February Has Folded

Two months down, ten to go.

February was a busy month for me and I loved it. Most of our work-related efforts culminated in the America in 3D expo that our office did last weekend. I was part of a small group that shot an instructional video, and I worked on information materials in between. I planned to steer clear of any work-related duties (meaning about visas) during the expo but duty called, so I found myself working for two days. I didn’t have to give up my non-visa duties, so that’s cool. I just had to divide my time between working on my posts (both on-stage and off) and going to the Nido Discovery Center for the Reading Corner. I can really say those two days were a blast.

A colleague and yours truly. For two days, we spent an hour demystifying myths about what we do. This photo was snapped by my friend Kaye C. from the second floor of MOA.
That’s not me but (Teacher) Princess, my main POC for the Reading Corner project. These adorable kids, who came in batches of 100, were regaled with different stories and activities. I read “How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?” to a group and assisted in (parent) crowd control and other fun activities for the kids. I rarely say and feel this but during this activity, I was so in love with the children!

My work days also have been changed, in a good way mostly, since my friend moved back to the section. We brought back our lunch routine which made me appreciate more the view we get when eating at the office cafeteria. I was so used to it that it hardly appealed to me. I know people who would pay to have a view of Manila Bay and a busy stretch of Roxas Boulevard while eating overpriced lunch; it’s great that it’s always been there for me to enjoy.

Part of my extra-curriculars at work is being a docent for visitors of the office. Touring people inside our compound is always fun, especially for young students who seem to be so in awe of our huge paintings and portraits. Last week, I had the most interesting set of teens to date. They are from different parts of Mindanao and were former child combatants. They had interesting questions and were very cheerful and hopeful. They proudly told me their beaches in Mindanao – the rarely-explored, non-commercialized ones — are great (haven’t been there but from pictures alone, I agree), better than many popular beaches we have, and I am always welcome to visit. They are a curious bunch but definitely not impressionable. I was showing them an old photo of Manila Bay pre-WWII with trading ships and blue waters; many commented what happened to it, but in the same vein assured me that there’s still hope. When my tour ended, they all told me they wish we could see each other again – either they return to Manila or I go to Mindanao. I was really floored. These are simple things that make me more thankful about this job: the opportunity to come across these interesting people.

Another interesting offsite work encounter came in form of a visit to a training ship managed by the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seafarers’ Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) by Manila Bay. When you drive along Roxas Boulevard, it’s hard to miss that ship floating in the bay. We were shown different parts of the ship which made us understand more the job functions of seafarers applying for seafaring visas. I also became aware of the strict admission procedures and class regimen in Marine Academy of Asia and the Pacific. A week before the ship visit, my nephew came to Manila all the way from Ilocos Sur for medical exams because he’s one of the lucky few who got in the academy. I didn’t know it was that rigid to get in. If only for that, I’m proud of him. My brother is a bit hesitant because of rumors of rampant hazing, but I told him to let my nephew take this chance, and just trust him not to be associated with the wayward ones.

Taken when we left the AMOSUP training ship a little past 5 pm. Beautiful Manila.

Many questions were raised during our group tour (if they watched Captain Phillips included) and of their responses, our tour guide’s quip got to me. We were discussing the state of the different baysides and bodies of water in Manila and neighboring provinces. He said he learned in the 70s that the bay in Tokyo and Manila Bay were the same. Tokyo worked hard to fix theirs, so he believes it is doable to fix Manila Bay. He added that it’s part of his bucket list to spearhead the movement to finally clean up the bay. He acknowledged it as a very daunting dream but he wants to do it. People like him inspires me. And this love for Manila? Amazing.

Buildings along Roxas Boulevard. And that’s not even the side where you could see the magnificent, world-class sunset.

So that’s what I was up to in the past month. I will tell you more about my interesting activities off work, new restaurants I tried, and a steady, interesting update about my reading progress next time.

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