I have been in the Philippines for over a week already! My travels here were actually very easy. I had a row to myself on the long flight and so I got to stretch out and sleep the entire time. The prayers for my travels were definitely answered, so thank you.
I spent the first 5 days here in Manila being introduced to the Philippines and at a training conference. Something I find cool here is that the Episcopal Church of the Philippines ECP has compounds. These compounds hold the diocesan offices, cathedrals, staff housing, and other things. In Manila we stayed in a guesthouse on the compound. There the compound also has a seminary and restaurants.
My first full day was spent being a tourist. Mitchel (another YASCer) showed me around. We went to the visa office to get my visa, a really good Thai place, and then the national fine arts museum. It's probably my favorite art museum I have ever visited. There was so much diversity in the art shown and so many beautiful pieces. One of my favorites was a painting of the CUTEST little old lady I have ever seen. We also walked on the old city wall which was harder to walk on than I expected. Overall, I liked Manila. It’s definitely a big city but I didn't sense the stress, rush, and dirt I usually get from big cities around the world.
Wednesday was more of a relaxed day. We went to a mall which was very mall-like expect there was an art gallery that showed the history of the Philippines through these giant murals. There was also an art class going on while we were in there and that was interesting to observe.
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday was a national meeting for E-CARE. E-CARE is entering a new phase of capacity enhancement. This phase is shifting the program more in the direction of giving partner communities more power and control. So the meetings were reflecting on an external evaluation, discussions on marketing and branding, and then financial training. Most of the conversations were done in English so I could follow along but sometimes it would shift to Tagalog, Ilocano, or another language and I just sat there lost. On the finance training day, I sat there lost even when it was in English. Let the record state, I will never be a CFO.
Sunday I traveled to Santiago with my new E-CARE coworkers and boss. Rice paddies are so much prettier than corn fields. I am excited to get to see more of the Philippines this next year.
Santiago is a city of a little over 100,000 people. The diocesan compound is on the outskirts of town neighbored by a school, fields, and a cute plant nursery. I live near the front of the compound in a building that also houses the cafeteria where the staff all eat lunch. The compound is home to different offices, the cathedral, and homes of different staff. The retired former bishop also lives here. I will talk more about the different offices housed here and all the work that happens in a future blog post, I promise.
My room is a current work in progress. It's becoming more my home every day. This morning I cooked my first meal.
There will be more reflection and updates in my future posts. I just wanted to let everyone know I'm safe, happy, and busy learning everything there is to know about the Philippines, E-CARE, the ECP, and myself.
Until next time,