“Mas Masaya sa Pilipinas”
(“It’s More Fun in the Philippines”)
This is the motto of the country where we are now. It may be considered cliché, the fact that I chose this title, but I will try to show you the fun experiences we have already had in the Philippines. It has been two months since we stepped foot in the Philippines. When we left Rome, there was a sense of excitement and fear about the new life that awaited us. None of us have ever been to Asia. This incredible continent, still unknown to most Brazilians, was waiting for us to begin our journey and have our own thoughts about it. We wanted so much to satisfy our curiosities and to start our discoveries of the differences and similarities we have with them.
We arrived in Manila and our first experience was with the food. They are used to eating fish and rice for breakfast! Slices of bread could be asked, but it is less common than eating the well-known staple food of every Filipino meal: rice! Rice for breakfast, rice for lunch, rice for dinner, even for afternoon snack we can find it! It is good to remember that rice is the most cultivated grain in the country. The workers commonly place the grains to dry in the corners of the roads in some provinces.
The kinds of transportation are really different. They have buses only for long travels, not inside the actual cities. In the streets we can see cars, motorbikes, tricycles (a motorbike with another compartment for more passengers), bikes, padyak (a tricycle with a bike instead of a motorbike) and the jeepneys (the Filipino kind of bus – smaller, travels shorter distances, colorful, with no doors so you just get in and out at the back).
What called our attention about the personality of the Filipinos is their hospitality and generosity. They are always ready to help you in whatever you need and it makes you feel really welcome in their country. It’s incredible how cheerful they are about having foreigners with them! It makes it even more interesting and exciting to live new experiences.
Ever since we got here, apart from discovering the Filipinos and their culture, God has given us awesome opportunities to dig into our hearts and to start finding out new ways of living the essential. He is doing it in our prayers, in what He is telling each one of us and also as a whole. Our Lord is being faithful to His promises in the Listening Retreat of the community in 2017. It is real that He is enlarging our hearts for us to be even more open to what humankind expects from us. Ang Diyos ay gumagawa ng magagandang bagay sa atin! (God is making marvelous things within us!)
We are able to touch the suffering of humanity and to share our own difficulties of the time with Jesus in His cross. It has been an incredible time of maturity in our lives and also of inner preparation for the hearts of the Filipinos that we will have the opportunity to meet. Our expectations are really high and we are happy about our everyday life here. It’s really more fun in the Philippines! Referring to what is happening to us externally, with the people; and also, and more importantly, internally, on the path that God is building in the lives of each one of us.