Sunday, July 15, 2007

Daet, Bicol


Went to Daet, Bicol to teach a journalism workshop in copyediting. It was an adventure just trying to get there. I forgot where the bus line to Naga was and went half-crazy as Filipino men screamed at me to take their bus lines, trying to take my bags and following the down the street…that is the danger of pausing when you stand before a bus….People will tell you which bus you should take if you dare to ask…This was last time I would ever ask for help from bus drivers…I was sent to three terminals…none going to Naga. That is the peril of asking for directions here…People don’t want to disappoint you so they always give you directions, unfortunately, most of the time the directions are wrong….

The workshop went relatively well considering a few minor details, which weren’t disclosed to me until I got there, namely, that I was expected to provide the copywriting contest. I took an existing Washington Post article, created many errors in the text for the students to fix and copied it all within 1 hour and managed to be late only by 15 minutes. This is with the jeepney ride back and forth in which the driver stopped every few feet to drop off kids.

Daet is beautiful. Thick with woods and farm lands. The air smells of dirt and moist green life with an occasional whiff of dog poo. Perfect other than the last part.

It is all curving roads through thick green woods of new bamboo trees stretching there narrow slim bodies towards the sunlight between the stoic muscular bark of banana, coconut and blank? trees. Interspersed are many bahay kubos, houses made of rattan bamboo weave and grass roofs. There is also a tremendous amount of poverty as well. There were many houses along side the road patched with cardboard, posters or faded sheets to cover gaps in between walls. Kids squatting before a checker board using bottle caps or stones as the play pieces.

On the way back, I got off at the wrong San Pablo. Apparently, there is a town also called San Pablo in the Province of Quezon. I am standing on the side of a very busy road with two huge bags at 3 am having no idea where I was. A man approached me and I immediately started walking away from me quickly. He said that he was a teacher for the department of education. He remembered seeing me. He handed me 100 pesos and put me on a bus in the right direction. I don’t remember his name but I will never forget how kind he was to a total stranger. It reaffirmed a truth I strongly believe_there are good people everywhere, especially within the Philippines.


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