Memories of my trip to the Philippines

I am going to write only what I remember the clearest. Click here to see photos too. If I don’t get any of this down now, I will only make stuff up later. To my YGCC friends, thanks for being part of my experience. In return, I made completely no effort to hide your identities to save you from public embarassment =P

Here it goes. I remember…

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THE PEOPLE

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My dearest memories are of you oddballs – everything about you – your stories, your energy, and all the little things you shared with me, I will claim I remember well. The rest of this post details stuff I can look back on and smile, and perhaps, use to blackmail you. See? Between us as individuals, our friendship has just only begun.

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MY ARRIVAL

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I rambled a bit before I left my house, and a little more the day I arrived.
Here are some photos.

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MY TEAM

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“Team 4” I think it was. The Viets arrived in clapping and fireworks, then Hoa and Thinh’s introduced themselves with their ulterior motive in the camp – to find a spouse! Little did I know, that was only the beginning of good times with the Vietnamese.

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I also met my facilitators (short form: “Faci”, pronounced as “Faeces”) Howie and Quynh. Hmm…I don’t have a decent picture of Howie, Quynh, and myself, so this picture of Iqbal and I will have to do.

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Memories Ceri treating Musical Chairs as Ultimate Fighting Championship, Hambar’s killer one-liners, Howie’s dance classes, and conversations with the rest are still vivid, but I imagine the truly lasting memory would be an episode in the “Life Boat Exercise” where the team was split into two, and had to agree on 10 out of 15 odd characters to be saved from a sinking ship.

While I devised a cowardly lottery system (for my own reasons) a rational person would deduce 3 criteria: chance of survival, usefulness to society, and possible contribution to the survival of others. But Inyoman decided: the first person he would see would get on the lifeboat – regardless of who and how they are.

Many of us silently thought that was a bit wonky – till he revealed, as a real doctor, you do treat patients on a first come first serve basis. No one gets special treatment! Thank you Inyoman for the new perspective.

Anyways, Team 4 you were all really cool, do rock on.

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TALK SHOW HOST

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Ah… that was the title of a Radiohead song, found on Baz Lurhman’s Romeo+Juliet soundtrack. My first, favourite RH song. Conan O’Brien also comes to mind. But now, I will think of day 2 of the camp – where as a host, I supposed to get a guest from each country share their side of Sex and Marriage, festive celebrations, Life and Death, and Food, I think.

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On the show, I ridiculed all my guests, my co-host Sahsa, asked crazy questions, made peacock noises, and gave many a silent, but gruesome fart. I never had so much fun! The show dragged on a bit, got interrupted by an albino peacock, and it was clear many people wanted me dead.

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Good timing for my stage left exit… with Jess and Jatin taking over. “American” Jatin pronouncing Hambar’s name as HAM-BER was classic.

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Thank you YGCC for giving me this chance I really had a lot of fun.

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CULTURAL NIGHT

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With 4 South-East Asian countries going ethnic you would think there had to be other loincloth tribesman on show… even a saggy-titted toothless mum doing the fire dance. But NO. I was the lone native Iban hunter.

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I learnt a harsh lesson on National Geographic stereotypes.

The rest of the night had Malaysians making their lack of dance practice obvious, having a lot of fun doing so. Other countries showed what tourists would marvel at, with UK being the most honest. We had fun dancing the night away to a DJ who we suspect, was both blind, and deaf.

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TREKKING AND CAMPING

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I was, once again, over prepared. My Rambo knives, Indiana Jones whip, and Predator boots took a backseat, as girls faced the trek ahead in flip-flops.

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The 40 minute trek felt like… A WHOLE 40 minutes. Of course, discount the rest of the time we were chilling, resting, taking photos and such. I remember good conversation with Emma the indie chick. If that wasn’t enough, I am sending my younger brother to Strathclyde next year to pick up where I left off.

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The campsite totally did it for me. I laughed till hernia at dinner jokes with Jatin, Aveth, and Lea. Made’s guitar and the campfire, and sleeping under the stars (stars, which were sleeping behind the clouds), rekindled a bit of a crushed, mangled romantic in me.

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It made losing my beloved torch light worth it =P

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GRASS MAKING

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Tia is a darling – she made me a lovely grass bracelet, which lasted me a satisfying night before it fell apart.

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While that didn’t last, I hope the friendship with JohnRex and Tia will. That night, in between “rolling grass”, I was humbled by JohnRex – who I feel, is wise beyond his years, and for good reason. I was also moved by Tia’s uncomplicated pursuit of her dreams. There was something about that night which left me lying awake for a bit more.

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DELICIOUS HERMITS

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What the &%#$ are “delicious hermits”? You Pinoy bakers have some explaining to do. As though the duck embryos weren’t quirky enough.

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COMMUNITY IMMERSION

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Of course, cleaning up an really clean beach is a new experience. But talking and playing with children who believed I was Jacky Chan took the cake.

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I regret not snapping this in 5MP mode. It is by far one of my favourite shots I ever took. It reminds me of my heydays when I carved kettles by the sea.

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I enjoyed rallying kids up for Dom’s gang. These kids really know how to let go and have fun, something the older kids, which were ‘too cool’ for us aliens, grown out of. While I understand people of different age enjoy themselves differently, these kids remind me I must never lose what youth I have beneath my skin – by being able to let go and have fun with life.

In the same way, I hope I left them with something to remember apart from fake Jacky Chan autographs and a broken community table. It would be pretty cool if one of them manages to email me, one fine faraway day.

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FIESTA NIGHT

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Thanks Brian for giving me the chance to represent Malaysia in its organising committee. Sorry Lea, Mia, Binh, Ben for my ‘occasionally’ unaccomodating work ethic. Thanks for not killing me but helping me, and with your efforts (also Bai’s emceeing!), most people looked like they had fun.

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Jatin – your wit and humour never fails to make me cry, ESPECIALLY your Simon Cowell impersonation. It wasn’t so much the cruel things you said, but the silent facial expressions while the ‘YGCC Idols’ sang. Good one, bro.

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Apart from Aveth’s speaker-breaking rendition of ‘I Turn to You’, I remember Dom’s ‘softer side’ well, although I’d rather not.

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HAIR AWARE

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The next team, led by the sharp Brian and supportive Emily, included some folks from my previous team, and a few wild cards, like testosterone-bag Jatin, hippie Ben, and the strange Tia and Renny.

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Working towards the challenge simulation was intense, serious, and fulfilling in many ways. I was growing sick of all the friendly care bear feel… the conflict, pressure, and work was a breath of fresh air. Thanks Team Hair Aware for the experience!

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FRIENDSHIP TREE

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We all had an envelope each to stick on this board. Another care bear idea but I loved it. It’s nice to leave notes for people, and to receive some. Thanks to all of you who bothered to litter in my bin, I feel the envelope we have captured the heart of the camp… something I will try not to misplace.

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KISSING SHARKS

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Sharing a room with Dom was not as bad as my other roomate experiences, and our conversations let me walk a day in his shoes, through places I would otherwise be stabbed in the throat for treading.

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The artwork, realised with the help of Andri, our Ford Academy of Arts artist, symbolises so much, I can’t even make up any new-school-lit-jizz to explain it. Dom, thanks for your friendship, and inspiration for the what supposed to be a shark eating a baby, a snake, a tiger, or whatever. Keep it real.

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TWILIGHT

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The nights past bedtime just chilling with all of you topped off everyday just the way I liked it, thanks. Special thanks to you special people who got saddened by my songs, massaged my palms, and for sharing your life and times.

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GOODBYE

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Probably the most emotionally challenging experience. It was a long goodbye, starting from the farewell celebration, lasting through a night of horrendous dance music, to sitting around waiting for starlight to pass, and the busses to take us away, to rushed shopping at G4, and finally, the airport.

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The hugs I could manage, but looking Hambar in the eye was tough – he never spoke much, but always managed to say a lot, just by being sincere. I would have liked to let go and bawl but my tear glands malfunctioned under pressure.

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There was A Girl Called Eddy song playing in the background of my mind, with my lips silently humming along, laying the soundtrack to the closing chapter of one helluva show.

I am confident that this can only be a beginning of more good memories to come. SO YGCC peeps NEVER stop living your dreams!!! I am only an email or SMS away if you need some juice.

And if your name wasn’t mentioned, it may be because the memory we shared is better left for private reflection, or I am saving you from utter embarrassment. Otherwise, email me if you believe I missed something!

Now, feel free to leave me a comment, and thanks again for the love.

One comment on “Memories of my trip to the Philippines

  1. khailee February 6, 2006 11:14 am

    jac, U RAWWK!! also, im surprised that comment made it through my spam-word filter. didnt you know this site is made for infants? those might be their first words! nevertheless, in the words of Apu from the Simpsons, “thank you come again”.

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