Tag Archives: Slums

Introduction: Enjoy Church Schoolies Tour (Philippines)

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

Hi Everyone,

Tonight I leave on a big jet plane with 38 other people to go to the Philippines as part of the Enjoy Church Schoolies Tour. This is my second time to the Philippines this year, and I’m ecstatic and incredibly honoured!

So, like my previous trip to the Philippines for the Adore Conference (see blog posts here), I’ll be blogging about it again! Woo!

Here’s an idea of what we’ll be doing and where we’ll be going while there:

–      Slums

–       Sidewalk Sunday School

–       Men’s/Women’s Prison

–       Lifezone Youth (New Life Christian Center)

–       Youth Conference

–       Sunday church services

–       Margaret Pashley’s Center for Change

–       Graduation Dinner for the Schoolies

–       Greenhills Market, Manila

–       Mall of Asia, Manila

It’s seriously going to be amazing!!!!

I hope you enjoy reading these posts 🙂

And here are the Twitter accounts of other going people on the trip (not sure how much they’ll be tweeting, but it’s worth a peek at hey?)

@enzomaisano / @GeorgieBaxter / @ShaneABaxter / @mustangmick69 / @bethanyjae / @Alan_Milne / @RyanTLim / @isaactipping / @MelDiGiacomo / @Kavanasama / @AlanahDeane / @mandyyazbek

Time to finish packing so I’ll write to you all soooooooooon!

Beth, x

Ning & Ces are incredibly talented 🙂

“13) Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. 14) Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. 15) If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. 16) Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand-shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5: 13-16

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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…

Day One: From The Get Go…

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

Well friends, we made it! All 12 of us (Ps Georgie arrives here from Hawaii on Wednesday)!

The flight went miraculously fast. And I’m pretty sure our bunch was that “annoyingly loud group” that people either love or hate to be with on a flight (ha!) But it was great! We arrived at Manila Airport, waited a couple of hours and then took another flight into Tacloban. There’s nothing too special about our stories of deliriousness and over tiredness, so let’s get stuck into the day!

First three thoughts about Tacloban:

  1. When you’re driving through Tacloban for the very first time, what you witness is nothing short of ‘eye-opening’. In fact, calling it ‘eye-opening’ is a phenomenal understatement
  2. The Filipino people welcome you as though you are one of their own
  3. Random – loads of advertisements for local beer, Pepsi, fast-food restaurants, etc around the slum areas. And then next to it there’ll be a big property with a gate protecting a beautiful house inside.

I’ve always been told that the people here are the most beautiful people you’ll ever meet, and now that I’ve met them I can testify to that! They’re amazing!!

When we arrived at the Alejandro Hotel (which I must say, it’s beautiful! Spacious, the staff is delightful and the whole feel is seriously lovely. And you know that they LOVE to party when you can hear dance music pumping from the hotel at 6pm), the welcome we received as tremendous! The embrace that we received from the New Life Christian Center (NLCC) team was the definition of welcoming and it’s obvious to see why people fall in love with them.

But there was no resting… yet! We went straight into the deep end by going into the slums. And wow, I’ve seen lots of Ps Enzo’s photographs from the times that he’s been there, but you can’t really grasp what it means for those people living there until you have seen it with your own two eyes.

Being there was surreal. It felt weird taking pictures of the kids and their environment. It felt weird seeing them living in the circumstances that they do and yet so overcome with joy. And honestly, I felt a bit out of place. It didn’t have anything to do with being culture shocked, but everything to do with being made aware of such an extreme living condition that some are forced to live in compared to my own…and yet they carried more joy than those of us living in the ‘blessed life’.

Instead of giving out rice to the families, the mothers of families that we have connected with in previous years met us in another building. In this small room there was the Enjoy team, the NLCC team and 20 mothers with some of their children. Ps Lou shared a ten-minute word that was interpreted by the ever so lovely Ps Venus from NLCC. It was truly amazing. The response from the women as they heard the Word was lot’s ‘Amens’ and nodding of the head that came from the convictions of their heart being manifested when the Word was spoken. The ENJOY team then went around and prayed for blessing, provision, strength and just life for these women and their households. We then distributed a bag of rice to each woman to take back to her family, and they were truly thankful! Why? Because we met a practical need that they had.

From there we walked straight to the Sidewalk Sunday School (SSS). There were hundreds of kids everywhere! They were loud and loved to participate in the games and preaching! Roxy, Rochelle, Angie and Jac also led them in “If you’re happy and you know it…” and they were beside themselves with excitement!

And then, we came back to the hotel, had a quick freshen up and went to our official welcoming dinner at the rooftop of the hotel…and boy, do they know how to throw a welcoming party! There was dancing, laughter, music, new friends and connections being made, food, photos, and loads of smiles. Definitely a night to remember!

As you can tell, it’s been full on! All that has happened between arriving in Tacloban around 10.30am and now, 11pm. So I’m off to hit the sack for some much needed sleep!

Tomorrow we’re off to the Women’s Prison, so stay tuned for that blog post. There’ll also be some interviews and photos (which will be coming asap!).

Random things learned:

–       Generally the Filipino people only eat with a fork and spoon; no knife

–       They don’t call older people (related or not) by simply their first name, they say ‘ate’ for older aunt and ‘kuya’ for older uncle

–       All you have to do is smile at someone and they will generally smile back

–       Season one of Australia’s Junior Masterchef is currently airing on one of their television channels