Filipinos are amazing people and I love being able to live and work with them – our lives being melted together for a couple of years. They are loving, generous, and resilient and they place family and community above all. They are remarkable people and I am forever in their debt for being so welcoming to me and inviting me to share in their lives. They are beautiful, industrious, joyous, and I love them.
I have decided I love living by the ocean. I am from Kentucky so the ocean was always a vacation spot for my family as we were growing up and it usually ended in me burning to a crisp after applying SPF 100. However, I think my soul is now connected to the ocean and I don’t even want to think of living away from it. My future job may depend on its proximity to water. We’ll see…but I am thinking definitely yes. The ocean is magical and scary and it breathes life into its surroundings.
The Host Families
The host families that I have been given here in the Philippines have been wonderful. They have welcomed me into their homes and cared for me generously. They have made me comfortable and invited me to be a part of their families. My current host mom calls me her adoptive daughter and she goes out and buys my favorite things to eat. She has also been very understanding with me being vegetarian which endears me to her even more. My host sisters have taken me in as one of their own and I am grateful beyond words. They have become a second family to me and they have dramatically impacted my stay in the Philippines for the better.
The organization I work for, My Refuge House, is my dream placement. The staff are passionate and caring, the girls are fun and energetic, and the work is honing learned skills and elaborating on new ones. I could rave about this organization forever, because I believe in their mission and vision with my whole heart. They are also a Christian ministry which caters perfectly to my own beliefs and viewpoints. They do amazing work and give everything in order to work for the freedom of others.
The Fellow Volunteers
The wonderful people that I serve with, spread all over the Philippines, are phenomenal people and volunteers. We have been through some crazy moments together and have come out a weird and committed family. They are a support system pushing me towards success and I am continually grateful for their understanding and encouragement.
The Natural Environment
The Philippines is one of the most beautiful places on the planet and I honestly still cannot believe I am fortunate to live here for two years. There is ocean, mountains, hot springs, palm trees, fruit trees, flowering bushes, and so much more all around me. I am basically living in a paradise and I love it. Of course it is not all beautiful, like any country, but you can easily get somewhere beautiful and this is what counts.
The Filipino sense of community is spectacular and personally motivating. Everything is shared and distributed and they lean on each other for support. Life can be very difficult here in the Philippines with every kind of natural disaster, rampant poverty, preventable illnesses, and so forth. However, the people are able to overcome these variables through resiliency and support of their community. I think it is how humans were created to live. It is inspiring and demands attention.
The fruit that I consume here on a regular basis is out of this world. Rambuton, lanzonnes, santon, and fresh coconut have revolutionized my world of food. I might starve when I get back to the U.S. when I have to eat modified and imported fruit. I am sad just thinking about all the tasteless fruit I have eaten in my previous life. Seafood is also delicious, the Philippines being made of thousands of islands and all. My host mom goes to the market and buys fish caught the same day and then grills, fries, or adds it to soup. It is pretty tasty as you can imagine.
There are so many exciting things to do in the Philippines! They have boat hopping, whale sharks, hiking, waterfalls, site seeing, swimming, festivals, and more. It is such a fun place to live and be present for a section of my life, and Filipinos love to have fun!
The Peace Corps
Last, but umbrella to the others, is the reason I am here in the first place. I love the Peace Corps. I love the opportunity Peace Corps has given me and the support, training, and encouragement they continue to give me at site. They have placed me at the perfect organization and give me the freedom I need to be independent but also the guidance and training I need to be effective. My life is forever changed and improved.