The past month here in the Philippines has been a time of learning, working, relaxing, and having a really great time. For two weeks in February I travelled to Manila (outside of the city where it was actually pretty) for Peace Corps training along with my 67 other batch mates. We spent a one week in language camp, which happened to be wildly beneficial, and one week focusing on project design and management. The weather was surprising wonderful and the compound where we stayed peacefully beautiful. I took multiple walks every day with friends to soak in the fresh, clean air and enjoy the flowers and gardens everywhere. I was also really excited for the training because I love project design and I had the chance to work with my counterpart to develop a new program for the shelter. It was pretty fantastic and we rocked it out because that’s how we roll.
I went back to work for four days at the shelter before my parents arrived for a week-long vacation. We stayed at a great place about two hours from my site and it was so great to be with them. Half our time we just spent together by the pool/beach to relax and bond, the other few days I tried to show them a little of Cebu. Our first outing was with my Filipino host family who helped organize an island-hopping trip for all of us so my parents could meet my host family and vice versa. We had fun in the sun while snorkeling, eating, and chatting. The weather was perfect and we had such a nice time together.
Our second outing involved a 3.5 hour van ride to the south of Cebu to go swimming with whale sharks. My dad loves to snorkel and dive and I think he may have come to the Philippines to see the whale sharks first and me second. It is an awesome experience that I recommend – they are magical beasts (as stated once before). We ate fresh, grilled fish afterwards and I showed them how to squeeze kalamansi juice into the soy sauce before dipping the fish into it, it was delicious and they felt like true Filipinos. We then embarked on a two hour drive down the coast and up the other side of the island to see Kawasan Falls which included a nice walk through the woods and brilliantly colored waterfalls.
The day before my parents left I brought them on the journey to where I live in Cebu. We stopped at my host parent’s home where they had prepared a fabulous meal and graciously bought my parents dried mangoes to take back home. We then went to My Refuge House so they could meet the girls and staff I work with and see where I spend most of my time; my dad played guitar for them and my mom sat in on the girl’s book/coffee club. It was wonderful having them see where I work because I love the people there and I wanted them to experience it if only for a couple of hours. Those at MRH also enjoyed meeting my parents because they know how excited I was for them to visit and how much they mean to me. We had a lovely day (except for the soul-robbing traffic).
They have sadly now gone back home and I am back at site excited to start making plans for my next couple of months here in the Philippines! Much love everyone!