July 11, 2013 | 4:56 A.M. | Imus, Cavite, Philippines
Waking up around this time seems to be a recurring theme… especially weird since it’s not exactly the the time I wake up in the states lol anyway! I am thankful to say that everything has been so far so good. 🙂 I met with Tito Mandy yesterday of Gawad Kalinga Cavite and we visited the site I would be working at for the next six weeks. I really need to remember the names of things… but I believe it was Alapan B-2? My Aunty Lori and dearest cousin Lyka accompanied me of course. We met Tito Mandy and Tito Ekai (sp?) at the Petron gas station where Uncle Louie dropped us off. Then we made our way to the site. I’m not going to lie; I was a bit hesitant since both my mom and aunt were warning me that it was a “bad” place– saying it had a stench and no water. Maybe it was the optimist in me or just having good faith in the Lord… because the site ended up being nothing like they had described (though I was very “ready for anything”)!
As soon as we arrived, I noticed the colorfully-painted houses lined up next to each other and the immediate feeling of “community.” It was like leaving a world of uncertainty into a world of “kapamilya.” There were literally. kids. everywhere! (I have a major soft spot for kids– especially cute Filipino babies– ahhh!) We could not have came at a more perfect time. The kids had just gotten let out from school and they were running around everywhere! It was so exciting– like little balls of cuteness just swarming the near vicinity of our arrival! It was probably then that I was positive I was at the right place– Gawad Kalinga. 🙂 Tito Mandy introduced me to the school teacher, Mam Monique, and told her I wanted to teach the kids dance. Her reaction was precious; she reminded me of the titas back home as she immediately started to “kembot” at the word “dance.” She was all for it! As they were discussing the kids in her class– whose ages only ran up to four and seven months– I began to envision my dance program for babies. I thought of how difficult it was to keep the grade school kids at the YMCA back in the states engaged… and how these kids were several years younger. I realized it would mostly be dancing games and foresaw the craziness that could erupt– then we realized the kids wouldn’t be able to dance during the day because they had school. 😦 So Tito Mandy called upon some of the residents who were known as SIGA (the group I was told I was going to work with). I met Nanay Maria, Artchelle, Marinel, Katherine, and Tita Arlene. We all sat together as Tito Mandy discussed my involvement with their community over the next three (more like five… so he said a month) weeks; I was glad to see some excitement from the girls’ faces when he said I would be teaching dance/theatre arts. They were some of the out-of-school youth that would be involved in my program, but they also mentioned that most of the youth in SIGA were at school at would not come home til 5pm. I was to coordinate with the three girls for the start of the program and they would be I’m charge of recruiting youth to dance in the program. Tita Arlene showed me the hall that I would be able to use for our sessions– IT WAS AMAZING. So much more than I had expected! It was a large and spacious hall that even had large speakers for the music– totally exceeded expectations. Tita Arlene even told Aunty Lori that there was a water station– SCORE!!!
As we waited for Uncle Louie to pick us up or as they say when someone is giving you a ride– our “service”– Tita Arlene showed me the basketball courts and told me there were 100+ families and houses at the site. Yow! We passed Nanay Maria who asked if I was full Canadian or half– I found out earlier that Tita Cathy Morga (who I have yet to meet) told Tito Mandy who told everyone else that I was Canadian. I am not Canadian… nor have I ever been mistaken for Canadian lol. I had the chance to talk to the three girls more before I left and met one of the gay boys in SIGA, Mark– who immediately started talking about Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model. He even gave me the run down of Project Accessories– I can’t wait to femme it out with him!!! Agh and such cute babies– Sophia and Lee-something with the big eyes! 🙂 Oh! I also met Tita Arlene’s chubby 9-year-old son. Love it!!! First time on site at GK and already feeling so at home. 🙂 🙂 🙂