I promised to blog more this year, even when new and exciting things aren’t happening, so here’s a look into our everyday life:
Our season ended at 11:48 PM Friday, October 3rd,when the bus pulled up at school. We had our last meet of the season at International School of Manila. The meet was a last-minute addition to the season, which “officially” ended the previous Saturday. We asked our team if anyone was interested in attending another meet, and about a dozen runners chose to participate. It was a nice change of pace, having a final week of practice with 1/3 of our usual numbers. We got to know this group of runners a lot better, and I felt like they formed more of a bond as they cheered each other on.
We received the results from this meet on Tuesday, and I was floored to see that 11 of the 12 runners had set new personal records; some beat their previous best times by several minutes! What a great way to end the season.
All in all, it was a success. We had a handful of strong runners that competed in the top 10-15 at most of our meets. All of our runners worked on personal goals, and everyone improved in one way or another – be it attitude, endurance, speed, or mental toughness.
The season was a lot less stressful this year; we knew what to expect and had already built a base relationship with our team the previous year. It was a fulfilling experience again this year, but I’m looking forward to having my afternoons free again. Maybe now I can do some running!
Our new house is wonderful. We made a great decision when we decided to move. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that the staff are incredible, and that’s still entirely true. We were invited to a community party in September. While I was a little hesitant to accept the invitation, our headmaster encouraged us to go. He attended last year and said the food and entertainment was worthwhile. Plus, the people at TPV work so hard for us; it seemed only right to attend their party.
Upon walking in the door, we saw two tournament-style brackets set up with the names of the male residents and workers: an arm-wrestling competition! Mr. Higgins had mentioned this, but I didn’t really believe it would happen. Craig, Jeff, and Bob are all big guys, and most of the TPV staff went down without much of a fight. The competition ended with Craig and one of the wheel-chair bound retired Japanese tenants duking it out for the championship. Craig came out on top, much to the delight of his many adoring fans – the female staff at TPV love Craig, who bears a striking resemblance to Thor. The entire experience was quite surreal and extremely entertaining. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.
Now that we’ve gotten settled in to our new place, the plans for decorating have begun! Just this afternoon Danette and I went down to the market to purchase fabric for new couch and chair covers. Pictures are going up on the walls. Next up is a custom dog bed for Ringo.
Last year I didn’t spend much time or effort on our house because I knew we were planning/hoping to move. Now we have a place that actually feels like home, and I’ve started making plans to spruce the place up a bit. It’s good practice for our future, more permanent HOME. 🙂
School is going really well. There is such a significant difference in the ease of beginning this year compared to last year when we were new. The kids are used to us and we are used to them.
The one struggle has been due to large class sizes for Jeff in PE. He has a couple of huge sections that keep him very busy; activities are a challenge to plan and coordinate. Of course, he makes it work. Jeff’s very well liked among the students (I think it’s safe to say he’s one of the most popular teachers in school), so most of the students work to please him. It helps that he has so few discipline issues to worry about.
We just had Spirit Week here. This is basically homecoming without the football game. Instead of a “big game,” we have a house rally. Our students and teachers are divided into two houses: Gold and Azure. All year long we compete in various athletic, creative, and academic contests, and a winner is determined at the end of the school year. Jeff and I are both in Gold. Last year Azure won the overall competition. The first house rally this year consisted of house cheers (orchestrated by the team captains), obstacle courses, and relay races. Things got pretty intense, but everyone managed to have a great time. Azure and Gold tied in the events, but Gold came out on top in the cheer competition. Finally, we got a win!
In a couple of weeks we’ll have Book Week. I’m on the committee that plans for this, and we’ve got some great ideas planned. Blog to come!
I have been on a bit of a photography mission this year, so I took some time to drive around Subic taking pictures of some of the more interesting sites. Subic Bay used to be a U.S. Navy base, and many of the buildings are from that era. I’m fascinated with the almost ghostlike history of the place. The base was turned over to the Philippines in the mid-90s, and many of the quonset huts, offices, etc. have been repurposed. I’ve gone to so far as to dig around on the Internet for old pictures from when the base was in operation, trying to get a better sense of what this place looked like, teeming with American life.
Just a couple of weeks ago 3-4 ships docked in the bay, and Subic has been overflowing with Navy personnel. We went out for dinner Friday night, and I was shocked to find a normally quiet restaurant PACKED with Americans. We’re used to seeing U.S. Navy ships here, but this stay has been longer than usual, and people are definitely talking about it.
A few weeks ago Danette and I went on a photography trip to Bataan Technology Park, Inc. (BTPI). BTPI used to be the Philippine Refugee Processing Center (PRPC), a refugee camp for people from Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and other SE Asian countries. The camp operated from 1980 until the early 90s when funding ran out. This is yet another historical tidbit about this area that fascinates me. Before our trip, I spent an afternoon researching the PRPC and found several personal accounts of escape and rescue that ended at the refugee camp. Most of the people who found their way to the PRPC were quickly processed and sent on to the U.S. and Canada after short stays, so the atmosphere around the camp was said to be lighthearted and optimistic.
While most of the buildings from the camp days have been torn down, a few still stand, along with monuments and statues installed by the refugees. It was a rainy day, but we made the most of the few pockets of dry weather and checked out statues of Buddha, breathtaking views, and the museum, which houses one of the boats used to escape war-torn Vietnam. One look at the boat sent shivers down my spine. A simple wooden structure, it looked like it wouldn’t survive a float in the bay, much less a journey in the Pacific. The fact that people would be willing to risk their lives on these boats in order to escape the horrors of their home countries was a testament to just how bad it must have been. I can’t begin to imagine a life so hard that it would be worth risking almost certain death. These refugees have my respect and sincere admiration.
The trip to BTPI was incredibly interesting, but the weather didn’t allow us to explore as much as we wanted. We’ll be making a return trip one of these drier days.
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Life so far this year has been comfortable and less stressful. Now that we feel more like “regulars” around school and have learned our way around Subic and the surrounding area, we’ve really settled in. We have our routines – Tuesday Night Football, Sunday night massages for Jeff (Starbucks for me!), monthly book club, etc. The novelty of life overseas has worn off, but what we’re left with isn’t exactly an absence of enjoyment. If anything, I’m enjoying life MORE now that the novelty has worn off and normalcy has set in. I feel settled, comfortable, like I belong. The stress and anxiety of a new, foreign home just faded memories.
We leave for a 7-day vacation in Northern Vietnam in two weeks. I cannot wait to see another part of this great big world.