IT'S TOUGH BEING A VOLUNTEER
I was going to keep this next blog to myself because it doesn't exactly fit with the volunteer profile of living in a developing country. But I made a promise that my writing would be completely transparent and open, in order for you to get an honest and fair account of my journey. So that you hear about the bad times, the 'changing the world' times and also the fun, 'sounds more like a vacation' times.
Today was one of those 'holiday' days.
Our programme supervisor, Engineer, is quite a big deal in Cabiao. He knows everyone and everything in Cabiao and when he's not working at the municipality he's busy matchmaking all the UK volunteers with the locals.
ME: I'm sorry Engineer but I have a boyfriend.
ENGINEER: Yes but he's your English boyfriend, you must find Filipino boyfriend too.
ME: Errr I'm not sure if it works like that...
ENGINEER: Yes yes, he is in different time zone so he will be sleeping now. You find Filipino boyfriend for daytime.
But asides from setting us up with all them local talent, Engineer also has a lot of handy contacts, useful for both work and socials. On our day off he promised to take us swimming. I was convinced I would be taking a dip in bug-ridden river.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
We arrived at a palace-like house (well it would be more fitting to call it a mansion) for a day long, private pool party. This was the holiday home (yes, second home!) of one of his contacts who happened to have a pool- complete with waterfall and fountains- in their back garden. I was very amused when one of filipino volunteers said to me:
"This is a very expensive and fancy house by Filipino standards."
I laughed and replied:
"This is a very expensive and fancy house by ANY standard."
Later in the day, our project supervisors (Tony and Angelo) broke the bad news to us: this house could have been one of our host-homes. This house, complete with its own watch tower, pool-house and pavilion, could have been my home for the next 10 weeks.
But I guess they had a point when they rejected the house as a host-home. It clearly isn't a standard Filipino home and would have, to some degree, inhibited our ability to integrate with the local community.
Nevertheless, the day was amazing and was just what we needed after an overwhelming and draining week of work. Sun, pool, ice-cream, picnic, music, games and naps.
And whilst the UK volunteers moaned about their Sun burn (partially to do with being white but also a side effect of the anti-malarial we are taking) the Filipino volunteers complained about their tans.
It's tough being a volunteer.