Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Job

Kids from the San Pedro feeding program

The whole Feeding Program Staff!

Me and some kids from the opening day of the feeding program

I have now begun the actual job part of the internship which I must say hardly feels like a job. I have taken pictures now at 3 different events in different communities for various uses and it’s super fun.

Malabon, June 24

This is the 1st community I visited to take pictures and it is one of the hardest locations FH is working in the Philippines. The whole village is on stilts above a swamp that is covered in garbage. Because of this the houses are very small and the living conditions are poor. There are often slats in the floors of the houses that you can see the stuff underneath, and because of the weak foundation, it is not uncommon for floors to cave in altogether. Not only is garbage in the water, but oil, chemicals, and excretion of many animals. There is only about a 2.5 foot concrete path between the houses and sometimes only 2x4 planks of wood (scary to walk across when you’re holding an expensive camera). When there is rain (like now in the rainy season), everything floods. Because there is little to no work in the community or nearby, unemployment is high. The cycle is perpetuated in trying to find a job elsewhere because many are too poor to even afford transportation to another town or the city. Many kids can’t afford the commute to school let alone the uniform and supply costs. People suffer many health problems due to the water, lack of sanitation, and little food, and this is apparent in their appearances. It’s the most impoverished place I’ve ever been in my life.

Through FH, CDP children are provided school supplies, plus they involve the whole family in weekend activities, devotions, and health fairs. Only 1 child per family may be supported because they want more families to have the opportunity, and one child’s costs covered allows more money to the divided between the others. The woman I went with, Daphne, visits Malabon about twice a week and has great relationships with the people. It was great to see that FH is actually focusing on personal relationships like they claim, and Daphne claims the FH programs have helped the people over the past 3 years they’ve been established there.
The lack of space made shooting a bit difficult but I got some great photos of the kids who have sponsors (called CDP for short), families with CDP kids, the environment, and the area leaders. The kids LOVE posing with peace signs and silly faces and then looking at the pictures on the camera afterwards. It’s the way I’ve befriended many a child in my life haha. Despite the conditions, everyone was smiling and excited when we visited.

San Pedro Feeding Program, June 24-25
This is the project the other intern is working on the whole summer. This is a program for children too young to have sponsors (0-5 years old) and their mothers. The kids come and are fed a healthy meal after they are taught about health issues like washing your hands in clean water, proper bathroom behavior, ect., and even table manners! Meanwhile the mothers have their own session are educated about caring for their children, cooking healthy meals, and remedies and explanations for certain sicknesses. The program lasts from 1pm to around 5pm depending and will go until September. There are about 30 people total from the slums around San Pedro. The church bus picks up the moms and kids in groups and drops them off at the church where the activities are held. The children do not necessarily look malnourished, but their diets basically consist of little protein, fiber or vegetables and a lot of sugar and fat. The mothers are almost all very young (16-24), and many have more than 1 child there. It is the 2nd time San Pedro has done the feeding program.

I took photos at the opening when there were some short speeches and introductions made by the health official from the barangay, Pastor Dan from the church, and some FH staff. I also took some the 1st official day of the program. The kids are adorable! They also love making the peace sign and giggling after I show them the picture on the camera screen. Silly kids!

San Pedro, June 25

I walked around to find CDP kids in San Pedro yesterday, and of course it was the day of the typhoon. The kids didn’t even have school because it was raining so much, but there I am, my umbrella in one hand my camera in the other trying to shoot without getting the lens wet. What a challenge haha. Again, like Malabon, I took pictures of the kids in various states (posed, natural, silly face), families, the area, and in addition parents working (doing laundry, cooking, doing carpentry, cleaning).

I struggle a bit because it’s hard for me to go in only for a ½ day to these places and not want to stay and do more. I don’t want to just drop into their lives with my camera in their faces and never see them again. A little booklet I’m reading about serving the poor talked about the implications of “visiting” in the Bible, that when God “visits” people, He brings life, hope and redemption. I was challenged by this because I am “visiting” many communities and want this to be true of me, even in my short stays. Of course, the question is always how. I think it means bringing the joy of Christ with me when I am shooting, to affirm the children through smiles, little compliments (because my Tagalog is nowhere near to having deep conversations haha), and shared laughter. I know I will not be remembered for the rest of their lives, and my visit won’t be momentous or life changing as I tot around taking their picture, but I do want to at least momentarily make them happy or something. I hope I will be a good and purposeful visitor, and I already know the visits are good and enriching for me.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My New Fam*

(*don't worry real family, you're not being replaced!)

Back Window view

The view from my side window at sunrise

My Bed and AC (such a blessing!)

So I am now settled into my new home in San Pedro with four crazy girls, one sweet "helper" (kinda like a maid/babysitter that lives with them), and Sister Odessa, the lovely mother. The father is away working until December, so it's a house full of babae (girls)!

The daughters are:
1. Princess (just turned 5): I cannot wait to video her singing and dancing... hilariously adorable. I literally call her "princessita diva" because she is such a little diva! She’s sassy, witty and has such a big personality for a five year old. Love her. So much.
2. Miggy (9): Miggy is a gentle spirit. She is great and does a funny funny impersonation of Beyoncé moving her hips in Single Ladies. Such a cutie.
3. Kyla (11): She sings like a mix between Ella Fitzgerald and Jennifer Hudson to Celine Dion, Taylor Swift and church choir songs and she's had no training. Her voice is amaaaazing. She loves performing (they all pretty much love using the stairway as their stage haha). She is really good in English so I am able to speak to her the most.
4. Mico (12): The oldest sister in Filipino culture is supposed to be like a 2nd mom, and she truely is. Mico is very bubbly and bouncy. She, like her sisters, loves singing and dancing too. She is very kind as well.

Then, the two "adults:"
1. Jenny (19): The helper, she is shy but so smiley and cute. She sometimes struggles a little with English, but we do communicate with motions and laughing. She is so helpful though and very pretty.
2. Sister/Ate Odessa: A self proclaimed workaholic, she works in Manila 3 hours away during the weekdays and also is the wedding planner for the church and a flower arranger. Her husband is working in Malaysia right now so she holds the place down as best as she can (although the girls certainly have minds of their own haha). She loves the Lord a lot and is very cheerful and helpful also. She makes me feel very at home in her house.

(From Left) Miggy, Kyla, Jenny and Mico

I have my own room here (the only room in the house), with a large bed with a foam mattress and AC at night! Great surprise for me. The other 6 girls sleep downstairs where there is a kitchen, and two small little living rooms with 2 sofas and a TV. TV is huge here, even if people are without running water or shoes most have TV's. It's also a big thing to watch in the home. We're talking every day, every night for at least 3 hours. The girls LOVE Disney channel and this Korean Soap Opera whose translation from Korean to English is often difficult to understand but hilarious (just its title, Boys Over Flowers, makes no sense but is silly). Also, I’ve found 2 cockroaches in my room and bathroom and I’m slowly getting used to it. There are ants and spiders everywhere in the house but those are no big now. It’s just the roaches that are as long as your pointer finger that still shake my core. But hey, they’re harmless, right?

The food has been good, tons of rice and tons of fish. Often it will be just a fish (whole body with guts and all) and fish, which is kind hard to eat due to the plethora of bones. Here, you eat with only a spoon in the right hand and a fork in left which you use to push the food onto the spoon and then put in your mouth. These utensils are kinda hard to use for picking out the bones or the meat from the body, but I'm learning! For breakfast it's harder to adjust to because they eat dinner leftovers and fish. Sometimes there will be bananas or sweet bread, but mostly it's like dinner again which I usually can't eat too much of after getting up at 5am. I'll get used to it tho I'm sure, after I run out of protein bars from the states haha. Also, all coffee is powered Nescafé which is fine but not actually coffee. The good news is that I don't really drink that anymore and am no longer addicted to caffeine! We'll see how long that lasts once school starts again...

(…oh Diet Coke and grenadine, how I miss you)

Friday, June 19, 2009

To San Pedro I Go

So, after my big pro-Skype post, I realized that while Skype is still great, we will not be able to communicate through it now because I am leaving tomorrow to go to my permanent residence here in San Pedro. So, sorry for the deception!

San Pedro is kinda like a suburb in the States, but here it is a province. It's about 2 hours commute outside of Manila (where the FH office is and where I've been the last week). Although I will be returning to Manila occasionally, I will be staying every night in San Pedro with my host family. I'm excited to meet them! My schedule becomes also very different starting tomorrow because my work begins. I will be travelig to 10 different communites that FH sponsors all outside of Manila on this island of Luzon. I'll go with national FH staff to these communities where I will take video and photos for promo material, presentations, etc. This also makes me quite excited! I'll be posting some of the pictures on this blog so watch for them!

Bye bye Quezon City Guesthouse!

I can't believe it's only been 1 week since I've been in the Philippines because it feels like a lot longer. I grasp the life here more and more each day and this move will introduce a whole new culture of its own. I've been inspired by the concept of poverty as discussed beginning at FH orientation in Phoenix to conversations about it here in the Philippines. I'm intereseted to see how all the theories and plans end up working out in the real world and I'm sure I'll get to see that for myself and of course I will let you know about it. I apologize for not going deeper but our private Jeepney leaves at 6am tomorrow so I must get some sleep now for maybe the last time in a long time to be on a mattress in AC!

Expect posts about once a week from now on as the internet cafe is my new spot for access. Salamat (thank you) for all your prayers and thougths and encouragement so far, and please keep it up! It's only getting harder from here.

Shalom, KK

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I <3 Skype

Dear everyone, 
You should download the video chatting program Skype for free! If offers computer to computer messaging, phone and video chatting services for free, a great way to stay in touch overseas.
Love, KK

That is my promo for Skype for ya'll. And here are some of the lovelies I have been chatting with! (*ahem you should be one too!)

Yep, the "I love you" sign

Ewwwww kissing! hehe

This is rediculously cute of the Percival ladies!

Él que me salvó de mi necesidad de hablar Español. What a face!

My wifey! So gorgeous and hard at work

Great smiles Mom and Co :)

Skpe... Dooooooo it! Go to to download the program, then find me to add me as a contact.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


San Pedro, where I will be staying starting next week 

A catholic church in San Pedro

The Filipinos are beautiful people. I have so much to say but not so much time, so I will break down all my processing into categories and try my best to say what I want.

Things I am getting used to:
1. Transportation:
10 million people living around Manila have to commute at least 1.5 hours to work everyday. This comes in the form of tricycles, buses, jeepneys and train, and for me it is all of the above. Only the wealthy have cars, taxis are expensive and are usually slower if driving during rush hour. Sometimes the trains and jeeps are so full to have to wait for the next, and the next, and the next just to squeeze into a standing space. 
The jeeps are abandoned USA army jeeps which are decorated as colorful and gaudy as possible, no windows, and low cielings (Dad and Dan, you would be croutching). My favorite is that you pay by passing up the money down the line to driver, because the people sit on 2 benches facing in towards eachother and enter from the 1 opening in the rear. They yell out something in Tagalog which I cannot yet understand and pass it on down the line, where the driver gets the change and passes that back down the line. It's great. 
The tricylces are my favorite because they are not tricylces as Americans know it, but motorcylce-esque things with a side buggee attached. The buggee is no more than 1 foot off the ground and is usually covered, as is the extended back seat and front where the driver sits. They are so cute and so much fun to ride around in; the give an interesting view of the city. These are not found on the busy streets and are super convenient for short-ish distances. 

Regarding the roads-- there are rarely painted lines and where there are they are ignored. The driving here is cray cray, but also very fun! Like Mexico, again (I find many links between here and mi Mex actually). 
The only down side to all of this is that it is quite tiring. After 4 hours commute both ways one just feels grimy and sleeps McGee. The amazing news is that the trains and most buses and taxis have air con (the way they refer to air conditioning), which I'm finding is such a plus. I can't imagine such a crowded train without it, it already gets pretty stuffy!

2. Malls:
These are the center of life in Manila. Why? Well, they have air con and they are free to enter. All of the train stations are connected to a mall. All the concerts are in malls because they have stages and watching areas (I happened upon a cultural dance and song show the other day in one and it's crazy to see people lining to balconeys and floors 5 floors up) (Another random fact: the Pussy Cat Dolls were in Manila last week in The Mall of Asia, and it's kinda wierd to see their promo poster of the girls half-clothed playing in a mall). There are just as many shops as the US malls and more, and many are Western companies (think Guess, Colombia, Gap, Dickies, Armani Exchnage, etc., andeven Gucci and Louis Vutton). There are also mass quantities of restaurants, many of which are also Western (McDonalds and Starbucks, but also suprsingly Outback Steakhouse, TGI Frid ays, Chilis, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Coffee Bean and more). I try to opt for the non-Western places to eat since we have been eating a malls often this week, but luckily even KFC or Burger King have different menu items to suit local taste (At McD, I got a coke float, rice and chicken nuggets). Lately we have been hitting up about 3 malls a day, and I'm sure when I go out to rough it in the community I will love going to the mall to rest in AC and have a flushing toilet.

3. Being starred at:
Yes, everywhere I go. Often in the not-as-nice areas, people will yell out "What's up Joe!" because that's what they call any non-Filippino, no matter the gender or nationality. It's kinda funny, but also a little bit stressful and weird. I was honored when the girls at the office pointed to my arm and said I had Filippino skin and hair, but my face and height do not fit in here, so I stick out (y también mi maestra de Tagalog dijó hoy que me parezco Méxicana, sip! Que honor!) . Ate Chill, a national who I will be working with a lot, says this is the Filippinos way of welcoming me, which I think makes it better in my mind, because otherwise I kinda feel like a freakshow.

4. Tagalog:
It's so much fun to speak because the words bounce of your lips. Ex: Babae is girl, pronounce "bah-bah-eh" and lalaki is boy pronounce "lah-lah-ki." I don't know is dahan dahan, and beautiful is magandang pronounced "mag-ang-dung." Also my name fits in nicely with these repitious noises hehe. There's this cool litte "ng" thing in the words that you only pronounce at the end if a noun follows, kinda like a French liason. So magandang is only pronounced with the "ng" at the end if it is followed by a noun, like umaga, which is morning. This is the way they say good morning, Magandang umaga. So much fun to say! Also, the accents on the words are important because saying one word with a different emphasis on a certain syllable changes the meaning of word completely. Easy to confuse because the spellings are the same, but you can make some grave errors this way! Anyway, language class this week will be good and I love the teachers. 

5. Pollution:
I though living in LA was bad. They say here it's like smoking 4 packs of cigarettes a day! (LA is only one haha). When I scratch my leg, black is underneath my nails. When I blow my nose, black is in my snot (yes, gross). Where the FH office is, a not-as-nice part of town, It's really hard to breath. The vehicles plus industry and urban-ness combined is just terrible. So when I do yoga (I practice as often as I can in my room hehe), I totes notice a difference in my ujjayi breath (sorry if you don't know what this is), because I can't go as deep or exhale as long! Poor lungies.

5. General cultural norms:
  • This is a shame society, so respect for elders and people pleasing are huge. "Ate" is Mrs./Ms. and "Kuya" is Mr. and you use these before almost everyone's name (like Ate Chill, what I said earlier). You also include "po" in sentences when address an Ate or Kuya.
  • Similar to Indian and Latino time, there is no punctuality. I fit in in that sense :)
  • It is a touch-based culture, so yay people put thier arms around eachother, hold hands, and hug. However, it is not as much as mis latinos, no kissing cheeks and couples do not do more than hold hands in public.
  • Sleeping on transportation is expected due to the nature of commuting. Bam another one I'm a-ok with
  • To signal to come, you switch the Wester gesture upside down and have your palm facing downward and moving your fingers in a backwards motion towards you. The other way is the way to call a prostitute, so it's defs important not to mix those up.
On a side note, the fruit here is amaaaaaazing and exotic and delish mcgish! Jenn and I bought dragon fruit, rambuton, and piña at the market yesterday, and we eat little bananas and mangoes at every breakfast.

Please keep praying for me as I do attempt to adjust to these things plus the relationships between my fellow intern, Jenn, and supervisor, Katie. I am so excited everyday when I awake and realize where I am, but of course I am missing family, friends, and home a little bit. 

Ignat! Sige for now! (take care, bye for now)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Day #1

Full Day #1 in the Philippines:

Yesterday was great despite the tiredness, and the kids from San Pedro are so wonderful! We played games with them for their "sports fest" after we had a devotional. I met also many church people (the church youth group put on the sports fest), who are all also amazing. I bonded with this little kid, Inem or "Nem," who was very mischevious and so darn cute, verdad?

Ate at McDonalds for lunch (we got there by literally walking a path in the jungle to a long ladder and climbed over a wall and landed in the concrete gas station parking hilarious), and the mall for dinner at an Italian place. My supervisor Katie, an American from Michigan, says she eats more fast food her than in the States, but I hope to eat more locally. t's so tropical here and reaaaaaally humid. But not too too bad so far.

Well, today I'm off to an English church (1 hour commute) and then to the Ayala Filippino History Museum. It's amazing to be on overload absorbing and learning every second I pass something new, although hopefully the jet lag will wear off soon so my brain won't completely fry.

More pictures to come...

Friday, June 12, 2009


I am here! 

I arrived in Manila 2 hours ago to the smell of Mexico and the feel of a sauna. It's dark now so driving through the city I didn't see too much, only streets lined with people, shops, and cute little tricycles with roofs. I can't wait to see everything illuminated. Tomorrow I will meet my host family, but for now my fellow intern, Jenn, and I are staying in the FH guest house which will ease us into things-- there are matresses, runnning water (which can be heated!), and wi-fi, things that pretty soon will be highly desired and luxury. I start language school on Monday, and on the (27 hour total) trip over, I learned that Tagalog shares some words as Spanish! Hopefully I'll be able to pick it up. 

More updates to come, but I am here and I am well!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Yay God!

I now have 100% of my support raised! Thank you Lord and thank you, YOU!

I leave June 11th, with a briefing with the other interns starting the 9th. I am so stoked. After checking out all the books on the Philippines in the library (including the awesome children's books with pictures), reading pamphlets of info from the consulate, FH, and my dad, and asking my intern director in the Philippines about 12,209 questions, I feel quite knowledgeable about the country (and already like it!). However, I still do not know what really to expect, and I love that. I'm not sure exactly how to prepare myself outside of reading the books and listening to the sermons FH has provided us with. I'm just praying. 

Also, I had coffee with an old friend and mentor figure who is a missionary in the Czech Republic. She had some wise words (roughly): 

 "Only God changes things and people. We do not implement change, He does. We just do the task He's put in front of us the best that we can, and He takes it from there."

I feel I need to remember this going into a place where I will want to see change and where change needs to happen. While I have a passion for doing this and God has implemented that passion in me for a reason, without Him, my efforts are futile (in the eternal perspective espeically). Thus, in all my drive to independently make the world a better place I must remember that my plans need to be aligned with the God of the universe first and foremost. When His plans become my plans, change is real and change is deep. This is one way I've learned to apply glorifying God in everything I do-- give my plans to Him and have them returned conformed to His desire.

Pues, chao for now!