Every couple of days, I have a moment that causes me to ask myself “is this really my life?” The answer is typically ‘yes’, but I generally repose the question, just to be sure: so I really am singing in an Ilokano song competition? There really is a perturbed-looking owl sitting in a box beside my desk at the office? Yes to both.
I think I have, in part, simply adjusted enough to the daily ins and outs of Filipino culture that I forget to expect differences. But also, I bring it on myself.
I had promised myself at the outside of this little adventure in the Philippines that I would seize every opportunity presented to me. I like to think of it like a whack-a-mole game, where there’s no time for hesitation:
“Hey Stu, want to go zip-lining with some middle-aged women from Manila”
WHACK! Gotcha, mole! (“Yes I do, Firth, thank you for asking.”)
“Want to give a speech?”
“Want to eat this disgusting food?”
I would be tempted to believe that this is not real life at all, if it were not for the realities of work. I am, in turn, reminded of all the work yet to be done as the smell of burning garbage wafts through my windows at the end of a long day. If this is all just a whack-a-mole game, then the segregation (rather than burning) of waste in the Philippines is the King Kong of moles; a 300ft rodent spewing chemicals and smog into the atmosphere.
But I've only got six months to tackle the beast, so there's no time for hesitation. Good thing I carry a big stick.