By Kenneth Ng
It is the end of second week in Jagna. And the whole experience was amazing. The sceneries, the food, and especially the people.
Being in a host family, you truly live like a local. There is undoubtedly difference in lifestyle in Philippines and Hong Kong. Yet, it is a great experience despite the cultural difference.
Tubudmar is a small town located in Jagna, Bohol. From my encounters with the people in Jagna, they are nice and hospitable. My host family reminds me of my grandmother because they always treat me like a prince, and filling my plates with loads of food. In my host family, there is mama and papa, Chellie, and a lot of children. Because all the children from other families come to our house as well, the house is always filled with laughter and happiness.
(photos showing Kumar and movies night)
The first day we arrived Tubudmar, we went swimming with the host family.
(photos of us)
Philippine’s sky was so clear, it gave me a sunburn even with sunscreen applied.
We had a good time at the beach, swimming and diving in the clear water which could never be seen in Hong Kong. Apart from going to the beach with my host family, we also went sailing with the locals. The locals would dive and catch starfish for us. We also went diving in deeper waters, although the locals warned us that there might be sea snakes in that region.
Mama is a good cook, she cooks delicious local cuisines for me and Kumar. Yet, I never ate with them in the same table, maybe it’s because we eat at different time, or the food is not usually cooked for the family. Every time I think about that, I feel a little bit guilty because we are enjoying a life which are too privileged.
Philippine food is different from Hong Kong food in several ways. First they always cook their food by deep frying (for meat) or boiling (for veggies). While in Hong Kong, we seldom deep fry food as it would be too oily. And they also use a lot of spices in Philippine. Therefore, every time I eat I would drink a lot of water and eat the food with a lot of rice to “dilute” the taste. Yet, some dishes are really good, I love their eggplant dishes very much.
After dinner, they would have their family time as all the kids would be here after school. The grown-ups usually watch television and chat, and the kids would play with each other. There is a stone game they would usually play and I learnt how to play the first week I got here. The rules are simple, but mastering the game is hard. For the first ten matches I lost like eight of them. But after playing with them every night, I grasped the trick of the game. As it requires five wins to win the game, and every round is related to the next round, you should play and plan first for the round you are playing, and get more stones in bid to get advantage in next round.
(photo showing Jasmine and the game)
Jasmine is a master in playing the game. She even guided Chellie when I was playing with her. And I only won two games out of countless games with Jasmine.
Other from the game, music and basketball are also inseparable from the locals. Papa told me that all the people would turn on their TV when there is a NBA finals. I played basketball with the locals and their dribbling skills are totally unbelievable despite they do not generally have a game sense. But still, their skills are out of my league. All the kids and teens could play well especially when they have a basketball court in Tubudmar.
They also play music well. And they mostly play guitar, drums and beat box. It was quite sad because I only know how to play piano but not the others, so the only way I could join is to sing. There was one night when all the kids gather at a bamboo shack outside Blessing and Angeline’s house, and the teens brought guitars and music sheets, and we all started to sang songs from different movies and cartoons like Moana, beauty and the beast etc. It was a wonderful night. We also played other games and had fun.
(photos showing we at the shack)
There are also some interesting traditions in Philippine. Mama told me that there is a tradition which the children would ask their parents to bless them when they got home. By putting their parent’s hand onto the children’s forehead, the children are said to be blessed. I learned that but always forgot to ask for bless when I see my mama as we do not usually do that in Hong Kong. I think it is also a way to show respect and love to their parents. It is interesting that the cat in our host family, Boo, also knows how to bless. When you hold your hand in the air, Boo would just come and touch you with its forehead. Mama said they taught Boo how to bless.
I would said I am really lucky to have Celda’s family as my host family. I love the bamboo shack where we are living in, and I love the kids as well. They would come with me wherever I go at night. When I go to the beach to shoot the stars, or to the basketball court to meet my classmates, they would always be with me although I asked them to go home as they don’t usually sleep this late (even if I say this they would not leave me alone as they think there are monsters in the village). They taught me Philippines language and I taught them Cantonese. My host family always asked things about my relationship and they always hope that I could have a girlfriend in Philippine, Chellie even said she would introduce me to her classmates. I could see that some of the kids are quite intelligence as they talk, and are quite mature in their actions. They live a simpler life here yet they are really happy, at least when I am here, they are always so hospitable and smiles at me (People greet by raising their eyebrows, although I think it would be regarded as flirting in Hong Kong).
I wish all the people here would enjoy their life, and I hope my presence would allow them to know more about our cultures and visions about the world.