We concluded our time with the St. Paul students by venturing to Demires Hills, a beautiful resort outside of Janiuay. The landscape was riddled with banana plantations, rice patties, papaya trees, and myriad of buko trees (coconut). We spent our morning conversing with the students poolside in the beautiful sun and gorgeous scenery. After our scrumptious lunch, Shawn enjoyed zip lining across the picturesque hillside to end the morning. It was a great way to wrap up our memorable immersion in Janiuay.
Throughout our time in Janiuay, we had the joy of staying in a two-story Nipa Hut on stilts, which is a traditional house made from bamboo and the Nipa plant used for the roof. We slept on mattresses laid across the floor while using mosquito nets to protect ourselves from the many critters which lingered. We were housed with seven Filipino students for one night and joined by six more the following night making a total of 17 Paulinians (St. Paul University students and faculty). The outdoor kitchen where we prepared all of our meals, consisted of small charcoal stone pits, iron woks, and removable grills. All of the ingredients for our meals were purchased at the local market and wet market (which stimulated our olfactory senses) by Filipino students and ourselves, and maintaining a monetary budget. Often, the students would wake at 5:00am to fetch the necessary ingredients and begin cooking breakfast. Also, the students would begin preparing other meals as early as two hours prior due to the extremely long process of cooking over charcoal. The traditional meals consisted of a variety of meats, locally grown vegetables and fruits and of course, their staple food, rice. We were asked to prepare Canadian Dishes. We realized how difficult it was to distinguish what exactly constitutes “Canadian” food due to our multicultural identity. Thinking of what reminds us of home, we decided to cook up chicken shish-kabobs with eggplant, red peppers, and onions. Also, we introduced two classic dessert items, s’mores and banana boats. They absolutely loved the treats. After supper and cleanup, we participated in a post conference activity, ARAS (Active Reflection, Active Sharing). We would perform songs and dance to introduce ourselves and reflect what impact the days happenings had on our learning experience. It was a powerful way to interact amongst each other and also stimulate great reflection. ARAS is an effective tool that we could implement in our own nursing programs in Canada, to debrief our clinical experiences, but at the same time having fun and to de-stress. The busy group of students were absolutely incredible and cheerful, but we have discovered that they do not sleep! They ensured we had not only our basic needs met, but went above and beyond to make it an unforgettable experience in every way. They went out of their way to buy us Filipino delicacies such as balot (15 day old unhatched chicken), chicken intestine, chicken liver, and chicken feet.
We spent our amazing last day at the UERM campus where we partook, along with group 1, in culminating activities with the students. We were surprised at the formality which the students had prepared at as we were expecting a much more casual event. We were fortunate enough to have the UERM choir sing a hymn to open the event followed by the Philippine National anthem. Following their anthem, we all proudly stood to sing the Canadian Anthem, loud and proud. We then watched a heartwarming slides how depicting our incredible adventures together with the students over the past 3 weeks. We learned that the students did not know they would be paired with us until we showed up to meet them on the first day. Had it been us receiving an international partner for 3 weeks with no prior notice, we wold have been a little overwhelmed to say the least. This of course was not the same for our Filipino counterparts. They eagerly took us under their wings and assured we received the best experiences possible during our time. This demonstrates the innate hospitality and kindness of the Philippine culture. As a group of 9, we then performed line dancing which the Philippine students learned in a matter of seconds. We then followed the line dancing with the chicken dance, which they appeared to love. Two UERM students then performed a traditional dance using candles. We all had the chance to try as well, which must have been painful for them to watch. It was our turn again to demonstrate a Karate form which Shawn had taught us the night prior. Afterwards, Shawn demonstrated another more advanced form for all of the students in his traditional Karate uniform. Afterwards, we exchanged gifts with our partners. It was so rewarding to finally give them something in return for all they had done for us. It was an extremely emotional but joyous end to our time at UERM and our Filipino student partner.
Our instructors and Filipino student partners: (left to Right) Miss Joy, Dr. Susan Fowler-kerry, Sara, Sarah, Cha, Chantelle, Jaclyn, Karen, Shawn, Gino, & Miss Jenelle
At Dr. Fowler-Kerry’s request, we spent the morning at Intramuros, the historic fortified city of Manila. It was built during the Spanish colonial period in the 1500′s. It was a powerful illustration of the Spanish influence on Filipino culture. The history at Intramuros was overwhelming. Some of the building had lived through or had been rebuilt from countless invasions and wars. In world war two it was even used by the Americans as barracks and headquarters. We had the opportunity to visit Manila Cathedral which had been demolished during World War 2 then rebuilt through the help of a number of nations around the world. We spent most of our time at Intramuros at Fort Santiago, one of the most historical areas in the walled city. It was the site of many prisoners deaths during The Spanish Colonial Period and World War 2 as well the location of Jose Rizals’ imprisonment before his execution. We suggest you research this remarkable man as he was a national hero of the Philippines with very good reason. We visited the Rizal Shrine where many of his works of art and poetry were housed. Our visit to all of these locations gave us great understanding of Filipino culture. It provided us with greater comprehension as to why a lot of things are the way they are. It demonstrated how the corruption of the government took a man’s live because he voiced against the disparity and inequality, a common story in many countries around the world.
We were fortunate to spend our weekend with Mr. Vito, a UERM faculty member. Mr. Vito is internationally recognized for his work in Public Health and Psychiatric Nursing. He graciously took us to his private beach house within a resort in Ceylabne. The resort was mostly deserted due to it being the off season therefore we had the beautiful beaches and scenery all to ourselves. The property was originally owned by Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, where they used the hotel to entertain guests and local celebrities. We were treated to traditional Filipino meals and a boat ride to a white sand beach where we spent most of our time sunbathing and swimming in the warm South China Sea. Mr. Vito’s hospitality was greatly appreciated.
Friday morning we set out to the clinic to take part in the Tuberculosis (TB) program they have in Antipolo called DOTS: Direct Observed Therapy Short-Course. The health center was filled wall to wall with a variety of clients across the lifespan, many of which were TB clients, due to every Friday being DOTS days. We observed that many of the TB clients were middle-aged males. It was evident that TB is a problem within the community noted by the client turnout. We viewed a seminar presented in Tagalog about TB and the DOTS program. Due to the high number of clients, and the complexity of the treatment regimen, education is key. Clients are required to take the medication, which has harsh side effects, daily for 6 months. Therefore, each dose must be observed by a Barangay healthcare partner, to increase compliance. Having a local partner to assist with their medication therapy increases accessibility, which is a integral component of Primary Health Care. We then observed the initial dose of the 6 month treatment program. Also, we had the opportunity to perform Mantoux testing (which is a intradermal injection to determine TB exposure).