The beach is simply awesome and this past weekend, I, along with some lovely friends, was able to enjoy that awesomeness!
We woke up early on Saturday morning; 4.30am actually, left Payatas at 5.30am and headed to the bus. We ended up though, not being able to get the bus until 9.30! It was a fairly long wait so we munched on crackers, chips (aka French fries ) and chatted about random stuff to pass the time. When we eventually got on the bus, it was nap time. Four hours later, we arrived at Iba, where we were to get lunch and buy enough food and water to last us the next 24 hours or so on the Island we were heading to. Once purchases were completed, we got a tricycle and headed to our boat.
The boat was small and at first we really wondered if we were all going to fit, however, we did and it was off to the Island. It took about an hour on the boat and it was strange how, despite being on such a noisy boat, it felt so peaceful out in the South China Sea, sailing around so many beautiful islands until we got to ours. The sea was so blue, clear and smooth; it felt like we were sailing through a postcard picture.
We eventually made it to the Island, Nagsasa, 12 hours after we left Payatas, and it was worth all the travel and waiting around. The place was simply beautiful. There was no phone or internet signal once we got on the boat or when we got on the island so we were totally cut off from the rest of life which was strange at first but also quite nice and refreshing.
Once we landed, we set up our tents and some of the girls started a fire and we all began to prepare food for dinner. Whilst food was cooking, Heidi (our volunteer for FFA) and I went swimming. It was so good to be in the water – so relaxing. After swimming around for a little while, we went back to our little camp to eat. The food was good, especially given that we were in the middle of nowhere! By this time it was pitch black and our only light was that of some little candles and a big gas candle in the middle. We all ate till we were totally stuffed and then headed back to the sea for some night time swimming.
The beach was dotted along with bonfires and small groups of people sitting around them, the sky was clear and it was so peaceful. Floating in the sea, gazing at the stars and watching a group of people set off Chinese lanterns, it was so relaxing!
After we started to get cold, we headed back to our camp and set a bonfire. It took a little while to get it going but we managed it and it totally lit up the area and warmed us right up! We then all sat, chatted, toasted marshmallows and just generally had a totally relaxing and fun time. The evening seemed to stretch on for hours and when we eventually went to sleep, it was to the sound of the sea and crackling of our fire as it died out.
We woke early on Sunday morning. Sand isn’t very comfortable to sleep on; in fact, it felt rather like we were sleeping on a slab of rock, but regardless we still all slept well. We ate breakfast, bought a few little souvenirs from a passing vendor and then collected up our valuables and blankets and headed down to the beach to swim and get a tan.
In the sea there were some jet skis. They looked like so much fun and we really wanted to go on one. One of them came in to the shore with a big rubber ring on the back and so we
asked if we could please have a go on the ring. The guy said yes and that it was free so four of us jumped on the ring, put on life jackets and headed out in to the ocean. It was so much fun! Flying through the sea, spinning round in the waves and bouncing off the ripples of the Jet Ski we were being pulled along by. Such an adrenaline rush and amazing fun!
After the Jet Ski, it was more sunbathing and swimming. The sand was so hot under
our feet that we had to run over it and when we got in the sea, it really felt like our feet were burnt. Our boatman came to pick us up around 1.30ish and take us to another island.
The other island was all white sand (the one we camped on was more black sand). The sea was clear and deep green and was, once
again, beautiful. We stayed on that island for around an hour and enjoyed the last our time in the sea before heading back to the mainland.
Once we landed on the mainland, we had showers, got some food and then headed to get the bus. We arrived back in Manila around midnight and then it sleeping time!
It was a great, fun and relaxing weekend and I can’t wait till next I can go to the beach again!
The last week has been filled with insane heat, kids, football tournaments and general life.
It’s summer here in the Philippines and that means it’s hot! As in 35o C plus every day and the nights get down to around 30oC! The drop-in centre has a metal roof that is covered by thin ply wood so at times, it really feels like you’re being baked in an oven! As you can perhaps imagine it can be tiring to be in such weather!
The weather has also made the kids hyper! Every day in the drop-in centre, they are high as kites and we truly do wonder where they get their energy from at times. It’s summer holidays here and so there are more kids coming in which is great to see. We have begun more practical classes with them alongside their maths and English and these are going great as each week they learn new skills. Whether it’s baking bread, learning to wash their own clothes or learning how to stich up a hole in a pair of shorts or sew on a button, they are picking things up well and fast. Their keenness to learn is also shown in the speed which they are picking up English and for the smaller ones, learning how to read. For most of the kids, when they go home, they won’t practice the English they’ve learnt or practice reading and so for them to be able to learn so much, in a relatively short space of time, is a great achievement for both them as students and on the part of Amie (our teacher).
Football tournaments are also going well. Its summer, kids are free, full of energy and so it’s a great time really to have tournaments as
they can be held on any day of the week. Last weekend (April 20), our U13 boy’s competed in a tournament and came third. We were so proud of them and it was great to see how much they are improving and the boys had a great time as well. On Monday, there was a tournament for the younger kids, again they loved it! One of the teams that were taken was Under 8’s and they were so cute! Racing for the ball, full of enthusiasm and played well too, winning 2 games and loosing 2 games. They loved it and for a couple of the players, it was their first time out of Payatas. The football program is really opening the eyes of so many Payatas kids to the world beyond what they’ve grown up in.
The renovations of our new building are also coming on well. It’s so exciting to see all our plans and dreams becoming a reality. There is space for the urban garden, more space for the kids, a decent classroom, it’s really fun to see it taking shape.
Things are really progressing well here in all aspects, both with the charity and for me personally and I look forward to seeing what the next few weeks will bring!
It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog, almost a year! It’s kind of hard to know where to start really so here is a brief recap of the more major events of the last few months.
In August 2012, there was so much rain! The roof of our house was damaged which meant that the house flooded, not badly in comparison to what was going to happen about a week later though. The rains steadily continued and Manila was hit with another bad typhoon which flooded our neighbour’s houses, some up to waist deep, whilst houses in a nearby area were completely submerged. The rain made a section of Payatas dumpsite collapse and the river burst its banks, washing away houses and generally caused total chaos! We were able to do some things to help, mainly helping to pack and deliver food packages to particularly badly hit areas and support the work of other organisations in any ways that we could. It was a difficult time for so many people and one that left you feeling quite useless as you couldn’t do much apart from give food out to try and help these people who had simply lost everything.
After those few weeks of rains and flooding, the months passed in a blur up until Christmas. December was insane! So busy with Christmas parties, meetings and then all the normal stuff you have to do anyway. We had a Christmas party for the kids which also doubled as a graduation for some of the kids from the drop-in centre classes. That was an amazing day too. The kids were so happy, spoiled with gifts and then all the families were given food hampers also so they could also enjoy Christmas more.
It was good that December was so busy as Christmas is always a hard time for me to be away from my family and the traditions I grew
up with. It’s strange too having hot weather and Christmas trees and fake snow in 30o C! We were able to spend Christmas with a friend’s family this year and it was really great! So lovely to be a part of a family at Christmas, see their traditions, experience more of Filipino culture and just be able to relax and have fun with so much food, over excited kids and of course, the traditional gift giving. That was Christmas Eve. Christmas day we spent at home in Payatas and another friend came over and I cooked us a full English Christmas dinner. However, as Roy (who I run the charity with) and I are both vegetarians, it meant the entire dinner was veggie, veggie pigs-in-a-blanket, veggie chicken, veggie gravy and veggie stuffing! I was so proud of that meal, two gas rings and an oven the size of a microwave, yeah, I was proud! 🙂
After Christmas it was my birthday and then it was back to normal life and for me, working primarily in the drop-in centre. We hired a teacher so the kids are now able to join more structured classes depending on their ability rather than age, these classes are going great. Our teacher, Amie, is great with the kids and having a teacher means more time to spend on planning different activities with the kids such as art and practical classes. We also now have all the parents of sponsored kids volunteering with us either two mornings or afternoons a month and in general the centre is going great.
In the football is also going very well. We have now won seven tournaments and were lucky enough to take the kids to a Molten training clinic with some members of the Philippines National team the other week and it was also the first time for many of them to see the sea! We are also planning to have a futsal court built which will allow for more training with the kids and will help them to reach their full potential. Check out Roy’s blog for more on the football: http://roymondous.wordpress.com/
Also after Christmas we bought a new drop-in centre with the renovations currently on going. This is exciting! The place is concrete so much better than our current mainly wood structure. It’s about the same size as the building we are in so not very big but we are able to do a lot more renovations to it and are building a second floor with provisions for further floors if we wish and will also have a roof deck which will serve as an area to begin our urban gardening project.
There is so much more going that I just can’t write about it all in one blog so will write another again soon with more updates on the renovations, football and random experiences in the Philippines. Fun times ahead!
The last few weeks have been ones of so much rain but the last few days have been ones of constant, torrential rain that have caused massive floods, damage to properties, destroyed some properties, injured people, killed people, damaged roads, wrecked cars and meant so many buildings have been turned into evacuation sites. The evacuation centres are any strong building really that aren’t flooding, from schools, to basketball courts, universities and even some of the malls have stayed open late to allow people some respite from the rain.
It started on Monday, heavy rains that went on for hours. Indeed, in a little respite
from the weather, we traveled to a mall for a dinner meeting and then myself, a friend and our volunteer went to see a movie. The film finished about 8.45 and we headed out to try to get a jeepnie home (local mode of transport), the queue was huge and there were no jeepnies in sight and it would have taken several hours so we headed to try to get a taxi. No taxi would take us as we live quite far from the mall and the roads were flooded. So we went and had a drink whilst trying to figure out a way home. In the end we went half way in a taxi, met Roy (we run the foundation together) and then got a jeepnie the rest of the way home as the jeeps are higher so they are more ok in flood water. However, on our way home, my phone also got stolen which was very annoying! We eventually got home and fell asleep to the sound of rain pounding on the roof. Waking up because of the rain, thunder and being cold a few times through the night, we woke in the morning to a flooded world. Many homes had been evacuated and many roads not passable. Our volunteer (Alice) was going home that day (Tuesday) and so had to leave very early to make sure she got to the airport on time and through the floods.
It was a long day as the rain pounded down all over the city and more and more people were being evacuated. There was a landslide not far from us in which a whole family were tragically killed, there was a landslide on Payatas dumpsite itself but thankfully that wasn’t big enough or injure anyone and the rivers rose. Some people had to swim to safety from their homes, others sat on rooftops waiting to be rescued.
There were so many people needed to be rescued and so many people coming into evacuation centres. On Tuesday evening, myself and Roy went to Cashew school (run by our sister charity ASCF, directed by friend and colleague Craig Burrows, whose being working hard and doing a great job to help those in need) to help with dinner and take a load of clothes for them. Then Tuesday night was another night of heavy rain and more flooding. It was worse in the Kasiglahan area which is the area our sister charity have their children’s home (Mango) and their elementary school (Papaya). The school became an evacuation site for people from Kasiglahan and the surrounding area. Several hundred people
were evacuated there!
On Wednesday, the morning came wet but the rain wasn’t so heavy. Roy and I went to Cashew again to help with breakfast and general bits and pieces then it was back home for a nap and to try to catch up on missed sleep because of the weather. Later on in the day, a friend bought round a load of donations from him and his family (thanks to all the Palami’s for those!) and so we went back to Cashew to hand out the food and clothes packages and then home again to do a bit of work. The rain started heavy again during that afternoon and then in the night it rained badly. However, apart from some heavy showers today (Thursday) it has been pretty dry so it’s been the beginning of the big clean up.
Many donations have been picked up and dropped off at various locations around Manila, hundreds of people are volunteering to help get relief packs to those who have been affected and the people are all really joining together to help each other. It’s amazing to see.
It’s the first time I have experienced floods like this and I wish I could have done more to help but hopefully in the next few days we will be able to help more with the big clean up and distribution of donations. However, it has also been amazing to see how people have joined together, regardless of status in society, to help each other to get through these floods. The number of in-kind donations has been incredible, big truck loads full to the various places that need it and people keep on giving. It will take a while to clean everything up and for people to get back to normal but these last few days have certainly shown how resilient and resourceful Filipinos can be!
Thank you everyone for your support and donations… no-one here couldn’t help these people to get through this if it wasn’t for you!
Please visit http://www.triplee.org.uk and click the donate button at the top if you wish to donate or email firstname.lastname@example.org (UK) or email@example.com (Philippines) for more ways to help or donate. With more heavy rain forecast, I suspect we will need the support! Thanks so much again for everyone’s kind messages, donations, prayers and support!
June 17 dawned very early (5am) so we could all get up and get ready. At 5.30 one of the girls came knocking at the door of the drop-in centre all ready and waiting to go, they weren’t meant to be there till 6am so that shows how excited they were! At 6.15ish the girls from Payatas were all in the drop-in centre and the girls from Mango (the children’s home run by our sister foundation ASCF where we also coach football for the local community many of whom were originally from Payatas) arrived and then it was a mad 30mins of sorting out everyone’s football boots, socks and kits. At about 6.45 we headed to the tournament and arrived just on time at 8am.
The tournament was held in the grounds of a school so it was on grass which was lovely and
the girls really loved playing on it. As soon as we arrived the girls were kicking the ball about and raring to go. At 9am exactly the first game kicked off which our girls won 3-2, the first time they had ever won a game. It was such a great game to watch though tiring for the girls as each game was 30 mins (15 mins a half) but they did great anyway. About 10 mins after the end of the first game it was time for the second. This time the girls drew 1-1 and so it was taken to penalties which our girls won yet again. This was the first time any of our teams had ever won a penalty shootout. After that game the girls had some brunch and then it was time for their next game. Having just eaten they didn’t play as well and lost this game 3-1, the only game they lost that day! The next game was the semi finals which we won and then it was through the finals. It was so exciting to watch as this was the first time any of our teams had been in the finals of a tournament. This time the game was only 15 mins instead of 30 mins which was good as all the players were getting tired. This game ended in a draw of 1-1 and so it
was again a penalty shoot out. It was a nerve-wracking few moments and each of the girls lined up and took their shots alternatively with the other team. In the end our girls won again 3-0. It was an unbelievable moment as it we all suddenly realised we had won and the air was just suddenly filled with incredibly happy girls screams, hugs flying everywhere and shouts of ‘girls shake the other teams hands’. It was such a moment of complete pride and joy in the team. They have come so far, from loosing every game to winning a tournament! They won with grace too because they didn’t just shake the other girls hands but hugged them and I heard some of them apologising to the other team for
It was then time for pictures, with everyone, Roy, myself, Ate Jo (head house parent at Mango), Kuya Ed (who very kindly drove us to and from the tournament), Craig (who directs ASCF) and the girls, then just the girls, then jump shots, then pictures of all the teams together, then more screams and jumping around by our girls and them clutching their trophy. It was just such an amazing moment that words struggle to describe it fully.
During the whole tournament the girls had been asking for Jolliebee (a fast food place here in the Philippines) so we told them, if you win, we will get you Jolliebee. So upon them winning, after the pictures, hugs, cleaning up and everything else was finished it was treat time and we took them all to Jolliebee. Tiredness was evident but the excitement of winning kept them all going and they ate with smiles on their faces and chatted none stop. On the way home, sleepiness overcame some of them and they dozed on and off but upon arrival at Payatas, once again it was congratulating each other before the Payatas girls headed home and the Mango girls carried on their way the rest of the way home.
The win was unexpected and penalties have always proved a challenge to our teams but it just goes to show that if you work hard, practice, put in the effort and really just try, that you can succeed, the girls were inspiring yesterday and we are all so proud. Thanks so much to the people who organised the tournament and well-played to the other teams!
The last few days have been spent on the beautiful island of Bacolod, one of the many islands in the Philippines. I was there with a group of friends for an Azkals match vs Guam on the Philippines independence day (June 12). Our flight was at 4.30am on the 11th so it was a sleepless night for those of us who flew on that flight (9 I think) and we arrived in Bacolod at 5.30am all sleepy and looking forward to getting to the hotel.
Upon arriving at the hotel, myself and a friend asked if their was a room spare and when there
was we were able to book in (we were supposed to stay at a friends but were so tired we just needed to sleep right away). However, our friends who had booked online weren’t able to check in until later so we all hung out in our room for a little while before everyone was able to check in. It was then sleeping time for a few hours before going out for lunch. After lunch we had cake at a place called Cafe Bobs and then headed back to the hotel to chill out by the pool for a few hours.
A few hours later we then ordered more food and had snacks before going out to the RUINS! The Ruins are a famous landmark in Bacolod and it was amazing being there at night-time with it all lit up. At the ruins we met up with other friends and took many pictures and attempted several ‘jump shots’ and generally had a lot of fun considering we were simply at an old and derelict house. After the ruins we headed for dinner at one of Bacolods famous Chicken Houses. I’m vegetarian though for health reasons so unfortunately couldn’t eat the chicken though it did look so good. So before sitting down to eat, a couple of friends and I headed off to find me some food and eventually I got some tofu and veggies thing, got it take out and we went back to the chicken
house and munched on yet more food. However, our food trip for the day was not yet done because after eating, we went to Calea. Calea is a famous cake shop in Bacolod and it was amazing. I had tea and cake (to be so English) and it was such a great cheesecake but a friend had a mango ice cream cake which was without a doubt the best cake that I tasted there. So after a great day of lots of food, picture times, sun times and lots of laughter and chatter, it was time for everyone to head to wherever they were staying and sleep as most of us were exhausted after the long day on little sleep.
However…that night there was a Euro’s game, England vs France, so despite being tired by crazy friends (though I do love them all dearly haha) watched the game that kicked off at midnight whilst I (being 1 of only 2 brits in our group) slept the night away.
The next day was game day! The Philippines national team (Azkals) vs Guam. We awoke mid morning, fully refreshed (for the most part) and excited for the day and game ahead. At 11.30 we headed off to meet other friends and people who were joining to watch the game and had lunch. Bacolod is famous for its chicken so everyone had chicken and it was another mission
for me to find food but no complaints because it was a fun little mission. After we had lunch we all headed to a friend’s house to get freshened up and changed for the game and at 3pm we head to the stadium. The kick off wasn’t until 7pm but my friends and I (my friends being the core members) are members of the Kaholeros, the ’12th man of the team’ or ‘official booster squad’ so we had to be there early to greet other members and get ready for the game. The time passed surprisingly quickly and by the time 7pm came the excitement for the game was strong. When the whistle blew for kick off everyone was on their feet screaming and shouting and cheering. Our group has some specific
cheers that we all started shouting and it was just so much fun, I don’t know anyone who didn’t
enjoy the game. In the end we won 3-0 and it was a fun game to watch.
After the game we headed back to the hotel, arriving at about 11pm. As none of us had eaten we agreed to quickly get changed and then head out for food. It was about 12ish before we got out and a friend picked us up in his families truck. We were all tired and soooo hungry by this point. We went to a place that served fish but you had to wait 15mins, we were all to hungry for anyone to wait that long so we set off down a road to find somewhere else, as we were driving it started to rain so the boys (who were in the back of the pick up) started to shout to just go to Macdonald’s. We turned around and headed to Macdonald’s, rushing in to find a queue in the way of us ordering. There was a KFC just 2 mins down the road (where there is food I can eat!) so we all ran down there, bursting (slightly to dramatically) through the doors only to see 6 of the Azkals also eating, we paused slightly as some of us knew some of them before the lure of food got the better of us and we rushed, yes we did rush, the rest of the way to the counter to order and then to consume far much more food that I think any of us normally would have done! About half way through our eating and laughter times, one of the members of staff asked for a picture with the Azkals that were there. However, one of the boys is also the face of another food chain and so he couldn’t be pictured in another food chain so in the end the poor girl had to take off her hat, tie, name badge and put another t-shirt on over her work shirt. It was fun to watch this all going on and I think more funny because we were all so high with food back in our stomachs, a win for the team and general joyousness.
When we finished eating we headed back to the hotel and got a drink and sat and chatted in the biggest room we had between us all until about 2pm during which time we called by the front desk to be told to quieten down which shows really how happy we all were.
The next day it was time to head home. At after a 6.30am alarm, early shower and very yummy breakfast most of us girls and one of the guys headed to the airport (the others were staying for a few more days to go to a fiesta). Upon arriving at the airport we checked in and discovered that we were on the plane with some of the ‘daddy Azkals’. This amused us because if we hadn’t known any of them and then we kept on turning up where they were, they would have most likely assumed we were crazed fans! We finally got on the plane but it wasn’t to be a dull flight as after take off the seat next to one of the girls was empty so I decided to switch to there. However, when I started to move past my friend onto the middle seat, my belt loop got stuck on the lever of the food tray of the plane so I couldn’t move properly so ended up more just kind of falling onto the middle seat, much to the amused of my friends and judging by the disgruntled looks of the passengers around us, they didn’t find it so amusing. It was a fun flight though that apart from being a bit bumpy relatively smooth. Upon arrival back in Manila, it was time to head home and then for an afternoon with the kids!
It was a fun trip though to short to really relax but will defiantly be going back to Bacolod at some point as I would love to see more of the sites there and it really made me realise how lucky I am here to have such a great group of friends! My only wish from the trip was that 2 of my closest guy friends couldn’t make it but next time there’s a trip away, hopefully the whole group will be there and even more fun and laughter will be had. Thanks you to my lovely friends for such a fun trip!