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Beach trip to Zambales!

Arrival on the island...Thanks Zargy for the pic :)

Arrival on the island…Thanks Zargy for the pic 🙂

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!940855_10200685134666683_1349414777_n

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.

Breakfast time

Breakfast time

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

Fun on the beach

Fun on the beach

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.

last Island

last 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!

Beautiful beach! Can't wait to go again!

Beautiful beach! Can’t wait to go again!

Insane heat and general life

Swimming to cool down in the heat

Swimming to cool down in the heat

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

Tournaments fun

Tournaments fun

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.

New house being renovated

New house being renovated

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!