Thursday, August 26, 2010

Drum Roll Please!

Tomorrow I head to the Visayas! I will be staying on the island Province of Iloilo. I am one of two Environment cluster sites in the area and have already begun to learn my new language - Hiligaynon!

I am very excited to see what my town is like as well as meet my new host family, where I will be staying for the next three months for Pre-Service Training or PST. 
Filipinos working in the rice fields.

As a mentioned in my previous post, we had an excursion to the mall yesterday evening (it was not a PC sanctioned event, we just really wanted a taste of the Filipino City). It was very eye opening to see the level of poverty that so many live in. There are huge areas of "houses" which are poorly made out of bamboo and whatever trash one can find. They all hover over the water as if they could collapse at any moment. Many of these people probably once lived in more rural areas where they did not have much money but were able to grow enough food to support themselves. Many decide to move to the cities for a chance to work and earn a living. However these cities are so overpopulated that there are not enough jobs and people end up living in very unhealthy living conditions without enough money to feed themselves or relocate back to the country. Seeing the way so many live makes me truly thankful for what I have, and being born in America with so many opportunities. 
Shantis - they look about to fall into the water!

On a lighter note, the trip to the mall was really a blast! A small group of us traveled together, by getting a ride on a jeepney, which is a very popular mode of public transportation. They are small buses colorfully decorated. PC trainees and volunteers are not allowed to drive and for good reason! There are virtually no traffic rules, except drive on the right side of the road. Even at the major intersections it's every man for himself! I almost have to close my eyes as we barrel around motorcycles, cars, buses and pedestrians. 
As I was riding on a Jeepney, I shot a pic of one in passing.

The mall was very nice and new, opposite everything else in the city. It was very similar to American malls having many floors, and stores like Ace Hardware and Gap. There are also department stores and a supermarket. I bought a few staple things (toilet paper, shampoo and peanut butter) in the supermarket and we had dinner at Pizza Hut... yeah that's right, we ate at Pizza Hut in a Filipino mall :)

There was also shrimp flavor and crab!
They also had some very interesting pringle flavors in the supermarket, including shrimp, crab and blueberry hazelnut. I may have to work up to that one...

I also needed to get a pair of nice sandals, since flip flops here are seen as a little too informal. I had to go to one of the department stores to find my size in the "plus size" section (can't wait to have to buy a pair of pants in this country, I'll probably have to shop in the maternity section to find my size!). There were 300 pesos, roughly $6. The sales women were SO friendly and nice and enjoyed practicing their English with me. 

Our travel back was a night ride on an even smaller jeepney. No matter the size though, more and more people just piled in! All-in-all it was a very enjoyable and interesting excursion and I look forward to many more like it!

Well I have a very early flight to Iloilo tomorrow. Time to meet the host family!

Sige, halong!


  1. The jeepney reminds me of the 60's and the flower children. What an experience so far! It's surprising there are so many americanized restaurants in that part of the world. Did the pizza taste the same? same toppings? How is the weather? So glad you are met with such welcoming responses. They probably really like your money too. Can't wait to hear about your training site and host family.

  2. This is an AWESOME blog Stefanie!!! I wish you great luck and much happiness on your journey in the far east for the next 2 years. Stay safe and I will be looking forward to your updates about your amazing adventure! You are such a special person Stefanie and you make all of your family so very proud! Love ya cuz, Kim