It was back in 2011 that I visited the Philippines where I spent a couple of weeks during my round the world trip volunteering on the beautiful island of Tablas. I am so glad I incorporated those weeks into my trip as was such a rewarding experience and a chance to get a feel for the real Philippines.
After spending a couple of nights in the dormitory in Manila (with 3 other volunteers) we got the overnight ferry to sample island life where we stayed in the village of Sugod with a lovely welcoming family. I felt privileged to stay in their house and witness their way of life if only for a couple of weeks.
In the mornings I helped out at a children’s day care centre in a nearby village, the walk itself was amazing walking in the sunshine surrounded by palm trees being welcomed by the locals. At the time I was there, there were about 15 children ageing from 3-5 years old at the day care centre and they were all just so adorable! I helped teach Basic English and then the rest of the morning would be playing and interacting with them and helping out with their daily feed. We also took them to the health centre for their regular weigh in. It was coming up to Christmas whilst I was there so we had a Christmas party one of the mornings, such fun! I will never forget their smiley faces.
Some afternoons I would also help out in the Elementary school in Sugod teaching English. The children were all so keen to learn and it was great to see their confidence grow in such a short space of time. The children were practicing for their Christmas school performance, so we got to watch their rehearsals, singing and dancing – once little boy in particular was a definite star in the making! Although quite a few hours a day were spent volunteering, you still had enough time to do as you pleased – great place to relax and unwind and everyone was so laid back. If anything I could imagine some people getting slightly bored as there was not too much to do on the island.
We had a few late nights playing board games/cards or singing karaoke with the family however most evenings it was early to bed after dinner, good thing really as we would get woken early by the roosters. We were really looked after by the family and the food was delicious.
Weekends were free time so one weekend we got a boat over to Romblon island, where we stayed overnight on a beautiful beach which we had all to ourselves.
It was quite emotional having to leave, especially saying goodbye to the children. I would definitely love to go back one day. I hear the library project is now complete which would be great to see as this was in the process of being built whilst I was there. Although I was able to take a few books to the children I was quite shocked by the lack of equipment at the day care centre, I hope they have since received further donations and am interested to help in anyway getting further supplies to them.
I would say to anyone considering volunteering on this project, well any project, to defiantly give it go, you will not be disappointed from what you gain, these amazing memories will last forever. I met the most wonderful local people and the other volunteers I shared the experience with. A big thank you to all those involved in this project I am so pleased I could be a part of it!!