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UP stands for University of the Philippines… and it’s where I’lll be spending most of my time whilst I’m out here, although only on one of its campuses (campi?) – namely the Diliman campus.
Just briefly for my Mum’s benefit… yes you can email me and I can get it, but please don’t nag me about keeping warm… it’s REALLY unnecessary… maybe not getting dehydrated would be more suitable.
Anyway, I should update you on what I’ve been doing… where did I leave off? Oh wow, it was still my first night… oh boy, this could take some time.
OK, so that night I slept in the hostel (called Send for some as yet unkown reason), with nice air conditioning and a hot shower and fairly western breakfast in the morning (cereal etc). Then it was off to have a look around, which I did with James and Kirk (American Navs people) and had my first encounter with a tricylcle… not a violent one, we rode on one down to the local store, to buy some water and stuff and just to aquaint me a little with the surroundings.
Then we had lunch on campus, and went to meet Jaime (pronounces Hay-may as my Mum said), who then took me to the appartment where I am staying for the duration. It’s a nice place with a lounge/kitchen/diner thing taking up most of the downstairs with a semi-outdoor loo at the back and two bedrooms upstairs. There are 5 of us staying there, the others are all Philippinos, 2 of which (I think) are involved with Navs – Ram and Jayare. I’m sharing a room with Jayare and his little brother Chuckie. However, there was nothing for me to sleep on when we got there, and the others just sleep on thin foam matresses on the floor… so I went out and bought one of them for 1000P, or about 12 quid, not bad for 1 month’s use. Anyway, they showed me round the place and explained that there was no electricity, no hot water, no mosquito nets on the windows, and low water pressure so the shower didn’t work… oh and of course no air conditioning. But I’m really not complaining, I wanted to see how students and other Navs people live out here, so I get to see… cool! And they have a power line from the owner’s house (it’s his fault there’s no power at the moment) so they have fans, a few lights and a computer! And they were playing Warcraft 3 on it when I arrived – so I won’t be totally starved of my computer addiction whilst I’m out here – phew! 🙂
Onwards… so that evening I spent in the appartment, getting to know some of the guys, although Ram brought a LOT of people round, so I felt a little overwhelmed, so was quite quiet really.
The next morning, Jayare and I went to the Hotel where the other brits – Heather and Esther – were staying (they’d arrive the night before and gone straight there). We took a jeepney to get there… they’re fun things somewhere between buses, taxis, jeeps and chaos. You can get on them pretty much anywhere and they carry about 15 people, travelling around prescribed routes, but they cost a flat rate of 4 pesos per person, or 5 british pence. Anyway, once we arrived, Jayare went to work and the three of us went off with James and Kirk to our “orientation” at the Navs head office a little drive away. Orientation was really good, just covering bits of Filipino culture and the way Navs operates within that and also a few dos and don’ts.
Then we were taken back to the girls’ hotel, where the guy driving us thought we were meeting Jaime and others… unfortunately he was wrong! So we wandered around the campus a bit and, finding the outdoor table that Navs meet at empty, we purchased a phone card and I rang Jayare to see if he was with Jaime. Fortunately he was, and the meeting was at the appartment, unfortunately I hadn’t yet travelled on public transport to the appartment, and wasn’t sure I could get us there. Anyway, I got some directions from Jayare and we headed into the unknown! Managed to get off the first jeepney at the right place (Philcoa), and then located, via another phone call, the next one to get, asking the driver to stop at the right place for us (Eunilane). Then after walking around for a bit, we found the appartment… only 2 hours later than planned!
We talked a bit there about Monday and Tuesday events that were going on and our involvement with them… letting ourselves be roped in as interesting to look at (white people are rare and generally stared at here).
Anyway, this is going too slowly, should speed up.
Sunday, church in the morning – pentecostal, so very lively and an american preacher… was cold for the first time in ages, because they have super-duper air con in there. Afternoon we had lunch, then went to chill out in the girls’ room. Then off to a different church which meets in their hotel… a lot smaller and less lively, but still good. Then dinner with people from that church, then home with the pastor in a taxi.
Today, Monday, we’ve had a bit of a tour of the campus, with Ram, our guide for the time here! Had a bit of a chat about our time here, but nothing specific yet. Now we’re here, having just had lunch and sorted out a place to change Thomas Cook traveller’s cheques (much harder than expected!).
Tonight we’re going to be meeting a load of freshmen (as they’re called here… everything uses american terms here) from a dorm (or hall of residence) to introduce Navs. We’re doing the opening bit to get their attention… which is a bit scary (the hall is 500 people, but we have no idea how many will be there).
Anyway, that’s quite enough writing for now! I’m sure no-one will read to the end anyway, but I feel that you can now have some vague impression of what I’ve done so far… but as yet I have no real idea of what I’ll be doing day-to-day!
This is x3ja, for x3ja.co.uk, in Manila, signing off… over to you in the studio.