Thursday, February 26, 2009
I also visited a museum dedicated to the life of Gov. Evelio Javier. He was an oppositionist to the authority of President Ferdinand Marcos, for which he was assisinated on Feb. 11, 1986. It's said his assisination was what fueled the fire to start the People Power/Philippine EDSA Revolution that year. It was an experience that made me stop and think. For someone to take a stand knowing the risk, that's a rare kind of courage, and a rarer devotion to helping others.
Afterwards we went to a sugar factory. The festivities ended with the team (minus Doug) taking a ride on a water buffolo. Later that night we attended a Rotary meeting and partied late into the night at a karaoke bar. As always , it was too little time spent in another great city. We've got pics galore, so stay tuned!
Sunday, February 22, 2009
This back pack belongs to a first grader who attends private school in Bacolod. The students must buy their own books and CARRY them or WHEEL them to school each and every day. They do not leave any of their school supplies in the classroom. In many cases the book bag weighs more than the student who drags it!
My favorite part of the trip is visiting the schools. I brought one of my favorite books, The Rainbow Fish, and whenever possible I read to the classes that I visit. The kids ooh and ahh as I show them the shiny pages and they learn the importance of sharing. Then the students make their own rainbow fish to hang in the classroom. I brought shiny silver sticky paper to make their poster shiny, too!
Friday, February 20, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
(Picture by Shelley: Magellan's Cross.)
My favorite experience was caving in Manukan. Sporting headlamps and helmets, we crawled through a half-mile maze of stalagmites and stalactites. On the return hike, we shared fresh coconut with the locals-- a sweet reward. The drive to the cave was the first time we got a glimpse of the Philippine countryside; it is breathtaking. There are expansive rice patties, 60-foot palm trees, and rolling hills as far as you can see. Snorkeling and rock climbing at Dakak Beach Park & Resort are next!
(Picture by Shelley: DMC nursing students preparing an herbal remedy for Dengue fever.)
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Our third day in Zamboanga and we continue to be treated like royalty. Doug & I began with a tour of Crustacean Trading Corporation, a plant that blast freezes seafood to maintain the freshness and vitamins, so that delicacies like octopus can be shipped worldwide. It was an impressive family-run business, and standing in the enormous freezers reminded us of the frigid weather we are missing back home. Temperatures topped out just above 100 degrees in Zamboanga.
In the afternoon, Mayor Celso Lobregat treated us to a presentation about our host city. Zamboanga has a nearly 400-year history influenced primarily by the Spaniards who occupied the area for several centuries. The Latin culture is still a large part of Zamboanga’s culture today, and lead to a new branding campaign that position’s the City as “Asia’s Latin City.”
Having recently collaborated to implement a new brand campaign for the 10th fastest-growing city in the USA, I was particularly interested in the challenges Zamboanga faced in launching its new brand and communicating with its residents. Despite population differences, (Lancaster, California with 140,000 v. Zamboanga with 780,000) and the entire Pacific Ocean lying between them, these two cities shared many of the same challenges.
Thus far, we’ve been blogging about many of the differences we’ve encountered; our discussion with the Mayor was a wonderful reminder that there are many similarities as well. The opportunity to discuss our shared challenges is a priceless aspect of the GSE experience. Whether through business, or through the development of international service projects, it is amazing what a meeting of the minds from across the world can accomplish.
Today I visited the offices of the Zamboanga Times and Zamboanga Today, the city's two daily newspapers. I chatted with Roy Ramos and JV Faustino, the two editor-in-chiefs of the papers. They had a lot of questions for me about my paper and my hometown. It was quite the role reversal, a reporter getting questioned, but I learned a lot from them and hope to apply that knowledge to the Minuteman.
Later that day the team met with Mayor Celso Lobregat. We got a great overview of Zamboanga and all it has to offer, and got to ask some questions about the city, the mayor's goals, and how he plans to spread the word about its beauty. I've interviewed many a city official before, and at one point I wondered why I didn't have my recorder with me. Guess you can take the reporter out of the newsroom but you can't take the newsroom out of the reporter, eh?
Well, that's all for now. I'm off to the west chapter of Zamboanga's Rotary Club for a Valentine's Day party. I'll try not to sing this time.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Over the weekend the team and I went to the Northeast Link, where we met with GSE teams headed to Thailand, Poland, and the Philippines (other than us). We also learned about what's expected of us and got some tips on how to make the trip less stressful and more enjoyable. We even got to don our stylish Rotary uniforms (as it turns out we were the only ones to do that. But hey, we looked fab!).
It's Tuesday night, and I'm going to start packing for the trip. I've got a new suitcase courtesy of my mother (thanks, Mom!), plus a second one borrowed from my brother (hmmmm, something borrowed, something new....). I don't think it's hit me yet what's about to happen. I just put this week's edition of the Billerica Minuteman (the paper I write for and edit) to bed, and I find myself inadvertently thinking of what next week's issue will contain, though I won't be here to write it. Today it snowed, and within a few days, I'll be kissing the frozen shores of Massachusetts goodbye and head off to far warmer climes, yet I've never really stopped to think about that. I guess that's the byproduct of a busy life. We often don't take the time to focus on what's coming up because we're so entrenched in the now. We worry if we take too much time on what may be, we'll miss what is.
Well, busy or no, my life is about to take a whole new twist. I don't know what's going to happen, but I know myself, Jon, Laurie, Shelley and Doug will have a blast doing it. Next stop, the Philippines!!
P.S., as a final parting gift, here's a video of the Filipino National Anthem