I got so paranoid about the whole travelling alone in a jeepney thing, so I decided to leave an hour early for work just so I can travel with my counterpart. Even though it was 8 in the morning, I never feel safe walking around alone. Never in Cebu.
I constantly get stared at, men would walk up to me and speak to me. Yes, even in daylight. But I did have to get off the jeepney alone, whilst my counterpart carried on to her work placement. I got off at Ayala Mall, one of the most touristy places in Cebu but I was still so scared I walked so fast, straight into Starbucks just so I can feel at home again.
The culture here is amazing yes, but so difficult to take in - almost as if it's too much. I've seen a lot of things happen, even though I've only been here for 12 days; I dread to travel alone to work tomorrow. (Yes, I'm working on a Saturday!)
I always wonder whether other races have that problem. But I don't see it happening at all in London - simply because it's too multicultural. In Cebu, I've probably seen another white person two or three times, and those times, we smile at each other, just because we both know what we're thinking.
I arrived at my work placement, in Zapetera School and all those kids came up to me, greeting me by making me put my hand out so they can touch them with their foreheads. It's a sign of respect. I felt bad for the other two Filipinos volunteers with me, as I seemed to be getting all the attention. After all those 'Hello's I'd be hearing, I arrived at the classroom I would be in for the next three months. All the deaf students crowded around me, astounded at my hearing aids. Of course, they didn't have any proper audiology services here, they had to pay for hearing aids. The age ranged from as young as 5 to 30. I explained that I was from the UK, and they were amazed - the UK have a very good reputation to Filipinos as we do a lot to help them.
I introduced myself to the teacher, and realised she was hearing and her signing wasn't amazing, or it was just unclear/me not understanding FSL, so I used my voice. She paused and glared at me for a few moments.
"You can speak?"
I was rather puzzled and said yes.
I responded with yes again.
Before I flew to the Philippines I was prepared to deal with the whole, cultural difference thing, the fact that they were so behind compared to the UK. But never would I realise that it would frustrate me so much. I've heard the words 'deaf mute' so much, wasn't that like, 60 years ago?! I feel like giving a lecture to the whole Filipino population and tell them deaf people are all different, some can speak, and we're all not stupid. It's so difficult to get that message across to everyone.
I was talking to Ariel - the son of the grandmother who lives in the host home about cars. (I've noticed I do talk about home a lot whenever I seem to be missing home), and he was telling me that in the Philippines, there is no such thing as a driving test. You just drive from experience. I was amazed. And car insurance only costs around 1000 pesos.. That's equivalent to about 12 pounds?! I explained the costs of car insurance in the UK and he was shocked.
I've started to add ketchup everytime I eat rice - the taste of plain rice - no more! .. 70 more days of rice hahahaa!