I went to Manila for New Years. It’s a really fun place and I had a great time. Yet, I kept feeling guilty for some reason. I was out having fun, but shouldn’t I be out saving the world? Well, as it turns out even though that thought was in the back of my mind, I was actually getting that weird feeling because of the vibes my host family was sending out over the small portion of sea that separates Mindoro from Luzon.*

Apparently, I left without telling anyone other than my host brother. This is not technically true. He was indeed the only person I woke up in the morning, but he was the only one who asked me to do that. I actually told my family ahead of time. However, this is often the problem that I face. You see, generally people don’t actually listen to me. That is one possibility. Since I am not fluent in Tagalog yet, people often misunderstand what I am trying to say to them. This is another possibility. However, my bet is that she just forgot.

Which would be fine.

But now I get the cold-shoulder every time I walk in the door. My host father just opened back up to me. However, my host mother only speaks to me when it is absolutely necessary and with no emotion in her voice. I am pretty sure she hates me now.

What’s worse is that if a friend of mine didn’t help me out. I would have no idea anybody was mad. I would be getting the cold-shoulder for seemingly no reason. This “new culture” stuff can be a bit difficult to navigate. I would have just been treated poorly and nobody would have said a word. How strange is that?

Needless to say I have been apologizing a lot, speaking only in Tagalog (trying to prove that I am attempting to assimilate), and doing as many chores and cleaning up whenever possible to prove that I want to be a part of the family.

On a separate, but related note I got 2 packages today! One was from my aunt. The other was from my girlfriend. I think they were both intended for Christmas, but that didn’t happen.** The one from my girlfriend consisted of Hebrew Lettering pressed into a ring. I am waiting for her to tell me what it says. The other was candy, chocolates, a christmas card, and a little christmas tree from my Aunt. I was telling my host family what I got. I presented them the ring and the tree. My host mother told me how pretty the tree was and walked off with my gift.

I am sure you all know what happened. The Christmas tree I was very excited about is now wrapped in plastic and sitting upon a shelf in my host mother’s room, waiting to be unveiled next Christmas. Oh well . . . I guess it’s for the best. I really loved that tree for the 4 hours it was in my possession. I even set it up in my room to remind myself of my family back home. But I suppose making amends is more important.

Make with the encouragement! I love you all. Even if I don’t know you, I probably love you.

Much Love,

– Brandon Holly –

*Geography Lesson: There are 3 main regions in The Phillies: Luzon, The Visayas, and Mindanao. I live in the Luzon region technically, however, Luzon is also the name of the largest island in The Phillies. I live in Calapan City on an island called Mindoro just one of the thousands of islands in The Phillies. Manila is on Luzon. Thus it is hard to tell people I am going to Luzon, because I live IN Luzon, but not ON Luzon. *rolls eyes*

**Us Peace Corps volunteers aren’t sure who to blame here. However, either mailing things internationally is just tricky and risky business period or The Phillies specifically has a less than satisfactory postal service. I am leaning towards the former with maybe a small portion of the latter mixed in as well.


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