Giving Back to the Philippines

Between the time I came back from Europe, and the time I left for the Philippines, I decided to spearhead a feeding program for underprivileged children in Bulacan, Manila.  I know how fortunate I am to travel as much as I do, so I give back to my community whenever I can.  I didn’t want my trip to the Philippines to be all just fun and games, so I decided to spearhead a program for some of the underprivileged children in my family’s hometown.

I enlisted the help of the Bulacan city chairperson, and we created a feeding program.  For two months before I left the States, I heavily advertised the program to everyone I knew in LA.  I ended up raising $1300 and collecting two whole boxes of clothing donations.  Once I got to the Philippines, I coordinated with the government officials, and two feeding programs were born.

One of the feeding programs fed about 300 children a day for a month, and we were even able to provide them with a daily dose of vitamins.  We were even able to partner with another organization that provided de-worming services for the children.  Many people in impoverished areas like the Philippines develop parasites because of unclean conditions.  If these are not treated, the food that is eaten by the person feeds the parasite, and the person receives very little nutrition.  In order for the breakfast and vitamins that we provided to be effective, these children had to be de-wormed first.

The other program was done through a local elementary school.  Each teacher chose students from their class who they felt needed dietary assistance, and they were given breakfast every morning for a month.  I am extremely proud of these programs, and I hope to do many more of them in the future.

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Fishing, Fancy Restaurants, and Guns

So throughout my time in the Philippines, we did a couple of activities that I haven’t written about yet.  There isn’t enough content for each of them to make a whole post, but I still wanted to talk about them.  Therefore, I am just grouping all of them together here.

My cousins have a fish farm in Bulacan, and whenever I go back home, I try to fish there at least once.  We were able to catch about six fish, but unfortunately, my aunt forgot to put them in a cooler, and they ended up dying.  No dinner for us 🙁

My uncle wanted to treat all of us to a nice dinner, so we ate at the Solaire Resort & Casino buffet.  They had a huge variety of food, and even an all-you-can-eat sushi bar.  G took full advantage of this and got three orders of tuna sashimi (his favorite).  The hotel was beautiful, and the food was delicious.

Now, one of my most memorable experiences in the Philippines was learning how to shoot a gun.  My cousin is friends with a couple of police men, so they took us to a shooting range and taught me.  I was scared to shoot the first bullet, but I quickly got the hang of it.  The first time I fired, I forgot to put headphones in.  You know in those war movies when a bomb goes off and there’s a ringing in your ears for what seems like an eternity.  Yeah, that’s how I felt.  After I got the hang of it though, it was really fun, and now I can say that I know how to shoot a gun.  Unfortunately, G still had his ear infection and the loudness of the guns wasn’t safe for him, so he had to stay in the car.

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Three Days in Boracay

Boracay is probably one of the most famous tourist destinations in the Philippines, and I can understand why.  The beaches are beautiful, the water is warm, and there are tons of things to do.

For such a big tourist destination, it is actually quite a hassle to get to Boracay.  There were other ways to get there, but we chose the most cost effective and fastest route.  We flew into Kalibo from Manila, where we boarded a bus that took us to Caticlan.  From there, we took a ferry to the shores of Boracay, and then we took a tricycle to our hotel.

I like being in more secluded areas away from tourists and crowds, so we stayed at Station 1 (Station 2 has more attractions but is louder).  Station 2 was only a short walk away, so we did not mind walking there when we wanted some excitement.  It was typhoon season, so there were large nets put up in front of all the hotels to protect the buildings from high winds and debris.  Unfortunately, it also blocked our ocean view from the room.  We did not mind though, as we were out and about most of the time.

After exploring, we found a wonderful shake stand that we ended up going to multiple times during our stay.  It was called Jonah’s Fruit Shake & Snack Bar.  They were on the pricier side of food, but everything in Boracay is a little overpriced.  I am a thrifty person, but their shakes are so so good, and totally worth the money.   We turned in for the night and got ready for our island hopping adventure the next day.

After a long day of traveling, we woke up refreshed and excited to go island hopping around Boracay (and for our free breakfast).  The dollar is very strong compared to the Philippine Peso, so doing these kinds of activities here is really worth your money.  I even saw some scuba diving certification courses for much cheaper than it would be in the States. Unfortunately, I was short on funds and short on time.  We decided to go with an island hopping tour from our hotel that included transportation to a couple different islands around the area, snorkeling, and swimming.  I don’t know the names of the islands we went to, but they were stunning.  The water was perfect, it wasn’t too hot, and we were almost completely alone. The snorkeling was fantastic as well.  We did not have to feed the animals anything, but there were schools of fish right near us.  Unfortunately, I think there were also some tiny jellyfish in the water as my skin felt itchy the rest of the day.

The next day, we decided to try an ATV tour.  This was quite the disappointment as the tour was not cheap, and the whole thing only lasted less than an hour.  The vehicles were extremely old and smokey, and they never let us go above 10 miles an hour.  After my amazing ATV experience in Greece, I had a lot of expectations for this, and they were not met.  We consoled ourselves by swimming, eating, getting henna tattoos, and getting our hair done at Station 2.

On our last day in Boracay, I finally entered my 20’s.  My awesome cousins got me a cute cake, and we stayed up playing games and talking all night. The next day, we made our way back to Manila, where we sadly had to pack for LA.  It was the end of the fun and time to go back to school .

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