Adventures of Ate Tia

It’s frustrating how long it’s been since my last update, but when life happens, priorities can get straightened out/jumbled/however you wish to view it. School is winding down for me which is wonderful, but for a lot of this semester I didn’t have much direction.

I’m not crazy about sharing personal things on here, but I feel this is something I’d like to get off my chest. Living at home for the first time in 4 years, not having income, having difficulty securing a job, having future plans completely fall through: these are all big issues and I’ve been fighting through them this whole time. I love my family, but we don’t do well being around one another much. We do great for small increments but need to get away from each other in order to keep things happy. As for work, I have never not worked. I’ve always, always had a job. Coming back from the Philippines I expected people to be interested in the work I had done both then and previously, but nobody in the greater Portland area seemed interested in hiring in January. For one company, I had submitted my application before I returned to the US and had been through 6 interviews before being hired by them a couple of weeks ago. Unbelievable. But when you don’t hear anything - which is exactly what I was experiencing - you plan for the worse, so I felt like my life was in this jumbled, unclear point.

Schools, as I had mentioned, didn’t work out. I had planned on applying to Hampshire College, College of the Atlantic, a few others, but they ended up expecting noncustodial parental information through the CSS Profile. My noncustodial parent and I don’t have the best relationship, and when I asked him to do the required paperwork he absolutely refused. I begged Hampshire to offer me an alternative but what they gave me was a petition to waive that parent’s information. The petition required an attorney’s letter. ARE YOU SERIOUS?

I hate you, Hampshire College. But my open letter of hate will surface in a blog post to come. I don’t care enough right now to waste any more of my time. I’ll be sending you a letter, too, so don’t you worry your pretty little head. <3

My car has been trouble, my computer is really into dying, my teachers haven’t been great communicators, my lab partner in Botany is awful about talking to me and we don’t see eye-to-eye at all, but this will work itself out. 2 weeks and the semester is over. This weekend has been positively packed with homework, but that’s fine. I enjoy what I’m learning - I just wish the instructors would be better at pacing with the information.

I’m not a fan of complaining, especially not so openly, but it’s sometimes nice to just get things out. I’m a composed, happy person, but I’m human and wanted to try an alternative way to expressing myself. Regular posts to come, seriously.

College Life

I have made it the first month of classes at my new college, and I must say: things are boring. I’m taking an intense literature class, an algebra class, science + lab, and a printmaking class. I love what I get to do, but it’s weird to feel so on top of everything.

In high school there was a lot going on and I never had my life together, especially not with school and schoolwork. Now I’m getting everything done early, keeping open communication through my professors, and instead of feeling anxious, I feel somewhat underwhelmed. It’s like I overhyped the whole ~college experience~ and psyched myself out, when in reality it’s just a matter of balancing and staying on top of everything.

I’m still applying for a transfer school for the fall, and on Wednesday my first application is due. Crazy! It feels good to know I’ll finally be transferring (considering a school accepts me) and not just in the preparation stage. How many times have I been through this? A strange transition from talking about transferring and actually having everything together and submitting the application.

That reminds me…I need to see my advisor.

Tapos Na

I left my kids, my people, and my barangays on the 18th. The weather had been awful, and since a boat ride is necessary to get to Luzon (where Manila is) I had to make sure to get out with enough time. Not crying was huge for me. I smiled and thanked everyone and gave a few hugs, but my exit was very subtle. I hadn’t wanted a going-away party but the family gave a despedida for me regardless. We had wine and chatted for hours, and it was great. I’ve grown to really hate good-byes and was especially fearful for leaving the kids since we’ve all grown so attached to each other.

The boat ride was insane. I made the brilliant decision to sit at the very front of the boat and proceeded to get soaked both from the waves crashing into the boat and the rain shooting inside the open front and sides. This became leagues worse when I got on the bus to Manila that was cranking AC and stayed an extra hour at the pier because they didn’t have as many passengers as they’d wanted. Navigating around Manila wasn’t too hard, and my hostel - where I had stayed before - was perfect. I did lots of sleeping, conversing with Peace Corps volunteers and travelers and Americans who had been sent there from the embassy, eating of Crackernuts (a truly holy experience. Find them at your nearest Asian market), and repacking. My departure from the hostel was as anticlimactic as my departure from my sites, made especially boring by the fact that it was at 2:45 AM.

There’s much to be said about the security at Manila’s Nino Aquino International Airport (NAIA), mostly that it’s odd. There were no money exchangers open even though there were dozens of international flights in 2 hours leading up to my flight. Not one. And the guards were sleeping. I rocked my Taglish with as many people as I could, but once you enter Manila very few will allow you to speak Tagalog since their English kicks your Tagalog in the butt. An exception was made in the terminal’s various gift shops. Because I had about $40 in Philippines Pesos, I decided to pack my bag with more gifts and things I had wanted to get but hadn’t before leaving. The folks in the shops were excited and somewhat relieved when I spoke to them in Tagalog, since at 4am no one is really prepared to deal with customers in a non-native language.

When I got to my gate I sat, examining my new pasalubongs, and wound up talking to an older American man whom I had allowed to get in line infront of me during the flight check-in. We were talking and he shared that visiting the Philippines was on his bucket list. I shared a little of what I had done, then asked what he had done. “Entertainment District,” he answered, laughing.

Sir, you are nasty. I’m not one to pass judgment - normally I let things slide and will accept whatever your response may be and will tell myself that everyone is different and that having different tastes or interests is fine. But really? YOU MAKE AMERICANS LOOK BAD. YOU ARE WHAT GIVES US A BAD REPUTATION WHENEVER WE ATTEMPT TO LEAVE THE US. YOU STRENGTHEN THE ILLEGAL SEX INDUSTRY THAT IS OVERLY THRIVING IN MANY PARTS OF WORLD, BUT ESPECIALLY IN ASIA AND HIGHLIGHTED IN THE PHILIPPINES.

But I smiled and continued talking, vomit-taste in my mouth and all.

My first flight was different than most I’ve been on, in that I actually spoke with my seat partner. Normally I adore the opportunity to only talk to people when they want to give me free things (the drink cart, for one) but my seat partner was really chatty and friendly so we talked. It’s such a relief when you find nice people from your country and know they helped give a better name to you (I’m looking at you, perverted creepy New Jersey old guy from the gate). He was traveling with a group of guys he worked with and had been pretty sick for a big chunk of their trip, but was eager to ask me about my experiences and asked a lot of great questions. This is another odd thing for me - I write this blog because I should keep a log of my experiences and I wanted to give insight to a different part of the world, but otherwise I don’t really like to talk about what I do. He said, “Bless your heart!” when I told him very vaguely what I do. That’s the reason why I don’t like to talk, because people think that offering assistance is an abnormal thing that should be recognized. I am human, I am not a god. But his intentions were kind and he was especially great when he passed out 3 hours into the flight and allowed me some quick sleep.

Beijing was rough. I was grilled for taking my shoes off during the scanning process in the terminal - apparently that’s not something that’s done - and for bringing water in my bottles. So they dumped my water while I was struggling to get my shoes back on, but they wouldn’t answer me when I asked where I could refill my water. I even asked in Mandarin (thanks, semester-long introductory course!) but still they ignored me. Here’s the best part: after having my stuff searched and scanned 4 times, no one thought to take away the piece of fruit I had brought from the Philippines. Drinking water is deadly. Taking shoes off to be scanned is lethal. But a non-native fresh fruit that’s super illegal to be transported in? Welcome!

I cannot bring myself to share details of the 15-hour flight from Beijing to New York City, but let’s just say I do not see myself taking another long flight like that ever.

Landing in JFK I was hit with the reality of anti-US racism. I was ignorantly under the belief that Americans are good and friendly with everyone and everyone loves us like we love them, but no. Our security is overwhelming and far too intimidating. Allow me to reinstate the fact that I SMUGGLED A PIECE OF FRUIT and was frantic and I look either illegal or like a terrorist (mixed raced people are always confusing) yet was pushed along without even given eye contact from the workers, while green card holders or visitors were grilled for absolutely everything and the security officers were deliberately using huge words (I am sensitive to this because I speak languages other than English and know not all words are necessarily taught/known). I came to feel an overwhelming sense of patriotism and pride during my trips, which was unexpected - if anything I thought I would feel shame, but when I worked with other Americans or would see Americans being good to Filipinos/Filipinos being good to Americans, I would get this happy, calming feeling. That was entirely stripped from me within a period of an hour back in the US.

After lots of excitement and traveling home, I have been processing with the fact that everything is not as I had left it. I am starting a new school, a new job, have a new home, and am dealing with culture shock and jetlag. There are battles everyday that I never imagined I’d experience, but it’s all a part of the process. I have been given so much from the journeys I’ve taken and am already looking forward to my new adventures and my next trip abroad. I have a better understanding of myself, of my goals and aspirations, and what I can offer the world.

I will continue to update this blog, but am finished with the Philippines. Tapos na. Maraming salamat po for reading.

Ingat po tayo,

Ate Tia

…And Then (Wo)Man Created Fire

The clay-master has been doing crazy cool things in her time here, and we finally decided to try baking the clay oven that has refused to dry since there’s no such thing as not-humidity in the land of the sweat swamps.

Between the Sankta Lucia children+flames and the testing of an experiment, I was feeling a bit burnt out (oh, I’m good). But we got the clay oven to dry out most of the way and now the kids and the locals have new ways of expressing themselves!

Sankta Lucia

The Philippines is a hot spot for many travelers, but there seems to be a special interest for Scandinavians. Some volunteers and friends of my site just so happen to be Scandinavian, and so for the 13th of December we celebrated “Sankta Lucia/Saint Lucy’s Day.

Everyone worked together to represent their Scandinavian country and their recognition and understanding of the day, and they gave a presentation to the kids about the celebration, it’s history, and how Scandinavia differs from the Philippines.

Not only is the 13th of December celebrated for Sankta Lucia, but the celebration also recognizes the light returning to those countries. Win-win!

From what I interpreted from the slideshow:

Sankta Lucia was an Italian martyr, who wanted only a relationship with God, so she tore out her own eyes so no man would find her attractive. Therefore, she is the saint for the blind. When her pre-eyeless fiance decided she must be a witch since she tore out her eyes and requested people to kill her, she wouldn’t die. Finally, someone slit her throat, and she was done. So, she’s also the saint of people with throat illnesses.

I have not fact-checked the accuracy, but for now I like it! The kids loved it, too, since there was a fair amount of gore.

I was glad to be there for learning the Sankta Lucia song since it was in English - it was decided that Danish or Swedish (the cultures and languages that we currently have represented here) would be too difficult, but whomever decided to translate clearly didn’t care about English Language Learners - you truly cannot fathom the difficulty of pronouncing “huge” when no other word in your language is like it. “Threshold” was another killer, as was “stirring.” It was nice to witness them struggle with language since that’s my life everyday.

At night we had a performance. We had the kids wear white shirts - we couldn’t find red ribbon, so white shirts only, but they looked fly! - and each was given a candle. I nearly had a heartattack when the kids were holding the cups with candles, since half of them are terrified of fire and the other half are fascinated/obsessed with it, but no one ended up burning themselves. Woohoo!

I was tasked with making the Sankta Lucia crown. Because we’re literally in a jungle and there’s no way I’m going to light something on fire then place it on a kid’s head (sorry, Scandinavians) I collected fallen leaves and bamboo and twigs to twist and form into a crown. After some excitement and breaking just about everything I had found, and with about 10 minutes before the kids were supposed to line up (welcome to the Philippines), I decided to take some scrap paper, staple it together, staple leaves, and throw a ton of glitter on it. It’s the thought that counts, right?

Someone who was in no way involved in any part of this saw the crown and said “absolutely not.” It was hurtful - yes, that crown was a hot mess, but 1. they were singing in the dark and 2. the kids love me even though I make awful things, and they’ll surely love this. But, no. So we sent one of the mountain men to the woods to collect better things and make a fancier crown. Let’s just say the finished product tromped mine a thousand times over.

With the crown atop the kid’s head and everyone lined up with flames in hand, we had the loudest kid start singing first (pitch isn’t so important in this country, just be loud!). All the other kids started shouting along, and then they started walking. We had turned all the lights off to really exaggerate the fact that children were holding flames while singing and walking. It was a horrifying time for me, a person who puts 2 and 2 together and can too easily guess worst-case scenarios (children+flames+darkness=BAD), but fortunately everyone made it to the stage alright and the kids sang through the song a few more times.

We volunteers, who had put everything together (except the perfect crown, EXCUSE me) were really surprised at how the site supported us and even took over a lot of what went on. What we had thought was merely a cultural exchange ended up being a huge deal, and the song is still being sung days later. I love how well the kids did and how interested they were in outside cultures - it’s hard when your life is so unstable and you’re not given much schooling or many outside experiences, so here, when they’re introduced from people from all around the world that are interested in children’s rights and exploitation, it’s easy for them to be overwhelmed. Yet they handle it all well and are nothing but respectful and eager. I love them.

This One Time, at iCare Camp,…

Camps are a big deal in this part of the world, especially with affluent schools. I was asked to be a counselor for a camp that mixed street kids, traveler kids, and very wealthy kids whose parents are working abroad. For three days these kids were expected to overcome language, cultural, socioeconomic, gender, and age differences to work together. They were mixed into different groups that they would eat with, clean with, and do activities with.

It was eye-opening, to say the least.

When they first arrived they were told their room assignments - they stayed with kids from the same school/community - and then taken to the dining area for their merienda. The differences were apparent immediately, with the wealthy kids picking their bread and cheese apart and leaving 70% of it on the table, and the traveler and street kids eating their snacks up and sharing any leftovers they had with one another. The groups had not yet been split up at this time, so the kids were all sitting with other kids they knew and were talking only to one another. That’s typical for this age group, but it was exciting to think of how uncomfortable they were about to be when the camp started enforcing the teams.

Once their merienda was finished they went to work with getting acquainted with one another. They sat in a circle and were told about the camp program, and then all workers and counselors introduced themselves - I did part of mine in Tagalog, even!

The next activity was a very active one, and it was explained in both English and Tagalog but it was performed 100% in Tagalog. It’s a game called “Bahay, Bata, Bagyo” (House, Child, Storm). It involves everyone, and two people hold their hands to make the bahay and one person stands in the middle as the bata.  Whomever is without a bahay or a bata has to call out, “Bahay, bata, bagyo! Bahay, bata, bagyo!” and then choose one of the three to shout. If it’s “baka” that means the child stays where they are and two new people have to form a house. If it’s “bata” it means that the child has to run into a new bahay. And if it’s “bagyo” it means that everyone has to find a new house and a new child.

It got confusing. Meaning hilarious.

While in the bahay/bata/bagyo they introduced themselves to one another. This is where the language barrier began to show strongest. The street kids knew Tagalog and for the most part enough conversational English to survive; the traveler and wealthy students only offered a couple students that could get by with both.

They participated in more activities and games, and then lunch time came. They sat in their groups and after having our “prayer” (every group handles religion and meals differently, so instead of imposing just one style, they had different people and groups of kids play some sort of music for a minute before people could pray independently or dig into their food) the kids started.

I was at the counselor table which was right by my group. Halfway through the lunch period a boy turned to me and said, “Ate, nang walang pag-uusap,” (sister, we are without conversation). I told him to just try, that it was okay. After a few more awkward silent minutes I heard their table start laughing.

It takes time.

More activities, journal-making, dinner, and lastly a culture show - an opportunity for all students to gather and show each other stuff about themselves and their cultures. Some played songs on their guitars, some did dances, some drummed. Everyone got into it.

The last segment was watching one of the groups do a “cup dance,” where they clapped and tossed around cups together. Really, really cool! After we cheered for them we were told that we were all going to learn how to do it. My rocked it!

On Day#2 I left the kids to do their own work since it was a lot of work on children’s rights, child sexual abuse and exploitation, heavy stuff. I felt since I had received the same trainings and information prior that it was best to leave them to their reactions and opinions; I didn’t want to interfere. That night a group of kids performed a play by Dr. Seuss, and everyone understood what was going on - even though it was only in English - because of how showy the kids were with acting it out. Laughs and cheers from everyone!

On Day#3 it was activities and crafts day. The morning started out with drumming from one of the traveler boys, and then the teams were given a Millennium Development Goal topic to make a video and a painting about. Ours was on the environment. The other counselor and I let the kids to work with each other and only aided in translation help when fully necessary. I was the videographer but that’s about the extent of my assistance - this was their project, and I wanted them to do it.

The “Enviro-Men” getting ready for their close-ups! I came up with the name and the other counselor made their costumes from fallen leaves, branches, everything. Coolest Counselor Club!

Editing. This picture is great because it shows a traveler kid, a street kid, and a pampered kid all working together. Even though the traveler kid and the street kid had never edited or even really used a computer, they were able to help. Go, team!

When we finished we had the afternoon to tie-dye, make dreamcatchers, weave bracelets, and paint clay tiles that each kid got to design. The first stop for my group was the tie-dye station. I somehow got caught up in helping all the kids (none of them felt the need to try it themselves and accept the final product - they all wanted ‘perfect’ designs and chose to have the adults help them. grr) while my group continued through the course. Some of the traveler girls started coming up to me to show them how to start their design, and even though they spoke a mix of Tagalog and another dialect, and I was limited with my Tagalog, we understood each other and they advocated for themselves when they understood how I was making the designs, or when they wanted my help to drop the shirts into the boiling buckets of dye. One of the girls kept bringing shirts to me, and in my limited Tagalog I was unable to explain to her how, really, each person should only get 1 shirt. But we did have extras, so I decided to let it be. She said, “Ate, ikaw ay ang aking ate. You are my sister.” I was beaming! One of the shirts she even wrote, “My STAR, my favorite is tia" (changed for privacy matters). The letters came off during the dyeing process, but the fact that she was so cute and wrote that out gave me an amazing feeling.

I made one for my niece as a pasalubong, but by the morning that the kids were leaving it was gone. Anyways, this is what I made:

That night the kids watched the videos everyone had made then brought out instruments to jam. By now the groups were mixed, travelers were playing drums while rich kids played guitars and street kids sang or played the box-drums. It stopped mattering who everyone was. The facilitators took a break to have everyone come to a circle (circles are big here) and each person got to say something about their experience. When it came to me, I realize I should have been a bit less sassy (oh, but it’s so easy for me!), but I said how I felt: that I had my doubts because of how culturally different the kids were, but I was truly impressed at the comradery that showed within the first day alone. I said that they should be proud of themselves for stepping out of their comfort zones and being so accommodating to one another. Lots of tears came rolling out of the eyes of everyone, and after someone said something and it was translated, that person would sit back and start cuddling up to the people beside them.

We wrapped up our day by about midnight.

On the day everyone was leaving there was terrible, terrible rain. We took group pictures and hugged (and cried, for many) and then the kids were off. They piled into a Jeepney that took them to the beach in the next town, and they had talked to the boat companies to get to this beach since the roads were flooded. The kids had to haul their own stuff down very, very steep stairs then drag them across a beach. To me, this was the cherry on top - the wealthy kids had packed more for these 3 days than I took with me for 4 months in the Philippines. The best part was that they had to carry it themselves. Seeing how other people live and function is eye opening through camps and crafts, sure, but even moreso when you have to continue to break away from your comfort zone and do things you may not like because no one is there to do them for you.


I connected with the boys I work with, absolutely, but there’s something about working with girls when you’re a girl that’s a bit different. With the traveler girls, they are given a couple hours of schooling Monday-Friday but otherwise are raising their siblings or working to bring home pesos to feed each other. They are child laborers and have lost a good portion of their innocence and childhood. When they were brought to camp, they were crying. When they spoke, they cried. They were overwhelmed by their surroundings and were relieved to be able to leave their responsibilities and concerns at home and come to this island where they were greeted with the sole expectation of having fun and enjoying one another. Their stories explained how they are not close with their mothers since they always have to work or don’t have the energy to entertain them, and how they rarely if ever see their fathers. When the counselors showed commitment and interest in them, they started clinging - literally, clinging - to us. The girl who wrote my name on her shirt gave me a hug before she left, and when she pulled away she started crying. I brought her back in and we hugged for a bit while she cried. I smiled and said, “Hanggang susunod na, ate. Ingat po tayo,” (Until next time, sister. Take care [polite]). She thanked me and kept holding my hand while she slowed her tears.

Soccer Club

Manila is a city with very few parks and safe spots for less-than-privileged kids to be able to play sports, however, with all the concrete, basketball is the most widely played sport there. For the kids, when they arrive here, it’s much different-  there are actually fields and grass available and so the boys have learned to play soccer!

Even though the boys have only been playing a few months they’re excellent. At the soccer club where they play, since there aren’t any school-organized teams, they mix with other kids from the town, nearby schools, and adults to scrimmage.

The first half of the soccer practice is spent running drills. One of the house kuyas leads the boys and girls with the drills and everyone gets to take part. I played soccer growing up and the differences are astounding, mainly that there is no cattiness and everyone is welcome to try as hard as they can without judgment.

One of the boys from my program was the “chosen one” for demonstrating the drills - I was so proud of him! The drills are challenging but the boys never stopped smiling. 

When it came time to play the kids were split up by age and then were counted off into different, mixed teams. Instead of rooting for just our kids, we had to cheer for every pass, every block, every goal, every unsuccessful goal - there were no winners, no losers, just a few dozen kids playing.

It’s hilarious to watch how differently they play compared to most other parts of the world - everything is one big jumble with no real lines anywhere on the field, so lots of interpretation.

That’s completely typical of the Philippines, though - they each interpret things at their convenience. I’ve come to the point where I can no longer get too frustrated and so I roll with it. This is the Philippines.

Making Clay

Recently there have been many new additions to our team, one of them being a woman whose passion is clay making and pottery. I offered to help her out today and ended up learning about how the organization will benefit from all things clay!

The boys and some of the workers help gather the clay from up the mountain, take it back here and we sort it. We continually mix it with water to make it more formable. They’ve also made two attempts at a kiln and have started designs on a pottery wheel.

There’s a project coming up and one aspect will be for everyone to make themselves as a little clay person! Mine:

The huge ball on the back is for my huge hair when it’s in a bun!

I can’t wait to see how the kids do with this! They love arts and crafts, and will surely go crazy over this new method for them.  I just can’t believe they didn’t take advantage of this very simple resource until now, but sometimes it takes outside people to help you realize what you have.

Composting on the Bundok

Today a group of us gathered to assemble the new composting system for our site lower on the mountain. We had to dig 3meter-by-3meter into the side of the mountain, which may sound simple but it was very unstable and I ended up falling down the mountain multiple times. Was it worth it? Definitely.

The lead agriculturalist here spent the summer in a different part of the Philippines to learn about a specific type of composting, a much different system than anything I’ve done before. He taught me how to do it then watched on as I taught the others.

The process is:

In a 1-Liter bottle pour 30 ML of water, then mark with a sharpie.

Pour out water, then pour molasses up to the drawn line (it’s too messy to use a measuring spoon)

Add water to the middle of the bottle, then stir/shake gently - no bubbles!

Put 30 ML of a yeast, fungi, and acid mixture.

Stir/shake gently.

Pour water just below the cap.

Shake and date the bottle.

Over the course of the next week it will process and get very hot. I have to open the bottles daily so as not to retain too much pressure within the bottles from all the activity.

Cool stuff!

Once we were done mixing the compost fluids we got to work layering the materials that were already ready: rice pods, vegetation, fallen plant materials, and - bokashi!

You can see the slope - it’s intense! Don’t wear clean clothes when composting.

In a week we can layer the composting fluids and then in a few weeks it should be ready to be mixed in to our farms. In the next week to come I’ll be working to teach the students about what they can do to help us, and why we’re composting anyways.

Mmm, bokashi! Sarap!

It’s perfect timing for us, seeing as we will be planting anywhere between 10-150 fruit trees before my time is up. It’s cutting it close but I’ll be able to educate others to know how to take over once I’m not around.

Everyday I learn something new. Today one of the things was about different types of composting, and although it wouldn’t work back in New England, it’s something I can reference in future work in tropical environments. Awesome!

The view from the composting site. Makes falling down so many times and getting attacked by bugs and sharp plants 100% worth it.


The program where I’m working is arts-intensive, which makes teaching of “boring” subjects such as language or mathematics super lame in the eyes of preteen/teenage boys. But I still try! My class time was impaired greatly by new activities happening here so I sat the boys down and asked them what they wanted me to teach them.

We have covered the majority of Pre-Algebra basics and started getting into more exciting, non-textbook math. Teaching math skills to English Language-Learners (ELL) is no easy task, so showing is 100% of teaching. We worked on skills through games like Sudoku, Math Bingo, and lots lots lots of worksheets!

It seems as though I say it in every post, but I was impressed with how interested the boys all were with getting into more challenging work. As I was teaching them Square Roots it came to my attention that 3 of them had no idea how to divide.

Division is pretty important. Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division are the basics for doing essentially anything mathematically. So, planned for our next class (which isn’t for about 2 weeks due to their other activities) is lots of division work.

It’s difficult keeping a balance of being a cool teacher that the boys love and good teaching. So, because I’m a Libra and balance runs strong in my blood, I give the boys “math rewards” when they have worked hard during a class. “Math rewards” are coloring sheets or activities that involve math but can be fun and less difficult.

We have one week left of classes, and I am second-guessing my lesson plans - I want them to remember me as being a good person who taught them a lot. They’ll be given thick work packets that I’ll have their primary teacher check up on - they deserve to be challenged. I believe in each one of them, and even though I’m a hard teacher, I know I’m not pushing them too hard; when they complain I know to listen, but also to remember that they’re young boys who are prone to laziness! I tell them to get back to work, but always with a smile on my face.

Sail Away

As I’d previously mentioned, one of the activities our boys take part in is: sailing! I’ve never ever been, but I accompanied them to the yacht club anyways.

I don’t think words can amply express how blown-away I was at how focused and enthusiastic they all were. At one point a duo had a rough time with the windy weather but together they worked it out and finally got upright again - everyone on the shore was cheering!

Some of the older boys who have been here longer were great and paired up with some of the newer or younger boys - their own choice. I was more impressed by their teamwork than their sailing skills.

The day lasted hours and hours, through application after reapplication of sunscreen and lots of merienda, until we all finally piled into our Jeepney to sing songs the whole way home. What a great day we had!

Quick Update: ‘Sailing’ and ‘Goodbyes: Part 1’

Sailing is a big deal with the kids I work with. They’re situated on an island, so water sports seemed to make the most sense for them to master during their time here. I for one have never been sailing, and never snorkeled before coming here. But every Sunday the boys get together early to play soccer (it gets far too hot to not have it early) then spend the day sailing and swimming.

I had a rough idea of sailing and all it entails, but the boys blew me away! It was an incredibly windy day but the boys kept at it. They were so impressive, I’m amazed by them.


On Monday I had to talk to the boys during dinner. In the previous week, during classes, I had casually mentioned that I would be leaving for a little bit, but would return. The boys hadn’t fully grasped that until I told them Monday and explained the reasons, along with a house kuya’s translation assistance. The boys all stopped eating and stared at me, and they started to look so hurt. But once I said I would be bringing a very small gift, they were able to accept it. I said goodbye Monday and have arrived at my “VISA Vacation” spot now. I miss my boys daily, I cannot imagine what I will do when I leave for good.

//I apologize for the gaps between entries - I’ve been keeping quite busy! But I will surely be updating, and can get pictures, within the next few days. Stay tuned!

Sorry for the delay in posts, but the boys have been keeping me quite busy!

Updates galore soon to come.

Best wishes,
Ate Tia

Sorry for the delay in posts, but the boys have been keeping me quite busy!

Updates galore soon to come.

Best wishes,

Ate Tia