After having my exchange studies in the United Kingdom for half year, all the things happened in the Philippines in these several days were too amazing. All of us arrived Iloilo early in the morning (or I should say late at night because I could see the sunrise in the airport!) on 3 Jun and after that I went to Cabano, San Lorenzo, where I will be staying for the 23 days. Meeting lots of people in Philippines in a few days, the common thing that I found it was that they are very nice and friendly no matter where you from. They always took the initiative to talk to me and they sometimes even thought that I am Filipino and talked to me in Filipino (because of my dark face and smile, according to them).
I was really thankful for the hospitality of my host mum and dad. We already had a great time with each other which made me get used to the slow-paced yet relaxing lifestyle in Philippines very soon. They got a 2-year-old kid who is very cute and brought lots of fun to me already. Though we had a great “language barrier”, we were still able to chat and play with each other by using different kinds of actions and gestures. He became the best way for us to break the ice with the whole family as he already started playing with us when we arrived in the early morning there! Therefore, I could easily get involved in a few days here mainly because of the little kid.
My host mum is one of the barangay officials in Carbano who has already taught me a lot about the Philippines, like the language, the history, and unique things here. She brought us everywhere to explore the community by the truck. She was also a master chef who cooked a lot of delicious local food for me every day. I once thought that local food might not suit my taste yet it was totally different as what I imagined before. I ate a lot every day and I think I will be getting fatter and fatter after that. We always simply chatted for several hours after dinner, which built up our close relationship within a short time.
*Barangay is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines; it is the native Filipino term representing a village or district (Like the districts in Hong Kong, e.g. Sha Tin, Shum Shui Po)
Unlike Hong Kong, people are just focus on their work, earning as much money as they could, yet without taking care of their family members, their relatives, or even their neighborhoods. Filipinos love to spend their precious time with their family members and neighbors, chatting for long hours about their lives, their families, news around them or even politics of Philippines. The intimate relationship in such a small community is really treasurable like I had already visited some of the neighbors near my host family. They were very nice to me, giving me all kinds of local food to try, like Indian mangoes and turons. Everyone in the community knows each other well and people are really very welcoming!
*Turon is the fried banana and it is sealed in a like the Chinese dim sum spring roll, you can regard it as banana spring roll
Yet not all the things are so perfect as you could imagine. With the extremely hot and humid weather, mosquitos are everywhere and they follow you throughout the day. It annoyed me for days as insect bites appeared everywhere on my body. You could imagine that it is the best chance for them to bite you when you are sleeping at night. At the same time, sometimes there was unexpected power cut at night and it became very stuffy and hot without the electric fan. Yet I found the blackout a great opportunity for me to chat with my host family members as we could do nothing at that time. We had no lights in the house, let alone the Internet connection or TV. Some days I could even hear pigs being slaughtered in the early morning which woke me up immediately. Luckily I was very grateful that my host mum has done a lot to help and it seems that I am now already get used to it after some days here.
It has been a week for me to stay here already and I have started to get used to all the things here while I am enjoying it so much. I do hope that I could make good use of this chance to know more about the community and get involved in it as much as I could. To be frank, I was a bit nervous before arriving here because I was afraid that I would trigger a huge disturbance as we have different lifestyles. But now all my hesitation in my mind before is dispelled as I did have a great time with them already! I would treasure the remaining days with them so as to make my experience memorable and incomparable.