I arrived without any trouble! I flew over the Northern Territories, Russia, and Japan to arrive in the hot, but pretty Philippines.
This may be a long post, so you might want to scroll to the categories that most interest you.
If you read my last post, you know that Filipinos like malls and they like eating. In the plethora of malls I’ve walked through I’ve noticed that each one probably has a supermarket somewhere in the “basement”. No free-standing supermarkets that I’ve seen so far. I’ve also noticed that besides the food court, there are many restaurants dotted among the wings of the 4+ floors of a mall.
Before you go in each mall (or building usually, even the train station) you are subjected to a bag search and usually a pat on the back. Typically, the pat on the back (checking for concealed weapons) comes when there is a male and female line to enter the building. It’s generally a quick line, but an interesting culture experience.
Once in the mall, one can find a multitude of American brand stores as well as local stores. Not many are department stores so usually it’s a small store. Each store has several employees
milling about, usually very helpful.
The hardest thing about shopping is trying to convert currency in my head (Mental math is NOT my strong suit). One US dollar is worth about 40 Philippine pesos. Thankfully, I’m not doing much shopping (other than for food) because I’m packed tight for my trip. I have bought an umbrella to use to block the sun (it’s around 90 degrees or so and we walk a lot) and a hand fan to use when I need to move the hot air around. (I’m actually adjusting to the heat now). I still need to find my flag patch to sew to my duffel I use and possibly a tourist spoon if I want to keep that collection going.
I’ve only had Filipino food once I suppose. I’ve had Chinese Filipino food a couple of times now as well as some American food. Otherwise, I’ve been doing my own cooking. I’m thankful for Jacque Pepín and his cooking videos as I bought a whole chicken and remembered how to cut the pieces. 🙂
The other part to eating is, when one cooks, to remember to clean your food. That thankfully came back naturally and I bought bleach on my first supermarket trip to clean my veggies. I soak them for about 15 minutes in a mix of a little bleach and water, rinse with filtered water and voilà! they’re ready. I also sterilize my dishes with hot water or bleach afterwards. The joys of living internationally and wanting to avoid buggies that make you sick. 🙂
Filipino Sign Language
This is the part I like. 🙂 My supervisors have mentioned I’m picking it up well/quickly but being a kinesthetic learner makes it much easier. I’m not trying to hear and imagine what the word looks like to know if I’m pronouncing it correctly. And if I do things with my hands, I remember much easier. So for this tactile girl, it’s perfect!
I’ve enjoyed getting to know the Deaf people I’ve been around and being able to communicate. They’re so patient with me as I stumble along and two are going to come all next week to help me learn more. Plus, they don’t mind laughing at/with me. 🙂
If you’re wondering why I’m learning Filipino Sign Language (FSL) when I’m heading to Africa, it’s because FSL is similar to American Sign Language (ASL) and that’s what I’ll be learning the next 3 or so months to help me transition into an African sign language.
You might wonder what I’m doing with my time in general. Well, one is watching how my supervisors are giving us an orientation to the city and learning about my home of three weeks. The German couple here are the first interns to arrive in the Philippines so I’ve been tagging along with them as they’ve been apartment hunting, furniture hunting…
I’ve also sat in several budget meetings with my Africa team and supervisors as it’s that time of year. While it might sound boring (ok, budgets are tedious) I’ve also learned more about what’s happening in Africa. I need to start learning the names of the African countries my African supervisor is in charge of (I think it’s around 50).
Practicing FSL is also a part of my day. We’ve had several long or all-day outings with Deaf colleagues and that’s when I’ve picked up a lot of FSL. Then at home I”m practicing. This next week I’ll be picking up more as two gals are coming to teach me. I’m excited to learn and be able to converse!
I haven’t done so well picking up Tagalog as most speak English but I noticed on Sunday I could follow the theme of what the Pastor (preaching in Tagalog) was saying as there are English and Spanish loaner words. I have learned how to say thank you and after I said that at one restaurant the waiter asked if I spoke Tagalog (in Tagalog). I don’t know how I knew what he was saying but I did. 🙂
I was also able to be here for SIL Philippines 60th anniversary. Cool! Especially since I was in Peru for theirs.
One has a variety of options to get around the city. There are the metro train, taxis, jeepneys, and tricycles (motorcycle with a side car). To go farther, there are buses as well.
Today was the first day I took the train by myself (it included one switch of train line) and I did all right. I missed the door to the train station by the guesthouse where I’m staying but a security guard pointed me in the right direction. Once I got off both trains I was heading towards the right mall, but not on the right pathway to get there. And then the mall was closed so there was a detour and I wasn’t sure if I was still heading the right direction. But, it was where we normally catch a taxi so once I figured out which side of the street I was on I made it to the office fine. I will add, trains at rush hour are like what my friends in Peru called “chicken busses” – packed to squished.
Jeepneys are fun-looking covered truck-ish type vehicles. These have routes and you flag them down and hop inside where there are benches running along the side. I believe the price is similar to a train, but the train is mainly in Metro Manila and there are only 3 lines.
Taxis are taxis but here they use meters so that’s nice. (In Peru we bartered for a fair price) However, there are taxi stands here as well as those just driving the streets looking for passengers. The other night, the German couple and I stood in line for an hour (at rush hour) to catch a taxi. C’est la vie! (Why that’s French, don’t ask me…I’ve had trouble with choosing the correct language to speak in sometimes. At the Chinese restaurant I kept wanting to say “xie xie” instead of “salamat po” for thank you!)
We went to church last Sunday with the purpose of going to the Deaf church in Cavite City. They’re share part of a building with a Hearing church and we ended up being asked to stay with them. Everything was done in Tagalog and I didn’t recognize any of the worship songs, but a neat part of worship is they had a dance team with special outfits and tambourines.
After church we met up with the Deaf church and hung out with them and toured the city. I learned a lot of FSL that day as I also sat next to Rosanna on the two-hour bus ride back.
So, I’m learning a lot and adjusting to life. Only two more weeks here before the next stop!