Trip Start Jan 25, 2008
Trip End Feb 12, 2008

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Flag of Philippines  ,
Friday, February 8, 2008

Hi all - we are still in Batanges and will be until Sunday morning when we leave for Manila.  Thursday was a good day for us in many ways but it started off kind of rough.

We were going to begin our meetings and some people that some of us had visited in their homes earlier in the week found out where we were staying.  They came there and asked if we could sponsor their daughter to come  to Canada.  It was heartbreaking.  We discussed it in our briefing that morning and all of the women were in tears because it's so hard to deal with the fact that so many people want to leave their country so desperately.  I know that we may complain about our government in Canada a lot and we think it's bad - but we really have no idea of what poor or corrupt government is.  No one here trusts the government and they do not want to work with them on projects because of that.  This is the result of years of fixed or tampered election results and terrible nepotism.  I asked Ricco why he thought that had happened and he thinks that people have no feeling of security within their country so when they are elected to a position with power they abuse it to protect themselves.  Basically, it's human instinct.  I believe that it will change because we have met many great people here who are fantastic leaders and they are still here and believe in their country. 

After our briefing we had some opening remarks and Karen facilitated our breakout discussions.  This is not an easy task.  We are in a meeting room that is comfortably holding us all but there is no room for breakout sessions.  The room is next door to our guesthouse compound so we walk over there and use our sitting rooms as breakout rooms.  Thursday afternoon was our first breakout session as the Filipinos had their own morning session at SIDC.  We joined together and broke out into pre-arranged groups.  Imagine this  - there are about 6 or 7 people in each group and about half of them are Canadian.  The Canadians speak English - not Tagalo.  The Filipinos speak their language and English.  Some people's English is better than others but we manage to understand each other and help each other through.  We had a dialogue yesterday afternoon, this morning and this afternoon and prepared 3 or 4 slides for each group presentation tomorrow morning - Saturday.

We also had to have our groups design a logo  and that was fun.  We had paper, a black marker and 4 crayons! Our group borrowed a pencil.  Tomorrow they will be presented but I think that they are some definite similarities.  I'll let you know next blog!

Last night we gave Paring our cook the night off and went for some "retail therapy".  We had a great time at the mall here.  It's like being a celebrity!  People stare at us and cannot believe what they are seeing.  We are unique that's for sure.  Although - it is getting a little tiring having everyone stare at us in public.
We ate supper on our own at the mall - I was dying for some food that my stomach could recognize.  Rich, Marilyn and I opted for MacDonald's!  I can hear all of my weightwatcher friends gasping but what the heck - we really do miss red meat!  Rich took a bite of his quarter pounder and asked Marilyn and I if we could give him a moment alone with his burger.  sheesh.  I didn't want to bruise Barry's ego too badly but I told him that when he picks me up at the airport in Edmonton that the first thing on my list of things to do would be go to the Keg for a steak! 

We got some bargains at the mall - everything is really cheap here because the wages are so low.  A peso is about 2.5 cents.  I bought a fresh water pearl bracelet for 1,000 pesos and everyone else is jealous!
It's kind of cool to go in a jewellery store and actually be able to look at things with 3 zeroes in the price tag.

I'm not exactly sure how but Marilyn managed to shop with no money................she had no pesos and they wouldn't take American dollars or a credit card but she still spent a lot of pesos.  Helps to have 11 friends at the mall with you.

They have a sport here called cock-fighting.  It's when they train roosters to fight and it's huge on the weekends.  You can go and bet on the fights.  I don't think that women go though - well only certain types of women go.  We actually found a store that sells stuff for it - make sure you all ask your friends and loved ones when they get home what the name of the store was I didn't buy anything but I did take a picture! 

It was great to have a day where we didn't have to travel and we did something that was very familiar to us - going to the mall and eating fast food  - makes you homesick though. 

We had great discussions and are looking forward to the wrap up tomorrow when we also have a social event.  We are told that it can go quite late so we may be dragging our butts on the trip to Manila.

Tonight we are going to go kareoke with Ricco - looking forward to it very much - Ricco says we should go a bit later after people have been drinking and they sing more - sounds like Canada ay? 

Will try and blog tomorrow but we have a busy morning, a free afternoon which I plan to spend shopping for a few more things and then our social event.  The next time you hear from me may be Manila and then I will try from the airport in Hong Kong.  Have a great day/night and we miss you all!

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