Second Week: Adapting

Hello again! This week marks my first official full week of working in the Philippines. This week has gone much smoother than last week. I can feel myself adapting to the way of life here. I won’t lie, the heat and humidity are brutal especially when you have to walk 1.3 miles with three uphill inclines to work, but it’s gotten a lot easier as the days go by. This week for work I have continued researching and summarizing related reading materials for my division.

FNRI Garden

Crossing the street was a tad intimidating at first, there’s a lot of traffic and they won’t stop for pedestrians to cross, you just kinda have to go for it. The first few days the guards at the DOST compound were nice and helped us cross the busy road by standing in the road and stopping the oncoming traffic. Now I can cross the street with confidence. Speaking of things I’ve learned on the road, I think I’ve mastered umbrella etiquette now.

Because the Philippines is near the equator it is very hot and so they use umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun here. Due to my black hair, I would rather not risk getting overheated, so I use my umbrella every day. At first, I was clumsy and may have accidentally hit a few people with my umbrella but now I know how to safely pass through crowds of people holding umbrellas (either lift or lower your umbrella so both sides can pass through).

On Tuesday (the 15th) my coworker friend invited Sarah and me to go see Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness at the SM Bicutan Cinema. Sadly, by the time we got off work, it was POURING. The streets were FLOODED, we had our umbrellas but that didn’t stop the flooded streets from pouring into and over our shoes. That was the first time I had ever experienced that magnitude of rain and flooding (which is common here since June-November is rainy season in the Philippines) . Because of the flooded streets, I got to ride my first tricycle (a motorcycle with a small cart for passengers to ride in).

On Thursday (the 16th) night, I decided to do laundry. Unfortunately, the hose on the washing machine broke which drained all the water before it could properly wash my clothes. Ate Malou saw the hose break while doing her laundry and went down to our unit to inform us. She also offered to help me wash my clothes, let me borrow hangers, AND helped me hang up my clothes. When I got back to the unit I honestly got so emotional while telling Sarah what had happened. I never expected someone to show me, a mere stranger, such kindness. The whole situation reminded me of when my aunts used to help me when I was younger.

-“Ate” is the Filipino word for older sister. –

Sarah’s supervisor invited us to her hometown, Pagsanjan Laguna, for the weekend. On Saturday (the 18th) Sarah and I went on a boat ride to Pagsanjan Falls where two boatmen guided us over rocks and heavy currents to reach the falls. Afterward, we went out for lunch with Ma’am Cean and her husband at this Chinese-Filipino fusion restaurant that overlooks the river. They also took us to the church they got married in and Ma’am Cean’s brother’s coffee shop. In the states I would have never imagined to visit the hometown of someone who’s considered my supervisor.

I never thought I would be bonding so much over my love of Korean dramas in the Philippines. In the Philippines there are a lot influences from Spain, China, and America which is reflected in their cuisine and architecture. While their entertainment preferences appear to be heavily influenced by Korea (there is a lot of kdramas on Philippines Netflix that is not offered in America). On the way to Pagsanjan we passed three Korean restaurants and even ate Korean Barbeque in Los Baños on Friday night. The advertisements here also have celebrities and idols from Korea, I’ve seen NCT Dream (a kpop boy group) on an advertisement in SM Bicutan.

Second Week Takeaway: Filipinos are dedicated and hardworking. I thought my walk to work was intense but hearing how my other coworkers get to work. I am quite thankful our residence is close to FNRI. While putting on makeup in the bathroom for her meeting, one of my coworkers told me she takes two jeepneys to work. My other coworker told me it takes him two hours to commute by bus.

Till next week, Jess 🙂

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