I left United Kingdom for Cebu, Philippines last 24th of May 2015. The reason why I chose to volunteer in the Philippines is I can work with a local charity and learn about the Filipino culture. The city where I live is Cebu and it is the main center of commerce, education and trade. The city of Cebu is known as the Queen City of the South. At the meantime, it is the oldest city in the Philippines that consist of the main island itself and more than 160 surrounding islands. When the plane was about to land in the airport, I was seating right beside the window seat and I was looking down below, the city was amazing and my first impression of Cebu was and island with a typical blue sky with many palm trees planted along the road.
When I get to the airport, I was fetched with the two friendly Filipino girls named Cathy and Mariflor. They told me that I will be living together with the other volunteers in a host family whose name is Queenie. When I get to the We Spark Action office, I met two staff named Marco and Lea. Marco had me oriented about the organization and told me about what I should do in the office like updating the blog.
The transporation in the city is you need to ride through a Jeepney. Jeepney was known for crowded seats and kitsch decorations, most people think that Jeepneys passes the cultural and arts of the Philippines. Usually, I need to pay 7 Pesos for taking a Jeepney with code 07B (Jeepneys here in Cebu follows specific routes and are coded) from the house where I was living to the We Spark Action Office. Jeepeneys here in Cebu is the cheapest public transportation and is very convenient for passengers like me but sometimes it can lead to traffic jams and air pollution.
The most interesting part of my journey is when I went to the house where I was staying, I saw a big and rich house right next to my host family’s house Jen (a girl who is also living in my host family) told me that the price of the house costs 1 Million Pesos. The owner of the house rent rooms to people at a very reasonable price so that these people can get a place to live. At the end of my first night in Cebu, I met other volunteers and I was worried about how to get along with other people due to language barrier.
At the second day of my stay here in Cebu, I got the chance to taste a traditional breakfast in the Philippines named “Lugaw” that looks like a Chinese food “Rice Porridge” but the difference with the Rice Porridge in Chinese is that Filipinos usually add some sugar and sauce to the porridge. Lea went with me to ANCE (my host project) and I met Mr. Fernan, and I was told that I am going to teach Mandarin and Math to the street kids from Thursdays to Saturdays. After the meeting, Mr. Fernan, Lea and I went to the place where I will be teaching and when we got there I saw many people without their clothes on and just standing on the streets like they have nothing to do with their lives. The children who live in the place where I will be teaching were very friendly; in fact one five year old girl took my hand to touch her forehead. Lea told me that this kind of etiquette means that the girl blesses me and likes me.
In the evening, I got the chance to speak with the other volunteers named Noe (a Belgian) and Salome (a Swiss), both of them were very friendly and I asked them many questions about their work and how to treat the street kids and how to maintain an attitude in the place, they patiently answered all my questions.
The third day is my City tour. I went out together with Mariflor and Cathy and they brought me to many interesting places in Cebu City. There is one place I can’t forget, the Basilica Minore del Sto Nino, it is the oldest church in the Philippines founded last 1565. Most of the people here are Roman Catholic so many people went to the church to pray. Ancient documents were recorded the statue of the Holy Child (another name Santo Nino) was given to the wife of the Rajah of Cebu City by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. However, Cebu is the capital of the catholic faith that is deeply influenced by Christianity.