The thing that I dread the most everyday is travelling to work in the morning. I hate travelling alone in Cebu City. So this morning, drama again.
It takes me about 10 minutes to walk to the road where my jeepney to work passes by. As I was walking down the street, head down and walking as fast as I can as usual, I was turning round to a corner, where there are a load of people, stalls and shops.
As I turned around the corner to the busy street, there lay a man, rather old, wrinkly and dark skinned on the hard ground, shouting something in Cebuano or Tagalog - I wouldn't know. He was just lying down in the middle of the street, and people were standing at the edges, and all of a sudden everyone looked at me. The man on the ground was using all his strength to crawl towards me, shouting, as I stood there, helpless. I couldn't figure out whether he was drunk, injured or maybe even dying of starvation just because he looked so thin.
The worse thing was, people were still staring at me. It was almost as if I was responsible for the situation, well hello?! I'm not a Filipino, I'm British, of course I don't know what to do.
Each time he crawled, I took a step back, not knowing what to do. I froze, and looked around for some help, at least a decent person must be able to do something?! Nothing.
I turned back and walked as fast as I could back, and down to another street, using a different route just so that I could get to work ASAP.
I started thinking, why do they always keep staring at me, even in fragile situations? It's almost as if I'm suffering from racism, with all this 'let's stare at the white girl' business. Even now, I keep thinking whether that guy is still alive.. Or was he just drunk? But is it realistic? After all it was 8am?
I arrived at work this morning, and followed my usual timetable; teaching English and maths. During my breaks, I asked around what the student's favourite subjects were. All of them said English. Even when I mentioned P.E; football and basketball. They still said English. This amazed me. It does make sense now, as they're all so hard working and eager to learn. To think that English wasn't on their timetable about a month ago.
A month ago, they couldn't understand a passage from a book. Today, they're able to read it and act it out. You can really see the progress. All the teachers seem amazed at the work done by us volunteers; and I hope they've learnt as much as I have during my time here.
I teach grades 7,8 and 4th year (equivalent to grade 10), and 4th year is the hardest. My lessons are often repeated as they tend to forget, some of them have barely any communication skills as they arrived at school late. The ages in that class range from 19 - 28. You can imagine the awkwardness I felt when they asked me for my age on my first day! Teaching students who are older than me wasn't something that I expected.
A girl from the class was telling me about her father encouraging her to drive, showing me pictures of the car. She mentioned that she didn't want to as she was deaf. I was confused and asked her to repeat. Yes, she doesn't want to drive because she is deaf.
I questioned that, what's wrong with being deaf? You can drive, your deafness will not affect you? She started going on about people not liking deaf people driving because they can't drive. I checked this, and yes, deaf Filipinos are allowed to drive in the Philippines.
In fact, I was speaking to my host family and they said there is no such thing as a driving test, all driving is based on experience. You just buy a license. I was shocked.
I explained to her that I also drive, and many deaf people drive and have their own cars. It's okay to drive if you're deaf; in fact, deafness won't stop you from doing anything. So if you want to try something, do it. Don't let your deafness refrain you from doing something. She looked somewhat relieved and then smiled.
"Okay, I will try and drive." She said.
On the positive side, it was good that her father encouraged her to drive. Parents who encourage, that's the main thing.