Hello, beautiful people! How are you all doing? Today, I am going to share some of my experiences in Philippines, which I just came back from.
This summer, I was given an opportunity to go to Philippines as an interpreter to support the high school team. My job was to be with the team 24/7 and support them through the trip. It was my first time going to Philippines so I was really excited. You may or may have not known but I really love traveling and experiencing new cultures. My major at my university is International Studies and I really enjoy exploring the world. I stayed there for two weeks at a very kind host family's house. And I have to say, this trip was amazing.
I have never done something like interpreter so I had no idea how to do it, to be honest. I would say that being an interpreter was one of the most interesting and exciting things that I have done in my life. I enjoyed being with the kids and supporting the team but I have to say that it was also a bit stressful at some point. Regardless of my health condition or what so ever, I had to stay calm and translate for them almost 24/7. One time, after a very busy tough day, I was not feeling well and so my brain wasn't working properly which made it difficult to speak two languages. That moment I realized, interpreter is not gonna be my future job. haha. Anyway, I learned many things through this trip about being an interpreter and about Philippines. So I would like to share some with you all out there.
Before I actually went to Philippines, all I could think of about Philippines was bananas, mangoes, and all that tropical things. When I got there, I realized it's more than that. There are three big things that I learned about Philippines from this trip. Food culture, local culture, and the people.
Food culture in Philippines is very interesting. I tried so many Philippino food. Some of my favorites were, pandesal (basic!), Laing, Bibinca, Tinola manok, and suman sa gata (dip in hot chocolate). Of course, I love the fruits, mangoes, bananas, kiwis and all sorts. My host family cooked the best Phlippino food, which made me love their food even more. One thing I was very surprised was that people eat 5 times a day! There is a time called Merienda which is their "snack time" two times a day adding to the main three meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I was never hungry in Philippines! One of their ways to welcome visitors is to treat them with food. I could feel that as soon as I got there. Food came from out of nowhere wherever we went. The students and I were like food coma all the time. But I absolutely enjoyed the Philippino food and I already miss them. I also got to visit a restaurant called TOKI which is a Japanese restaurant that my friend's mother own. If you're in the area, I highly recommend this place :) Link to the restaurant is here, in case you're interested >> http://www.toki-jp.com/ja/
I had an opportunity to interact with local students at our school as well as some people who are from poor area in Manila. People were very friendly and warm regardless of where they were from. In Philippines, there are people who are very rich, and who are not. I think every country has something like this including where I'm from. I am not saying this to discriminate anyone but to tell the truth and share my experience. The area we stayed were the business city so it was busy and much more industrialized and modern. If you drive a couple of hours to reach another town, you'll notice the difference. The city looks different. There are so many pedi cabs and jeeps for people to commute. There are many trash on the street. To be honest, I have never seen something like this in other countries I visited so I was quite shocked and surprised. It was something that was totally new to my life. We visited a community/town called Citio which you can see some photos above >> the one says Hopeville. There are many communities in different areas. We were introduced to some women who were the leaders of the community. They make gloves and socks and so on and sell them at the market, which help them making money for their living. Community support and support system with schools, for example, is very important for people who have hard time making money. Also, long-term support is necessary. "Instant volunteer" meaning short term volunteer, which I see a lot, doesn't really help in such situation. Building a good relationship with locals and communities is important to not only support them but to work with them. I was surprised how kids were happy even if they were from poor area. They were rich and warm in heart.
People there were very interesting. So different from Japanese people. People smile a LOT and most people I met there were positive towards things in life. Philippino people are more chilled out than Japanese people are, in my opinion. They don't really care about tiniest thing that Japanese people may care, for example, time. We had to get used to Philipino time. People are much more flexible when it comes to time. One of the reasons I noticed was traffic in Philippines. If you are in super traffic, don't even try to move. Also, people start the day very early in Philippines, especially students. I had to wake up at 5am every day! It's been a while since I tried to go to bed at 10pm last time… felt a bit like grandma but I had to do it to wake up that early.
Another thing is that many people are Catholic. If you visit Philippines, you'll see many cathedrals and churches. It is part of their culture and it is part of their lifestyle.
One last thing I noticed is that Philippino people are very family oriented. In Japan, at least my family, is not so family oriented. People in Philippines really care about their families and more value "family time." Honestly, I think it's amazing.
I have so many other things that I learned and experienced from this trip that I want to talk about but I don't want this to be too long even though it already is.
Anyway, thank you so much for reading this if you did! And please let me know what you think :)
I hope you enjoyed my little travel experience and I'll see you until next time.
Mayumi :) xx