Category Archives: My Philippines Adventure

Quiet, Masters Thesis in Progress

I am diligently working on my masters paper on a Friday night. I have been transcribing interviews from my research today and making notes about themes that are starting to come up. There is certainly nothing glamorous or sexy about this kind of work.

It is very similar to the kind of mindset one needs to finish a marathon. Sure, people may see you cross the finish line in a marathon… but it is hard to appreciate all the work that went into training before the marathon. Sure, someone may see my final masters paper… but it will be hard for them to appreciate everything that went into its creation. Traveling to the Philippines, doing interviews, transcribing the interviews, analyzing the interviews, reading lots of literature, and writing the paper. Friday nights sacrificed… many nights sacrificed… in the hopes of finding something to improve healthcare.

I have been transcribing for approximately 5 hours, with a bathroom break and a pizza break. And now a blog break. But now, back to transcribing for at least another hour.

If people ask you if they should go to grad school, tell them NOOOOOOOOOOO!!

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Did I do Something Wrong?

Today I met with my adviser for a little over an hour. I am always a little intimidated when I need to speak in depth with someone about my research on poverty and healthcare. It is not that I am afraid of my adviser, but I want to be a rock star when it comes to doing really good research.

After talking to my adviser, I felt like I did good research… but I need to focus on what does it mean? I did several interviews and observed a lot of things during my time in the Philippines. But … so what? Why does my research matter? What is my big discovery (or my small detail) that I can add to the piles of research that already exist?

I don’t know. And that is scary. I feel like I asked good questions… but did I ask enough in-depth questions? Did I ask enough any great questions? I am still in the process of transcribing my interviews… but I feel uncomfortable. Did I really spend five weeks in the Philippines during the controversial passage of a health bill and the country switching to Universal Healthcare, but not find something important?

Where is the big “research” question that my research will answer? My adviser did not appear worried (a good sign), but my adviser also did not summon a marching band to celebrate my triumphant success.  Hopefully something emerges in my data analysis.This feeling sucks.

Today I Fly to the USA! My Philippines Adventure

Today I fly to the USA
Why am I leaving!?

Yes, I must leave the Philippines. I hope to return in 18 months to do my sociology PhD focusing on poverty and healthcare. In the meantime I will finish my masters, teach, take more incredibly hard yet interesting classes, check out the Irish Rovers when they come to Seattle in November… and train for a marathon. Plus feed my chickens. In addition to all that I am married. So, you know… not too busy for a graduate student! Oh, and one week after I get back to the USA I am flying to Ohio and Kentucky to visit friends and family.

As for my flight. I left Manila, Philippines at 9:35 a.m. today… Tuesday, August 21st. And I will arrive in San Fransisco, California (USA) at 9:20 a.m. … today, Tuesday August 21st.

I’m not even using Dr. Emmett Brown’s 1981 DeLorean DMC-12. If you comprehend that reference you are SUPER-COOL!!

Green Eggs, Adoption, and some Ham in the Philippines

Green Eggs, Adoption, and some Ham in the Philippines by IshIsm.com
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

In the Philippines I have seen a lot of children who are struggling toward an impoverished future because of the extreme poverty of their parents. I myself grew up very poor in the United States. So poor that some winters I lived in a house with no power with my mother. In addition, I was in a foster home and nearly adopted when I was 11-ish. That was in the 1980s. Today in the United States, if social services discovered the same conditions I was living in… a child will most likely be put in a long-term foster home or adopted.

However, adoption in the United States is different than adoption in other countries. Adopting a child in the United States may mean having a child with emotional disorders from parental abuse. It could mean adopting a child with birth defects from maternal drug abuse. Adopting in other countries reminds me of what I stereotypically think of adoption… taking in an orphan. However, there is a long list of reasons why an international child can be an orphan which can cause emotional issues that do not involve the death of parents. In Uganda, many mothers abandon their children from a previous marriage when they got remarried because the new husband only wants to take care of HIS children.

Anyway, my wife and I are staying with a wonderful family in the Philippines while I do my research on poverty and health care. One of the cool things about this family is their commitment to adoption. I am honestly unsure how many children they have adopted over the years, but I am guessing it is 8 or 9 (I lost count). It is something the father in the family strongly believes in because he grew up an orphan in the Philippines.

Well, adoption is something I have always been interested in because of how I grew up. I have already started collecting Dr. Seuss books to read to my children some day. I have great memories of Dr. Seuss books despite how hard growing up was for me. Green Eggs and Ham is the book that inspired my love of reading. However, the point is… whether I have biological children or adopted, I want to read to them. And I don’t want to read to them from an ipad. I want to read to them from a book. With paper. And whether it is The Sneetches, Green Eggs and Ham, the Lorax, or another story… Dr. Seuss is something I want to share with my kids.

Hearing this man in the Philippines talk about the children he has adopted, and the extreme poverty they were living in before, rekindles my spirit to adopt. Adopting any child is probably going to be emotionally challenging. How will I handle a child if he/she has behavioral issues from parental abuse? These are things I think about when I consider adopting. Do I have an incorrect stereotype when I think adopting a child in the U.S. most likely means adopting a child with behavioral issues?

Adopting right now might be crazy because I am in grad school working on my thesis… but someday sooner rather than later I hope to open my home up to adoption. My main limitation is finances.

Sunday we met a family who has “pseudo-adopted” 6 beautiful little girls. I am still learning how things work in the Philippines, but pseudo-adoption is the best term I can think of to describe it. This family feeds, clothes, and provides shelter for 6 girls who have mothers … but the mothers need financial help. So, we have seen two different types of “adoption” in the Philippines. I guess the pseudo-adoption could be considered similar to sponsoring a child… but how many sponsored children do you know of that “live” in the home of the sponsor? Seeing these 6 beautiful little girls who were “pseudo-adopted” reinforced my desire to adopt.

Well, this post is starting to ramble… so I will finish with some ham. The Philippines has no Home Owners Association. Personally I hate HOAs. Where is this going? Keep reading.

My wife and I have stayed with two different host families. This past Sunday, we returned from spending the weekend with the second host family (the ones who pseudo-adopted the 6 girls). And the neighbors were having a wake. In the Philippines, our host told us a wake can go from 6 p.m. to midnight… and sometimes longer. Well, the neighbors had at least a 24-hour wake. And at 3 a.m. the neighbors decided to slaughter a pig. And then they slaughtered a second pig at 5 a.m. I am not sure if this was for the people at the wake, or perhaps in preparation for a large dinner sometime in the evening… but my wife and I definitely noticed when the two pigs were slaughtered at 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.

If you have never heard a pig being slaughtered, it sounded similar to what I imagine a poltergeist would sound like… wailing, screeching, for several minutes. This may be the only time in my life I wanted an HOA, because by my estimate we were within 30 feet of the screeching and wailing pigs. Before coming to the Philippines I never imagined I would add “not being woken up by the poltergeist-like sounds of pigs being slaughtered” to my list of reasons that I miss the USA.

Well, that is all for now. I am exhausted because the slaughtering of the pigs really disrupted my sleep pattern. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!