Volunteer Work in the Philippines

Today was my official first day of volunteering in the Philippines. For those of you interested, I signed up through the Global Volunteer Network based in New Zealand. They’ve got a lot of volunteer opportunities around the world. I’m working directly with an NGO called Center For Volunteerism (CERV) in the Philiipines.

Right now I am in Manila for two days training and orientation to help get my feet on the ground. Today we learned a lot about the history of the Philippines and why they are currently in the situation that they are in. Raymund, the director of CERV, told us about how the Philippines were first occupied by Spain and then later the USA. Filipinos were treated as very inferior during these times and many suffered a great deal or were killed. Apparently Manila used to be a gorgeous city with a lot of spectacular buildings and cathedrals made of marble and gold - the city was actually designed by the Americans to mimic Washington D.C., and if I remember correctly, it was actually designed by the same person who designed Chicago. But in World War II, the Japanese came down to the Philippines and eventually made their way into Manila. The Americans decided to attack the Japanese by bombing the hell out of Manila. The US won, but consequently Manila was completely destroyed, and the Filipino people were left alone to pick up the pieces.

Girls in the slums of Manila

Ever since then, the Philippines has never been the same. They are stuggling a lot and the government is corrupt. 40% of government money goes to pay off debt and 30% is reported to be used for various “government needs”. That only leaves 30% for everything else, which leads the country into a large crisis, especially in social programs like health care and education.

I am heading to Tablas island in the province of Romblon on Sunday, and there I will be teaching kids. I am going to be living with a Filipino family. Other than this, I don’t know what to expect! I’m nervous, but very excited about it all.

So far the staff Raymund, Pom, Eden and Vincent are great and making Lucie, the other volunteer (from Switzerland), and I feel very welcome. Everyone is very kind and seems to have a great sense of humour.

Anyway, time to go, so more on my experience later!

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