29 May 2011

From Jacques...

NOMET: NOMET (Negros Occidental Mobil Educational Training) is a two weeks training, put on by 27 Peace Corps Volunteers traveling to 4 different cities, for local educators.  In two weeks NOMET will train just over 2000 Filipino educators in multiple subjects including differentiation, interactive strategies, word and excel, human trafficking, public speaking, understanding by design, critical thinking, HIV, listening, and more.
 It must be a big deal for educators because they don't have many professional development opportunities and getting a certificate from us at the end of the training can be used for promotions and raises.  Peace Corps is working in conjunction with DepEd (the department of education), the Filipino government agency who manages and runs all public education in the country.
 DepEd and the local high schools where we are putting on the trainings are taking great care of us.  They provide vehicles for us to get from one school to another, they feed us amazing food, they set us up in nice classrooms with cots and/or mattresses, bedding, pillows, fans, and sometimes even air con units :-) It really has been a pleasure to have sessions with Filipino educators.  Even though they don't typically ask questions, they are very attentive, kind, and grateful for our expertise and efforts in the end.  They seem very hungry for anything that may help them improve in their profession.  And they all want pictures with the presenters to add to their FaceBook site.
 Da Brain:  My session is on the human brain.  I've been very interested and excited about how the brain works (sometimes without our permission) for a couple of decades now in an effort to best assist the struggling young people I work with in choosing to live more desirable lives.  95% of what we now know about the human brain we have learned in the last decade so my presentation has to do with brain research and how "what we are learning about how the brain works" can relate to education, especially Filipino education.
 So I present on the amygdala and emotional hijacking, scatomas, learning on a cellular level (neurons, dendrites, axons, synapse, and neurotransmitters),neuroplasticity, myelination, pruning, changing habits, mirror neurons, and the power of visualization and manifesting.  I have lots of stories, video, activities, we juggle, do breathing meditations and the Macarena, I blow an air horn at them to put them in their amygdalae, and yes . . . I tell them Boudreax and Thibideaux jokes.  Did you know that the Filipino people have their own Boudreaux and Thibideaux and they call them Juan Talmad and San Jose.  So they also love Boo & Thib.
 I had actually been asked to present this information to three education clusters in Dumaguete back in November during the Peace Corps training.  I was very excited for the opportunity because I had little pieces of information, activities, video, articles, and ideas scattered all over the place.  The idea of putting them all together was exciting and it took me about 40 hours to create a four hour PowerPoint presentation that incorporated everything I had.
 So having the opportunity to read more research and beef it up and present at NOMET was also exciting.  Alana and I actually went to a one-day presentation on the brain in Loveland a few months ago while we were home.  I put another 60 hours of work into the PowerPoint and ended up with a 72-slide presentation that would take me approximately five hours to deliver (classic Jacques style . . . way to much).
 NOMET sessions are 1.5 hours long and I got them to agree to give me 3 hours, then I cut about 12 slides that weren't pertinent, ran it by some of my peers for helpful feedback, cut and consolidated more, and after presenting it in the first two trainings and cutting it back some more because I could see Filipino eyeballs spinning counterclockwise and on overload, I think it is a pretty good presentation . . . and fun for me to do.  It's now down to a sharp 2 hours and 45 minutes if I don't entertain any questions (which isn't difficult in this culture because they don't ask any questions).
 Here is one of the stories that I heard from a peer Peace Corps Volunteer.  She came to my session then told me that her grandfather used to tell her this story before she raced cross country events to remind her about how powerful the brain is and when we convince it of something (visualization & manifesting) it can do amazing things through us.  I looked it up on the internet and added it to my presentation.  Fun schtuff!

Loud Drips Can Scare You To Death
by Bill Sones
In 1936, in India, recounts Nobel Laureate Bernard Lown in "The Lost Art of Healing," an astonishing experiment was conducted on a prisoner condemned to die by hanging. He was given the choice instead of being "exsanguinated," or having his blood let out, because this would be gradual and relatively painless. The victim agreed, was strapped to the bed and blindfolded.
Unbeknownst to him, water containers were attached to the four bedposts and drip buckets set up below. Then after light scratches were made on his four extremities, the fake drip brigade began: First rapidly, then slowly, always loudly. "As the dripping of water stopped, the healthy young man's heart stopped also. He was dead, having lost not a drop of blood."
 For those of you interested: BrainClass Summary
- The brain can focus on one thing at a time and moves towards it's focus.
- The brain thinks in pictures and doesn't quickly understand "don't."
- The brain is more concerned with survival than with learning.  (amygdala)
- The brain can block out what we haven't been trained to see.  (scatoma)
- Learning is connecting what we want to know with what we already know. 
(the law of association) (relevance)
- Practice makes permanent. It takes 21 days or 2000 times to form a new habit.
         (the law of repetition) (myelination) (pruning)
- The brain learns by observation and imitation.  (mirror neurons)
- The brain does not know the difference between make believe and reality.
  (visualization) (manifesting)
 Americans: Let's talk about Americans.  It has never been so blatantly obvious to me how funny we are until I joined NOMET.  We are hilarious!  First, we are big people.  To watch 27 Americans walk through a crowd of Filipino people is like watching a herd of horses cut through a field of goats.  The average Filipino woman must measure in at about 5 feet.  The short American women in NOMET are 5'5" and most of us range between 5'8" and 6'3".
 I have a female Peace Corps friend who is a wonderful and beautiful person, is about 5'10", and probably weighs close to 200 pounds.  She jogs most mornings, is healthy, bright, strong, and takes good care of herself.  I love when she jokingly kisses her arm muscles then growls "aaarrrrgggghh!" and does a Hulk Hogan pose.
 The other day at the school's canteen (cafeteria) where we were eating, the 5-gallon water jug needed to be changed. You know, the one that's turned up-side-down in the gravity dispenser.   My friend was going to throw a new jug in (about 30 pounds) and the Filipino lady running the canteen (4'10", 90 lbs) insisted that she wait for a Filipino man to do it.  Well this guy shows up and he is 5'5" and all of about 135 pounds.  My friend could have crushed him.  So we laughed and let him do it.
 Not only are we big people, we take up a lot of space.  I have been watching Filipino people travel; they usually have one small bag.  Americans have huge overstuffed backpacks, a carry on backpack, a computer bag with books and electronics, and many of us also have plastic bags stuffed with nonsense we got from the local markets or stores.  We (yes, me too) are collectors.
 The first training site we traveled to we put all 27 of us, and our luggage, in two 12-passenger vans.  Now you can get something like 42 Filipino people in two vans like these.  We were so stuffed in there I couldn't move an inch and my knees were slammed into the seat ahead of me.  The hot two-hour ride on bumpy poor maintained roads with tons of traffic and road construction nearly killed me.  After that, we have been using three vans, one just for our luggage.
 On the four-hour ride from our first training site to our second training site, that we started after the closing ceremony of our first training, at 7pm, we stopped midway to eat at McDonalds.  You would have thought we went to Disney World.  A huge group of Americans coming into McDonalds all giddy and chatty and anxious to eat "real American food."
 The principal of the school we were headed to drove two hours to meet us at McDonalds and feed us.  She paid for everything.  She could have easily took us to a local canteen and fed 30 people (there were three van drivers) for about PhP 2500 (PhP is a peso) ($50).  Instead, her bill was PhP 4000 ($80).  In the Philippines, PhP 1500 is a lot of money!  Very thoughtful and kind of her.  Filipino people are amazingly gracious hosts.
 When I went to sit down in the middle of the restaurant one of my peers told me that we were occupying one of the private side rooms, probably so we wouldn't scare the locals.  After we destroyed that room with french fries boxes and empty coke cups, most everyone disappeared.  When I inquired where people were someone said, "Oh, they are just outside the room sitting in the comfy booths now."  27 Americans were now taking up about 1000 square feet of McDonalds space.  We take up a lot of space.
 We eat a lot.  I think Filipino people are very used to eating what is available, making sure everyone gets some, and being satisfied with that.  During meals they take very little and not many go back for seconds.  I can't tell you how many times I have heard "is there any more coming?" from my American peers since I've joined this teaching troupe.  Or the first 20 of us would come away with all the food served and the ladies in the canteen would cook some more for the latecomers.  You cannot fill us up!  If they served enough food then we were looking for to-go boxes so we could eat the rest later.
 We laugh.  Filipino people are very conservative.  Because they are such happy people they generally giggle a lot, and are fairly quiet about it.  When Americans laugh Filipino people look over to make sure everything is alright and they aren't going to have to use the new AED just introduced to their school.  Of course we laugh a lot more when we are with a bunch of other Americans and I rarely understand what my peers are laughing about.
 Speaking of that, I seem to be the old man in the group.  It's cool.  My "peer's" ages range from 22-27 years old.  When they asked me how old I was it took everything I had to hold back telling them I could be all of their fathers.  Instead, I told them, "I decided on a hike in the wilderness two years ago that if people can change their address, and people can change their names, and people can even change their genders these days, I was going to change my age.  So I cut ten years off and now am 37 years old."  They looked at me like dogs listening to an ambulance coming down the road and are satisfied with that answer.
 We have an amazing amount of technology available to us.  I am using my mother's computer that we got for her in 2005.  It is an old, beat up, white covered, macbook. One gentleman that was helping me set up my room for one of my presentations looked at it and said, "Very expensive."  When I told him that it was old (it looks old and beat up) and a cheaper model he said, "Very expensive."
 We were riding to our third training site the other night and I was in a jeepney with 13 other volunteers.  Half way through the ride I noticed that there were 6 computers out, 3 iPods, one IPhone, one iPad, and 10 people had ear phones in.  People were listening to music, watching movies, reading the Wall Street Journal they had downloaded earlier, and playing games.
 We are often disconnected from each other and each in our own little world.  When we get to new classrooms where we will sleep during a training there is a mad dash to get the bed nearest the few electrical outlets provided for us.  A common question asked is, "Is there WiFi here?"  We are experiencing a long brown-out (break in available electricity) today and there is a joke among us that we caused the power outage.  Americans are bored, playing Bananagrams and Deck Monopoly, and very few of us are thinking, "I could read!"
 I really never noticed how funny (funny peculiar, not funny ha ha) Americans were until I spent quality time with a group of us traveling together in a foreign country.  No wonder Filipinos stare!
 Lawyer Up:  During the 10 years I worked at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colorado, I heard the Dean of Students Philbert Smith say many times, "(Student's Name) broke (insert rule here).  Gather your lawyers because I'm sending him home."  Philbert is a wise man and he came to expect that even though a student broke a "non-negotiable" rule that warranted his or her removal from the school, there would be students and instructors protesting and coming to the rescue with their lawyer crafted arguments in an effort to change the course of Philbert's decision.
 On the four hour ride from our first to our second training site, I was working on paring down my presentation even more.  At the same time there was passionate conversation going on in our van that I wasn't paying attention to.  Then my friend sitting next to me asked, "Do you want to add your name to the signing of this letter?" "What letter?"
 We have only two non-negotiables in the Peace Corps.  First, no riding on motorcycles.  I guess Peace Corps over the decades has experienced too many volunteer deaths involving riding on motorcycles so they have banned us from using them.  I don't blame them because riding in traffic on the roads here, even with experienced Filipino drivers, is harrowing at the least.  Probably around 30% of Filipino men make their living as professional drivers and it is a highly skilled job to drive these crazy Filipino roads.
 Stella is one of our regional managers and has a reputation for being crafty in how she finds out about volunteers breaking rules and ruthless in her consequences.  She reminds me of a Filipino Columbo.  She has sent 5 people home in the last 6 months for riding motorcycles.  She doesn't actually see them riding, yet she sees the burn mark on their calves from the muffler and the volunteer cannot come up with a good enough story when she catches them off guard and confronts them about it.
 The second non-negotiable is that our regional manager must know where we spend the night EVERY night.  It is a safety and security concern and I believe a good one.  So, Jenny (name was changed to protect the innocent) apparently was headed to Bacolod and didn't make it and stopped to stay with another PC volunteer and forgot to call Stella and then lied about it when Stella confronted her.  Jenny is a good volunteer; nice, friendly, hard working, and doesn't have intentions of breaking rules.
 Back to the letter.  So my friend starts reading it to me because it is getting passed around email and someone has it on their iPhone.  Apparently people in the Peer Support Network started writing it that morning and volunteers started emailing it to each other all over the country to get signature support so they could get it in the Country Director's hands before the 7am meeting the next morning that would determine Jenny's fate.
 The first part of the letter I liked because it talked about the danger of non-negotiables and asked for cases to be handled on an individual basis.  Then it got into Jenny's situation and read "She didn't have any load on her phone to text Stella and was out of pesos."  I asked if she ate dinner that night.  Could she have texted Stella from her volunteer friend's phone?  Was she was traveling, taking busses and boats, and feeding herself, with no money?  Two members of the Peer Support Network were riding with us and one of them responded, "I guess we could change that."
 Then it went on to explain how she lied to Stella because she was scared of her and of going home.  I asked what part of the situation Jenny was willing to take responsibility for? The response, after a bit of silence, was, "I guess we could change that too."  We did that a few more times with the next few statements about Jenny's situation and by the end three people in our van said, "I'd like to take my name off of the letter to (Country Director)."
 Personally, I like the way the Peace Corps Philippines staff manage their volunteers.  The staff is about 90% Filipino and their characteristics, values, and work ethics are more like Americans.  They work very hard for our safety, comfort, and success.  Peace Corps Philippines been at it for 50 years now.  Most of the staff have a lot of education, have been working with PCPhilippines for between 5 and 20 years, and seem to me to be wise, skilled, and competent.  And I think I'm going to miss Jenny.

22 May 2011

Rolling Along!

A little update from Alana.  Re-adjusting to Philippine life is going well.  Jumping right in to a busy schedule has helped!  

9 to 15 May 2011:  Padayon Leadership Camp

Camp was in a rural village a couple hours outside Manila.
Got to meet, and work with, some really amazing Peace Corps Volunteers.  

We trained a group of 14 adolescents who would later
facilitate camp for a group of 40 youth.

Training included many team-building and
problem-solving activities.  

Bonfire and S'mores!  (First time for most of the participants)

The whole group at the end of the week.

19 May 2011:  Return to site

I had forgotten.  Somehow I forgot the reality of the heat, the cool bucket baths, the rice, the stares, the very small, brown people and the incessantly fast, indiscernible language.  I don’t fit in here.  And that’s okay…  I have a big smile and a shrinking ego.

My first day “back to work,” I ran into Beth.  She welcomed me back with a smile and the statement, “you gained weight.”  She smiled the entire time.  There was no judgment in her statement.  “Yes… I gained weight.  How are you?”  Humility shrinks ego.

I hopped a pedicab to get to the mall quickly this morning.  While we traveled across Dumaguete, I marveled at the sight.  There’s a lot of construction going on in town; new big buildings and paving of roads.  Every worker I saw- digging ditches, pounding nails, laying cement- all of them in tsinelas (flip-flops).  I’m thankful for my Chaco’s and hope gratitude trumps ego.

I participated in a life-skills group this afternoon.  After completing a series of brain- teasers, the facilitator began to process the activities.  He made statements like, “all of these activities are applicable to our lives” and “ you have a mind, use it.”  I wondered if the youth could make the jump from his vague statements to real-world application.  And then he called on me.  “Ate (a polite title) Alana, do you have anything to add?”  Here I was trying to keep my ego at bay, and he called me out.  “Sure, I have some thoughts.”  I went on to explain how the best inventors use problem-solving and “thinking-out-of-the box” skills for innovation.  I used local examples such as the use of jeepneys (for mass transport) and bucket baths (to conserve water) to highlight creative solutions … I was on a roll!  The youth smiled and chuckled as I spoke.  I found great examples they could appreciate and they even understood my humor.  After he closed the circle, I thanked him for letting me join the group.  His response, “Yes, thank you, too.  I’m sorry the students could not respond to you.  They are just not used to hearing English from a foreigner.”  I asked, “Was I speaking too fast?”  He replied, “Maybe a little, and it just sounds funny to us.”  Turns out, they were not laughing with me… 

16 May 2011

Back in Action... Update by Jacques

Warriors.  When Alana took me to upstate New York to see where she grew up I stumbled upon quite a surprise.  We visited the farm house where she feed the animals, planted trees, built back decks, swam the pond, sledded the snowy hills, searched for adventure in the wooded forest, painted the house, and sorted bolts when her and her sisters weren't getting along.
 Then we went to visit the high school she attended.  It was cool to see the cinderblock she got to decorate upon graduation in the "senior hall," experience her running into teachers she had had once upon a time, (one was even the superintendent of the school district and Alana's picture was on his office wall with a special math class he had taught when she was there), and visit the gym.
 Not many of my friends nor family may know what an athlete Alana is or that amongst other sports she played she actually played four years of NCAA college basketball for a small college in upstate New York.  When we entered her high school gym I felt like I had stepped back into time into my gym in Lafayette.  The hard wood floor creaked, the bleachers pushed back against the wall to make more room for practice, the banners decorated the walls up above the bleachers, the smell of sweat driven into the air, then I looked midcourt and saw the big blue circle with Warriors written in it.
 She is a Warrior!!!  So am I!!  I'm an Our Lady of Fatima Warrior.  Alana is a Hannibal High School Warrior.  Our connection grew significantly stronger that day :-) and our children will no doubt be raised as Warriors (those of you who played sports with Alana or I know what I mean).
 Arrived.  We have made it safe and sound back to the Philippines.  Denver to San Fran to Hong Kong to Manila.  Our luggage was way overweight and we paid dearly (may have to legally name our first child United) to have it checked to Manila.  Luggage was filled with books and gifts for our new Filipino peoples and only 30% of the weight was actually ours.  The trip took 26 hours, including a 14-hour flight from San Fran to Hong Kong.  Got a lot of work done on that flight, slept, ate, watched movies, and didn't even unbuckle my seat belt (Warrior).
 Can you say "HEAT WAVE!"?  (87 degrees, 85% humidity)  I'm more used to it than Alana from growing up in South Louisiana and it still hit us hard after sleeping with comforters for 4+ months in Colorado.  Time to buck down and start walking slower.  Nice to sleep naked though :-)
 Alana was a trooper as always.  She felt good throughout the travel, did exercises every chance she could get to stay limber and kept her blood moving.  We did let our guard down a bit in Hong Kong with a four-hour layover and almost missed our flight to Manila.  Finally arrived at the Pension house in Manila at 1am (Filipino Youth Hostel, no AC, only fans), got the American Idol update from Gale (Alana's mother) on email (it was way time for Jacob to go), and hit the hay working to get our internal clocks reset after the 14 hour shift into the future.
 We learned the next day from our regional director that our room with our last host family is being used by one of their nieces so we are on the hunt for somewhere to stay for a or two until we can properly look for an apartment.
 The Mall.  Forced ourselves to get up the morning after we arrived so we wouldn't sleep through the day, which would be our night in Colorado.  We needed to walk, stretch our legs, get some food, drink some water, get into the AC for a few hours.  To the mall!  Walked around, texted Peace Corps staff and Peace Corps friends to let them know we were here, saw a movie, then ended up eating at a restaurant called Gumbo. 
 Authentic Cajun food . . . right!  I saw those little Filipino suckers back there chopping and stirring and tasting and adding spices here and there . . . and none of them were drinking beer while they were cooking . . . how is that authentic Cajun?  Alana had seafood jambalaya and it was pretty good.  I didn't want to be to disappointed so I had salmon pizza :-)  Funny that we ate Filipino dishes when we were in Colorado (learning to cook mung beans) and then come to the Philippines to eat Cajun food.
 Taxi Shape.  Alana loves Manila.  When she was here by herself for a week of physical therapy in November she learned to ride the jeepneys to her medical appointments 10 miles away instead of taking a taxi.  I think she even walked it one time.  Saved lots of pesos (Warrior) and she was almost always the only white person on the jeepneys.  Big . . . white . . . American . . . woman.
 One day she got on a jeepney that was super crowded (they can hold 20-25 Filipino people in the backs of these old jeeps they used in WWII that would hold about 10-12 normal size Americans).  Have I told you this story yet?  A few stops later a young man got on and sat next to her and pretty quickly the women in the jeepney started to holler at him in the local language.  The next stop he got off and a local lady told Alana that he was going to try and put his hand into Alana's bag and steal something (Filipino Women Warriors).
 I don't like Manila so much.  Big big cities just don't do it for me.  Too much concrete, too much craziness.  My biggest peeve is the taxi drivers and how they have many tricks to swindle us out of our pesos.  I don't mind paying a fair price for a ride yet it's not cool to load all of our bags in the trunk and then 100 yards down the road instead of putting the meter on saying "300 pesos" for a ride that we know only cost 200 pesos.  We forgot about that trick and at that point, with our luggage in the trunk, it was hard to say "stop" and get out.
 Even when we insist on the meter, they drive around a bit.  We know where we are most of the time and just look at each other wondering if they are just incompetent (you don't even need a drivers license to be a taxi driver here) or shifty :-)  So, we are working on getting our "taxi chops" back in shape to be assertive (Warriors) so we don't feel taken advantage of and can continue to think highly of the Filipino people.
 Manny Pacquiao!!!  We love Manny, and the Filipino people are crazy for him (Filipino Warrior Hero).  We wanted to watch the fight today and also were scheduled to be re-sworn in at the Philippines Peace Corps office by our Country Director at 1:30pm.
 We watched the last Pacquiao fight in November at Lola & Amador's (first host family) home.  It was on regular TV and between each 3-minute round we watched 7-9 minutes of commercials.  Let's see . . . carry the two . . . move the decimal . . . add a pinch of insanity . . . that was 2 hours and 5 minutes to watch a 48 minute fight. Since there were three fights before the Pacquiao-Mosley fight and the fights started at 8am Filipino time, we knew we wouldn't make it to the Philippines Peace Corps office on time watching it on regular TV.
 So after we moved out of our private room with a bathroom for 1100 pesos ($27) a night, left my luggage in the 10-bed dorm room (bathroom down the hall) on the assigned top bunk bed for 400 pesos ($10) a night, and hauled Alana's luggage to the Philippines Peace Corps Office, we went walking looking for somewhere to watch the fight on satellite or pay-per-view (no commercials) even though we knew we would have to pay.  Too rich of an experience to miss watching Manny Pacquiao fight while sitting amongst his own people.  They all love him . . . did I mention that?
 Where's the best place to see the fight?  Follow all the other Filipino people carrying bags of food.  They were headed to the Mall of Asia (huge) and we got tickets for 500 pesos (about $12) each and sat in a huge air-conditioned theater that held probably 4000 people to watch Manny do his Pac-Man thing.
 What a trip!  Filipino people in public are very quiet.  There is no public display of aggression, no one yelling in traffic, no talking loud in restaurants, no children running around playing wildly.  We sat in the second row and were super early of course (Americans).  When we got there the first of the three warm-up fights was starting and there were maybe 50 people in the whole place.  When the Pacquiao-Mosley fight was about to begin the place was packed, people standing on the sides, and I hadn't heard anyone come in.
 When they interviewed Manny the place laughed like crazy, I think because he was so short compared to the blonde, skimpy dressed interviewer and maybe kept looking at her chest, which was eye level to him.  When Manny entered the arena at the MGM in Las Vegas our movie theater cheered with pride.
 We were the only Americans there, heck, the only foreigners there.  They played the Filipino National Anthem and everyone in our theater stood and sang.  We stood too (Warriors).  They played the American National Anthem and everyone sat down.  We sat too (non-Warrior).  The first time Manny knocked down Mosley our theater went crazy and everyone was on their feet.  Very exciting and very much worth the 500 pesos.
 I Swear!  Mama taught me not to swear in public.  Thinking about her a lot today as it is the third anniversary of her passing.  Happy mother's day.  After the fight, we ended up being about 30 minutes late to the Philippines Peace Corps office.  No worries mate, it's the Philippines!  Nothing runs on time here and in reality we were still very early.
 We sat through the opening ceremony of the Leadership Camp Alana will be helping facilitate for the next week outside of Manila then stood in front of the big Philippines Peace Corps logo on the wall in the reception area between the big American and Filipino flags and our country director swore us back in.
 Now the first time we swore in, in November, it was in Bacolod in front of a few hundred people, the American Ambassador for the Philippines, and all together as a group.  I didn't really swear in because I didn't say the words because I didn't really know what they meant (when I have to sign those six page forms to get a rental car in the USA and I don't have the time, interest, lawyer savy, or patience to read the fine print, I just sign James Taylor).
 This time it was just Alana and I repeating after our Country Director with a few of our Peace Corps Peers there to witness and take pictures.  The oath is the same one that the President of the United States takes.  To defend the constitution (I don't even know what the constitution says or how to defend it) against enemies foreign and domestic (Alana & I have no enemies and I'm not that much of a fighter) etc, etc.
 I didn't understand most of what I was repeating and there was a confused, wrinkled eyebrow look on my face.  So, in the end, I caved to the pressure of repeating the oath (non-Warrior) and then signed the written oath James Taylor (Warrior).
 Big Rain.  So Alana took off from the office for her 8 day Leadership Camp and I decided to head back to the Pension house for the evening.  It is a nice 30 minute walk (about 4 kilometers) and after the 500 pesos fight event and battling a few taxis since we've arrived I looked forward to stretching my legs a bit and saving some pesos.
 It was cloudy weather and a bit cooler and not 5 minutes into the journey I look across this huge parking lot and saw a sheet of rain headed towards me.  Of course I have no umbrella, no rain jacket, and there is no store or building to duck into.  I'm about 200 yards away from the highway overpass so I start to walk quickly then run thinking I can outrun the rain-sheets barreling at me like the bees in the 1978 movie "The Swarm."  NOT!  The quarter size raindrops caught up to me and in about 15 seconds I was soaked to the bone and laughing.  I actually love the rain in warm climates.  Very cleansing.
 I end up under the highway overpass anyway with all the homeless people.  They were collecting water to cook with and had buckets with clothes in them collecting clean water to wash with.  Every one of them holler out to me, most of them saying, "Hey Joe!"  I wave and smile with a big "Hey Juan" or "Hey Juanita" reply.
 One drunk old man came and started talking to me about the Manny Pacquiao fight, acting like he was sparring with me.  His friend, taking off and wringing out his t-shirt told me in the local language to not give the old man money cause he already had too much wine.  Two or three of them tried to call a taxi for me and then look confused when I told them in Cebuano (which they barely understand cause they speak Tagolog) that I would walk.
 Finally I took off in the drizzle (Warrior).  What the heck, I was already soaked and couldn't get any wetter.  I had about 3 kilometers left and taxis kept slowing down and honking at me as if to ask me if I want a ride.  Gotta start saving our pesos and I enjoyed the rest of my observations on the way back to the Pension house; children playing in the puddles, homeless cleaning their areas with the fresh water, birds hunkered down in bushes, water, water everywhere.  At least the temperature had dropped a few degrees.
 Looking Forward.  Got back to the Pension house, set my clothes up to dry in the men's dorm room under a fan, got a tuna curry sandwich, watched an episode of Stargate Atlantis on the computer, and went to sleep.
 I'm looking forward to getting back to Dumaguete and gathering all of our stuff from our last host family's house.  Still have to figure out where we are going to stay until we find our own place.  I head out for the 15 day traveling teacher's conference on Sunday.  I will present a 3-hour PowerPoint supported presentation called BrainClass 8 times in the two weeks (brought my air horn).
 Alana will arrive in Dumaguete on Monday or Tuesday after I leave and maybe find us a place by the time I get back, she has strong community connections already.  I admire her for getting here and jumping into facilitating Leadership training for local high school students inside of 48-hours (Warrior) and continuing to do her exercises to keep her back strong.
 I couldn't sleep long.  Lots on my mind.  It's 2am Filipino time and my head is still in noon Colorado time.  The electricity has been out for hours because of the storm outside and things are eerily quiet around here yet still comforting as I start to notice the few candles that have been put out in the corners of commons areas by the staff. Reminds me of hurricane season growing up in Louisiana when Mama would pull out the oil lanterns.  I thought I'd take the time to check in with you . . . yet alas . . . I have little to say.