When people think of the Philippines they inevitably think of Islands, Beaches, Palm Trees, and Paradise. For me, it wasn’t so. I was living in Davao City, the furthest large city in the southern most island in the Philippines; Mindanao. There wasn’t much to do, there wasn’t much to see. And the add to that it was monsoon season. Life went by and I wondered were it went. Until I started taking boats to some of the small southern islands. Then I found the Paradise side of the Philippines.
While living in Davao City, Philippines I was often finding myself wondering “what to do?”. Sure I was living with a group of highly entertaining individuals who could make me cry with laughter and keep me entertained in a conversational sense of the word. But I like to “do” things – be doing things. So what did Davao city have to offer? Wakeboarding.
One of the interns – Lukas – set up an island hopping tour for all us interns here in Davao city. There are a lot of us, about 40. So last saturday we woke up early and made our way to the wharf to catch our boat for our island hopping tour.
The boat was nice enough; it had side panels to sit off on and these wooden pieces to balance the boat but which also worked as climbing structures for some water fun. It was crazy how the boat workers could just walk around across these wooden planks while the boat was moving and the rest of us struggled to wander onto them while the boat was just floating gently.
We swam all day – some scuba dived, some snorkled, and the half which were Chinese stayed on the boat because they don’t want their skin to get darker. While those of us who are exceptionally pale went out in the hot sun and got very red. I think my Chinese roommates selected the better route. Then we finally landed on our overnight island. Got into a room with a nice bed shared with two other ladies. They cooked us bbq meats for dinner, mmmm tuna, and then we drank (not much for me cause I’m battling a cold) and sang for the evening – with one of the Czech interns playing guitar for us. Earlier we saw some Filipino’s playing volleyball and we joined in with them for a very fun game. My legs were sore afterwards. I didn’t think I was that lazy- apparently I am.
When I finally went to bed about midnight, I wrapped up in my blanket and was out like a light, until it started to rain, hard, which normally I wouldn’t wake up during, BUT, the roof above ONLY MY BED leaked ALL OVER ME AND MY BED. I woke up and saw that the other two girls beds were fine and not being leaked on but mine was getting soaked. What did I do to deserve this? So I slept cold, wet, and sickly, and woke up feeling 20x WORSE than the day before. But it was STILL raining in the morning so we all got up and boarded the first boat home to Davao City.
Back in my nice, warm, DRY room. Happy as one can be with a nasty cold and a bathing suit bottoms sunburn!
So I am now working in Davao City, Philippines. It is on Mindanao Island, the most southern part of the Philippines. Davao City is a very large city but it does not feel that way. There are no tall buildings and not a lot to do here. It is a quiet place to be living and working. I live in “My Studio”, an apartment building with about 30 other interns working here. I have two Chinese room mates- One speaks great English and the other speaks very minimally.
So what am I doing here? Well I am doing a 2 month CEED for an organization called AIESEC. CEED stands for Cultural Envoy for Exchange Development. I am working with the local AIESEC here in Philippines. My intended job was to be a market consultant and contact companies and raise management/business related internships here in Davao. Since arriving my job as developed more into a marketing consultant for the local members since I will be taking time to train the members on HOW to market to companies since currently the AIESEC has only raised un-paid development internships. Am I ok with this change – yes – it is good practice for me – does this take more time to get started – yes – the locals plan everything which means it goes on Filipino time and not my time. Thats alright! Cultural adjustments!
Since I had that little fiasco in the Jakarta Airport with the requirement of having a booked onward ticket OUT of the Philippines….I booked a ticket home for September 2nd. But I am now feeling I should go home earlier so that I can spend more time with friends and family and have more time to relax at home prior to returning to Ottawa for a busy semester of University. We’ll see if I can make these changes.
So far, 2.5 weeks in, I have gone out for dinner ALOT….and Filipino food is very un-vegetarian friendly…..there are Minimal vegetables here? Atleast that I’ve found. Feel bad for this poor Vegetarian. haha So there is basically ONLY bbq dinners….EVERYNIGHT! but hey….atleast its still cheap….about $2-$3 a meal. But all I crave is a greek salad! Because of this lack of vegetarian options I have now adopted Chicken into my diet – MAN CHICKEN IS DELICIOUS AFTER SO MANY YEARS NOT EATING IT!!
I’ve also been wakeboarding and on an island hopping tour. Both were great fun except on the overnight of the island hopping where the roof above ONLY my bed leaked and I got soaking wet and thus the slight cold I had turned into a full on sickness after spending the night sleeping on wet blankets. Ugh.
So I stopped over in Manila Philippines to visit some friends I met in Taiwan. It was a nice relaxing week filled with old city charm and laughter. But getting out of Jakarta was TERRRRRIBLE.
I get to the airport in jakarta for my flight and there are these 9 American highschool boys infront of me who are more interested in playing games than actually checking themselves in. It took 50 minutes. 50 MINUTES to get them checked in. I only had about 30 minutes left until boarding. Its me next, I hand over my passport and put my luggage on and then
the check-in clerk asks “Do you have a visa or on-ward travel plans out of Philippines?”.
” No, I don’t need a visa I get a free tourist stamp, and I haven’t booked my ticket home yet, I’m staying for 2 months”
“You may not get on this flight without one or the other of those things please step out of line”
“ARE YOU JOKING ME?!?”
I only have 25 minutes now until departure. I ask where there is internet to book myself a flight home to Canada – It is about 1km away from where I am currently standing. I put my luggage behind their counter and RUN to the hotel that has internet. I am in no shape to be doing this. I get there and their internet is closed, so I VERY quickly explain my situation and they let me on – but my visa doesn’t work when swiped so I had to run out and get money from an ATM first then come back and pay them. I got on and the internet was sooo slowww. I was almost in tears I was so panicked. I finally booked a ticket home off Expedia, printed it, and RAN that 1KM back to the desk with only 5 minutes to spare and they GLANCE, like SLIGHT SLIGHT SLIGHT GLANCE, at my ticket, and say ok have a good flight. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? All that work for a glance? Next time I am bringing a FAKE ticket home. And when I arrived in Philippines and they NEVER check or ask for any type of return ticket. Hating Jakarta and CEBU airlines for scaring me almost out of my flight. But I arrived – All is well.
Its 5:30Am, I get off my flight and nobody is around. hmm? Where be my friends? So I find a bistro and try to talk to everybody online but nobody is online because it’s 5:30am. I call Gabe, who is the only one whos number I actually have, but he is in the South oh Philippines in Davao, but he works his magic for me and everybody sorts it out and I meet them on their University campus, De La Salle, which is near the Airport. And my week was happily ever after. I stayed with an friend in his mansion of a house in a gated community and just relaxed. Another friend took me to Intramurous which is the old walled city and we saw beautiful churches, and I met lots of AIESECers and just hung around Manila.
Next I fly to Davao City in southern Philippines. I am in a hostel for a few days before moving into an apartment with other Interns. Just exploring Davao City.
I'm Chrystal McKay, a 23 year old Canadian girl who travels the world seeking knowledge. I am a World Citizen, Globe Trotter, and Continuous Learner. A Lover of Ancient Ruins, Castles, Churches, and all things Old and Beautiful. Follow me as I learn my way around the world.
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