Well, there are a lot of things that I have done in this country that I never thought I’d do. I never thought I would be taking showers using only a bucket, I never thought I would ride around in a motorcycle side car on a semi-daily basis, and I certainly never thought I’d get drunk in an apartment building with 1 other American and 15 random Filipinos.
If you know me at all, you know I don’t actually like to get drunk. It’s not very fun to me. In fact, I had only ever gotten drunk once before Peace Corps. Don’t get the wrong idea. I enjoy drinking, just not to the point of feeling crappy the next day.
Anyway, a bunch of people wanted to go to a gay club and well, I’m not gay. Thus, I only really wanted to go for the spectacle. However, after one too many descriptions of the musty sex-scented smells of gay club bathrooms… I decided to weigh my other options. I could hang out with 2 other Peace Corps Volunteers at the Pension House we stay at, or go with one other volunteer to a house party in a different part of Manila. I chose the latter.
The adventure started immediately because neither of us knew exactly where we were headed. Streaks (the other volunteer) speaks Filipino fairly well, and thus, he kept telling the driver each direction as he received text messages telling us where to go.
We pulled into this section of the city that looked like someone cut out a small chunk of any random American beach city and placed it here in this country. There was a huge McDonalds on the corner near a Starbucks AND a Coffee Bean, there were a few posh boutiques, parking lots, and an apartment complex that was nicer than any of my friends’ in The States. We got out of the taxi and looked around for the correct apartment. We were caught by a couple of very stylish 23yr. old Filipino kids. They were finishing up their cigarettes outside so they told us to head in. The apartment was blocky and pastel-colored. It was very modern and beach house like. There was a UFC battle playing on the television and on the table near us some more kids were playing a poker-like game. They were drinking Jose Cuervo and Red Horse beer and being quite rowdy.
They were also all pale.
This was something that was very surprising to me. I started my Peace Corps experience in the more rural places. In the baryo. There are not many people who are pale in my “hometown” here in The Phillies. When I was told we’d be hanging with Filipinos. That’s what I pictured. Instead, I was presented with a bunch of kids who looked like the “T.V. Filipinos”. I was confused by this at first, but then I remembered something. In the states there is a strong desire to look nice and tan. Here, the desire is to be nice and white. If I walk down a well off housing division in the states. I would see a lot of tan boys and girls. Here in The Phillies . . . it’s just the opposite. It saddens me that people (not Filipinos, but all people) can’t find beauty in what they already are.
Moving on . . .
I didn’t know how to take it all in. I mean, other than the fact that all of this was happening in another language; I felt kind of like I was at home in The States.
I didn’t really plan on drinking that night because my stomach felt funny, but I wanted to prove to my knew found friends that I was social. Thus, I kept accepting the shots of JC and beer they were giving me. Later, I was beckoned outside. My mind was blown again when a flippant comment about my site sparked a conversation about drugs. In hindsight, I don’t know why it surprised me. I mean, my friends back at home speak frankly about drugs and even drug use. However, after 6 months of nobody really talking to me about that kind of thing . . . well, it just shocked me. The frankness in which they spoke surprised me also. Perhaps, part of my surprise comes from the idea that this country is very conservative. I am always careful when speaking seriously about sex, drugs, or rock and roll here, but these kids were completely open. It was comfortable and disturbing at the same time.
We went back in and I was offered more alcohol. Streaks and I had a few more Tagalog/English discussions with our friends and then we left.
In the van Streaks told me about how his friends tease him about chasing girls. I’m not judging, though. Especially since he’s a good friend. Streaks dropped me off because I was drunk and tired. I went upstairs to my room and passed out.
After I woke up the next morning my stomach felt sick. I ate a veggie omelette from the Pension House thinking that it would help. It did, but I felt nauseous again shortly after. I thought more food might help, something really greasy and nasty. I decided to go with my friends to a restaurant. Unfortunately, the sickness became too much. I decided to lay down.
Suddenly, my mouth began to water. My head began spinning. “Ugh . . .” I thought to myself. “Just a few more minutes and I’ll go” I tried to ignore my pain until I realized what it meant. I shot a text to my friends telling them to go ahead without me. I have not puked since the 2nd grade. I didn’t even puke then. I just dry heaved for 5 minutes. Dry heaving, sucks. Strangely, I felt a bit better after my fruitless upheaval.
Even though I regret some of my choices that night. I wouldn’t traded that experience for the world. I really got to see a completely different side of The Phillies. But I definitely paid for it… Ugh…
Play time is over though. Like Rob & Big say, “It’s time to do work, son!”
p.s. – Being drunk and sick has little to do with world changing, but this was part of my experience here. Even world changers have to learn what it means to grow up, right?
p.p.s. – I also learned just the other night that opening dish washing detergent with your mouth will make EVERYTHING you eat taste like soap.