I spent a week visiting the Cabanatuan centre talking to the different people involved – the city Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) head, the SCALA centre head, the SCALA centre trainers, the out-of-school youth (OSY) taking part in the program, the social workers in the youth division and the employers who take SCALA participants for their job experience placement. I’ll post a better explanation of SCALA soon, so that all those positions make a bit more sense! I was staying with the family of an out-of-school youth in Cabanatuan – the family was wonderful, and huge. I think at least 50 people turned out to the ‘watch the Canadian ride the water buffalo’ event! Then, thinking I had some unusual fondness for farm animals, they took me around their neighbourhood insisting I take pictures of the goats, the chickens, the dogs, the other water buffalo….it was a full-blown parade :)
Then I was back in Manila for a night before flying to Tacloban with Martin and Sara and then driving 2 hours to Ormoc City. That’s where I’m writing this from. I just finished the first of two weeks I’ll be here, training the Ormoc SCALA centre trainers to use Microsoft Access and FrontPage. After this I’ll take a ferry & bus to Iloilo to train with Martin and Filipino volunteers to become SCALA volunteers (the people who assist the set up of new SCALA centres). Then I will finally, FINALLY get to stop in one place for a while! I’ll be in Loage for a month setting up a centre and then in the region of Mindanao setting up a centre in one of the cities there. I’ll be partnered with a different Filipino volunteer for the two centre setups. Somewhere in there will be time for a midterm check-in with Sara, probably as I travel from Loage to Mindanao, which are at opposite ends of the Philippines. So there’s a lot of traveling around this summer! It’s exciting, but I think one of the challenges for me will be integrating when I’m not in one place for long. The languages here make it more difficult – Tagalog, which I started to learn in Cabanatuan City is widely spoken but isn’t the local dialect in most regions. Visayan, spoken here in Ormoc City, probably won’t help me much in Loage where they speak Ilokano. And then the dialect in Mindanao will be different again.
The jumping around and all the traveling also means that this blog isn’t going to follow any linear, chronological order. I’ve given up before I’ve even begun. Instead, we’ll skip through thoughts and stories as through a daisy field. Won’t that be fun?
Now, lest you think I’m complaining about all the traveling, let me just say that the drive from Tacloban to Ormoc City was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. We drove through mountains, tiny villages, there were caribao (like a water buffalo) and giant hogs grazing at the side of the road, forests of palm trees, and then ended up at the ocean in Ormoc. Yesterday, some of the trainers took Martin & I to Lake Danau, a gorgeous lake in the mountains. I took a video on the way there that I hope will give you an idea of what driving through the countryside is like here. I haven't figured out how to post it - any hints?
A garden on the way to Lake Danau