Archives - ‘Philippines’

Clap de fin

November 25, 2014 | Rose, DVM, AFS, Philippines, Institute for Negros Development

Et voilà le troisième et dernier mois de ce stage aux Philippines. Ce stage à l’étranger représente pour moi une véritable expérience de vie. C’est un alliage parfait entre ma soif de découverte du monde qui m’entoure et ma carrière professionnelle. J’ai pu découvrir une nouvelle culture, un nouveau pays et surtout j’ai pu travailler avec eux.

Dorénavant, je suis capable de comprendre les mentalités et mécanismes internationaux. Non seulement j’ai acquis des compétences professionnelles, mais aussi le stage peut aider à développer une aptitude à communiquer internationalement dans le monde professionnel. De plus, maintenant, ma force de caractère a été consolidée, car je n’ai plus peur de partir à des kilomètres de chez moi pour avoir un bagage professionnel hors pairs.

Ici, j’ai rencontré des gens formidables, les filipino sont très chaleureux et abordables. J’ai pu me fondre dans la masse facilement, car je vis actuellement en famille d’accueil. Alors, mon adaptation a été facile et j’ai pris le « rythme ». Au début, on tombe facilement dans la comparaison avec le Canada ou le Sénégal, mais après on se rend compte que ce sont des pays différents et qu’il est important de vivre pleinement ce stage!

Après deux mois

October 28, 2014 | Rose, DVM, AFS, Philippines, Institute for Negros Development

Je suis actuellement dans mon deuxième mois aux Philippines. Je suis très contente d’avoir cette opportunité, je suis très bien adaptée à mon travail, avec ma famille d’accueil et la population. J’apprends la langue locale, je me connais bien la ville, je me déplace sans aucun soucis et je suis très en sécurité aussi. En plus, je suis très attachée avec ma famille d’accueil, je ne souhaite pas les quitter et l’idée de rentrer au Canada me déprime.

C’est vraiment une experience enrichissante à tous les niveaux. On apprend à découvrir une nouvelle culture, on travaille dans un environnement complètement différent du notre, sur le plan humain aussi, car le stage nous change vraiment. Pour moi, ce stage m’est bénéfique parce que je me mets au service de l’autre, je reste à l’écoute, et je m’occupe de leurs besoins. Avoir le sentiment d’aider les gens et de collaborer avec eux c’est très gratifiant.

Après trois semaines

September 29, 2014 | Rose, DVM, AFS, Philippines, Institute for Negros Development

Cela fait maintenant trois semaines que je suis à Palawan aux Philippines. J’apprécie beaucoup se pays et sa culture. Mon stage se déroule à merveille aussi, je travaille dans une école qui aide les enfants qui souffrent d’un handicap. Cela me permet de réaliser la chance que j’ai et me motive à faire de mon mieux pour aider ces enfants le mieux que je peux. De plus, le stage est vraiment intéressant et j’apprends beaucoup de chose ce qui le rend encore plus passionnant.

Ce stage présente de nombreux intérêts, il permet de découvrir le monde professionnel d’une autre société qui possède ses coutumes, ses traditions et sa façon de travailler. Ensuite, cela nous permet de mettre en pratique ce que l’on apprend en cours.

Enfin, ce stage est pour moi un réel apprentissage, c’est très positif et enrichissent à tous les niveaux. Cette ouverture internationale m’offre une polyvalence dans mon cursus et consolide mon ouverture d’esprit. En tant qu’étudiante je me concentre sur l’apprentissage et l’élargissement de nos horizons. Un des avantages du stage pour moi est que j’acquière une réelle expérience que je n’apprendrai jamais en cours.

Pilipinas, Maraming Salamat (Philippines, Thank You Very Much)

August 6, 2013 | Czarina, DVM, AFS Internculture Canada, Philippines, Gawad Kalinga (GK), Program Development Assistant

I am still at a loss for words about how to relay my Philippine internship experience.

First, how does one express that sense of peace from “coming home”? As a Filipino-Canadian going back to the Philippines after ten years, I had initially thought that the cultural integration would be a breeze and that this experience will rekindle the Filipino in me. My experience was beyond my expectations! While the language barrier and the “taste bud shock” was indeed nonexistent, I still had to adjust to culture differences. In an odd way, I realized I was both more Filipino and more Canadian than I had initially thought. I’ve “come home” not to any sense of nationalistic pride, but rather to a deeper understanding of what it means to be a global citizen.

Also, how does one express that sense of admiration and awe that calls one to action? Through Gawad Kalinga, I’ve met Filipinos in various sector of Philippine society–as well as international volunteers. I’ve met professionals with day jobs, development practitioners, volunteer teachers from poor communities, university students from elite universities, out of school youth, urban poor children, and the list goes on. While every person I’ve met has their own story and has their own experience encountering poverty in the Philippines, what gets me is how much hope these people have for their country. They believe so much in the people they serve and work with that even though they may be faced with financial challenges and time constraints, they still manage to make time to work towards progress that “leaves no one behind.” And while the general pronoun “they” does not speak for all Filipinos, I’ve met enough who’ve inspired me to believe that “inclusive development” can happen and to thus look for opportunities to be a part of inclusive development in Canada.

Finally, how does one express that sense of confusion of knowing more but understanding that one knows less? If there is anything that this experience taught me is that no amount of class lectures, pre-internship orientation and even first-hand experience will ever fully prepare you for the world of practicing international development. I learnt I needed to be flexible and always ready to ask questions because the world I work in does not exist in a vacuum: every one (really, every one) is contributing to and changing the environment I work in even as I type (and you read) right now and there is just so much I don’t–and can not– know!

So, Philippines, thank you. I don’t yet know the full extent as to how much this experience has helped me grow professionally, but I do know that personally I have grown more emotionally mature and perhaps more ready to be a part of this globalizing world.

Educating in the Philippines

July 16, 2013 | Czarina, DVM, AFS Internculture Canada, Philippines, Gawad Kalinga (GK), Program Development Assistant

Practically everyone in the Philippines strives to achieve a post-secondary degree. Because of the surplus of labour in relation to the availability of jobs, competition is fierce, so many people, especially the poor, believe that achieving a bachelor’s degree is necessary for their job applications to even be considered. As such, the organization I’m interning with (Gawad Kalinga) attempts to give its students a leg up.

I am currently working as a teacher assistant at a nursery for three- to four-year olds at one of Gawad Kalinga’s Sibol schools. For me, the school I help at is in an informal settler community. From Monday to Friday, I commute from Paranaque to Las Pinas for one to two hours depending on the traffic in order to reach the school in time for the 7 AM session. I will be there until the third session ends around 2 PM. Then, on Saturdays, I commute again for weekly values formation workshops for elementary-aged students.

The Sibol schools typically run like a mini-version of Philippine kindergartens. While waiting for class to begin, the students will be doing writing exercises depending on how developed the students’ fine motor skills are. Then, they have a flag ceremony, a short prayer, and morning exercises. They will then have lessons in English, Science, Math, or Filipino depending on the day. Each day has two lessons with recess in between. In this way, the students, though poor, will be able to match their peers’ abilities when they enter the government-run, mandatory public schools.

As a TA, it is to my advantage that I can speak the local dialect as I’ve met interns from other countries who feel useless around the children due to language and cultural barriers (most of the children don’t understand English or are shy to use it). I am able to talk to the children about their days, coax them into doing their work, joke around with them, et cetera. During class times, I will be guiding their work as some would say “I can’t do it” and expect you to do the work for them–as much as doing the children’s work for them would be easier than trying to motivate them to do the work, I avoid this because of the values of dependency this teaches the children. I am very grateful that I can speak the language because TAs in my area are necessary, for each class has an average of 25 students!

What surprised me about this experience was how capable the children are! During my first day, I had thought that the lessons were too hard and formally teaching three- to four-year olds how to write letters, determine colours, etc. was a bit too much (I had believed in learning through play). Then, as time went on, I realized how important the lessons were as some children’s parents were not involved at the children’s education at all!–they treat the school as a daycare and download the responsibility of educating children to the volunteer teachers. Further, the children can actually do all that is asked of them–I’m even seeing three-year-olds write their names without assistance!

I am learning the value of believing in children’s abilities and not underestimating the potential of what they can do. I am also seeing the human right’s perspective on the right to education in practice. I am realizing that providing quality, accessible, relevant education for all is a shared responsibility between the government, education providers, the children’s guardians, and the children themselves.

1 mois depuis mon arrivée !

June 11, 2013 | Sabrina, DVM,intern, AFS Interculture Canada, Philippines,Volunteers International for Development Education and Solidarity (VIDES), Alternative Learning System Assistant

Je suis aux Philippines depuis un mois dans la région de San Juan à Manille et s’est avec beaucoup de joies que je vis cette expérience unique de 12 semaines.

Avant mon départ, j’ai pris le temps de faire quelques recherches pour avoir un aperçu du contexte, de la culture et de la société aux Philippines. Je savais, avant de partir, que le pays a connu un grand essor économique et de développement, mais que la disparité entre les « riches » et les « pauvres » augmentent comme c’est le cas dans plusieurs autres pays du sud. Au cours de mes trois années d’études en développement international et mondialisation, nous avons abordés le problème des inégalités sociales à travers cette course éffrénée au développement économique et j’ai également lues de nombreux articles, livres sur les enjeux actuels des pays en « voie de développement ». Par contre, à mon arrivée à Manille, j’ai compris que cette fois-ci, je n’allais pas lire, mais voir de mes propres yeux, les enjeux du développement et les grandes inégalités sociales au sein de la société Filipino.

J’occupe le poste de stagiaire au sein de l’organisme VIDES Philippines, une ONG composé de 10 employés et d’un groupe dynamique de volontaires en partenariat avec les Sœurs Salésiennes de Don Bosco qui font la promotion de la justice sociale et la paix. VIDES a le mandat de veiller à la protection des droits et au bien-être des femmes et des enfants à risques. Du mardi au samedi, nous nous déplaçons dans divers secteurs de Metro Manila qui sont les plus défavorisés ou l’on retrouve les “ squatters ‘’. Ce terme est utilisé par les Filipinos pour décrire les habitations informelles, car les ‘’ squatters ‘’ occupent des terres qu’ils n’ont pas le droit d’habiter et n’ont pas le titre de propriétaire. En fait, 40% de la population, majoritairement les plus « pauvres » sont des “ squatters “, car ils n’ont pas les moyens financier pour avoir un logement décent. C’est un grand problème ici à Manilla, car ils occupent une grande partie de Manille et le gouvernement n’a plus le contrôle de la croissance des ‘’squatters’’. Le problème de l’exode rural explique également cet enjeux. En fait, il y a un important débat sur les “ squatters “, il faut respecter les droits humain, mais certains dissent qu’ils profitent du système et ce sont installés dans le milieu urbain de Manille en espérant trouvé un emploi. Par contre, la majorité se retrouve sans emploi, alors ils “ squatt “ les rues de Manille. En fait, le problème des ‘’squatters ‘’ est complexe et plusieurs facteurs doivent être tenu en compte, car il faut rappeller que malgré le développement économique croissance des Philippines, le problème de la pauvreté est loin d’être réglé.

Si on retrouve des “squatters “ un peu partout, ici à Manille, à ma plus grande surprise, on retrouve également une multitude de restaurant upper, des fast-foods comme Mc Donals, Dunkin Donuts, Quiznos, PFK, Starbuck Coffee, Subway, des gratte ciel, des condos, des maisons de luxe, des centres d’achats, etc. Lorsqu’on est à Makati, le secteur financier et économique de Metro Manila, on pourrait croire que l’on est à New York, avec les panneaux publicitaires, les immences edifices, les boutiques luxueuses comme Louis Vuitton. L

Bref, les Philippines est un exemple parfait, d’un pays du Tiers-Monde qui veut rapidement augmenter sa croissance économique, mais qui devra faire face à bien des enjeux de développement, car les inégalités sociales restent frappantes.

Why Poverty Exists: An Emerging Economy Experience

June 3, 2013 | Czarina, DVM, AFS Internculture Canada, Philippines, Gawad Kalinga (GK), Program Development Assistant

Quick, don’t think, just respond: Why does poverty exist?

Did you say “exploitation”? Did you say “colonial legacy”? Did you say “corrupt governments”?

Or, did you say “laziness”? “Dependency on the government”? “Lack of will of the people”? “Lack of education”? “Self-defeating prophecies”?

If you had chosen the first five responses, you would have been me at the beginning of this internship. If you had chosen the rest, you would have been one of the local population who have told me of their experiences.

If there is one thing the Philippines has taught me, it is that the so-called Global South, are very much not merely “victims” or “survivors” of the current global political system–they are active, hopeful agents. None of the Filipino people I’ve talked to have given up hope that their country can finally be clean, slum-free, with a legitimate and responsive government, and wherein the basic needs of all people are met. While there might have been some pessimism, there is the underlying belief that poverty can be eradicated if only the mindsets of people can be changed–if all Filipino people stop looking at themselves as victims so that they may be ready to avail the opportunities that will help them find sustainable means to be finally free of (material) poverty.

And what’s exciting to see is that the work of transforming the minds of Filipinos, of reminding them that they are agents of change, is central to the work of Filipino development practitioners (even those outside of Gawad Kalinga–that is, even local government officers and the media). People I’ve talked to are not looking for dole outs–they actually reject dole outs (including foreign aid outside of emergency situations, a very interesting perspective to me)–they believe that the Philippines can rise out of poverty, and they believe they have the capacity to make change themselves.

For a short-term volunteer who wants to “make a difference” without a thorough understanding of the Philippine context (history, culture, current affairs, geography, etc.), this development perspective (that the “Global South” can…) might pose a challenge. But for me, coming in with the perspective of “I’m ready to serve wherever you see me fit,” it’s perfect! I’ve visited five villages across two provinces; ate, played, and conversed with so many local Filipinos; created learning modules for elementary-aged children; been on brainstorming sessions… and the list goes on!

The next two months is going to fly by fast. I already know I’m going to miss the Philippines–and I haven’t even left it!

A typical workday with VIDES

July 18, 2012 | Helen, AFS, Philippines, Volunteers International for Development Education and Services (VIDES)

Magandang Umaga!

I’ve been putting off writing this post for nearly two weeks now, largely due to the fact that I really did not want to acknowledge the small amount of time I have left here, and I’ve suddenly realized I’ll be leaving this amazing country in only 12 days: where has the time gone?

Before leaving for our internships, we were all warned that the last leg of our time here would probably be the busiest and fastest portion of our three months. That has become very true for me and I’ve found myself becoming incredibly busy working with VIDES and Don Bosco School in Manila. I think the only complete way to explain how time really has flown by is to explain my typical work day here.

Usually I will wake up around 7am to have breakfast with at least one member of my host family, because no one ever eats alone. I’ll spend a few hours in the morning at home, sometimes working on editing English documents for co-workers at VIDES, but most of my time is spent creating lesson plans and wracking my brain over new ways to engage the students that I’m teaching.

By noon I am heading out the door to meet VIDES (the exact time varies depending on how long it will take us to drive to the particular area that day). We spend about 2-3 hours outside with the young children, where we give short lessons on a variety of topics: usually pertaining to any big celebration happening around that time (i.e. mother’s day, independence day, etc.) or we will teach a lesson about certain good values they should adopt (i.e. generosity, kindness, etc.). After the activities are over, we collect their work and hand out bread and juice to everyone who completed the assigned task.

From the VIDES area, we will usually drive to Delpan (another VIDES area) to pick up a few of the students who are enrolled with Don Bosco’s Alternative Learning System (ALS). ALS begins at Don Bosco School in Manila at 4:30pm. Unlike the VIDES activities, ALS is in a classroom setting. We have about 150-200 students enrolled right now, they are split into 4 “classes” and rotate through 3 periods every night. The other Canadian VIDES volunteer and I usually teach classes together, as we’ve found it can be quite difficult to manage a class of 50 high school dropouts when they can barely understand what we are saying.

ALS is scheduled to run until 7pm, but generally goes over this time every night. By 8pm I arrive home, most nights in time to have dinner with my family. After dinner is when I have time for myself, to catch up with friends and family on skype, have telephone interviews for my upcoming co-op semester, or go jogging (although, I have to admit, I’ve been too exhausted for that lately), but I generally always use this time to hang out with my host family.

The days are jam-packed, and really does make the time “fly-by” and I love it. I’m beginning to worry about how I’ll ever adapt back to the regular 9-5 work days in Canada!

So, future interns, when Rex warns you how fast your last month will go by, trust me, he’s not kidding!



Magandang Umaga from Manila, Philippines!

June 13, 2012 | Helen, AFS, Philippines, Volunteers International for Development Education and Services (VIDES)

As I head into my second month here in the Philippines I find myself reflecting on my past four weeks and the reoccurring thought in my mind is that I couldn’t have found a better way to spend my summer! For my three month internship I am placed with VIDES Philippines, which is an international organization that works with poor urban youths in many countries around the world.

Here in the Philippines, VIDES is made up of just a small handful of full time employees and dozens upon dozens of volunteers.  I must admit, I have found myself disappointed with my “internship”. Upon arrival I quickly realized that they consider me to be just another volunteer, and not an employee. I therefore was only asked to help them with the actual hands-on activities; going out into the poorest districts of the city every day, and teaching children on street corners. Over the weeks we have begun to develop a system in which I can also help with light office work; but this is mainly just editing documents that they have written in English, and maybe writing a few articles for their news magazine.

Working out in the really rough areas of Manila has been an experience I would never take back. Not only have I been able to see firsthand the overwhelming poverty and shocking inequalities of the Philippines, I have also fallen in love with the kids we work with everyday. Work experience aside I have had the most amazing month here so far in terms of cultural integration! I was completely welcomed by my fantastic host family, and the VIDES employees immediately treated me as if I am part of the family. I have seen so much of this fantastic city already, and feel like I truly am experiencing the Filipino culture in a way I would never be able to if I were to just travel here alone. My host family not only treats me as their new “adopted daughter”, but also really enjoys taking me around the city and surrounding areas, and showing me all of the highlights that Manila has to offer.

Furthermore I was very lucky that one week after my arrival, another Canadian girl working through VIDES Canada, named Megan, arrived in Manila. So it has been great to have someone to enjoy all of the new experiences with. Last weekend VIDES Philippines had their annual Mission Camp, which Megan and I were invited along to. The camp was one weekend, in a nearby province, serving over 400 children of the area. Megan and I were able to experience what life is like in the rural areas of the Philippines, as well as spend a day swimming in the South China Sea and snorkelling off a gorgeous white sand beach!

Every single day of this past month has been full of new experiences and adaptations, and I know there will be more to come, as we have a busy week coming up with the start of the children’s school year, and a trip to the province of Cebu this weekend for their Independence Day long weekend!



Living vs. Visiting

November 24, 2011 | Michael, DVM, Gawad Kalinga, AFS Interculture, Philippines

We speak of travel. Jet planes, exotic foods, language barriers, new friends, adventures, relaxation, personal fulfillment. We speak of home. Family, warm beds, a favorite reading spot, that inevitable stress, routine, inside jokes, history. And we speak of the blur between the two, but maybe not as loudly. This intangible cloud of travel meets home can take many forms, depending mostly on the person, but also time, spatiality, and culture.

A friend asked me before I left Ottawa some twelve weeks ago whether I thought of my time in the Philippines as ‘traveling’ or ‘living.’ I answered ‘living’ without hesitation, reasoning that three months in one place, especially if working and staying with a host family in this place, gives a person (me) enough time to adapt and learn about the culture to become at least familiar enough with it to be considered ‘living’ there. Furthermore, this person would lay down some roots, fall into a social pattern, network, learn directions, buy groceries, etc. No, my ‘living’ in the Philippines would not be the same as how I live my life in Canada, never. But, nonetheless, it would still be ‘living’.

Four weeks into my internship, I asked myself the same question. ‘Mike, do you feel like you are ‘living’ here or merely visiting, traveling?’ I hands down chose the latter, traveling. In a third of the time of my internship, I still felt like I was traveling around. I had made the friends, become accustomed to the food, knew my way around, even had learned some Tagalog. But, these actions still did not equate to living. I had the networks, but there was no foundation. The host family, but no history. The know-how, but lacking confidence. I was a visitor and everything was simply fleeting comfort.

I still felt the alienation more times than I would have liked. I missed my friends and family back home. There were still many less frequent or complex social norms that I hadn’t encountered or understood yet. And it all got me so upset! I kept asking myself when the ‘click’ would happen, when would I be living, because that’s what I’m putting in all this effort for, to feel at home, to understand completely, I’m sick of traveling.

I am very happy I can update in retrospect. You can be in a place without becoming that place. I’ve learned that. Just because I was in the Philippines, that did not transitively make me Filipino. Expecting myself to feel ‘at home’ in a place where it is impossible for me to lay down the roots, the history, the embededness in the time given was not healthy. Of course I would become more familiar with my surroundings, the culture, certain individuals. I would even grow to need some of these familiarities. But some instant switch between living and traveling does not exist, in my opinion. Rather, the creation of living or ‘home’ is a process which occurs over time. All is beautiful, but you can’t take it all with you, and it’s not all yours to take anyway.

I would never tell someone I lived in the Philippines for three months. I also would never say I traveled the Philippines for three months. I guess, as ambiguous as it sounds, I would have to tell people I was in the Philippines for three months. Yes, I became attached to people, places, ideas that I’ve only experienced here. Yes, my life, over time, became a series of routines (but still with many adventures to break up the routines, and routine in this sense does not automatically mean monotonous). But I cannot say I lived here or traveled here. What my time in the Philippines was, however, was foremost, immeasurably personally fulfilling.

So, I ask you, readers, to think to yourselves about what is home? What is the difference between living and traveling in an era of easy transit and mass migrations? Can such a distinction be drawn? Is living in a place quantifiable or can it only ever be a feeling one experiences over time?