I've lived with my host home family for almost two weeks now. And I've learnt a lot.
For example, they eat different food when it rains. They make some kind of soup, with contains a lot of ginger in it.
"Only when it rains. We eat more when it rains." The grandmother says.
Funerals take as long as you want them to. If a relative from a rich family dies, the funeral process will take roughly 2 weeks. It depends on the family's wealth. They go to church everyday for however many days and pray, spend time with everyone. Recently, my Filipino family's uncle passed away, and the funeral was 4 days long. I told them that our funerals only lasted one day, and they were shocked.
"I thought you guys had money?!"
Since I've been here, I've learnt how much water means to them. Whenever I do the washing up, I don't realise how long I leave the tap running when I go and grab the other plate to rinse or whatever. The grandmother always turns the tap off for me.
"Always turn it off when it is not being used."
I was talking about public transport with the family the other day. I explained that we have double decker buses, which have numbers on them - like jeepneys but they're not jeepneys. They cost £1.40 a ride, and they asked how much that was. I worked it out and it was something like over 120 pesos. And jeepneys only cost 8 pesos. Their faces dropped.
And I live with two Filipino volunteers. I've noticed they take their time in doing anything. If they have work at half 8, they'll leave at half 8, or maybe just before. They like staying indoors, washing their clothes (last time I hand washed my clothes, it took me 2 hours!). No matter how much I try to fit in, do the same things as the family, they'll always treat me as a guest. Of course, that's lovely, but I hate being treated differently, or the one with all the attention. But I do as much as possible for the family, they're lovely.
I started my work placement in a different school - First High School for the Hearing Impaired.
When I arrived, I met the teacher who I was going to be working with.
"Your voice is amazing."
I laughed. I honestly didn't know what to say, I've been told that so many times now.
She showed me around and we sat down and she asked me what subjects I liked.
"English." I said.
She asked me to write a paragraph about myself. (I wish I took a picture of it!)
I started with my name, age and where I lived. I then went on to my family who are deaf, and my two hearing sisters. I spoke about BSL, how I sign differently at home to how I sign here, and how I plan to go to university. I spoke about my qualifications I have now, and finally, I thanked her for letting me work there.
While she picked the paper up and read it, her face seemed gobsmaked.
"You have a deaf family? Do they speak?"
"No, we all sign."
"But how? You studied French? I don't understand?"
"In the UK, we aren't restricted to a lower level qualification. They challenge us, and make sure we go as far as we can go. It is also compulsory for all children to be taught English until they're 16, unlike in the Philippines and in my opinion, English is the most important subject for everyone."
Before I started my work placement, another UK volunteer was working at the school. When she arrived, they didn't teach English at all.
"They couldn't be bothered to learn." The teacher said. But the UK volunteer disagreed and was determined to change the timetable. And so it did.
And now we both are teaching English from grades 7 - 9.
"I want to frame this. I honestly do." The teacher said as soon as she finished reading my paragraph.
"It's only a paragraph." I thought to myself. If a teacher from the UK read it, it would be a different story.
The teacher created me a timetable straightaway, and my day consists of English and maths. I chose those subjects because I know I'd be able to make a difference - I love English (to be fair, the teacher's English is not good enough to be able to teach) and I'm good at maths.
I was a judge for the fashion and dance show at the school today. All the children (even though most of them are teenagers and older than me) seem so enthusiastic, willing to learn and friendly. I was dragged in so many pictures today, I practically famous. The perks of being a white person in the Philippines - not.