Maayong buntag from the Philippines!

I’ve been absent for a couple weeks because I was at a training in Manila. The training was great and I learned some technical skills and got classes in my local dialect but I must say the highlight was being with my close group of friends for those two weeks, but I’ll go into that later on, as in not in this post.

What I really want to talk about in this post is the month of December up until I took my first vacation.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but Christmas here is a BIG deal. In fact it’s such a big deal people start preparing for it in September. The months of September to December are called the BER months because the names of the months all end in BER (septemBER, octoBER, etc anyways you get it). So needless to say when DecemBER rolled around it was the home stretch to the big day, and that is why from the first day of December our municipality has events every night leading up to the big day. So here we are December first and how do I spend my work day and night? Well during the day I judged and watched a parade that was put on by the Baybay Market Vendors Association (BAMAVA) and at night I watched and judged a dance also put on by BAMAVA. It was really quite a sight, so many colors and so much creativity went into these events and of course during the night event there was also good food.

December second rolls around and here I am having another terrific day. I spent it with our office in the next municipality over diving and rearranging the artificial reefs. That night I went to watch the school children performing dances representing different parts of the world, with full customs and everything. In fact my coworkers daughter was there and she and the other kids rocked it.

Skip two days ahead and my friends Bennett and Andrew are here in my municipality taking language classes with Rob (my site mate) , Ate Ibeth (our language teacher) and I. On the Sunday they got here Bennett and I went to explore Lintaon Cave and Peak and had an amazing view as we ate our merienda. We spent the days learning Cebuano  and the afternoons either gorging in good food or exploring. For example one day we decided to explore the university here and ended up on some muddy slippery trail, the pictures make it look worse that it was. Also during this time I started running with the Baybay City Running Club!

The next week was just as action packed as the previous 10 days. I got to run a 5km (which I haven’t done in years) hosted by the Baybay City running club and finished in 35 minutes, not bad but not great, you should’ve seen some of these runners! There was another parade also that week called the agro fair parade in which different offices from our local government unit (LGU) participated and went parading around the streets. And my last activity at site was our LGU Christmas party in which we spent the day singing, eating and doing secret Santa gift exchanges.

Skip ahead a few hours, it’s 1:30am and I’m riding my bike to the town center. Why you ask? Because I was indulging in the taste of freedom. You see Peace Corps has a rule that you can’t spend the night out of site the first three months. This night was my 3 months plus 2 days mark and I was on my way to get on a van to head south for the weekend. So here I am a mere 500 meters away from the town center, when, BAM motorcycle hits me. I hit my head and landed straight on one of my knees. I try to get up and walk to the corner as people help me and then I slowly make my way to the town plaza. The further I go the more my knee hurts. At this point the van that I was going to get on to take me south to freedom does me the favor of taking me home and once I get home my knee REALLY hurts. Anyways, my host family, peace corps and my coworkers were amazing. My host family took me to the local clinic, my coworkers organized an ambulance to take me to the airport 3 hours away (in which two of my coworkers rode with me, by this point my knee hurts a lot less) and I get on a plane to Manila. All of this was mostly to check my head, even though I was wearing the life saving helmet they still wanted to check everything was okay up there. I spend till 3am in the manila hospital getting all sorts of scans and xrays. Everything was totally fine but I appreciated the precautionary measures. I ended up spending 10 days in Manila, much to my relief there were two other volunteers there, Billy and Rachel, and we hung out and kept each other sane (because let me tell you there isn’t much to do around where we were). BUT there was good food so that’s the silver lining. I also had to spend Christmas eve and Christmas in Manila, pretty anti-climactic when you think about how much Christmas is hyped up here. BUT I can’t complain at all, because our interim country director (who is AWESOME) invited us to her hotel for Christmas eve dinner and I stuffed myself at the cheese bar they had while in good company with her and two other volunteers.

Anyways that was December, after Christmas I came back to site for a day and then went off for my new years vacation. But that’s a story for another time!

Until next time!