“Mabuhay!” a common phrase in Tagalog, the native tongue of the Philippines, translates to “Long live!” in English. This phrase is said often by the Filipino people as a statement of joy and celebration and accurately describes my experience in the Philippines; joyful!
As a volunteer in the Palawan Kindergarten Care project, Philippines program through the GoEco organization I was able to be completely immersed in the Filipino culture. As volunteers, we were not given luxurious suits with lavish accommodations, but were assigned rooms with up to 6 people in bunk beds, sharing one small window air conditioner unit, and showering with buckets of cold water. We fought off mosquitoes, lizards, sand flies, wild dogs, and many more creatures and ate authentic Filipino foods. Some unlucky individuals were even stung by the jellyfish occupying the shore 50 feet from where we stayed. For all these reasons and more, this experience in the Philippines was definitely one to remember.
Volunteering in one of the local daycare centers was quite the experience as I was able to see firsthand how important it is to learn English at such an early age, especially in a poverty stricken country, such as the Philippines. I didn’t spend my time simply teaching English, however, I also taught simple things such as shapes, colors, songs, using manners, and how to show respect. I grew very close with the children as I was lucky enough to be fluent in Tagalog. This advantage definitely heightened my experience and allowed me to become closer to the children and leaders of the program.
Teaching in the day care was very enjoyable because it was so rewarding to see how the children were able to grasp on to new subjects and reiterate them. For instance, we taught about circles and squares and then gave the children the opportunity to test their knowledge and receive 5 red stars from the teacher or myself. These stars meant the world to the children and they knew the stars meant they had succeeded.
Outside of the daycare, I was able to make friends with many local citizens and children as the town we were in was very small and provincial. Because of this, I always felt safe and protected. I also grew very close with the other volunteers from around the world. We were given the opportunity to explore other parts of Palawan on our free days and enjoy the beauty of the Philippines. I am so happy I chose to volunteer in the Palawan, Philippines program and am grateful for the memories I made! Long live the Philippines!