The End?

Day 149: December 21, 5 days after returning to the States

After spending a total of approximately 144 days in the Philippines studying abroad, my experience was truly life changing. Within the 5 days after coming back, it definitely felt weird going back to my “normal” life in the Bay Area with a changed mindset.

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UP Lantern Parade (Dec 14)

Since it have been a while since my late thorough update (6 Things), let me give a quick run down of what happened until I boarded my plane back to the States. Here we go:

  • November was dedicated for preparing for my finals that were on the first week of December. My finals consisted of a class group projects, essays, 2 presentations, and oral exam.
  • On November 12, I traveled to Intramuros for a concert that aims to spread awareness of the Stop Lumad Killing movement. It was an amazing night were I met so many inspiring activist. Plus, I got to chill with a Fil-Am from Seattle in Binodo (aka Lucky Chinatown). Unfortunately, the night ended on a sad note where I had to be stuck in a taxi cab with a misognynist, heterosexist driver who tried to rip me off.
  • November 13 was the Paris Attack
  • Between Nov 16-20, it was the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in which was a big long week summit for government officials around the Pacific Ocean discussing over free trade and what not. There was a lot going on during that week with protestors trying to bring awareness about the Lumad Killing and ending US imperialist globalization (Junk APEC) and locals complaining about the atrocious traffic that kept on building due to closed streets reserved for the government officials. It was overwhelming to be part of that mess.
  • But aside from APEC, from Nov 17-20, I had the opportunity to travel to Baler, Aurora as a class field trip. It was a beautiful place where I learned a lot about the impacts of tourism. My precious post (Photo Essay about “Home”) talked about a glimpse of how I internalized my experience there.
  • On November 28, I went to see one of my Lola’s service. She was a cousin of my grandpa on my mother side. It was my first time meeting relatives from my grandpa’s side. Though it was a bit sad attending a service, I was welcomed with hugs, smiles, and kisses from my relatives.
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Lola’s Service (Nov 28)
  • On Dec 7, a friend introduced to me to Kadamay, an organization that addressed issues related to Filipino urban poor communities. Part of my day was going to sites of the urban poor to be expose of the institutional oppression they have to endure.
  • After long nights of typing essays and preparing for presentations, I spend most of my time seeing friends, family members, and colleagues before I traveled back to the States.
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At Eastwood City with Suzzie (Dec 12)
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With some amazing BC 197 classmates helping me out with a film production. Shoutout to Christine and Noraida (Dec 13)
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Dinner with Fil-Ams in Binodo. Shoutout to Heather, Amee, & Nicole (Dec 15)
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With the “Nerd Herd” for the last time. Thank you so much Anthony, Draego, Maria, & Caitlin for making my experience a blast (Dec 14)
  • On the second to last day I left, I was able to see UP’s Lantern Parade on Dec 14. It was a magical, empowering experience with so many lively people. I thought it was a good end to a life-changing experience.
  • Before heading on my plane, there was an “immigration” issue which made me have to rebook my flight. After spending approximately 15,000 pesos (~$317), I was able to board on my plane.

So a lot has happened within the November and beginning of December. If I would to use three adjectives to describe the last month in the Philippines, they would be:

  1. Bittersweet
  2. Thought-provoking
  3. Exhausted

Each moment offered a whole new perspective for me to learn, reflect, and grow. It did sadden me having to face the reality that I have to go back to the States after meeting so many wonderful people and build strong connections with them. Yet after reflecting on the numerous memories made throughout my adventure, it was enlightening to think about my progress from being lonely to being part of an international community. I have been bless to encounter the people I have met as they all offered various insights and ideologies about anything related to politics, drama, hobbies, etc. It was through long nights of endless, deep conversations or over a table of delicious food that strengthened the bonds I made. Despite my love to connect and learn from others, it was exhausting to keep on socializing and running on very little energy. Knowing that I had a long bucket list to do before I leave, I had to learn to be content with what I have experience and not to over extend myself. Though I could have been to Palawan or Boracay, I know in the future that I will come back and finish off my bucket list.

As much as I love to glance over the comforting aspect of my trip, I don’t want to sugarcoat the discomforts I experienced. Aside from culture shock, there were a lot systemic and institutional issues that hindered my experience. In short, issues stemmed from colonization, imperialism, feudalism, globalization, etc. This constructs a web of complex problems that have been embedded and shaped the structures in the Philippines.

Despite the harsh, sad reality of what is going on in the Philippines, I channeled a lot of that negative energy into inspiring myself to fight against those oppressions. There is still a lot for me to learn and unlearn about the Filipino’s history and culture. But now back home, I promise myself to continue to stay connected and work with other Filipinos and Filipino-Americans, locally and internationally, to make the Philippines a better place for all.

Technically, this is the end of my Philippines’ trip. But I feel like this is only just the beginning of something much greater.

 

… And somethings did not change. 🙂

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Photo Essay about “Home”

For my Art Studies 141: “Photograph as Art” final project, we were assigned to synthesize and construct an art project related to our class field trip to Baler, Aurora. I took this opportunity to combine key lessons I learned about photography as an art form with the culture shock is that I experienced back in my “homeland.”

So what is culture shock? It is defined:

noun [mass noun] the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.” (Wikipedia)

After leaving for most of my life in California, it is not surprising that I experienced a lot of discomfort being in a completely foreign environment. Having to adjust and cope the Philippines’ culture and way of living for five months was a constant battle.

Even with my previous experience in traveling to India for three weeks, I thought I would easily manage to create some sort of strategy to cope over culture shock. But the reality was that I simply could not completely adjust.

So after reflecting on what is holding me back, I started to realized that there was a disconnect. Within the scope of supermodernity (which was only briefly covered in my class), my professor coined the term, non-places, a word to describe “spaces with no shared identity or common history.” In connecting the term to my experience, I started to realize that the Philippines was my personal non-place. As a Filipino-American studying abroad in the Philippines, it was a given that I just couldn’t easily assimilate to my Filipino culture and heritage because of how my American identity detaches me from trying to embrace the culture.

This disconnection stirred a lot of issues for me in not only getting use to the style and codes embedded in the Philippines’ society but also gaining a sense of “home” within the space. Throughout most of my time being in Quezon City, I tried searching and creating spaces for myself in which I could identify as “home.” With many failed attempts, I began to realize that I had to redefine my perception of “home” because of how it is near impossible for me to recreate my American perspective of “home” within a Filipino space.

My art project aims to redefine what a “home” is through my experience of feeling and being displace, both in the United States and in the Philippines. I juxtaposed two photos, one taken while I was living in the States and the other was during my class field trip to Baler. I focused on particular subjects to help my audience to see the comparisons and contrasts from experience within two different culture. Also, I added a long haiku to further illustrate some of the thoughts and feelings that I had to negotiate.

Feel free to send me some feedback or questions. Enjoy! 🙂

My art project is called:

“I am Asian in America and American in Asia!”

 

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6 Things

Day 105: November 7

Now that midterm season is over, I am going to take this opportunity to update my lovely followers, friends, family members, colleagues, etc. on some of the stuff I have done this past October. Plus, just going through some random facts about myself.

  1. [REFLECTION] Lately, I have been questioning about my time studying abroad in the Philippines and whether or not I have been making the most out it. After sometime reflection on my experience and chatting with a lot people, I recently learned 3 lessons:
    1. I am American in Asia and Asian in America: One of the biggest realization that I had to face was understanding my identity as a Filipino American or rather an American Filipino. Born and raise in the US, my life have been focus on understanding my “Filipino” identity within an American society. It was not until coming to the Philippines when I started realize and accept the other half of my identity: being “American.” My mind during this whole trip was fixated on reclaiming my Filipino heritage. Yet, there was this weird repulsion everytime I made the effort in connecting to my roots. It was not until various series of unfortunate events which lead me to be aware of the discrepancy of my power, privilege, and experience as an American citizen compared to Filipinos in the Philippines. Gaining this perception made me question about my concept of home and what it actually looks and feels like. I guess I was foolish in attempting to reclaim something that was out of my league. Yet, in the other hand, it was eye opening to learn this insight as it helps contextualize who I am, where I am, and what I can do.

      (Oct 7)
      (Oct 7)
    2. Traveler vs Tourist: Focusing on a more economical perspective, money have always been a limiting factor throughout our lives. As I was understanding my Filipino and American identity, money have been shaping a lot of my experience. The value of a piece of paper and coin allows me to have the power and accessibility to travel and site see. In witnessing the Philippines following some of the trends of a capitalist system, a lot of what I have to spend my money on is mostly commercialize. Tourism is one of the many ways commercialism appears in the Philippines where famous hotspot and historical sites become a commodity for consumers who have the money to indulge upon. As people have to pay for their experience, sometimes what they get to see might not be as “authentic” or “real”. When I came to the Philippines, I wanted to see the “real”. So it became an issue for me to find a more genuine experience when I have to be spending my money … well if I have the money. This external (the captialist system, how places are commodified) and internal (my class status, getting money from my parents, budgeting my money) dictated a lot my experience which made it difficult for me to determine how I can make the most out of my time here in the Philippines.

      (Oct 9)
      (Oct 9)
    3. Balance: It seems that an overarching theme that I saw was how everything was sorta of like a balance. From understanding my identity to dealing with money, there was always some sorta of pros and cons. In trying to make the most out of my time here in the Philippines, it was up to me making the decision and sacrifices. I believe as long as I am learning something from my actions, then I would be happy with what I am doing.
  2. [ANIMAL] My spirit animal (declared by a friend): Sea Otters … which is now my favorite animal

    My spirit/favorite animal
    My spirit/favorite animal
  3. [LUMAD] On Oct 26 and 28, I had the opportunity to witness some awesome organizing at my college that was spreading the awareness of the militarization and killing of the Lumads taken place in Mindanao. Here are some photos I captured during the Salubungan sa UP Diliman (Oct 26) and Unity March (Oct 28). It was very enlightening and empowering!
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    Oct 26, 2015
    Oct 28, 2015
    Oct 28, 2015
    Oct 28, 2015
    Oct 28, 2015
    Oct 28, 2015
    Oct 28, 2015
    Oct 28, 2015
    Oct 28, 2015
    Oct 28, 2015
    Oct 28, 2015

    Oct 28, 2015
    Oct 28, 2015
  4. [PLANT] My favorite plant/tree is a cherry blossom

    My favorite plant/tree
    My favorite plant/tree
  5. [ACADEMIC] Sometimes, it is best to make sure you are to not only academically doing well but you are also physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. Always prioritize yourself before anything else.I am not my ...

    (Oct 19)
    (Oct 19)
  6. [BICOL] Rather than spending my time partying during Halloween weekend, I took the opportunity to visit my mom’s province in Santa Magdalena, Sorsogon.
    1. I went down memory lane
      A beautiful view of a family have a great time in the waters (Nov 1)
      A beautiful view of a family having a great time in the waters (Nov 1)
      (Nov 1)
      (Nov 1)
      Stayed at one of my Aunt's house and this is what her street looks like (Nov 1)
      Stayed at one of my Aunt’s house and this is what her street looks like (Nov 1)
      My first time experiencing and remembering my time in the Philippines, this house was used to fit in 5 different families (Nov 1)
      My first time experiencing and remembering my time in the Philippines, this house was used to fit in 5 different families (Nov 1)
      Outside view of the Church where my grandparents renewed their vows (Nov 1)
      Outside view of the Church where my grandparents renewed their vows (Nov 1)
      Close up view of the Church (Nov 1)
      Close up view of the Church (Nov 1)
      Interior of the bell tower next to the Church (Nov 1)
      Interior of the bell tower next to the Church (Nov 1)

      (Nov 1)
      (Nov 1)
    2. I met up with relatives I have not seen in years or became my first time.

      Met a lot cousins (Oct 30)
      Met a lot cousins (Oct 30)
    3. Instead of Halloween, I celebrated All-Saints which is a Catholic/Protestant holiday on Nov 1 that remembers the passed away loved ones. Cemeteries would be packed with families gathered together bonding, eating, and laughing. At night, the whole place becomes lite with candles. How I saw it, the whole place becomes a beautiful sea of warm, bright lights with people having a good time.
      (Nov 1)
      (Nov 1)
      (Nov 1)
      (Nov 1)
      Birdeye view of the cemetery (Nov 1)
      Birdeye view of the cemetery (Nov 1)
      (Nov 1)
      (Nov 1)
      (Nov 1)
      (Nov 1)

      (Nov 1)
      (Nov 1)
    4. My last day was spend at one of my relative’s small beach resort.
      (Nov 1)
      (Nov 1)
      (Nov 1)
      (Nov 1)
      Landscape view of Olango Beach (Nov 2)
      Landscape view of Olango Beach (Nov 2)
      (Nov 2)
      (Nov 2)
      Bicol is famous for their
      Bicol is famous for their “buko” [coconut] (Nov 2)
      My cousins wanting to be cute (Nov 2)
      My cousins wanting to be cute (Nov 2)

      (Nov 2)
      (Nov 2)

Choices

Day 70: Oct 3, 2015

I apologize for failing my goal to post at least once per week. Things have been hectic. But now I have a weekend to take a breather … for once.

Sept 4, 2015
Sept 4, 2015 – Gerry’s Jeepney Restaurant in Maginhawa (a street). An amazing restaurant where you can eat in an actually jeepney. Shoutout to Chay and their family member for inviting me.
Sept 15, 2015
Sept 15, 2015 – Typical Philippines Weather

The past few weeks, I felt like a balloon being blown off into different directions. There were times were I felt lost in my school work. In addition, there were moments of being overwhelmed about updates from international friends who kept projecting about their trips around the Philippines. The pressure and stress from my academic and social life took a negative toll on my physical and mental health.

But along my journey, I have encounter so many wonderful people who helped me feel grounded. A big shoutout to all those who have been a big support.

Sept 12, 2015
Sept 12, 2015 – Z Compound in Maginhawa (a street). Went with a group of friends for dinner.

After reflecting on my experiences so far, one of the lessons I learned is:

Make the most out of your experiences and choices!

Going back to what I mention about my international friends, I would feel a lot of mix emotions from hearing how their plans to do touristy stuff around the Philippines and take advantage of the cheap airfare from the Philippines to go to other Southeast Asian country. I would be jealous because of how they have the luxury to be able to do that and I don’t due to financial reasons. After hearing more of my friend’s plans, I started to realize how I kept comparing myself to them. There were times when I would complain to myself about how it is “unfair” that I could not travel to other places outside the Philippines.

Yet, I had to recall my own positionality, power, and privilege. I saw myself not happy with what I had. I felt selfish and greedy for not being in the same position as my international friends. There never a moment where I was content with myself and with the materials I have.

But after experiencing financial difficulties, there was a moment that made me “wake up” and face reality. I was naive for not being mindful about money that I was splurging on unnecessary things. My history with paying off Pitzer’s tuition have been a bumpy one and there were moments when I had to consider transferring out of my first choice college and go somewhere else. After three years at Pitzer and the other 5C colleges, I have met so many intelligent, friendly, and inspirational people that made my experience fantastic. Realizing all of that pushed me to continue fighting to stay at my college until I graduate. I know that changes and sacrifices will be made. So far, I have to make the decision to hold myself back from doing those type of luxurious or adventurous trips. Also, I have to teach myself how to budget and be in self-control. I will take any risk and opportunities that come my way while keeping in mind of my abilities and limitation.

Having to go through this process of my understanding my greed and how I can deconstruct that made me more appreciative of what I have and what I am capable of doing. With a better conscious of my own power and privilege, I will try to make the most out of whatever opportunities and risk I take.

So I might not go to Palawan, Baguio, or other “touristy” spots in the Philippines because of financial reasons and time. There might be missed opportunities and events such as seeing a live performance of UP Pep Squad competing (Cheerdancing is big in the UP: Diliman) or having a friend invite me to their organization’s trip to a beach that I will make me hate myself for missing. Whatever the situation may be and the decision I have to make, there will come a time when things will work out. No matter where I am or what I do, I will just have to look at the bright side of things and get the most out of it.

Sept 26, 2015
Sept 26, 2015 – At a relative’s apartment in Tondo

Letting Go (Explained)

Day 35: August 29, 2015

*WARNING* I will be mentioning content/spoilers about the movie Inside Out so do not read this blog post if you have not watched it. Do me a favor and watch it! (I give it 4.5/5 stars)

Through a conversation today with one of my mentors, I began to reflect more on what I meant when I said “letting go” with my last post.

(August 29, 2015)
With one of my UPD mentor on a lunch date at Caffera (Camera + Cafe) on Maginhawa (August 29, 2015)

Let me list and summarize some of the challenges that I experienced so far:

  1. Visa issues – SF Philippines consulate managed to get my issue of date wrong which got me really stress on the first day being in the Philippines after customs found the error. Then I went on a wild goose chase around Manila to different government offices which turned out to be pointless as I got nothing done.
  2. Class schedule – Since there was no table of content to decipher the acronyms that were on the course catalog, I ended up enrolling to classes that did not match my major. So I had to suffer through a “painful” process of cancelling and applying to different subjects … twice.
  3. Money – With no meal plans where I can just go to a cafeteria and get food, I have to go out and spend my money. Life slapped me in the face and said, “Now you are a broke, starving college student.” I must say that it was really interesting breaking away from my luxurious lifestyle back at Pitzer College where I was so privilege to be given food three times a day.
  4. Culture shock – My ability to not speak Tagalog/Filipino really highlights my foreignness. As language barriers play a huge factor in my experience, there is another type of shock that I experience that adds to my foreignness. For those who I am able to communicate with in English, they would be express some level of negative emotion whether that is confusion, disappointment, or jealousy to my story of why I decided to study abroad in the Philippines. Their negative emotions made me internalize that my privilege and power coming from the US and “casually” coming back to the Philippines with a purpose makes me look higher. With the “fake” power that I was granted by society, I am continuing to situate myself with what I am given and learn how I should behaviour with the Filipinos around me.

Looking back at these problems I experienced, I learned a lot despite feeling either angry, annoyed, frustrated, or stressed. I will admit that I have this habit to place a blame on someone or society and then spend my time complaining about that person or thing. Usually, I end up getting more heated and stress that would burn myself out. After realizing that I was being too hard on myself, I was reminded to simply let go of all the negative feelings that I bottled up inside me and be patience. The “spark” that helped me to that realization was the movie Inside Out.

(http://www.cartoonbrew.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/insideout-teaser-2-580x328.jpg)
(http://www.cartoonbrew.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/insideout-teaser-2-580×328.jpg)

In Inside Out, I learned a lot from Joy and Sadness’ adventure through Riley’s various worlds and their relationship together. I felt connected with Joy and her pride where she thinks that Riley needs to be happy all the time instead of the other emotions like saddness. There were many moments where Joy tried to take over the control system back in Headquarter because she believes that her job. She would even assign Sadness to avoid doing anything that could “negatively” impact Riley. As the story continue to where Joy and Sadness had to struggle together in finding a way back to Headquarters after the incident of almost losing Riley’s core memories, Joy’s pride in believing that she has to fix everything became problematic as she did not give space for Sadness to contribute to the situation. Through the various obstacles that Joy and Sadness faced together outside Headquarters, Joy began to realize that she cannot independently resolve the situation by herself and that there was a lack of trust between her and Sadness. I believe what pushed Joy to accept the fact that she needed support was when she and Riley’s imaginary friend BingBong were stuck in the forgotten land where all memories there disappear. I believe BingBong was able to show Joy the meaning of being selfless and interdependent because of how he sacrifice himself to allow Joy to get out of the forgotten land. BingBong’s influence and sacrifice became the pivoting moment for Joy where she began to accept that she can’t do everything by herself and that she needs to build more trust towards people around her like Sadness. After Joy and Sadness were able to head back to Headquarters, Joy put trust in Sadness to contribute to the situation. In the end, Sadness’ actions saved the day.

Similarly, I am experiencing the same problem that Joy was facing. Through the challenges that I have to face, I always have this mentality of having no patience, taking care of the situation by myself, and not putting trust for anyone to help me. Inside Out allowed me reflect that I need to accept that I am struggling and that I need help. Sometime, it is difficult for me to open up and trust people as I grew so custom being independent (like back when I was stuck in the closet) with the mentality of taking advantage of any opportunity that came my way. Yet, I am gradually learning to let go of my pride and all the negative feelings that I have.

Now, I will make it a goal of mine from now on to be patience with myself, ask for help as much as I can, and put more trust to those who really care about me.

(August 29, 2015)
Camera Len Cups (August 29, 2015)

Letting Go

Day 34: August 28, 2015

As it been a month since I started my study abroad trip in the Philippines, I have learned so much which makes me feel bad for not updating my blog about the lessons I gained. But to summarize my experience so far in two words, those words would be: LETTING GO.

August 10, 2015
Went to one of the churches in UPD and saw this colorful display of melted candles (August 10, 2015)

Ever since I got to the Philippines, there was never a moment when I was either stress, anxious, annoyed, depress, or frustrated. Whether it may be money related, the various “oppressive” systems in the Philippines, or culture shock, I was emotional distress at something. At some point last week or the week before, I mentally hit rock bottom and realized that I needed help.

August 12, 2015
Outside of one of my classes, I would usually sit here until it was time to start class (August 12, 2015)

Luckily, a lot of my friends who I met during the first few days when I landed supported me through the difficult times I was experiencing. Through their love and patience, I was able to let go of the negative feelings I would bottle up inside me.

August 14, 2015
Inspirational, cute notebooks (August 14, 2015)
August 14, 2015
Attended an event for international students at UP Towncenter (August 14, 2015)

As I continue to let go of the distress I would experience, I hope to not let go of the stress of homework and group projects because they are slowly building up.

August 21, 2015
A rainy day did not stop me and my friends to travel to Lucky Chinatown in Metro Manila (August 21, 2015)
August 21, 2015
Interior of Chinatown Church in Metro Manila (August 21, 2015)
August 27, 2015
Playing with the DSLR’s setting before my class (August 27, 2015)

Just a short blog post because I have a lot of projects and upcoming quizzes to study. I will probably change my schedule to upload at least one post per weekend.

Money

Day 9: August 3, 2015

After a successful trip to UP Diliman finish enrolling to the classes I want, I headed back home to budget once I realized that I was running out of money. In attending an university as an international visiting student, I won’t expect how much money I would be spending. Here is a breakdown:

  • Transportation: I have to take and pay at least three jeepneys rides because of the bad traffic and jam packed jeepneys. It cost 7.50 pesos. You may think that doesn’t sound a lot but it adds up as the week goes by. Walking is another opinion but having to walk at least an hour away from where I live to UP Diliman in the hot, humid daylight is not really that ideal. For four weekdays per week, I am spending around 90 pesos (~$2)
Aug 17, 2015
Every morning I have to take two jeepneys to get to UPD (Aug 17, 2015)
  • Food:
    • Eating Outside: Ever since I got to the Philippines, I believe that I am experiencing a teaser of what my future will look like after undergraduate college. Being on my own with no meal plan is really pushing me to learn how to budget. I been told that an average meal around where I live is about 100-200 pesos (~$2-4). But since I live in a high class area, some restaurants have prices from 200 to +300 pesos. Compared to food sold at UP Diliman’s canteens, they provide a decent meal/snack for at least 30-60 pesos (~$1). Also, I was told that food in province areas is so much cheaper. (Which blows my mind!) As a person who needs to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I am approximately spending around 300 pesos or less (~$6-7) per day on food. If you times that by 7 days, I would be spending 21oo pesos (~$42-49).
    • Grocery: I have been getting groceries but the limitation that MyPlace tenants cannot bring any cooking ware except a rice cooker, restricts what I can make. Luckily with a refrigerator and a microwave, I am able to make and have some stuff. So far, I have been living off with bread, peanut butter, jam, crackers, cheese, and butter. What is unfortunate is that the closest grocery store sells overprice produce. I could get cheaper food at a different store with the addition of 15-20 minute walk. Walking in the heat with bags full of grocery and avoiding any car, jeepney, or tricycle that might hit me is really a pain. Yet, it would probably be most ideal in terms of saving money. Sigh … I really sucks being surrounded and caged around so many stores and restaurants that empties my wallet.
  • Other necessities (toiletries, school supplies, etc.): Luckily, I can manage with what I brought with me from back home. There only been a few cases where I had to purchase some stuff. Everything I needed was relatively cheaper than back in the US.
  • Visa: A lot of my stress during my time in the Philippines been a result of paying off visa fees just so I can study abroad. In spending almost 13500 pesos ($300) on visa-related fees out of my own pocket, it frustrates me that the Philippines government is draining money from my parent’s bank account. I find it stupid that foreigners, specifically from the US, have to go through this. (unless they come from a middle to high class background) If you are a Filipin@ American like me, I would highly suggest to either:
    • Get a Philippine passport if you can apply. This would be most beneficial as you can use your Philippine passport to easily get a bank account.
    • Apply to some international/overseas program that the Philippines government offers at your nearest consulate

Realizing all the expenses and learning how the system works here made me start questioning if going to the Philippines as a financially good choice.

Whether or not if was a good choice, what continues to bother me is how money is being constantly consume and spend on useless things. Two of the biggest factors I have seen so far with how money is being spend are through people’s clothes and the construction of shopping malls. I am surround by so many teenagers and young adults with branded, “cool” clothing which in a way highlights their class. It can be easily seen through appearances that can distinguish and separate the “poor” and the “rich.” But clothing isn’t the biggest issue, I became more concern about the malls and how they populate around Manila. For example, relatively close by to where I live, there is shopping center called UP Towncenter which has all the latest, hip stores and even some American stores such as Jamba Juice, Starbuck, Coldstone, etc. If you were to visit my college, you would see old buildings with wooden or plastic desk, small writing boards, and compacted classrooms. I question why the money is being use to construct a mall instead of being use to renovate old buildings or give better school furniture. It really perplex me in understanding the thought process in building UP Towncenter.

EDIT: After seeing numerous malls being built and construction sites blooming everywhere around me, it saddens me to see that no money is being invested to the educational system like refurbishing old building, providing new school furniture, or hiring more professors. As I continue to study in UPD, my hopes are to unpack the system and thought process that lead to what is currently the Philippines. I have been trying my best to keep up with the news. So far, one word that been making me think is CORRUPTION.

The culture of money here in the Philippines continues to put me in an uncomfortable state as I see people fall victim to a world of consumption.