Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Guest Speaker and a Whirlwind Tour

Back in November, Ma’am Kana and I were working on lesson plans for the students in the various grade levels of CE that we share.  At the end of the Fourth-year outline, there was mention of the Church’s role in society.  Immediately, I knew who I wanted to call in to speak about that.  Besides, it would give her an excuse to visit when Baguio wasn’t pouring down rain and fog. 

Fast-forward several months and the time came.  I invited Ashley Cameron to come up and visit, to talk about her work with the diocese of Santiago.  Before her visit, I threatened my fourth-year students with death/severe maiming if they weren’t good for Ashley, because I knew she was taking a lot of time out of her schedule for this visit right at her busy season. 

Ashley was a brilliant speaker, and I think the students got a lot out of it.  We can talk all we want about what Christian values are, but it takes seeing how they are applied on the ground to really understand what the Church should be about.  Ashley’s work in Santiago is about applying the baptismal creed to seek and serve Christ in all persons, to respect the dignity of every human being: her work in micro-finance gives her clients a sense of self-respect and dignity that is often under-represented in traditional charity.  Moreover, I think the students could see the love Ashley has for her work, how much she cares about and respects some of her clients as they work to improve their lives and their communities.  Students can always tell when you are being sincere, and even more than my threats, I think that’s what kept them listening and engaged for the most part. 

After our classes were over, it was time to explore more of the Baguio/La Trinidad area.  We specifically went to events and places to tour that would have been miserable last time in the rain: the Bell Church, Miner’s View, Tam-Awan Village.  And luckily, she was just in time to come and see one of the highlights of the year in Baguio: the Panabenga Flower Festival.  We watched the street dance parade on Saturday and each pretty much wiped out our cameras on photos of the dancers.  She couldn’t stay till Sunday to see the float parade, unfortunately.  As it was, we filled our Saturday to the point where we needed to race back to Easter College after dinner to get her bags before she caught a taxi out to the bus station.  


This is the main building of the Bell Church.  The second you walk onto the grounds, you no longer feel like you are in the Philippines.  Everything around you looks straight out of China. 

There were dragons everywhere.  The fantasy geek in me who thinks that there is never such thing as too many dragons was thrilled.
It was only as we climbed up to a higher level of the church that we could start to see the surrounding city again.
The next morning was the street-dancing parade.  Ashley actually has video of some of the dancers.  We stood up on one of the walking overpasses to watch, and probably got a better view than if we'd been at street level. 

We left at the end of the parade and then headed out to Miner's View, a lookout point from the edge of Baguio into the surrounding mountains.

Forgive the squinting, I was staring up into light.

After lunch at Miner's View, we caught another cab out to Tam-Awan Village.  Tam-Awan is an artist's enclave started by BenCab, a famous Baguio-based artist.  I don't have many pictures from there, as we weren't allowed to take photos of the artist's work.  Tam-Awan is built going up the side of one of the surrounding mountains, and there's a hiking trail you can take up to see various views.  It was wonderful, and I'm going to visit again sometime when I'm wearing better shoes, as my sandals were not the best choice for going up and down very narrow and steep paths.

Both Ashley and I had our portraits sketched by artists working there.  This is how mine turned out:
Amazing for ten minutes work, right? 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Another Anniversary

One year ago, I was at a weekend discernment and wrote this in my private journal:

But this weekend I've also been spending doing a discernment weekend for Young Adult Service Corps. And I'm so glad I've been here, because it has been the most sane-making and rewarding thing that I have done for months.

One of the other members of my small group called it finding our tribe, and there's definitely an aspect of that present here. These are very much my people: the young adults, mostly well-versed in religion (there's one exception and she is awesome and I want to live in her brain because it is a thing of beauty), all really eager to serve and help others, and discussing things we never get to talk about in our daily lives.

And I've gotten to spend time doing things like walking along a lake or lying in a field starwatching and talking about everything under the sun with the girl whose brain is fantastic. Or getting told by someone that I looked like I was part of a painting when I had been walking alone, with the last vestiges of the sunset on the water, and the trees full of Spanish moss, and my hair and skirt billowing in the breeze. Or starwatching again with the girl from before and a guy from our group, and not even needing to talk because everything we felt was understood.

I want to move forward with this mission, this work. But even if I don't get to continue, it was worth it just for this experience, these people.

The next day, on further reflection, I added this:

This weekend was absolutely incredible. You know how you get those perfect moments, the perfect conversations and silences together? The ones that come once in a blue moon if you're lucky, but can change you forever? In some ways it felt like this weekend was almost entirely comprised of those moments.

So thank you to H, for our conversations at the lake, cooing over lizards together, and starwatching. Thank you to P, for your beautiful lecto divino, chanting, and your wisdom and humor. You struck me as having that combination of thoughtfulness, insight, and gentle humor that I associate with the truly holy. Thank you M for your willingness to join in with humor, to break into song and dance, and for the way that you encouraged and supported everyone else when they would have been too scared to speak up on their own. Thank you to C, for airport conversations and joy. Thank you to Am, As, S, and R for making small group so safe, so fun, and so supportive. Thank you to J for your incredibly infectious giggles, and MD for playfulness. Thank you to Z for making me feel beautiful out of nowhere, and for stopping to notice the sky with me. Thank you Je for sharing cat stories our first night. Thank you to Ra for making me giving backrubs to everyone fun and accepted.

Thank you to Jason and Glenda for making the interview session non-scary. Thank you Chris, Elizabeth, and Robin for telling your stories. Thank you Camp Weed for incredible food and your beautiful chapel.

That weekend was the start of everything I am doing now.  Thank you again, for an incredible new year of my life.  

Happy Foundation Day/Charter Day (Week really)

I'm a bit behind in posting, but that's mostly because this week was a busy one.  Easter College was celebrating its 108th year as a school this week, and we've been having a lot of activities to keep us busy. 

Monday was a half-day for the students, as they were dismissed at lunch to go and watch the Chinese New Year celebrations.  We teachers stayed and had a vespers service to begin the week-long Anniversary Events.

(Okay, so there was a Fun Run on Sunday which officially began the proceedings.  But I consider Fun Run to be an oxymoron, and used my discretion about attending the non-mandatory event.  Sleep and church outranked running around parts of Baguio City.)

On Tuesday we had an academic bowl with some other schools in the city.  I didn't get to watch any of it, I was teaching in the morning and helping demonstrate a waltz step for the third and fourth years in the afternoon.  Junior/Senior Prom is this coming week, Feb 14th, you see, and apparently there are several formal dances they do during the prom.  Very different from my own senior prom, where I came mostly to say I had, and then spent a good chunk of it sitting with my best friend writing fanfic in a corner. 

Wednesday was the talent show, and I wish with everything I had that I had video of one of my fellow teachers during it.  I have no idea why he isn't already a Youtube sensation.  The man has such confidence that even when each of the dance moves is absurd you can't help but be drawn into it.  I mean, you laugh your head off afterwards, but he does a fantastic job of taking you along for the ride while he's in it. 

Friday was our ending celebration, starting with a gigantic school-wide mass, followed by an awarding ceremony for teachers and staff for years of service and then for teacher of the year.  And in the afternoon the college departments each took a lower year section of the school and had afternoon activities.

Saturday was the employee fun day, which meant we did exercise in the morning, played parlor games, danced, had a huge lunch, and then had a seminar on empowerment in the afternoon.  Saturday also had an alumni concert in the evening which sounded great, even from my room.  Although as I had to wake up at an absurdly early hour Sunday morning, I could have done with having it end sometime before midnight, or at least to have not switched into straight rock for the last few hours.