This past Monday morning, all Philippines Batch 275 Peace Corps Trainees (VERY soon to be Volunteers) gathered at a resort in Bataan to find out where we will be living and working for the next two years. But, only after a Tagalog language test to determine our progress over the past month and a half. So many nerves!
When I arrived in the Philippines in July, it seemed like I would be waiting forever to get my site placement. Now, that it’s here, it’s difficult to process. I am very comfortable at my training site in Bataan. I am getting to be more competent with Tagolog. I feel at home with my host family (whom I will miss very much). And I like it here. Now, in just over a week, I will have to leave. I am going to a new place, with a new language, and new host family. I will no longer have the support of the 9 other Peace Corps Trainees or the 3 Peace Corps Staff members living just a short walk away.
At the same time, I am also incredibly excited. I will soon be starting my actual service in a coastal Municipality of Capiz, Western Visayas. There, I will be working with my Filipino counterpart who works for the local government in fisheries management. It looks like I’ll have a bit of freedom deciding exactly what projects I will pursue during service. But, they have requested technical support on projects including marine habitat assessments, MPA management, oyster aquaculture support, and inter-municipality boundary and fishing ground disputes. It looks like I’ll have my work cut out for me.
There is so much I don’t know about my new home. They speak Hiligaynon- which isn’t horribly different from Tagalog, but with a whole lot of new vocab and a high pitched sing-song inflection (that I’m basically guaranteed to pick up even when I’m speaking English). From my site placement packet, I have learned that Capiz is “the seafood capital of the Philippines”- an impressive title in a country who is all about seafood. But, when speaking with Filipinos, their response usually relates to the Aswang (witches), vampires, or ghosts, for which the region is famous. My mom told me she read they’ve got some really good mangoes though.
I feel like I have so much to say, that it’s hard to say anything at all. Everyday, I am amazed by my surroundings- the beauty of the Philippines, the culture, the food, the people, the weather (so much rain!). But, right now the most interesting thing I can think to share is that I ate jack fruit the other day (it was awesome).Still, I’m sorry. I can do better. It’s hard to come up with interesting blog posts on the spot in an internet cafe. I’ll plan ahead next time with some fun-facts.