Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hanggang Sa Muli Philippines!

"I know that without love, all we do is worthless." -St. Therese of Lisieux

I’m back in the states now after about 36 hours of traveling home from Manila.  Saying goodbye to all of the people and places I have come to love in Manila was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  In reflecting back on my trip I feel such a deep sense of gratitude for all of the experiences I shared, all of the people that let me into their lives, and hope for the futures of these wonderful people from the Philippines who gave me such invaluable gifts of friendship and love.  Being back in the States, everything is reframed. How I see the world, the people in it, the struggles, the wealth, and the privilege. I can’t help feeling worlds away from the small village of Sitio Payong, teaching ballet in the chapel but I know that these experiences will be with me forever now and will shape the way I go forward in life from here. I am so grateful for everything I have been given this semester, all of my friends in Casa Bayanihan, Ate Fe and her family and all of the children of Sitio Payong and Barangka. Thank you for sharing your lives with me and helping me to see with new eyes. I will miss you all so much and hopefully I’ll be able to come back to visit you in Manila someday.  For now, I’m so happy to be home and see everyone that I’ve missed so much and sleep in my own bed and have cheese and milk and yogurt and ice cream and hot showers but I hope to hang on to all that I have learned from the Philippines and carry it with me as enter back into life in the US.  

Saying goodbye to Ate Fe at the Despedida

My praxis partners Ray and Kyla saying goodbye to Al Francis and Alliah

Hanggang Sa Muli!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fiesta time!

Its fiesta time! All of the Barangay's (neighborhoods) have their own big fiesta. They have a huge party for the whole neighborhood with tons of food, music, dancing, videoke and lots of shots of rum. Don't worry we're not allowed to participate in the rum part but I've been to two so far and they are so much fun. We went back to the fishing village in Calatagan this weekend for their fiesta and then went to the one in our Barangay on Tuesday. I'm starting our ballet dance with the girls in Sitio Payong in preparation to perform at their fiesta next week.

Reunited with my host family and their extended family during the fiesta in Calatagan!
This is Dawn who I got really close to last time. She is the same age as me and can speak pretty good  English and this is her daughter MiKyla who will be one this month!

Fiesta banner for our neighborhood Barangka!

I made some chocolate rice crispy treats with m&ms on them that these guys are enjoying.

Filipinos are really into Kareoke and performing so these are some of the girls in our neighborhood performing a song.  

Stretching before ballet at Sitio Payong!

Fifth position getting ready to start the dance. 

Some of my ballet students!

Little ballerinas! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

And He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while." Mark 6:31

So we went on a silent retreat the past weekend which was basically just like going on vacation by yourself which is actually really relaxing. It was in this really beautiful place on a lake right outside of Manila. You can see the city in the background of some of the sunset pictures. All weekend I just laid by the pool and read and ate and watched the sunset. Definitely a nice break from Manila and praxis and school. Its so incredibly hot in Manila right now. Its almost 100 EVERY SINGLE DAY. I'm just constantly sweaty so it  was nice to go to a place with a breeze and have rooms with AC. May is supposed to be the hottest month here so I'll definitely be ready to get back to New Hampshire in 4 weeks!

The sunset was so amazing the first night we were there.

This is the chapel that we had mass at over the weekend. Definitely made church way more enjoyable.


You can see Manila to the right of the sun. 

We all really missed being loud so when we got back we had a really long loud dance party.

Some of the girls in our neighborhood were showing us the dance they made up to Super Base.

And here's a couple photos from my day at praxis yesterday. The kids are so cute and we've been able to spend a lot more time with them recently. I'm teaching a ballet class to some of the girls a few times a week and they are so cute! I think I'm going to make up a dance to teach them so they can perform at their Fiesta in a couple weeks. They're so excited about it and really serious about practicing. It makes me so happy to be able to dance again and share it with all these beautiful kids!

Maryann giving me a big hug. 

Practicing first position and plies! 

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” 
-Mary Oliver

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Praxis with family!

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” 
― Annie Dillard

Here are some pictures from when my family came to my Praxis site last week. It was so beautiful to have them all together in one place.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Spring Break

Hi Everyone! I just had an amazing two weeks with my family visiting. The first week they hung out around Manila and I got to introduce them to everyone in Casa and they came to my classes and Praxis site. It was so wonderful to be able to share my experiences here with them and everyone in my community was so welcoming and excited to meet them. Then on Sunday we headed off to Anda, Bohol  a smaller island in the Visayas south of Manila, to a beautiful beach resort.  The trek out was pretty long after an hour and a half flight and two hour rocky van ride but it was definitely worth it.  It was the most beautiful place I've ever been.  When we got there they greeted us with whole coconuts with straws in them filled with coconut water.  We spent most of the time relaxing on the beach there, swimming in the pool, and eating and drinking. It was so relaxing and nice to have some time to spend together after me being away for so long.  We visited some caves on the island that supposedly had spiritual healing powers and went on a walk down the beach and into town there. The native people who lived around the resort were so friendly. All of the children yelled hello and waved to us as we walked through the village.  On our last day at Anda we visited the Chocolate Hills and Tarsiers, these little tiny monkeys found only on Bohol. Those places were pretty crowded and touristy but it was cool to see them.  After the touristy morning we headed off on a boat to Cabilao, a small island off of Bohol.  The resort on Cabilao was definitely not as luxurious as Anda but it was in such a beautiful place so we spent most of our time there on the beach anyways.  We went snorkeling along the coral reef surrounding the island.  A little ways out is what they call the drop-off where the reef just ends suddenly and you can't see the bottom of the ocean it just fades into this deep blue color.  We saw lots of brightly colored fish and starfish along the edge of the reef.  Wednesday was my 21st birthday so we celebrated on Cabilao with drinks from the Tiki hut. I got a Mango Colada and the bartender played happy birthday for me on his guitar.  It was a pretty low-key 21st but it was really nice and I'm already planning a trip to MA's to celebrate all of the birthdays my roommates and I missed when we're back in Boston this summer! We left Cabilao this afternoon and now we're back in Manila and they're all leaving me tomorrow morning! I'll miss them but I'll be back in the US in 7 weeks! I can't believe how fast it has gone and I'm looking forward to meeting back up with some of my friends from Casa tomorrow and going to spend Easter with my roommate Teresa's family here in Manila! 

Beach at Anda

Walking to town

Breakfast at our table at Anda White Beach Resort

Will on the boat out to the caves on Bohol

The infinity pool and the ocean at the resort. 
The Chocolate Hills, they were a little green still because there's been more rain than normal.

The Tarsier monkeys

Woo 21 at the Tiki Bar!


The water was so clear 

Me and Will

Will Me and Mom on our last day on Cabilao
Sunset at Cabilao

Spiritual healing caves on Bohol

I feel so thankful to have such a wonderful family who was willing to fly 24 hours across the world to see what I've been up to and take me on such an amazing vacation! Love you guys and I can't wait to see you when I get back in May!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hi everyone! Sorry I haven't updated in a while. We've been so busy with class and praxis and community activities. Here is the link to the profiles of current students in the program so you can see my bio and see all of the students that are accompanying me here. They spelled my name wrong... McCarthy... don't worry I'm working on fixing it.

I have a few photos here from my praxis site.  The people there are getting nervous because the government organization who owns the land that they are 'squatting' on is starting to fence off the fields so they can no longer farm them and there are rumors that the government is going to remove them from the land sooner rather than later.  A new gate is being installed in April that will be closed from 8pm to 6am restricting them from leaving or getting into their community. It will be hard for the children to get to school and many people to get to work on time because often they have to leave before 6am.  I will let you know how the situation develops. We are trying to encourage them to talk with the Government group and the neighborhood next to them to present their situation and try to make gate hours more lenient.  It is hard to find a clear solution to the problem because it isn't their land but they have made it their home.  One of the community members took us on a tour the other day of the area next to Sitio Payong that had 600 families living on it which were relocated a couple years ago.  Many left Manila and some moved in with family in Sitio Payong.  The people were compensated as little as 5000P for their homes if at all, about 120 USD.

This is the land that the Philippine Heart Center owns that used to be home to 600 families who were forced to relocate.

Wealth surrounds the area of Sitio Payong (you can see the nice houses at the top of the hill.) Its neighboring Barangay  (neighborhood) Loyola Grand Villas is one of the wealthiest in Manila.

The man who used to live in this area said this was a step that used to lead to one of the homes that was demolished.

He used to live here and was telling us about the process of being relocated. He moved in with family in Sitio Payong.

This house is on edge of the demolished area and Stio Payong. Everyone living to the left of the house was forced to move. 

On a happier note. I am so excited because my family is coming to visit this week in Manila and we will be going to Bohol, an island in the south, for Spring Break! I'm so excited to share this experience with them and introduce them to all of the amazing people I have met here. Please pray for a safe trip for them! I will update you after break hopefully with lots of pictures of the beaches and chocolate hills of Bohol!