By Stephanie (Zheng Jiayi)
We arrived at the airport of Iloilo with the welcome of sunrise. Finally after several hours, we got on this tropical island. Despite the heat, humidity and my tiredness after the red eye flight, it is still more than exciting to explore my new journey. Riding on the motorcycle, the wind kissed my face and dried away my sweats. Local people waved their hands to welcome us and I waved back just like a funny game! We sang and shouted to the broad field, where you can see cows eating grass and the windmill gently rotating at the distant jungle. The clouds are like marshmallows, floating on the blue sky. Forgiving my poor words that cannot wholly depict its beauty, but all of those natural landscapes are what we missed in the big cities like Hong Kong. This is my very first impression of this lovely island.
When my roommate and I finally arrived at our first host family, we were so lucky to have such a nice and hospitable host like Laiya. Nice and inspiring conversation is always there and it was from her description that I got to know more about Filipinos’ daily life. How does the big family operate, their thoughts on education, the average salary here and etc. It is a little surprising that unlike Chinese societies where it is man-denominated, Filipino women enjoyed more speaking rights since many of them work overseas and are the major breadwinners. This just recalled my memory of other domestic helpers in Hong Kong. They left their hometowns to work, the salary may not be so satisfactory and the social environment is not always friendly. A feeling of sympathy overwhelmed me. Laiya has been working in Hong Kong for 8 years, just one year after she got married and now she has a cute baby girl who is only 2 years old. She is really a gentle and kind host, even though my roommate and I fell asleep right after arrival, she waited for us to have dinner, for which I felt very sorry for letting her and her families waiting for us. Her sincere kindness and hospitality lightened up my days though we just have one day to share together.
Surely, not everything is the same as my expectation, especially when the hot air woke me up at night, then I found out there was a blackout and the electric fan stopped working. When I took out my gifts that are three packs of chocolates, all of them have melted due to the hot weather. Mosquitos, ants and wall lizards are now my home pets though they sometimes scared me. For example, imagine one wall lizard show up next to you when you are having your breakfast! Overall I am fine with them since I hold an open and optimistic mindset towards those new things!
Though we moved to a new homestay just after one night, I will still miss this nice lady and her cute baby! Meanwhile, our new host Gloria is an elder but energetic lady and I can tell how lovely she is as she hospitably hugged us when we moved in. Her daughter, Malianie, who works in Kuwait as a nanny, speaks very fluent English and is happy to share with us her interesting experience. Mouth-watering dinners are always there and I guess maybe it is a local custom that hosts usually let guests eat first. Unluckily, our small stomach cannot digest all delicious dishes and sometimes we left some leftovers. Moreover, what is really moving of my lovely host is that I found that actually she left her room for us while she slept on the sofa. It is hard to describe my feeling and I don’t know how can we students pay back their hospitality and kindness. All of those just motivated me to work harder for my business owner and maybe in this way I wish we could make little contribution to the local community.
This is a very big family with a lot of cute children and those lovely angels are very talented at singing and dancing. It indeed took me some time to remember and mark down all kids’ names. Girls here are never shy to show their catwalk to us! Some of those teenage girls are excited to tell me that they are fans of some Korean stars and they have also added my FaceBook. Other baby girls enjoyed holding our hands and walking around the neighborhood. Giggles of those angels fulfilled my heart and I am sure we will have a lot of happy time in the coming day.
On the first weekends, my roommate and I travelled to Iloilo, in another name, the city of smile, where smiling is a prevailing fashion. I have already immersed myself in this tropical and hospitable country! Seeing others’ sincere smile and being touched by their kindness, I have never been more expectant to my adventure and the business ahead!