Tag Archives: Melbourne

The Philippines: The Double P (Poverty + Prostitution)

[This blog has since moved to bybethanyjae.com. Head on over to check it out, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised… x]

If you’ve been reading these posts you would have gotten a sense of excitement about the trip…which it totally was and we’re all still buzzing from it. But there’s a dark side of that week that I didn’t put in; mainly because I wasn’t too sure about how to tell it with the integrity and justice it deserves.

So, I’m calling this post the double P – Poverty and Prostitution.

Poverty

Prior to leaving for Tacloban, people who’ve gone there before were telling me about the environment, to be brace myself for the poverty and that I’d most likely get some degree of a culture shock there.

Touching down at Tacloban airport, you are immediately welcomed with an entirely different environment than the one you left back in Melbourne. Everything (and I mean, everything!) is green. It’s so beautiful and luscious, and compared to Melbourne’s current brown landscape, Tacloban is a pure tropical heaven.

Travelling from the airport to the hotel though, is when you begin to get see with it – little shacks where people live, the slums, people walking barefoot, transportation, advertisements everywhere, etc, etc.

Note: this was the entrance to the Adore Conference venue. Beautiful!

Yes, the poverty was bad and it’s an injustice in the world. Yes, it’s a terrible, terrible thing seeing how some people live. But in a week what can you really do? You hope that what you did when you visited the slums will help in some way. But realistically, it will take a lot of time, money, manpower, the altering of mindsets and much, much more to see poverty abolished there.

When people travel to Australia, they generally fall in love with the environment. When people travel to the Philippines, they generally fall in love with the people. When you travel somewhere you fall in love with what is enriched there. And we all fell in love with the people.

Australia may have an abundance of material things, but the Philippines have an abundance of richness in character and spirit; something that many Australians lack.

So as much as seeing the poverty opens your eyes to the world around you, you have to keep perspective.

 Prostitution / Human Trafficking

Day Three: Part One – Off To The Mall”. That post was full of excitement as we all went down to the mall for the first time. It was a fantastic day, however I left out part out of it. Here it is…

The Enjoy and New Life crew were sitting in Shakey’s eating lunch. The table across from us sat two older men who looked to be in their late forties, early fifties, and and two Filipino women who looked like they were in there twenties. You might say, “Well they’re just having lunch. What’s wrong with that?” But putting it straight, these men oozed evil. You may think that’s a bit harsh, but if you saw them you would get the same feeling in the pit of your stomach. Looking at them you got a sense that they weren’t going to show these girls what a gentlemen was. And eventually they all left…together.  While we were eating lunch and watching them (not in an obvious way though), everyone was feeling uneasy and it just didn’t sit right with us all.

Talking about it

Why? Because there were countless other times during the week when we’d be eating breakfast at the hotel and there’d be an older Western man eating breakfast with a Filipino lady…and the next morning he’d be eating breakfast with a different lady again.

There’d be times when I’d be writing these blog posts in the hotel lobby late at night and older men (yes, more than one man a night) would constantly go up to their room with a lady…and the next night it would be a different lady again.

And to be honest, I actually don’t recall a night where this didn’t happen.

I’m not going to label these women as prostitutes or victims of human trafficking because we saw so many different situations that it would be unwise to group them all in the one category.

As much as some of us wanted to step in and say something to help the women in Shakey’s or at the hotel, what would we say? If they were in the prostitution industry or a victim of human trafficking, how would we get them out of it? Would we get them out? Would they even want to be helped out of it? What would the men do? How would we deal with them? Where would the girls go after it? Is there even somewhere safe for them to go? Do they even know how to live without having to depend on that industry for money? Will they just end up in that industry again?

So, you have to be wise in situations like that. You could do more damage by acting out of anger and with no protection – and that would be a tragedy to their life. All you can really do is pray and believe.

You may have read stories and seen pictures about it, but nothing can really prepare you for it when you witness it for yourself.

In the words of Thoreau, “It’s not what you look at, but what you see.”

Facts:

– There is an estimated 27 million victims of human trafficking.

– In 2008, the Philippines was listed in the top five countries of where human trafficking victims are from

80% of trafficking victims in the Philippines are females and under 18 years of age

For more information on human trafficking, see The A21 Campaign.

Note: I searched for hours trying to find statistics specific to the Philippines, interestingly though, there was very little to no information on it. However, there are many statistics on other countries. Hmm…

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Day Eight: Homeward Bound

[This blog has since moved to bybethanyjae.com. Head on over to check it out, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised… x]

Right now as I’m typing this, I’m on the plane going back to Melbourne (note: uploaded it to here when I got home). It’s currently 11.39pm in the Philippines and 1.39am in Australia, and to be honest, I’m completely devastated to be coming back home.

Today was our very last day in the Philippines. The week flew by incredibly fast and was filled with incredible people, actions, love and joy.

In the morning we ate breakfast for the very last time at the Hotel Alejandro. We ordered our last meal of a ham and cheese omelette, French toast, pancakes, pancakes with one fried egg and a side of bacon, garlic rice, French fries, café latte, pineapple/mango juice, and tea, and by the end of the week everyone had their personal favourite. For example, Louise Fiddes had garlic rice for not only breakfast, but for every possible meal where she could order it.

After that some people caught Tacloban public transport down to the local markets to do some shopping. And others stayed at the hotel to finish packing.

During that time, Ps Georgie, Ps Lou, Ps Gershon, Ps Catherine, Ps Ram, Ps Janine and the key NLCC events team had a briefing and went over how the ADORE Conference went.

And the scone-making Queen, Lana, made scrumptious scones for them.

During lunch some of the NLCC team came to the hotel to help take our luggage to the airport.

After checking out of the hotel, we sadly took off to the airport. When we arrived there and saw some of the NLCC team there, everyone’s tears began flowing even more.

When more NLCC people arrived, more tears came. Our last moments outside the airport consisted of tears, hugs, words of encouragement and thanks, giving of gifts, and the snapping of photographs (even though we were all crying and didn’t want any pictures of our blotchy faces and red eyes!)

After being given our passport and boarding passes, Kitchie ordered the ENJOY crew to say our final ‘see you soon’ and go into the airport.

It was a happy sad moment.

The whole plane ride was sad as we flew further and further away from Tacloban, and closer and closer to Melbourne.

When we got to Manila we had a 2-hour stop over. While there I tweeted that we were at Manila Airport, and Ps E replied with safe travels. I told him thanks, but that myself and Angie are actually getting on the next plane back to Tacloban. We seriously did not want to come back to Melbourne! But there was nothing we could really do, so we had to keep going.

And now, I’m in Melbourne. We arrived around 7am in the morning. It was cold, foggy, grey and raining – hello good old Melbourne!

I am absolutely shattered that the trip went by so fast. But am absolutely thrilled by the new friends and connections that were formed and strengthened.

Even though we did a lot of things during the trip, the only reason those things were done was because of ADORE Conference. And ADORE was phenomenal! it’s going to be exciting seeing the fruit that comes from the seeds that were sown.

I’ve said it many times over the course of the posts, but I’m still speechless as to what God did there and majorly excited about the future.

Please Note:

I’ve had people pointing out to me the spelling and grammar mistakes in these posts. There’s seriously not that many, and you have to realize that all of these posts are the first drafts. Most of the time they were written after midnight when I’d been out for most of the day doing all the things that were written about in the posts. So I’m just surprised that they even make sense, and am not really worried if there’s a spelling mistake here and there.

These were posts about what happened each day, but the posts to come are about things that I realized, discovered and learned. There are actually a lot of things that I’ve left out because I just didn’t have the time to write about it.

Once I’ve digested everything that happened through the week and I’m not as emotional about leaving, expect to see more posts.

And if you’re wondering why I want to keep blogging about it, it’s because what happened there really is just the beginning. And it would be a total crime if I just left these posts as is and carried on with life normally.

So thank you to everyone who read these posts, especially the NLCC team who were following the blog as well (absolutely cracks me up that you’ve been reading it!) Glad you enjoyed them 🙂

Love you all way too much!

Beth xx

Day Three: Part One – Off To The Mall

[This blog has since moved to bybethanyjae.com. Head on over to check it out, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised… x]

Today was the first day of ‘relaxation’ (if you can even call it that!). After breakfast we went down to their local shopping mall, Robinsons Mall.

We arrived there before it opened, so we had some time to take some ‘paparazzi’ shots.

Once the clock hit 10am, the doors were opened. At each entrance to the building is a security guard. The guards check each individual’s bag before they enter, and if they have any weapons/ammunition, they are told to dispose of it there.

So once approved, we all went in and Ps Ernie went to the airport to pick up the lovely Ps Georgie!

The mall seriously looks exactly like ours back home in Australia. They have their fast food restaurants, cheaper stores, upper class stores, supermarkets, escalators, everything.

We split into groups with someone from the NLCC team with each group, and basically shopped for the next two hours. Some bought shoes, clothing, jewellery, magazines, things for family back home and others; basically what we would buy back home. The strange thing about it though was that it kind of felt surreal being there. Yesterday we were at the women’s prison and the slums, and today we’re in the shopping center. Some of us where commenting on how it just seems so out of place having a mall here because of the environment outside of it.

At 12pm we all met in the restaurant ‘Shakey’s‘ – including Ps Georgie! Shakey’s sell gourmet pizzas, pasta and loads of other scrumptious food! Then we shopped again and came back to the hotel.

Right now it’s 4.45pm. Rochelle, Angie, Jac and Roxy left about half an hour ago to go to NLCC to run a Worship Workshop. I’ll be interviewing one of them about it either tonight or tomorrow, so stay tuned for that post!

In about half an hour we’re all getting picked up from the hotel to go to NLCC for their Power Service. It’s their mid-week service where they have praise and worship, prayer, etc for an hour. So, Part Two of today about that service will be posted up later tonight.

Random things learned:

– In restaurants they generally have orange, mango and pineapple juice on the menu, but no apple juice.

– When you make a purchase (mostly for jewellery at stands), they put your money in a tin pot and ask you to ‘make a wish’, or they swish the money over the other items for sale for good luck.

– There is a Filipino style morning breakfast television show. It mimics America’s NBC Today in so many ways.

– Bring toilet paper with you if you need to go to the restroom at a mall