By Josie Wong
Unlike many other people, I chose not to have any expectation before coming to Philippine as I think that expectation may affect my perception and feeling, thus to me it is always better not to expect anything to accept everything that I may experience.
When we first arrived Tubod Mar, we were immediately given a really tough task, perhaps it might only be tough for girls. That was to walk uphill to where we were going to stay in these three weeks on that super steep slope with our 20kg luggage. Although it was not easy, we still managed to make it with the help of each other. After walking uphill, we then arrived the basketball court and this was when our journey began. My roommate, Emma, and I got dropped off in Cerlosa’s house. We were told that Cerlosa was a very quiet lady and we could feel that very soon. Unlike other houses, Cerlosa was really shy and nervous when introducing the rooms to us. During the dinner, we could hardly communicate as Cerlosa could only speak and understand little English. It made me feel that it might be tough to adapt to this on the first day.
However, my thought changed on the second day. After going to the market, we went back to the house to have dinner. Cerlosa prepared a lot of good food for us and even bought us a bottle of beer. We drank some beer and had a chat together with her sister and some kids nearby. Despite language barrier, we managed to figure a way to communicate with each other. They not only taught us some dialects, but also shared a lot about the Filipino culture, such as marriage and their daily activities. There was a really remarkable sentence from Cerlosa, “We drink beer when we have money and drink pepsi when we don’t”. Perhaps, to many Hong Kong people, beer and pepsi are something that we can get easily but to the people here these are actually luxuries.
Life here is just too simple. Every day, you wake up at 7AM and begin your day with the breakfast prepared by your host and some exercise to wake yourself up. Then, you work in the afternoon. After working, you come back and sleep at around 10PM and wake up early the next day. There is not much to do in this village and what the kids and people usually do here are singing, playing basketball and chatting. Although all these sound very simple and different from that in Hong Kong, people all enjoy the way they live here and are very happy. They grow up with the same group of people in this village so everyone here is close with each other and they are all like brothers and sisters. Whenever they see and meet anyone, they greet them with their warmest smile. This is how simple life is in Tubod Mar.
To me, all these sound very frustrating. Compared to the life in Hong Kong, you are always busy with different stuffs and can hardly have any time to chill and work in such a relaxing environment. Worse still, you can seldom chat with others as everyone is using their smart phone all the time. In those sophisticated cities, people are always playing much fancy stuff and are getting harder to be satisfied and happy.
Although their life is simple, I started to wonder what they usually do in their free time and how they spend their day in this village where there is not much to do. I then tried to immerse into their life and play with people in this village. In the morning, I followed my host to hike to the mountain nearby and went to their peanut farm. The view is absolutely stunning and amazing that we can see the whole village and sea nearby. After the hike, they got us some fresh coconut from the tree and I tried my first fresh coconut water! After work, Emma and I heard that someone was playing their guitar and drums and singing some really nice songs next to our house. Due to our curiosity, we decided to join them and play with them. They sang us some local songs and played some English and Chinese songs that they knew. This was so fun that we were singing together even though we were speaking different language and had different culture. When the night got dark, Cerlosa went to find us and ask us to go back home to have dinner. All these remind me of my childhood when everything is just that simple and happy. The life here is just so different from that in Hong Kong, yet very familiar.