What did you do last Sunday?

By John Wu

If I thought of things to do on Sundays, the last thing I would think of was to go to a Mormon church in the Philippines.

That’s what I did last Sunday with my host family, and it was a very enjoyable experience. And if you really knew me, you would know that church feels like 9:30 AM lectures to me.

I hardly attend them.

When it began, I was surprised of the resemblance to what I experienced when I was young. It was like a typical church scene: the snoozers, the crying of babies in the background, the hard notes to hit during praise. However, when we were separated to the youth session, I felt slightly touched. The people in class opened my views about the Mormon church. I met Brother Caluaug, who shared his experience of self-control and devotion to his religion with me. He showed to me that, no matter which country or living environment you live in, you can always have strong faith in your religion. I also noticed that it was mostly women who attended, and there were fewer men. Brother Caluaug said that, sadly, most men still needed to work on Sundays. This is different from my family since I have never seen my dad work on Sundays.

After the end of the sessions, it quickly became a festive family lunch party with my host mom, Eugena, and her relatives. I tried to talk, but it was mostly the ladies that talked. They continued for hours. They said that Filipinos love to smile, and they just smile in any situation. I find that quite true, and it is a trait that is very rare for a country. It makes me wonder, wouldn’t Hong Kong be a much happier and stress-less place if everybody smiled? Or you can’t be happy to survive in one of the most developed cities in the world?

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Although it was a great experience and my aunts and I had a great time, I was surprised church and chatting took almost half of our day. I was not accustomed to such slower pace lifestyle, but it would not be hard for me to adapt.

The slow pace lifestyle is also reflected in the business environment in the town center, Jagna. Some workers in town sit and wait, some waiting for customers, some for a business opportunity. The situation reminds me of the farmers from India in Poor Economics. The farmers, though who were financially poor, still spent most of their days being unable to work when the harvesting days were over. They sat and waited for the next harvest, and so a television was a luxury, since for them, there was nothing else to do. I feel that some workers in Jagna are also like this. Probably, the reason for this situation is the low job opportunities that are provided. Many people seem to work in the servicing sector, even though I didn’t see many tourists other than my classmates. Then most businesses can only sell to the small local population or some that are crossing by the town, which is a reason, I feel, that it is difficult to be profitable for these businesses in Jagna. While in countries like Hong Kong or Taiwan, it is much easier to find a profitable job because the business environment is already well developed.

Living with my host family and trying to help out in the house, the way of living is different than that in my home. It was the first time I saw people cook with firewood. Firewood is much cheaper than gasoline since you can just take wood from the coconut trees around the village. We also hand-washed our clothes. I never new it takes skill, and my host mom says that I am not very good. I do not need to think about these things in my home because I was born in a home with a water system, laundry machine, and stable electricity. It is unfortunate that my blog deadline is today because I have only been here for three days and it is hard not to think of these things as fun and cool learning activities rather than a way of living. Over time, I hope I can become even more closer to my host family and become part of their culture. Maybe someday my host mom will let me do the dishes or even let me cook the food.

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