, the core values of the society is now deteriorating. There is a lack of trust between Hongkongers nowadays. Perceptions, tags and attributes were making cohesion of Hongkongers even further apart. In the pressurized atmosphere in Hong Kong, you can never realize that life can be simple yet happy unless you feel it in person in these developing countries.
Asia is undoubtedly the major driving source of world economic growth nowadays. I hope that this trip can equip me with a better understanding of local economies in the Philippines, and together we can unleash the unseen potential and grasp opportunities of business expansion in both local and international levels, though betterment of business management. I just can’t wait to visit my consulting business today!