Creating a Home Away From Home

“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.”

The bike adventures began when I got a hand-me-down bike from the Municipality of Lazi! Thanks to Jera, Ate Ems, and Sir Alixter for accompanying me to retrieve this bike! It’s been a while since I’ve went bike riding, but it wasn’t hard to pick back up.

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I’ve been able to ride to school every morning, which is no easy task. It’s basically 1KM straight uphill. Quite the workout! I haven’t had too many bike adventures, but I was able to go down to Lazi to visit my site mate, Jess! I helped her out with her library project. She received tons of donated books from the community and her friends from the states. We spent two days organizing and shelving all of the books we could. It was quite the task, but we did it! I do have to say it was a rewarding experience. I hope to find a way to do the same at my school as well. Words can’t describe the work we did, so here are some pictures! She did an amazing job organizing everything and putting it all together, I was happy to help. The bike road from Lazi to Campalanas is the most difficult ride ever. Uphill all the way. Not the most enjoyable ride, but it is rewarding! Getting back into shape…slowly but surely.

I haven’t really used my bike otherwise. I’m sure I’ll have other reasons to use it soon. My little host sister, Hiya, has been elated since I received the bike. She’s always riding it around the neighborhood when she visits.

Things have been relatively busy lately because the first half of the school year is now complete. Every quarter, Card Day is held to honor those students with Honors, High Honors, Highest Honors, and Perfect Attendance. Parents, students, and teachers gather to recognize the students’ hard work. It is well earned. I hope that the number of students receiving these honors will increase over the next year! I do have to congratulate those students who have upheld their responsibility as scholars. So, Congratulations! Keep going and achieve your dreams! I’m sure once I am able to find my comfort in teaching, I’ll be able to increase the amount of all Honors students within the school. I hope so, anyway.

I know I mentioned it before, but basketball is a large part of the culture here. I wish more sports were played, but basketball seems extremely dominant. Every Barangay Hall has a basketball court in front of it. It’s interesting. Well, there has been a basketball tournament happening around me and I have been able to watch some of the games. My host father, Kuya Eric, plays on a couple teams and has been very successful. His brother plays with him as well. They’re quite the duo. I edited a couple photos and threw them on my InstaGram, but here are some more!

Birthdays! Birthdays! Birthdays! Always coming every month. I was able to attend Ma’am Anding’s birthday on November 26th at the Norwegian Dream Beach Resort. It was a good time. As always, there’s sweet spaghetti (still getting used to this), lechon (a really big piggy!), pancit (noodles, my fav!), and other amazing dishes to eat. Filipino events are always filled with food. Happy Birthday, Ma’am Anding! It was a beautiful resort. They rented three huts next to the beach. Not much happened besides people eating, talking, and drinking. Haha. I guess that’s how it always is. It is a shame no one swam or had any games to play on the beach (Sayang Kaayo!). Don’t get me wrong, it was still a good time! That’s a cultural difference I miss from the states though. There’s always something to do when we gather on the beach, but Filipinos just enjoy the view and the food. Not much going on. Whelp!

One thing I do want to mention is that the Filipino Happy Birthday song better than the American one. The American one sounds depressing compared the Filipino version. Haha. I should try getting my friends and family back home to sing it the way they do here. Next birthday, I’ll record when people sing Happy Birthday here and post a video. Show you all that it should be a happy song. Not a slow, boring one.

I am super sad that this is the first time I’ve ever missed Thanksgiving all together. Second time on Thanksgiving I missed it with my family, but I didn’t celebrate at all this year. Sad, but that’s the reality now! Nothing I can do about it. Christmas is coming, so that’s a plus. I never minded being away from my family before, but just not having the option to go home at all is harder than ever. I can’t just hop in my car and drive home. I have to wait until they visit me or until I go home. Ah, well #PeaceCorpsLife. I am enjoying life here, so that’s something. I am slowly developing my life here. It will definitely take some more time, but I am getting used to everything.

I’m always thinking of my nephew, Mason. I can’t believe I won’t see him until he is 2 years old (Maybe 4). I’ve already missed so much. It’ll be quite the adjustment introducing myself to him and bonding with him when we meet again. I’m sure it’ll be no problem, but it’s so sad he won’t meet me until he’s 2-4 years old. I know that Mason might not feel the same way, but I am super attached to the little critter. I know he’ll be receiving so many Christmas presents this year from my family.

The mentality of being at permanent site is so weird. We spent our first three months in Peace Corps training in Bataan, then we all left to start our actual service. The training was something all on its own, so resetting your mind to start from nothing again was difficult—is difficult! I’m not sure if I can even fully explain the feeling. What I’m trying to say that it’s super weird to say Month 3 when I’ve been here so much longer. The feeling of time is just out the window, seriously. Everything that builds up just makes everything you miss that much more meaningful.

Until next time! Missing everyone in the States!

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