April 29, 2007

Julia Campbell at Divine Word College of Legazpi (DWCL)

Filed under: Life,peace corps,Uncategorized — dakidog @ 1:31 pm

You must have read Julia’s blog- Julia in the Philippines and her vivid stories about her stay in this country. My story is a smaller version of that- Julia at Divine Word College of Legazpi (DWCL).


It all started in October, when our secretary informed me about a meeting with Peace Corps Country Director Karl Beck and Sector Manager Estella Gandionko to discuss possible assignment of Peace Corps volunteers to teach at DWCL. Honestly I was not very familiar with Peace Corps so I investigated and met for the first time Director Karl Beck and his adorable pets through the internet. After that was the face to face meeting.


When Director Beck offered us the services of an American teacher for free, I couldn’t believe my ears. Wow! We will have an American teacher, a native speaker of English, and for free! Of course, I couldn’t hide my excitement and happiness because I know how badly we need help in this department. It was decided that we would adopt team teaching strategy. She would be working with 3 counterparts in teaching 6 classes.


I heard the name: Julia Campbell. Cool. So it was settled. We’d just wait for her to arrive in Legazpi City from Donsol, Sorsogon.


Then the thought of teaching with an American made me feel uncomfortable. A native speaker will easily detect errors in grammar and pronunciation. I was really anxious. But there’s no turning back, so I just waited for that day.


And so after the long wait we finally met. Towering in front of me, she introduced herself, Julia Campbell. And to make sure I understood she said, “You know the canned mushroom?” That’s my name, Campbell with a silent p.” Okay, nice to meet you Ms. Campbell, canned mushroom with a silent p. With that funny first encounter, all my worries about working with an American vanished. I didn’t worry about my imperfect English anymore.


We had a good time teaching our students. She was very energetic and eager to teach our students everyday. She sometimes spoke in Tagalog and our students had fun listening to her amusing accent. It was even more fun when she brought chocolates and candies to give to students who did well in recitation and games.


Everything was perfect.


One day, she invited us all to a farewell party. It was held at the AB office, Tuesday, April 3. She had a new look. I said, nice hair, Jules. She said, ya, yellow. The food was delicious- bihon and all native delicacies. She bragged about cooking everything herself but later confessed that Elena helped her. Then, I wondered why there was a despedida party. It was too early for that.


That day, April 3, was the day I last saw Julia. That wasn’t supposed to be. She was supposed to be with us until the end of May. In June she flies back to New York to pursue graduate studies in New York University.


So, I waited for her on April 11. We all waited for her. She was supposed to be one of the ushers during our commencement exercises at the DWCL gym. Her sash was waiting for her. It would have been a spectacular sight to have a pretty lady ushering guests to their seats.


But she never came. And our worries grew stronger because it’s not her nature to come late or miss appointments. At first, it was a hushed worrying for her, but as the days passed we really couldn’t stop talking about her anymore. Calls from the Peace Corps asking her whereabouts increased our fears.


We tried calling her cell phone many times but it was dead. Friends and colleagues started wondering why she didn’t text anymore. She was in constant communication with us, even during calamities.


I remember how touched I was when Julia texted me during one of the most horrible typhoons that hit Legazpi City. She said in her text, Annie kumusta kayo diyan? Ok lang ako dito. But I know she was not ok. She must be terrified also like us. She was alone in her apartment.


So how could we not worry for this angel? It’s a terrible feeling not knowing where Julia was after days of searching and waiting. Some of us went to Julia’s apartment at Marquez St. a few blocks from the DWCL campus, to scour more information but we went home still confused about the whole thing.


Wednesday noon, April 18, Peace Corps Regional Manager Luzvi de Lumen called me. She asked if I’ve heard the news about Julia. I said, yes, she’s been missing and that we’ve been trying to locate her. Obviously, that wasn’t what she wanted to tell me. It took her a long time to tell me Julia was found dead that morning.


I couldn’t believe my ears. Something gripped my heart I couldn’t breathe for a while. It took me some time to resume talking with Luzvi. She too sounded strangely faint.


It’s terrible losing someone as precious as Julia. But her life has become a perfect example for all of us. As I have said I was not very familiar with Peace Corps. But Julia’s life defined it for me. Julia was a part of it. Peace Corps is a group of wonderful people, working for peace, desiring peace, world peace.  I may not become a bona fide member of Peace Corps, but in my heart I have become one because of Julia Campbell, Peace Corps volunteer, at DWCL.




April 26, 2007

Prayer Rally for Julia Campbell

Filed under: Life,prayer,rally — dakidog @ 11:51 pm

There will be a prayer rally for US Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell in the afternoon of Thursday,  May 3, 2007 at the Penaranda Park, Albay District Legazpi City.

This significant event will give people a chance to know more about Julia and her good works for the Bicolanos and the Filipinos in general. This will also be an opportunity for everyone whose life was touched by Julia to tell the people about it.

 People from the US Peace Corps, friends from Donsol, colleagues from Divine Word College of Legazpi and other guests from Legazpi City will celebrate the life of Julia during the rally by presenting highlights of Julia’s life and her good deeds.

 This activity is open to the public and people interested to be acquainted with a foreigner whose life was dedicated to improving the lives of the Filipinos.  

Julia Campbell Yoga

Filed under: Life,yoga — dakidog @ 11:24 pm

The Yoga Seminar in honor of Julia Campbell starts this morning 8:30 AM at the Training Room of Divine Word College of Legazpi.

Fr. Nestor L. Sibug, SVD, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Divine Word College of Legazpi encouraged faculty and friends who would like to join this activity to promote physical and emotional wellbeing.

The event still pushed through despite the absence of Campbell who was supposed to lead the participants in the activity.

People, however, are happy to conduct this yoga seminar since they are doing this for Julia, who said earlier that, “come what may, I will be there.”

Participants were advised to wear jogging pants and t-shirt to make them feel comfortable during the session.


April 20, 2007

Cho Seung-hui Alive and Growing in Number

Filed under: Uncategorized — dakidog @ 3:12 pm

It is a fact that an abused or battered child grows to be a self-destructive and repulsive adult. When a child grows in a very hostile environment he develops an extremely repulsive behavior. Often the person becomes very course in his speech and arrogant in every way. The person also becomes defensive when asked a simple question. Other signs of abuse include being pessimistic, resentful, sensitive, reckless and angry.


Children who are tortured by adults physically and emotionally, especially by parents or relatives, unwittingly develop hatred or disgust which will be very difficult to handle or control. The damage could even worsen if it is aggravated by other factors such as insensitive authorities and antagonistic peers.


At some point the abused person will try to socialize but will become very confused in the process. One successful attempt can encourage him to continue socializing and build his confidence but one slight rejection could shatter all chances to fix the damage. Only two things could be expected: either the child becomes a forgiving and loving adult or a vindictive and violent member of the society.

Julia Campbell’s Own Story

Filed under: Life — dakidog @ 1:09 pm

The Story of a US Peace Corps Volunteer

Ms. Julia Campbell

When I first came to the Philippines in March 2005, I was like a brand new baby. I had to learn how to do simple things – even something as simple as a trip to the CR. A tabo, what is that?

And of course, even though Filipinos are so good in English, I didn’t know the native language and had to learn from the beginning: Kumusta ka? Mabuti naman. And even a stroll down the street became a new experience. Suddenly, the anonymity I had on New York City was gone. Hundreds of eyes followed my every move. And I had a new name: Joe.

After the initial culture shock, I settled into my new life in the Philippines, especially here in Bicol. I was first assigned to a high school in Donsol, Sorsogon. I moved into a nipa hut near the beach. I fell in love with sili and learned to magpiga with the rest of them.

I’d left the hustle and bustle of New York City behind for a quieter place… or so I thought! That’s before I was introduced to the Filipino rooster. (Apparently, they can’t tell time.) Though I confess I don’t like the mga manok, I have found my new Filipino friends quite charming. Everyone seemed suddenly interested in me. Was I married? How old was I? Have I learned to eat rice? And will I marry a Filipino? No. Secreto. Yes! Three times a day! And, siguro.

I joined the US Peace Corps, the American government’s all-volunteer service corps, because I wanted to help people. I’m just one of 7,749 volunteers in 73 countries around the world. After several years as a journalist and a teacher in New York, I wanted more out of life, something a bit more meaningful. Having a good job – something I admit Americans take for granted – wasn’t enough anymore. I wanted to give something back to the world that had treated me so well.

After a year-long application process, my decision had not changed and I was asked to serve in the Philippines. I didn’t know all that much about the Philippines before I got my assignment: Imelda Marcos and her shoes (sorry!), Manila and chicken adobo. (My neighbor back in Brooklyn is a Fil-Am and often fixed his Mom’s recipe.) I’ve come a long way since then.

Having survived typhoon Milenyo back in Sorsogon in late September, I started here at the Divine Word College of Legazpi in early November to teach English for one Semester. Teaching in high school is a challenge because the students are not yet mature. It’s been a wonderful challenge to move to the college level and to meet so many hardworking, smart and dedicated teachers and students.

Of course, on November 30, 2006, I was shocked and suddenly saddened by the experience of typhoon Reming. Though I had experienced hurricanes of lesser strength back in the States, this was my first real close up with a natural disaster. I lived through a disaster of a different kind on September 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked my city and killed 3,000. So the experience of a traumatic event was not altogether new. The occurrence of typhoon Reming- my apartment on Marquez Street flooded to my waist – gave me a new insight into the Filipino people.

While Americans might take time to wallow in pity, my new Filipino neighbors did not. They got right to work the next morning cleaning and putting things back together again. I felt shame that I, too, did not have the physical or emotional strength to clean out the mud and debris right away. As one resident of Padang – where I volunteered in relief efforts for three weeks – told me, “Filipinos are fighters and will survive.” I believed him. Bicol will recover.

So even though I will be here for such a short time, it will be bittersweet when I return home to America next June. I will take home with me some fond memories and some Filipino ways. I may never eat with a fork and knife again, rice may just become my staple food and my lips will surely point in the direction of my home away from home – the Philippines.

April 19, 2007

Julia Campbell Spotted in Taysan Legazpi City

Filed under: Life — dakidog @ 1:25 pm

An evacuee staying at the evacuation center at MMDA Village in Taysan, Legazpi City claimed to have seen US Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell last Sunday, April 15 despite reports on Campbell’s disappearance since April 8.

Shiela Lanon personally went to Albay PNP Headquarters at 1:05 PM on Wednesday, April 18 to report that she saw Campbell at the evacuation center in Taysan.

Lanon and others occupying the evacuation center in Taysan are mostly residents of Padang where Campbell relentlessly toiled to help calamity victims recover from their tragic state.

Lanon stressed that she saw Campbell alive on Sunday and refused to believe that she’s dead even after watching reports on Campbell’s death.

Puzzled by the report, PO2 Nathaniel Jacob was sent to ask people at Divine Word College of Legazpi about the issue just to check on the story. Emma Napay and Imelda Siapno of DWCL exclaimed, “Sana totoo nga na si Julia yun!” (We want to think that it was indeed Julia!) It turned out however, that reports about Campbell’s death were true.

Police said they couldn’t explain the claim made by Lanon about seeing Campbell alive on Sunday but empathized with the woman who must have been one of those people touched by Campbell and who must really miss their angel.


April 18, 2007

Divine Word College of Legazpi Celebrates Mass for Julia Campbell

Filed under: Life — dakidog @ 2:43 pm

The Divine Word College of Legazpi community offered a mass for US Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell following the confirmed report that her body was found in Brgy. Batad Banaue, Ifugao Wednesday morning.


The mass was celebrated by DWCL President, Rev. Fr. Francisco T. Estepa, SVD, at the DWCL Chapel at exactly 4:30 PM. The theme of the mass immediately changed from prayers for Julia’s safety to Julia’s joining God after authorities confirmed her unfortunate death.


Fr. Estepa expressed sadness over the death of Julia who has done a lot for the students and the community as well. Others were also asked to say a word about Julia.


Most of them said how kind, dedicated and loving Julia was. After being a victim of Typhoon Reming herself, Julia still managed to spend most of her time helping people in Brgy. Padang , Legazpi City rebuild their houses and recover from the horrors of the devastating calamity.


Before she left Legazpi for the holy week break, she gave a “despedida” party on April 3 at the AB office which others say was a bit off since she was supposed to spend summer here and leave DWCL in June.


Julia was also known for her punctuality and dedication to work. When she did not show up on April 11 at the DWCL gym to serve as one of the usherettes during the graduation ceremonies, everybody concluded that something was wrong. Julia never abandons her duties.


A student who gave his message said that Julia changed his negative impression of Americans. Julia has sincerely and patiently helped him appreciate life. For him Julia is not only an American nor a Filipina but a Bicolana too who has developed a flare in cooking and eating Bicol dishes which she is very proud of. One picture of Julia shows her grating coconut meat from the shell using “kudkuran.”


Colleagues and students couldn’t hold back their tears for Julia during the mass and even after that. They were expecting to see Julia again on April 27 to conduct the Yoga Seminar and in May for English proficiency seminar for the AB faculty.

January 6, 2007

To Eat or not to Eat

Filed under: Life — dakidog @ 3:01 pm

After reading Bradford G. Schleifer’s A Pig’s Tale from the magazine The Real Truth, I now have second thoughts about eating my favourite meat of all- pork!

According to Schleifer pork is highly toxic. Here’s why:

1. A pig’s digestive system is not designed to filter toxins from its system. These toxins work their way through the pig and are deposited in the animal’s flesh-especially in its fat deposits.

2. A March 1950 Reader’s Digest article stated that pork contains “myriads of baffling and sinister parasites.”

3. Pigs are designed as natural vacuum cleaners. They will eat just about anything-garbage, carcasses or even their own urine and feces.

4. Pigs can eat poisonous snakes-with no harm to the pigs. The poison is stored in the flesh which can be ingested by humans.

5. Pork fat stores much of the toxins. Therefore, eating fat means storing the most toxic form of the animal.

Pork, anyone?

January 4, 2007

Pinoy Learning the English Language

Filed under: Uncategorized — dakidog @ 9:27 am

Learning English as a second or foreign language is quite complicated. If you’re a Filipino like me you will encounter a lot of queer words that don’t even sound like they ought to be. But then, we try our very best to learn and use it because it is the official language here.

Some common pitfalls for Filipinos learning English include pronunciation, spelling, subject-verb agreement and preposition. Really, one will understand the difficulty given the kind of language Filipinos have.

For one, Tagalog or the Filipino language has a very simple spelling and pronunciation. If you write, “Mahal kita” (I love you), that is exactly how you are going to pronounce it. No mystery. All the a’s are pronounced like the a in “ah.” We only have five vowel sounds: a, e, i, o and u. And the sound never changes when combined with consonants.

There are also consonant sounds and diphthongs not found in the Filipino alphabet hence the production of the sound is also difficult. We don’t have the v, f, soft and hard th and other combinations. Instead of saying v we say bictory, or pace for face. We say tenk you for thank you and pader for father.

Another thing is the subject-verb agreement problem. Singular and plural subjects pose a big problem for most of us. Choosing the right verb or predicate for the subject is quite tough. Even the tense of the verb is also a big problem.

Not to be overlooked is the problem with preposition. The trouble begins when you combine the verb with a preposition. Simple combinations like look at, look into, look over, go on, go to, go over, go into, etc., really are mind-boggling for the non-native speaker.

Nevertheless, we continue to struggle and work our way into the labyrinth of the English language hoping that one day we will be able to use the language meaningfully and beautifully and enjoy its benefits.

Goodbye Tilapia

Filed under: Life — dakidog @ 5:13 am

In my whole life I have never experienced my place being swamped with water and mud. But a time came when the place we were renting went under during a typhoon. We live near a river, hence, floods aren’t unusual. It’s weird though when you watch your house submerge in water.

When the river was not very swollen yet, Tiya Charit, our landlady, told me that our place has never been flooded so I better not worry a lot. But she was wrong because I really saw with my own eyes how the water rose and inched its way into the house. You can imagine how I tried frantically to save our things. It’s kind of funny when you see small creatures and other things enter your house. I was even imagining snakes swimming under the water, seeking for someone’s legs to bite! Thanks God there were none.

All of a sudden something fluttered near the bathroom. It scared me for a moment but then my husband said it was just a fish- a tilapia fish. I chuckled when I heard what it was. I asked my husband in jest to catch it so we will have something for dinner. My husband tried to put the poor fish inside a pail to keep it safe from the intense flood. But the fish took itself to the air and plunged straight down to the wet floor and vomited what looked like muck. Strange because the muck was actually tiny bits of shaking and twittering live fry.

This tilapia must be a glutton! Imagine devouring so much fingerlings. Made it throw up instead. Nevertheless, I asked my husband to save the glutton to be safely returned to the river after the flood. The tilapia seemed relieved and happy to swim inside the pail. A moment later and the tilapia threw up again. This time the half-full pail teemed with live fingerlings cramming delightfully around the big tilapia.

And then I realized that the tilapia was not a glutton but a mother to these thousands of fingerlings. She gobbled the fingerlings to save them from the flood and to prevent them from scattering. Must have been very hard to gather and keep fingerlings in your mouth without swallowing them. I couldn’t help but admire the motherly instinct of this tilapia.

I was enjoying the glorious display when the bubbly and energetic fingerlings started to become drowsy. They turned dull and some just broke the surface- dead! It must be the lack of air that caused it. How on earth am I going to instruct the mother tilapia to gather her fry again and save them from asphyxiating inside the pail? Even the mother tilapia was losing her strength.

I should not have put the fish in the pail and made it look safe for the fish and the fingerlings. I had no other choice but to let go of the tilapia and the fingerlings. I let them out of the pail- the mother tilapia and the fingerlings- into the river. Chances for them to reunite were nil.

Goodbye tilapia!

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