July| Vol. 22 No. 8.02 | Christian's Chronicles © 2015 – All rights reserved.
Greetings from an internet cafe in Tagbilaran City.
I arrived at Tagbilaran airport yesterday, alongside my friendly neighbor Lou. Landing there is sort of like flying into a jungle that has a thin strip cleared for an airfield. The airport is small, and surrounded by houses and trees that seem almost close enough to touch.
Lou was nice enough to help me get oriented, and we tried to track down my lost piece of luggage… without success. Although I did not find my bag, which was a very short relationship since I had just acquired it at the San Francisco airport due to the fact that my other bag exceeded the weight limit, however, I did gain another friend: Christian. Yes, Christian and Christian, both going to volunteer in the Philippines. Christian #2 is from Germany, and he waited for me at the airport. We contacted each other via the online group set up for volunteers. But neither of us had a clue how to get to the spot where the volunteers are based. With the help of Lou and his driver, we managed to find it.
On the way to the camp, the roads bear the signs of destruction with messages such as “S.O.S” and “Need Help” written in white paint across the asphalt. Some of the areas were cut off when bridges collapsed, preventing the delivery of food and aid. Damaged buildings are still visible everywhere along the way.
The camp itself is literally a campground with the volunteers’ tents occupying a central meadow above the remnants of a family resort that is under renovation. There is a house with bunk beds, which is where I shacked up since my tent was left somewhere inside the bag that never made it. There is running water in some of the bathrooms, but some toilets flush via the bucket method.
The workweek is Monday through Saturday, starting at 7:15 or so, with a lunch break, and ending around 4:30. I had my first taste on Saturday, since Friday was too late for Christian and I to join the work by the time we arrived at the campsite. Workers take rides on trucks that drop them off at the work-sites organized by group.
We worked on a demolition project, which was much to my liking. I got to swing a sledgehammer to wreck concrete walls, and intentionally cause the controlled collapse of a damaged building. The locals salvage as much of the materials as they can. The work was exhausting but also exhilarating, and we celebrated with good food and drinks afterward.
There is much more to tell, but only a limited amount of time. I don’t know when I’ll be able to post another update… In any case, things are good here, the organization provides 3 meals on each workday but not on Sundays. I look forward to next week’s work, and whatever other adventures await.