Philippines October 2023 October 12, 2023

Posted in on October 12, 2023

October 8 – By Adrian

Volunteer and local child in Philippines sharing a smile

Wow, what a day and what an adventure.  I never expected our school to fix would reside in such wild rugged mountainous terrain, with steep cliffs and panoramic views.  By mountain we mean probably 1000 feet elevation gain.  Temperatures remain tropical here and there are a lot of locals living in such a wild country.  There is no even ground anywhere.

Our school is named Caba-Asan Elementary located in the district Pinamungajan, a 20-minute drive north of where we are staying in Toledo City.  At the school, we are still in a jungle as the vegetation remains lush.   I have never seen a jungle take over a mountain range before.  No wonder our school had been damaged by a typhoon as it was at the top of a peak, exposed to the elements.  We were a lot more comfortable working than originally expected as there was a breeze blowing to keep us refreshed.  There is no air movement back at the hotel at a lower elevation and therefore making it more difficult to cope with the heat and humidity.

Upon arrival we had the most incredibly warm welcome being expressed from the school of 150 children from grades one to six and probably one teacher per grade. The kids were in clean school uniforms and they really were special, waving their flags to greet us.   God’s children so full of love.  I even had a tear in my eye like other buddies did since the experience was rather overwhelming for the gratitude expressed and what a difference we are going to make to their education.  We were treated like royalty.  They are so vulnerable and need to be taken care of and to learn.  Each grade had a child speak to us.  A grade one child selected sang to us, so cute and a grade five student who wore a sparkly dress with high heels and lipstick pretending to be an adult lead us all on a dance of happiness and celebration. There was nothing wrong with her self esteem.

At the end of the one-hour ceremony, we were invited to be in the crowd of kids and mingle with them as if they belonged to us, to definitely make it feel we were one, united as family.  I would say 50 children shook my hand, then touched their forehead to the back of my hand that apparently was done as a form of blessing.  So touching.  I should have taught my own kids how to do that for elders when younger.  Very unlikely I could talk them into it now!

Our first day of work was to take out the old window shutters from six classrooms as they were quite decayed and to be replaced with glass vanes encased in a metal framework.  I had to take down some ceiling lights that will need to be reinstalled once a new ceiling is put in place.  Sue and I worked together to complete the separation of wooden vanes from its metal strapping.

The bonehead move of the day was my own, so embarrassing.  Being too caught up in my thoughts I wore open face sandals to work, not my sturdy work boots.  I did not want to wear them for breakfast, then forgot to put them on before loading onto our van. This was the day I could have used them the most because of the type of work we were doing along with a tough long sleeve shirt. I scratched myself twice on jagged metal, drawing some minor blood and dropped three planks on my vulnerable feet.

We could see the black and blue clouds coming, so dark and heavy.  Just before lunch the skies opened and I swear we must have gotten more rain in an hour and half than Alberta gets in one year. The rivers of water washed down the slopes.  One could not stay under shelter the whole time and it did not do my sandals much good walking in the rain.  We were all drenched but stayed warm.

In addition to the mango smoothie drink we had the day before, now Marc and I have another favorite drink: C2, which is half apple juice and half green tea and they really go together well, very favorable.  The tea helps to reduce the sweetness of the apple juice, and it really helps to quench your thirst.

Having two old men share a room sometimes does not work out that well, but Marc and I are getting along fine as roommates.  I am at my best first thing in the morning while he is still trying to wake up.  In the evening I will be ready for sleep and he wants to read his book for awhile, which is fine. Therefore, I always get the bathroom first in the morning or when settling at night.  I also give him space when he needs time.

One load of laundry for the hotel to do already.

October 9

DWC volunteers at project site in Philippines

It took a long time to get here but today made it all worthwhile!

We are working at Caba-Asan Elementary School, a 20-minute drive from Toledo City, through lush dense jungle. We are greeted by an amazing sight of 100+ children waving flags from Canada, Denmark, and the Philippines. speeches from the teachers and principal, prayers, recitals, songs, and dance bring tears to the eyes of many of us, so moved by the effort they have gone to make us feel welcome!

The school was heavily damaged pre Covid and they have been unable to do any repairs since. We will be putting up drop ceilings and restoring 3 classrooms and the teachers staff room. Everyone quickly set about with assigned tasks that included painting sheets of plywood for the ceilings, ripping out louvres from the windows and disconnecting outlets.

It was hot and humid but soon clouded over and the skies opened up, dumping torrential amounts of rain, puddling everywhere very quickly. We were soon all soaked to the skin, sloshing around in our wet footwear but working hard, laughing, and having fun!

It’s an early end to the day – 3 pm and our short ride home where a welcoming shower and dry clothes awaited. A great start to the next two weeks!

October 10


On this Thanksgiving Day in Canada, I feel truly blessed and grateful to participate in this DWC project in the Philippines and to experience the wonderful hospitality, culture and happiness of the people of the Caba- Asan Elementary School.

Chris is celebrating her birthday today. So, while we were working at our various group tasks, little did we know that the teachers and children of the school were busy creating cards and planning a surprise birthday party for Chris!

At four o’clock all the children arrived and filled the courtyard with glorious laughter and fun and heartily sang several versions of happy birthday to Chris.
“Ma’am” Chris graciously accepted a precious handmade birthday card from each of then. In turn they each received a tiny piece of birthday cake. Truly a birthday party to remember!

Happy thanksgiving to our DWC friends old and new!

October 10


We observed yesterday just outside the school yard some roosters that had one leg roped off and tied to an anchor to keep them confined along the side of the road.  Imagine living your life tied up as a prisoner.  At least they will not get run over. Today we noticed the owner giving them some bird seed. I have no idea how much water they need but water is usually flowing past them down the road each day. The story behind this is that the Philippines are into rooster fighting. Studying some birds while they ate, they looked to be tough and best to keep your hand away.

It was my day to help with the painting shift to give Glen a break. We were painting 1/4-inch sheets of plywood on both sides using a smelly oil-based paint. The paint helps to discourage termite activity.  It took some organizing, but we finally got a production line going.  We even received help from a young Filipino who painted with us most of the day.  This freed me up to move the boards and paint around as needed to help keep the others going.  As we were confined as to space it was a constant struggle to keep freeing up a board to paint when there were so many boards set aside for drying in the humidity.

The heavy clouds of blue gray rolled in right on time to start the day’s rain at 12:30. This time the rain was not as heavy but we kept getting showers all afternoon.  You can imagine what my clothes looked like with globs of sticky paint on it.  At the end of the day on our way back to the hotel, I had lots of paint on my tilley hat because of rubbing it along boards often and figured it was all but ruined.  Then I realized the paint was not set because the hat was always wet.  So I took a disposable wet wipe and cleaned it all off rather easily.  I even took a wipe to my t-shirt to get the worst of the paint off.

Filipino child in rain

It was a very special day for Chris as word got out that it was her birthday.  Several Filipino ladies went to great length to decorate a patio so we could have a birthday celebration at the end of the day.  Chris could see the preparation work taking place.  Most of the school got involved so they could have a celebration with cake.  Somewhere between 60 to 80 children showed up after class to sing Chris happy birthday.  All had prepared a nice birthday message on some paper.  One even brought a little bouquet of flowers she had picked along the way.  Each child was given an opportunity to give what they had prepared to Chris which she received with much gratitude.  The time had come to share a birthday cake with all.  We figured it was going to be rather difficult to get all children a piece if cake limited in size.  One square of toilet tissue was their napkin which held one spoon size piece of cake on it.  They seemed very content to have just a taste of sweet as opposed to a complete slice only to come later for more.   Every child got a taste.

The children look in awe at us tall elderly white Caucasians.  They must think of us to be like giraffes as we tower above them.  They want to be with us.  All you have to do is look at them and their eyes lock into yours and they have such a warm radiant smile on their face.  The teachers sure have them educated to show so much gratitude and respect and to know we are just friendly giants from Canada who have their best interest at heart.

Now for some trivia:

What do you think is the number one sport played in the Philippines?  It’s not soccer, it is basketball.  This caught me by surprise.  I saw some kids playing on a half court.  I have not seen a soccer field yet as there is no room and would need to be maintained regularly.

Philippines population growth grew by fivefold during a 52 year period of time.  You can imagine the challenge it was at that time for the economy to keep up.  Canada has to be careful as its population grew a lot last year because of immigration and probably a lot were young people.  Doing some crude number crunching, if the population grows by 4.5% per annum, could be wrong, but you will have 220 million people living in Canada in 50 years. This works similar to compound interest when investing.

The marriage of DWC with Habitat volunteers is working very well.  It only took an hour for us to bond on a united front for a common cause. I certainly am enjoying the DWC experience.

Trevor learned from a local that there is quite the serious problem they are having here probably due to a lack of education and certainly lack of control practise.  Many girls are getting pregnant, some only 11 or 12 years of age.

October 11


Local cuisine Philippines

Filipinos know how to cook a delicious and nutritious meal for the hungry. The leaf lettuce is locally grown and so fresh, the quality you will not find in your grocery store back in Canada. It is picked from a local field in the morning before lunch.  The bananas are fairly small but so flavorful when given the chance to ripen on the tree.  Similarly, the pineapple and mango have been so juicy and refreshing to eat.

Today’s rain came one half hour later to give us more time to paint some boards outside.  Cindy got paint in her hair, a good glob of it.  Because of being oil based it historically requires a smelly toxic chemical like turpentine to take it out.  This represented a problem as she did not want to damage her hair or cut some hair in order to get rid of it. I had the solution and brought out antibacterial wipes as it magically takes out the paint.  Industrial wipes from a hardware store work best but I had Vim that you can buy in a pharmacy that did the job.

Half of our team of twelve had the opportunity to visit the children before lunch while they attended school in their gymnasium since we are working on upgrading the classrooms.  The kids are always so excited to see us and give us lots of warm smiles, shaking our hand and pressing their forehead on the back of it to bless us.  We intermingled, observed their homework, and took lots of pictures.  It must be difficult to keep on schedule with their curriculum with 140 children in the same room getting distracted when noisy such as when special guests arrive.

October 12

By Adrian

DWC volunteers in Tuk tuk Philippines

So how do you load six volunteers into a tuk tuk?  Well, you just make it work! You load two in the front seat of a side car, two in the back, and two sitting side saddle behind the driver on the actual motorbike that probably was driven by an 80cc motor carrying a ton of weight on three motorbike wheels.  I had to scrunch down under a canopy and had difficulty getting my feet in and out of the unit.  Being tall I chose not to sit side saddle as there was no foot rest and you have to keep your feet off the road and away from getting hit by other vehicles.

Filipinos in this area are not used to serving Canadians or Caucasians and they are learning what we like or dislike when it comes to food and service.  They thought one little sip of coffee would do for breakfast when ordering when we normally consume three times as much.  The toast is just warmed up bread that is already cold once delivered.  No pepper for the scrambled egg.  No jam as they never use it. This is a two-way street as we cannot expect to have western style cuisine, especially for breakfast.

Everyone has a dog and they are always walking across the road, laying down on the shoulder of the road within inches of vehicle tires driving by and therefore death or destruction. I clunked a dog on the head onsite because he chose to sleep in the entrance way of the storage room. He is fine.  Another little mutt half dead onsite is getting nourished back to life thanks to Chris and the dog is already looking healthier because of the attention given and even wagging his tail.

The walls between classrooms really need work for appeal. When you push on the wall it moves as there is only weak metal strapping or studs that a particle board gets screwed to.  Wall instability will remain the case.  Little wood in the whole school due to termites and other insects. A cedar plank would not last a month.   Only hardwood is used at critical places like beams and roof trusses.  At least they never have to worry about there being a fire.

We have been filling in cracks, mudding, and sanding, filling in cavities in walls, building walls for the bathrooms using cinder block, installing strapping for the ceilings (similar to suspended ceiling) and quarter inch board will get screwed to it from underneath.  Each classroom will have its own private toilet/ bathroom so the kiddies do not have to walk out the classroom door.

I only saw the kids twice briefly today but for whatever reason they chose to touch their forehead to the back of my hand as they see progress in our work.  Seeing them inspires me to keep working.

DWC volunteers posing with children Philippines

October 13

by Sue

Beach at sunset Philippines

Day four is behind us and we’re shocked at how fast the time has gone. Our team has gelled so quickly and it’s fabulous how we all feel we’ve known each other for years rather than days. We start every day with a warm welcome from the Rise Above staff, and throughout the day we delight in seeing the few kids who wander over from their temporary school.

We’ve all come back tired and grubby as always.  Some more so than others and those of us who made real progress putting a skim coat on the concrete walls of the principal’s bathroom look particularly grubby. It’s a great feeling and is satisfying to look back on the day and realize how good it is to have overheard the various team members chatting together while working, and always hearing lots of laughter.

Back at the hotel I check on the mother water buffalo and calf. Our hotel hall way has a door way that looks out on a lush green swampy pasture with pampas grass, banana trees and palm trees competing with the other unfamiliar leafy trees. Looking out there I can see the water buffalo and calf and I keep hoping to catch them close enough for a photo. Their awkward shape distinguishes them from the elegant brahman cattle we see on the way to the work site.
Our drive to the work site snakes up the spine of a mountain, passing a wide variety of homes clinging precariously to such steep slopes that the supporting stilts are lost to sight as you look down. We’re becoming familiar with the cockerels, tethered to roosts above their individual tents, the dogs sleeping right beside the road, and the coconut palms growing at such an acute angle that it’s a wonder they’re still alive. Every day we look for the pool table set up under a shelter in the hopes we can see a game. It seems so incongruous!

And everywhere there are exotic beautiful flowers, growing wherever they can find a spot. The bougainvillea seem to be in every colour possible.
And now it’s almost time for the weekend and an opportunity to explore another part of this amazing country.

Weekend blog Group 1

It’s the weekend and the opportunity to explore Toledo!

 Most of the group is travelling to Moalboal for beach and snorkeling activities. Those of us that chose to stay here were toured around by Chris, the grade 6 teacher. We are so lucky to have her with us!

A 45-minute tricycle ride to the BOJO River nature reserve gave us the opportunity to cruise down the river to the ocean, very serene and beautiful, through the mangroves. We learned these tropical plants are very important to the eco system, adapting to wet soils, even salt water and help stabilize the coastline and reduce erosion. The water was very calm and a beautiful turquoise.

We also explored some of the markets and were thrilled to see “our ” kids and moms from the school!

The owners of the resort we are staying at have a church museum with artifacts from the 1600s and 1800s- from Spain, Italy, England, and Quebec! We had a private tour and then strolled through the beautiful labyrinth in the garden.

Even managed to find time to enjoy the pool!

Weekend blog Group 2

DWC volunteers looking out into evening sky Philippines

So far so good as to health with everyone except Trevor who is experiencing back issues.  Some of the scratches I received earlier this week are healing nicely.  Dana gave herself a beating earlier when bashing out the window shutters, but also healing.  She was looking like a bruised warrior for awhile. She won with her job, but she should let the hammer take more of the beating going forward. 

We are going into painting mode for most of next week as each classroom gets a makeover.  There will be nothing like bright clean paint to lift the spirits of the whole school.

Someone brought around an iguana for people to see captured in the jungle.  It must have been two feet long at least if not longer and was getting handled very carefully so it would not escape or bite. Unfortunately for the reptile he was going to be cooked for dinner later that day.  Not for me.

Another bumpy van ride for over two hours to get to Moalboal, Philippines for the weekend’s R & R. Considering the painful drive to get here, a nice relaxing resort, very quiet and laid back.  Ocean breeze was so refreshing by the water. Once you are a few metres from shore, you are back in the sauna regardless of time of day.  There are a lot of crispy critters crawling around down here all over the place.  What seems like a peddle can all of a sudden start moving.

The constant ocean breeze again first thing this morning was so refreshing to break up the stillness of the air with such high humidity.  The trouble with age is you have a tendency to go the safe route now and sacrificing having a life to remember.  It is a fine line about what you should or should not do as you can go too far with risk. But with Sue and Dana around they can get me going.  

They at least convinced me to go kayaking with them on wannabe open kayaks but I chose not to snorkel. I was to rescue them if they were in drowning mode, but to be honest I was next to useless in the very salty choppy water.  We had life jackets to keep us afloat but the ocean current was heading us north if it was not for a platform anchored and proper life tubes and ropes to hang onto.  

Dana convinced me to use her goggles after the ladies had their turn.  Gasping for air a few times, as I could not get into a proper breathing rhythm, I did manage to swallow some ocean water in the process.  Although not that extravagant as to size for coral reef, I did see some fantastic coloring in the sea life. We saw swarms of probably sardines along with bright blue starfish as examples. I have never seen a blue starfish before. We also saw where the edge of the reef ended and dropped way down into the bottomless crystal clear blue ocean.

I had already checked out the swimming pool the night before, so warm was the water.  Dana and Sue also went in the pool with me this morning. As it has a kiddie slide, Dana went down it a few times catching me off guard the first time as she splashed into the pool. Sue went way under from her slide and I thought I would need to pull her up to the surface perhaps by grabbing her hair, but she eventually emerged.


October 16 (Day 6)


This marks the middle of our journey in Toledo. Week one is complete and today we dove into our last week to make as much of a change as possible until the next team arrives. This week also marks the start of fatigue, a couple of injuries, and some frustrations; but along side that we have seen goofiness/laughter, new friendships, and excitement as we start to see the progress we are achieving.

Things are really starting to come together. Eavestroughs are being put up, cement work is complete, skim coat has been applied, new ceilings are in the works, walls are being painted, fans and lights fixtures are getting installed – and most thrilling for Sue and I; the office is almost an entire room complete. We had this project on the go since the beginning and of course with loads of help from the rest of the group, we hope to leave here with it fully completed from start to finish.

Barbie has been deemed my nickname by all the children from the school, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it, along with this entire experience and all of the memories being made.

Adrian taught some of the children to play “Pat a cake” and Cindy got the kids to sings us a couple of songs – twinkle twinkle little star seems to be the favorite. The ladies continue to make us delicious lunches each day inspiring us to try new foods we probably wouldn’t have eaten by choice. like quail eggs!

We also made a pit stop to the market after work today to gather some things that the teachers/students were in need of! Lots of things from paper to printer ink, glue, hole punch’s and lots of stuff in between! Everyone has done their best to help in any way possible and teach each other new skills to take away from this build.

This build, being my first one ever with DWC has made me realize that at this moment my heart couldn’t be more full. I’ve met amazing like-minded people that have taught me a variety of things. I have made my way to another country I’ve never been to. I met the students, teachers and some family members of the school we are working at. I took this trip not knowing I’d have nobody around the same age as me, but also realizing that it doesn’t matter. And taking this trip with my uncle I don’t get to see quite often enough. So many incredible experiences in just one week and I cant wait to see what this next week brings!

October 16


Back to Toledo City by bus to get back to the Ranch Resort for another week of work.  A good break.  We met up with Cindy, Val, and Chris who chose to stay behind to check out Toledo City area while we ventured south.

Going to a MacDonald’s on our way back was an experience.  Very busy place, so popular, very modern and attached to a shopping mall. Any parking around there was jammed with tuk tuks.  It looked like the drivers like to hang out around the mall.  If a Filipino can afford to eat at MacDonald’s and shop, then they should be able to afford a ride.  

McDonald's Philippines

The menu was not quite the same as it has been adjusted to what Filipinos like and dislike, or are used to eating.  They sell rice as an example, which is their staple food.  I had a crispy chicken but it did not come with much in the way of garnishes and was quite small.  Pineapple juice was my drink even though I was looking for something like a shake or smoothie.

I am getting the impression that there is a middle class starting to emerge where certain younger Filipinos can afford to stay in a resort or hotel for a weekend or special event and go out to eat, rent a boat, etc.  Others such as those stuck with driving a tuk tuk for a living, or doing subsistence farming, not so much.

There was a rooster fight drawing a large crowd just down the street from us when we got back.  Marc walked down to investigate but there were so many people involved, he left as it was just too noisy and crowded, so popular.  Trevor and Natashe did attend and even placed a bet on their favorite rooster.    I was not interested in witnessing any killing, but it is their culture to have such events on a weekend.  The good news is, lets face it, we kill chickens for food and those roosters killed here are also a source of food.

This and that:

– No one has seen a horse here but the Filipinos say they have some;

– All I want to find is a tuk tuk with a built-in suspension and a hole in the canopy so I can stick my head out to see the world;

– It does not really cool off at night whatsoever.  At least we get a break with air conditioning.  For the locals who sleep outside in their hut, how do they survive living in a sauna 24 hours?

– I found this big ugly gross dung beetle, just the ugliest, squiggliest thing that was upside down but still wiggling its legs.  Sue picked it up to show others.  Her choice;

– I managed to scrape the skin off a finger really good, then cut myself, then scratched myself in short order working on gutters (aluminum). I then said forget it, I walked away from what I was doing, fired myself, and will let someone else do it;

– We had quail egg in our stew today.  It tastes like chicken egg hard boiled, but they are smaller (bite size);

– Chris wrenched her knee quite bad working with Trevor.  Cindy took her to get x-rays and she will get the results in a couple of days;

– I finally was able to teach some kids how to play patty cake and they really got into it and had a big beaming smile on their face;

– Cathy, could I possibly adopt three kids from here?  No? Please? No? Awww, that’s too bad.

We have been working with the teachers to figure out what they needed for supplies.  The government gives them some money over the year, but it may not be enough to cover just the utilities.  Some supplies were brought in with us from Canada.  We went shopping for other supplies and I made a donation to the cause with others.  What they needed the most was writing pads/ scribblers by grade.  The teachers were most appreciative of our generosity. 

October 17


Chris chose to take the day off to rest her knee hoping to come onsite tomorrow and be able to continue with her vacation next week. Something must not be right and possible ligament damage as her knee is swollen.  I seem to be healing more quickly in the heat? I am down to one bandaid after wearing four yesterday.

My roommate, Marc, has been doing the electrical the whole time while here.  What would they have done without him?  It is slow progress, but he is figuring things out for 220v and installing fans, lighting, switches, plug ins, etc., to make things so much better.  Hopefully it is the humidity that is making his hair look so frizzy, wiry, and curly these days.

Since we only have three days left, we are going to focus on one classroom to complete what needs to be done other than window shutters. What’s left is to finish installing the ceiling, filling cracks, sanding, and painting.  Marc has all electrical working other than finishing installing ceiling lighting.

The local contractors did not do what Habitat does for ceiling installation, which is draw a straight line and work your way back to a wall.  With two rows of ceiling done by them, we have to work with what was done and keep the sheets straight with minimum gaps in between.

Miscellaneous observations:

– Everything takes ten times longer than normal because of not having the right materials or tools;; 

– I never get a chance of working with Glen and Dana in Canada as we are crew leaders. We are the ceiling team and making good progress;

– Cindy got some compound in her eye and was out of commission for awhile flushing it out , but she thinks she will be fine;

– There are about 50 – 60 rivets that need to be applied for each 4 x 8 sheet of ceiling board;

– In regard to the thousands of Filipino children in this area, I was not expecting them to be so slim, similar to what we experienced in Cambodia a few years ago.

October 17

By Shirley

What a day!

The first week went by so fast. Today, Natasha and I have been working on finish painting the principal/staff room. The job seemed easy enough but there are so many fine detailed work done before we can even start painting. Natasha and Sue put so much work into filling, patching, and sanding the walls. We had started doing the primer on the walls and ceiling a day ago and today we managed to apply the 2nd coat on the ceiling and the first coat on the wall. We’ve hit some issues where we realized that a coat of oil-based paint was applied prior to this renovation. We shall see how it will all work out.

The weather continued to be hot and humid so I had to take a lot of water breaks. I took a moment to visit the other rooms we are working on and for certain we have made so much progress since our arrival. We have had some great lunches made for us. My favourite thing to eat so far are the sweet mangoes! I think I can honestly say they have been the best mangoes hands down!

October 18

By Brenda

Before leaving home, I was talking to my young neighbour, Jessica, who teaches Grade 4 at a school in Calgary. When she found out we were going to be working on repairing an elementary school in the Philippines, she asked if I could take some pictures of the school and send information to her class about what school was like here in the Philippines. 

I have sent multiple pictures over the past week and a half to her class about the school, about where the children are learning while we fix their school, and even a few pictures of a young student and her Grade IV school notebook. 

Jessica’s students have been amazed at how simple the school is; that there is little in the way of technology; and that the students are all studying together in a single room while we work on the school.  The kids have also sent some thoughtful questions for me to answer including:

  • do they have air conditioning where you are?
  • what materials are you using to fix the school?
  • did it take you a long time to get there from Calgary?
  • did you have to bring tools from Home Depot?
  • were there kids in the school when the typhoon hit?
  • how hard is it to work all day?

The kids also sent a message to thank us for our hard work!!

Philippine children outside at door of school

I am sure it is hard for children in Calgary – and actually for most people- to comprehend how different life is here for people of the Philippines compared to life in Canada. So many here have so little and by comparison we have so much. We have our challenges too in Canada but travelling to other places is a good reminder of how fortunate we are to live in Canada. 

I know I speak for the whole team when I say how fortunate we all feel to have this time together and to be in a position to help repair this school and making a real difference in the lives of these children and their teachers. It is hot sweaty work and though we aren’t solving the problems of the world, we are helping a small piece of the world be a little bit better. 

My husband and I are grateful to DWC for the opportunity to help. 

October 18

By Adrian

DWC volunteers at project site Philippines

Unfortunately, Chris remains out of commission and it is not looking good for her to come back.  She may have to go home and cut off her vacation following if she is in too much discomfort.  Hopefully things will settle down and she can manage with just a knee brace.

Brenda did some research about healing more quickly in the heat and now agrees with me.  When I get a cut or scratch drawing blood, enough to require a bandaid, I only need to put it on for two hours and then the need for a bandaid is gone.  A minor scratch completely disappears in maybe three days.   Moral of the story: If you have a need to heal more quickly, live in a sauna and cook yourself for a few days!

My glasses are broken, similar to a problem I had in Portugal, only this time the frame is definitely broken.  I have my prescription safety glasses as a backup plan.  I will just look like a nerd for the remainder of my stay and probably get more questions asked going through security at the airport.  I may try to glue and tape my frame back together when onsite.

Shirley is a member of some sort of international picketball club and therefore was able to play with other members of this club last evening, only seven minutes away from where we are staying.  We live in a different world now.  Who she played against were middle class younger Filipinos.  They were very friendly and safe to be with.

It seems a little strange but understandable the influence that western civilization has on the Filipinos.  Our driver is usually playing music from the Eagles.

I was the official cutter of boards this day to keep the installation of ceiling and wall board going smoothly.  

Everyone is sweating like pigs.  Nothing new here.  Marc felt a little dehydrated one day but bounced back the next.

Today’s interaction with the kids was all about measuring how tall they were. Once I got the first little guy to cooperate, I ended up doing it to a whole bunch of others and they were all giggling in the process.  I got quite popular quickly.  I don’t think they ever have been measured before.  For who I measured their height varied from 43 inches to 54.  A couple of mothers came to watch the fun.  The kids are curious about our progress, but they also want to be with us.  I want to be with them.

I helped out Marc a bit today as he continues to work on the electrical.  He had some challenges testing his limits. rewiring in spots to make things better and more convenient.  I learned you use the same type of wiring whether that be for 110v or 220v.  The way he is doing it is making the wiring so much better and more convenient.

October 19

By Adrian

DWC volunteer with painted hands

If you have a slightly runny fried egg, mixing it with rice makes such a nice meal.  I know when you buy Chinese food at home and you order chicken fried rice and it comes with egg, I can see why.  The meal I had at a restaurant last week had basically a raw egg with other food on a hot place.  Once you mixed up the food, the egg cooked and helped bring the whole dish together.

My digestive tract is telling me my time is almost up.  It must have been something I ate as I have been very careful with water consumption.  I have a day and a half more of work to do and then I should be ready to return home the next morning. I get to check in with Eva Air later on today (done).

When wiring yesterday Marc took a picture of this reptile like creature living in the wall where he was stringing wire through.  The creature was too big for a gecko.  But unlike a mouse, no damage from chewed wiring has been noticed throughout the building.  Marc banged the wall with his screw driver a few times to move the creature out of the way.

Chris remains back at the hotel.  I asked her to email me the facts she had about her experience taking care of a malnourished and actually starving puppy on the jobsite who just needed some tender loving care.  It will make such a great short story.  If she does not write it herself, I volunteered to do it as long as I get the facts.  She is very capable doing it on her own and this would be my preferred choice.

This morning there was ten of us painting all at once in one classroom!  You might question why, but we were using probably four different kinds of paint depending on surface and coat layer and color and the push is on to finish this room.   I have been getting a lot of value out of those Vim Disinfectant Wipes (package of 30) to keep me clean of paint, dirt, and bacteria.

One area we have been working on a lot is to have a bathroom closed in at the back of every classroom.  This caused an unbelievable amount of work.  A rain shower tested our rain gutter drain on one building of classrooms which proved to be operating effectively.  An attached picture is the principal’s office completely redone.

October 20

By Natasha Kubersky

DWC volunteers pose in small room Philippines

Hooray! We have made it! Day 09 – This means we have reached our last full day here in Toledo. Today was a big day as we all tried our hardest to complete as much as possible before the end of our build and next adventures; whether that may be more exploring/adventuring, relaxing or travelling to an entirely new country.
We all worked as a team and did final coats of paint, small fixes, and some aesthetic work to tie together some of our projects.

It’s truly remarkable how fast things happen, and the impacts that can be made in such a short amount of time.
Coming from Canada we are truly blessed to have the resources we have and the easy access to tools and materials whenever needed. However, the amount of things I will be taking away from this trip is mind blowing. Today, we were installing window louvers and the technique they used to cut the glass was incredible. Measuring out the glass, using a tool to make a slight cut in the  glass and then applying tension for a clean break was astonishing.
The handyman (Tata) who takes care of the school smoothed the cement walls with a trowel and made it look so easy you’d think he did it every single day.
So many techniques and alternate ways of doing things are applied when the tools are unavailable or too expensive.

The impacts that were made within the community will not be forgotten. Through all the pictures with the families, students and workers, the Facebook messages sent expressing gratitude, the children’s faces when the come to check out the progress and the individual conversations have had a heart-warming impact. Our DWC team will leave here knowing we have made a true difference even if it was only two short weeks of volunteering.
Thank you, Toledo, for allowing us to help in this beautiful country and to experience the food and way of life in the Philippines 🇵🇭 we will miss you.

Posted in on October 12, 2023