My fifth week in the Philippines is coming to an end – time to look back and conclude how much my day-to-day life has changed:
A harsh change in my daily rhythm: After five years in the south of France where everything starts late and you stay up until late, I’ve become an early bird again in the Philippines. For example, there’s only a short timeframe both in the morning and afternoon to go running (because it’s either too hot or too dark with the risk of mosquito bites). That’s why I usually get up at 6AM for my sportive activities.
Always carry an umbrella: Because it’s rainy season, showers can start at any time. And because they are mostly heavy, I never forget my umbrella now. Filipinos also carry one to protect themselves from the sun and don’t get tanned.
Eat three times more rice (per meal – I better don’t start counting the increased quantity per day) because Filipinos eat rice at every meal starting with breakfast. But I’m still a foreigner and refuse hot food with rice in the morning.
Take multiple quick showers per day to be presentable because Filipinos don’t sweat and don’t like other people’s sweat; and I’ve never sweat more than under the Philippines’ humid heat.
Nocturnal encounters with giant cockroaches and spiders: Not sure how many more of these I need to meet before I get used to them.
Millipedes all over the terrace.
Gecko concerts all day long.
Wash clothes with cold water, except for those days when the pipe was in the sun long enough to deliver heated water.
Always expect a power cut: I always try to have a fully charged laptop where I can load my phone in case of a power cut. Next investment: A power bank.
Ask my way to get the right public transport because there is no official map or time table. So far, I’ve learned about the three main jeepney routes that I’ll probably take regularly over the next year. You may have discovered my detailed Bacolod jeepney guide here. But in case I need to go to a different part of the city, I’ll either ask around (keeping this destabilzing doubt the first time I take a new jeepney) or simply take a taxi (that is cheap compared to Western Europe, but six times more expensive compared to local public transport here).
Think of hierarchies and hurt feelings before acting: It’s so tiringly easy in the Philippines to insult someone and be in trouble dealing with the same person eventually. That’s why I prefer to think twice before I say or do anything, especially in the beginning. Virlanie and my exchange with partners definitely offers a great immersion.
Drugged mothers and kids in the streets: Only another confirmation of why I’ve become a volunteer here.
Life in the Philippines is definitely very different from life in Western Europe. But I enjoy all of these discoveries and smiling people around me. I’m looking forward to the next months…