Hello Everyone! Well don't I have some stories for you all... My experience in the Philippines so far has been quite cultural. I think I blogged about our arrival to the Philippines the other day so I guess I will leave off from there-- Saturday, was a pretty chill day as we had the morning to ourselves until the afternoon. Around 4pm we went on a group walk with our Filipino leaders and then all went out for dinner to a really nice restaurant. The restaurant we went to was a fairly high end one-- meaning it was an expensive place to eat at for the average Filipino. Upon receiving my bill which was over 500 pesos (however, it was split between Crys and so I paid about 265 for my portion) I was curious as to why this was considered to be an expensive place to eat. I googled the average wage of a Filipino in Laoag which is where we are-- depending on the job sector it ranged anywhere from 253 pesos to 205 pesos... daily. If you work that our in Canadian dollars 250 pesos is about 5.9 Canadian dollars therefore, my meal was the cost of what someone makes here in a day... Give you something to think about.
Sunday, we all attended a local church here. If you ever want to experience cultural a church is an interesting place to do so. It is important to note that the major religion in the Philippines is Roman Catholic. During the service there was a earth tremor which was rated 5.6 on the Rictor Scale, I was completely unaware of this at the time until later on in the day when I was told. I had felt the tremble however, I thought it was the woman behind be putting her hands on my chair-- shaking it. I was wondering why the whole church all of a sudden broke out in prayer. Maybe it was a good think I didn't know it was happening at the time. Scary!!
Around 3pm our host families began to arrive to pick us up. This is where my Philippine cultural experience really begins. Some of it is pleasant and some unpleasant however, in the midst of it all I was shown compassion, grace, kindness and love. I will begin by giving an introduction to my Filipino family. 
Carly and I live in rice paddy village. There are about 1000 people who live in this small village.. We live in a house with 9 other people. Surrounded by us in other relatives-- so within the village is almost like another small community of our Filipino family. In our home there is Mama who is the mother of our homestay lady (I will not give names out at this time). Our homestay lady and her 3 children ages 14 and twins who are 10. Her sister and her little 5 year old daughter. There are two brothers and I am not really sure where the husbands are, I don't think they stay in the house. Carly and I share a bedroom and bed. There is a water pump which is used to fill up tubs for washing the dishes, for doing laundry and for bathing. The toilet does not flush, you have to use a pail of water to make it do down and for showering we have a tub of water and pail as well. Its very refreshing I must say! They offer me warm water but I don't mind the cold water-- you get used to it after a awhile. At night time we have a little pail in our room to use if we need to use the toilet as the bathroom is quite a distance away. The food has been amazing. A lot of the vegetables come from their garden as does the chicken. I think the chicken we ate last night was killed only moments before. Most people have roosters tied up in their yards with a little triangle hut. We drink mineral water as we don't want to get sick drinking their water-- different bacteria we are not used too. Anyways, this all sounds pleasant-- and it is very much so!!! However, on my first night after a 2 hour bike ride I felt very sick. I ate dinner thinking I would feel better... it did not help. After moments of going to bed I was up vomiting... then I began running to the bathroom... After many trips I began to get very dizzy, I got locked out of the house my mistake... I knocked on the door and when the sister opened it I explained to her that I was very sick. After more vomiting I was taken to the hospital where I stayed over night for a total of almost 24hrs. They wanted to keep me longer but I really did not want to stay-- they said as long as I did not vomit or have diarrhea for the rest of the day I would be able to leave. Thankfully I did not! By 5pm that day I was finally able to leave. During my stay I actually felt like a celebrity, I had so many people coming into my room and others who peaked in the window... it was actually very amusing. Jen one of our leaders spent the night with me which I am very grateful for. Being so far from home in a hospital where things are done differently it can be scary. Needless to say even though I am 25 years old there are moments where I just want my mum-- this was one of them. The sister of my homestay also stayed with me all day, she took me to the bathroom, bathed me-- I had an IV so it was hard to do much. Mama made me a homemade soup and it was brought and fed to me. It was quite overwhelming in many ways but I don't know if I have ever been so well taken care of. I am family to them and they are family to me. I wish I had more time to write about this but my time is running short here. All I can say is in one day I was shown enough compassion, love, kindness and grace for a lifetime. I am so blessed to have been put with this family, both Carly and I are so happy and thankful. I had a wonderful sleep last night and feel much better today. I think the final conclusion was acute gastroenteritis (you may need to google that) and also dehydration. It was a scary experience but also a lesson learned that it is important to take care and listen to your body which I thought I was doing. However, I tend to overdue everything so I am now taking it a bit easier and making sure to drink heaps and heaps of water!!!! I had lectures all day today at the University and am now just waiting for our ride home. I hope I can write more soon. The next few days are going to be pretty flat out with lectures, field-trips and social events with the Filipino university students so I am sure there will be lots of stories to tell. This is a totally different experience than my previous solo travels. Thanks for reading my blog. Hope all is well on your side of the world or where ever it is you are. Much love xoxox -Nikki :)



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