This is a bit awkward but here goes. I want to formally apologise to all 100 million Filipinos...for calling you Filippinos (thanks to Pam for the spelling correction!) The irony is that I'm trying to learn a new language and I can't even master my own (and worse, that I'm a graduate in English literature!) But I'm sure you will forgive me considering that:
a. it is very hot.
b. I am without spell check.
c. learning tagalog is so hard!
But whilst we are on that topic, I might as well fill you in on my experience with language barriers. Since I am from a performing background, I have never had that much difficulty communicating whilst abroad: I point, mime and dramatize my emotions. But this only extends to basic, 'tourist' level communication. In Cabiao, I am a local. I am part of a family. And I have been completely immersed in the community. So talking about what we are actually doing here can be quite tricky.
Now imagine having to run a workshop for 350 high school students.
To be honest, I was truly terrified and embarrassed about having to speak a few phrases of badly pronounced Tagalog in front of the the top -students of Cabiao High School. After years of performing on a stage, I found that my confidence was being undermined by something as simple as a language barrier.
As it turned out we didn't need a common language because our faces were enough. We were treated like celebrities. I only had to say "ako ay si..." (my name is) to receive a huge cheer from the students. As you've probably guessed, with this much attention, it wasn't hard to engage the youths in our global warming workshop.
After the session we were literally mobbed by the kids and had to pose for what felt like a million photos!!! (N.B. the Philippines is the 'selfie' capital of the world!) I felt like I was back working in Disneyland as a character, with the amount of smiling, waving and signing I was doing- except I wasn't dressed in a Winnie the Pooh costume, it was just me, wearing a bum bag and with sweat dripping down my face. I'm praying they don't start tagging me in these photos because an hour after leaving the school I already had received 32 friend requests on Facebook...
...I guess I have no choice but to extend my online community to the entire High school of Cabiao!
However the one stand out favourite is Liam. If we are celebrities then he is God. He is literally the Harry Styles of Cabiao. I have never seen anything quite like it. Liam only had to breath for the whole room to start screaming. Girls (and boys) were throwing themselves at him, fainting and even created "I heart Liam" signs to wave in the air. (My favourite sign read "will you be my forever Liam?") With Liam on the team it doesn't look like it is going to be hard to catch local attention and recruit volunteers for the DRRM programme. But I think he may even need a body guard at this rate!