Friday, August 30, 2013

Andrew, the YASCer currently in the Philippines, picked us up from the airport and we drove a bit through metro Manilla to where the Cathedral and the national church offices were. They poured us into bed at the guest house. I think I got a few hours of sleep, but me and transitions are not exactly friendly. I woke up a few hours before dawn and watched as the sky gradually brightened and birds and roosters woke up first.

Our days in Manilla were pretty unscheduled. We met a few of the people in the National Office, we got cells that would work in the Philippines, and on Sunday we went to the second services at the Cathedral and tried to go and visit Taal volcano. I say tried, because the rainy season means that when we got out to the volcano and went to a restaurant that was supposed to have a good view it was so foggy we couldn't see much of anything. Really, the best thing about that restaurant, since we didn't have much of a view, was that there was a live band of the semi-Mariachi strain playing "The Tennessee Waltz" at us.

That's been one of my other big surprises about the Philippines. Especially in Baguio the most popular genres of music are folk and 90/early 2000s era country. Seriously, everything I grew up listening to when the country music station was the only one we could get clearly in the basement of my house is on the radio and mp3 players here.

Monday morning we did visa work with the national office, and then I was driven up to Baguio. With Lloyd and Andrew driving it was about a five hour drive with low levels of traffic. Apparently on a bus it's closer to seven hours or longer. Traffic and driving in the Philippines is rather terrifying. Most of the time the highway was a two-lane road, so whenever Lloyd wanted to overtake a slower type of vehicle he would switch into the lane of oncoming traffic. Everyone does it here, so every so often as you drive you are suddenly confronted by someone driving straight at you and hoping that the correct lane lets you or them back in in time to avoid a collision.

I'm going to post a few pictures of the drive up, once we entered the mountains. They were so beautiful, and my pictures are somewhat blurry, so you'll only get a bit of a taste for it, but imagine driving through these for two hours to get into the city:

Currently I'm living on the cathedral compound in Baguio, at a combination restaurant/inn run by the diocese of the North Central Philippines. That's temporary, in a while I will be moving to a set of rooms on the college campus that are maintained by the Hospitality students in the college.  When I'm set there I will finally have my physical and mailing addresses figured out and will let everyone who has asked me know. 

I've spent part of this week talking with the President of Easter College and the principal of the high school.  Currently the plan is that I will help co-teach three levels of Christian Ed, and assist with a course on practical spoken English.  Yesterday was Friday, and I spent it at the high school observing some classes, including two of the ones I will be assisting in.  Looking at the schedule, I believe I'm going to be working with all four grades in the high school in one class or another. 

Once I'm more integrated into the school and have my rhythm of classes figured out, I'll post something more of a day in the life of a teacher.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

I have landed

Part of me woke up the morning I was leaving feeling like Bilbo in that scene from The Hobbit.  I wanted to run around yelling that I was going on an adventure!

That part was quickly overridden when I arrived at the Dayton airport and was promptly told that there was an issue with my visa and they didn't think they could let me on the plane to go on to Detroit and from there to the Philippines.  A rather frantic phone call to Elizabeth Boe ensued, in addition to making the people at the Delta desk call their supervisors to find the clause that would let me onboard.  Aside from stressing me out, I am thankful to the people working the desk at Delta, as they did try very hard to find the way to let me on the plane, and went the extra mile calling their supervisors to find the exemption I needed. 

Meeting up with Ashley Cameron in Detroit also helped, as she'd gone through the same issues with Delta that morning.  We were on the same flight from Detroit to Nagoya to Manilla, though since it was a 747, once we were on the flight we never saw each other.  I had never understood how big one of those planes really was until I was getting off in Manilla.  The plane had seemed so empty, with most people having at least one or two spare seats around them, unlike what we'd had flying between Detroit and Nagoya.  But I got off about midway through disembarkation and waited for Ashley so that we could go through immigration and customs together, and I just kept seeing more and more people getting off the plane.  It was a flood of people. 

After over 24 hours of travel time, Ashley and I were so relieved to see Andrew and Lloyd ready to pick us up.  We got a bit of an introduction to late-night Manilla traffic patterns, which might have scared me more had Lloyd not so obviously had it handled, or if I'd actually been all the way awake.  I hadn't done more than doze for an hour or so on the flights, so I think at that point I was going on five or six hours of rest in the past 36. 

I'm typing this now from Horeb House at the Episcopal center in Quezon.  I woke this morning to the sounds of roosters crowing and a couple of birds who thought my room's AC vent was the perfect place to sit and sing for a bit.  Ashley and I found the wi-fi access code and cheerfully dug in to wade through our built-up e-mails.  More as I find out what I'll be doing the next few days in Manilla!