By Ho Chung Lam, Willie
Without the experience of being in the Philippines, I was welcomed by the white cloud, the coastline and the green mountain. And soon we proceeded to our host family located in “Tobudmar”. Along our way, the view of the countryside is incredibly magnificent that I have never seen it before. In the morning, there is always sunny and clear sky (thanks for that I was recognized as Filipino after turning dark) despite some rainy days. With only scarce population and thus building (relative to Hong Kong), it is free from any noise and light pollution. When going for a night walk, you could definitely enjoy the countless shiny stars and even the galaxy accompanied with the harmonious melody performed by the sea-breeze.
Lucky enough, I have been assigned to a big family with four kids. In this small village, families and cousin are living together. Besides, kids in the neighborhood (a total of 10!) usually come to us for games and television. Therefore, I have so many opportunities to play and chit-chat with those cool kids there.
Growing up in the information- and entertainment-obsessed city, I was confident that I should have watched much more cartoon, animation and played more computer games during my childhood than the kids here. However, that’s completely not the case. They still have numerous channels to approach the most updated videos, games and I was even shocked by their superficial knowledge regarding on this. With the only limited number of oversea visitors, people (especially the kids) here maintain the strong interest in any foreign kinds of stuff and culture and they are just amazingly curious in the foreign language. Since the first day we met, me and Charlie(my roommate) have been continuously and enthusiastically invited as their Cantonese and Mandarin teachers (although it’s just only pronunciation from 1 to 20). In return, all the kids are all acting as my teachers of my “Bisaya studies”. Under their close supervision and with their strong commitment, my “Bisaya” is significantly improved.
(Photos for teaching them how to pronoun the number “4” in Cantonese)
(Dinning with the big family)
(Watching the basketball match!)
My family is a traditional and sincere Catholic family who would visit the Church located in the town every Sunday morning. Praying before the meals is only one of their usual practices. Although they don’t have much, they would still be grateful and thankful for everything they possess. “Happiness equals reality minus expectations.” by Tom Magliozzi. In Hong Kong, the business and profit-oriented ideology have already deeply embedded in our mind. Many Hong Kong-ers would struggle to get more and more but only spend few time to thank for what they already have. However, materialism yet intrudes this pure land in Jagna. With the relatively lower financial capabilities, going for a foreign tour or shopping is far too luxurious for them. More simple life is preferred here. Playing the basketball and guitar, climbing the trees for banana, chatting with neighbors and they would call it a day. My “Mama”(the mother of host family) always says “If you want to do something happily, you first need to immerse in that job and enjoy the tasks while what you’re doing doesn’t matter at all” Though life is easy and plain here, my host family always enjoys and treasures every moment, everything with joy and their sincere smile.
Immersing myself here in this land of utopia is just like giving me another chance to re-experience the happiest childhood and thus relive again, both physical and emotionally. Habituated to live in the crowded space while only committed to play indoors computer games in Hong Kong, I am stimulated by their energetic attitude and this injects the fresh impetus to me when playing with the kids. My sporty gene has been awakened with our interaction and I tried every sort of sports available with them during the time. Exactly the same as the song “Live while we young written” of One Direction!
(Crazyyyyyyyy photos after the fierce volleyball competitions)
My “Papa” (father of our host family) is an awesome guitar and guitar players. Sharing the same habit of playing guitar, Papa and I usually play the Chinese, English and Philippine songs together at night. With much more experience of strumming the guitar chord, PaPa would usually be the teachers of me.
(PaPa is teaching me how to sing and play his theme love song with “Mama” ^^)
After all, life is peaceful, relaxing and enjoyable here.