From Metropolis to Countryside

By: Wenjia

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I woke up from the violent stomach-ache around 2 a.m. I got up to switch on the light. Electricity was cut off again. I didn’t dare to go to the bathroom in the dark, so I just sit on my bed, waiting until the pain was relieved in the darkness. I was stuck in the helpless feeling for a moment. Fortunately, the electricity recovered soon and I breathed a sigh of relief. This is the life in the countryside of the Philippines. This is the first time for me to live in a place with the tropical climate. The environment here reminds me of the depiction in the novel “Hundred Years of Solitude” where the story happens in a place featuring endless jungles, tropical crops, insects and diarrhea.

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Unlike other home stay family, Mario’s family only has one daughter, Angel. His wife died in the shipwreck last October. Our neighbour Nana’s husband was on the same boat. Mario works as a tricycle driver, a common occupation for men in Guimaras. What confuses me is that Mario spent most of his time at home. I hoped that our visit would not interrupt his daily routine too much. Mario really loves singing. He sings when he walks around. The warm atmosphere is touching. The father and the daughter are so caring. It is really a warm detail that they will change to English Language Channel once we come to the living room. I try to read or study in my bedroom to make my host family feel free to watch the TV programme they like. If I stay in the living room, the girl will be too shy to watch TV ,probably because she doesn’t want to disturb me. In the morning, the girl cooked breakfast for us. I am little ashamed of myself as the girl got up early to cook for us adults. In the night, I chat with my roommate Amy, we talked about our host family, life is not easy for a girl who lost her mother at such young age, without care of any siblings. The girl is always smiling to us with her beautiful eyes blazing.

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The living room is large, without rough furnishings. They don’t have really lock their door during the daytime and the door is always open to visitors . The house is very lonely and quite as only two people live here. In the evening, the girl goes to help the small restaurant which is run by her relatives. In this village, the family and their relatives still keep very close family bonds and live very near to each other. Mario’s relatives drop by our house often. The house turns slightly lively when visitors come.

The primary entertainments are watching TV, listening to music or singing karaoke at home, which is similar to the situation of China in the 1990s. Living in the city, we are entertained by various services provided by technology. We return to the off-line real life in Guimaras. Life turned intolerably slow and momentous at the beginning.  On the second day of arriving, we went to a resort. It is hard to imagine that we were chilling and dawdling for a whole day to kill time in the cottage by beach. There was no other way to entertain ourselves.

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In Guimaras, we escape from the overload time schedule temporarily. I finally picked up the healthy sleep schedule. Due to lack of electricity, we sleep before 1030 at night. But not the whole country life is of arcadian contentment. Because the hygiene condition is very poor, the dissemination of diseases can be disturbing.  On the third night, the girl knocked our doors at around 12 p.m. to ask for help. Her father suffered serious stomach ache at that time. She got so anxious that the tears ran down her faces. Fortunately, both my roommate and I brought some medicine from Hong Kong. Two days after that, my roommate and I also suffered from diarrhea.

We spent the first Sunday in the shopping mall of Iloilo. Surprisingly, it is much more convenient than we expected to go to the city. Iloilo, though not as sophisticated as Hong Kong, accommodates all the familiar brands as other cities, forming such a stark contrast with the life in Guimaras, where the way of life in the countryside are preserved. I have to admit that the way of life in the consuming society are so engrained in ourselves that almost everyone got great comfort when we were shopping at the supermarket and dining in the multinational restaurant chain. The trip to the shopping mall made me realized that I was so addicted to the life framed by multinational corporations.

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