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!!
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?
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!
This is a list of the various things I miss about the USA during my research trip in the Philippines. It is not necessarily a cultural study … these are just the things that I, an American traveling in the Philippines, have missed about the USA.
Vitamin A is one of the primary nutritional deficiencies in the Philippines. And, because of their geographic location and culture they simply do not eat a lot of dairy products. There is a saying, “Filipino cannot survive without rice.” Well, there should be another saying… “American cannot survive without cheese and milk.”
The food here is very good, but when I get home I want a giant chocolate milkshake.
9. Internet Access
I have WIFI, occasionally. However, because of my creepy internet stalker, NBC prevents me from watching the Olympics because I am in another country. I have looked for other internet access locations to view the Olympics, but being in the Philippines has proven to be an interesting challenge in staying globally connected. In the United States I could watch the Olympics and get streaming internet access 24/7.
8. Culture Shock
Culture shock. I drink coke in a bag, everything is shorter than I am accustomed to including doorways, and the water is not safe to drink. At the grocery store, packages of food are sold in much smaller sizes. Many things look similar to what I expect in the United States, but then they are slightly different. In the United States, my brain does not have to work extra hard to recognize Coca-Cola, toilets, or safe drinking water.
7. My Voice/Broken English
This is my fault, not the Philippines. I say it is my fault because I cannot speak Tagalog. I am traveling in a foreign country, but the only words I can understand are some of the Spanish words I pick up. So my speech pattern in English becomes broken into shorter sentences so that I can be understood… and I have adopted a slight Filipino accent which seems to make my words more recognizable.
6. Warped Time
Well, on the West Coast it is 6:31 p.m. Friday in the USA, while in the Philippines it is 9:31 a.m. Saturday morning. So that is one adjustment. The other adjustment is never knowing exactly when someone is going to arrive. An 11 a.m. meeting might mean the meeting starts at 10:30 a.m. or 11:15 a.m.
The warped time is not as bad as what I experienced in Uganda, where 11 a.m. meant sometime that day between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. I like knowing that if I say 11 a.m. is the time we meet, then people are going to arrive at 11 a.m. ish, you know… within a few minutes. Starting at 10:30 a.m. throws me off and starting really late frustrates me.
5. Toilet Paper
At public restrooms toilet paper is not provided in the stalls. You can bring in your own, or pay for toilet paper outside the stall. But there is none provided inside the actual stall itself. In the USA, I do not worry about toilet paper being in the stall. Sometimes the stall is empty, but I don’t go into the restroom KNOWING there will be no toilet paper provided freely.
This is probably more of a familiarity issue. I do not know where is safe in the Philippines to hike. I am an introvert, so getting away from people is important for me to recharge emotionally/spiritually. In America one of the things I loved about Colorado was being able to hike in the mountains on a regular basis.
Here in the Philippines I have not had the luxury of being able to get away for half a day to hike and recharge.
2. The London 2012 Olympics
I learn about what is going on with the USA Olympic team through the international version of CNN. I am very happy for Michael Phelps, the Women’s soccer team, the Women’s gymnastics team and all the other wonderful gold medal winners. However, I have been unable to watch anything really… not even on tape delay because of where I am at in the Philippines… and because NBC does not share much internationally. Bummer.
The people I have met here have been wonderful. I believe they genuinely want to help me. But I am also an American, which means when I travel to most countries the world becomes Disneyland. (This has not been true in Europe when I was in London). Everyone is nicer to me because I have the image of American money and the image of American warships. I do not think people are afraid of me, but I do know that because I am an American I get treated much better than the average Filipinos who are walking on the same streets and shopping in the same stores.
Some Americans get the warped idea that people in other countries are much nicer than Americans. This is not necessarily true. You see, I am a guest in the Philippines.
Because of the “niceness”… I miss friends and family. My friends and family know I am poor, and they have no issue telling me when I do something stupid. They are genuine. In the Philippines it feels like I am told what will make me happy.
Sometimes when I am mobbed by 3 sales clerks in a store while a Filipino customer is ignored, I imagine the song “Be … our… Guest! BE OUR GUEST! Put our service to the test!” ….
So, this is my top ten list of reasons I miss the USA. What do you think? Leave comments below and share with others! Have a wonderful day!