Thursday, March 23, 2006

Saan Na Siya? (Where is She Already?)

Whoa, I didn't realize I had fallen so behind in the blogging, folks. Forgive me, my faithful readers (All 3 of you!) :)

Yes, I am still here. By the Grace of God, sometimes, it seems, but I am still here. Quite a bit has happened since I last left you with the image of me in a little black dress, but nothing of great import, only that I shook hands with Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the President of the Philippines. (Picture to come soon). GMA, as she is known in these parts, came to my site recently to see, what else, the whalesharks! I was part of the VIP group that gathered to greet her at the beach. All I can tell you is that she is short. Other than that, didn't have a great sense of her. But she was nice enough to me.

Time seems to go by quickly now, which is a good thing. In a week, I will have been in the Philippines for one year! Wow. It's hard to believe a year has passed. While the days pass quickly, the time does not. Getting things done continues to be a challenge, but slowly, if not surely, things do happen.

Our library project is continuing though we have been in a lull recently while we wait for shipments of books and funds to build bookshelves and renovate part of the flooring (so the kids don't fall through to the ground floor!) We will be cleaning, painting and reorganizing the library this summer to get ready for the start of the school year in June. (Our summer months are April and May).

The environmental project, a marine ecology learning center, is also coming along in planning stages and seems for now that everyone is working together to make it happen.

In the meantime, I am busy planning summer seminars. We will do a two-day seminar at my school for a 100 teachers in May called Read First. Me and three other PCVs will be teaching reading strategies to teachers and giving them information on how to teach remedial readers. Also, in May, Mary Owen and I will be giving a journalism seminar in Cebu as part of a program called Tudlo Mindanao. This is Peace Corps' program to help teachers in Mindanao, (off limits for travel because of the terrorist activity there), by bringing them to us in Cebu. I'm definitely looking forward to that because it's a chance to help some of the country's most needy teachers. Some of them have very little education themselves and come from some of the most impoverished areas of the country.

And recently, I attend a seminar (I know! Lots of sems!) in Tagaytay on HIV/AIDS education. This one was really great, and I brought a rural health nurse from Donsol to attend the seminar with me. Julie Hernandez, the nurse, is very cool and works hard and wants to do a lot to help people in Donsol. Last week, we did an HIV/AIDS seminar for some of the graduating seniors. We are also planning to reach out to some of the transient sex workers who come during tourist season to give them some information about HIV. While in the Tagaytay, I met a really cool woman who is on the National HIV/AIDS Council and who is going to help me fund a camp for gay teens. Another PCV and I drafted a proposal for a leadership and self-esteem camp for the gay teens here and are now just looking for funding...

Life at home in the hut is good. I finally got some furniture, made out of, what else? Bamboo. It's not the most comfortable, but better than nothing at all! The kids still swarm my house and recently were excited to meet other Peace Corps volunteers who came to visit. I had several different volunteers recently and it was good for them to see that Americans come in all shapes, sizes and colors. I got a lot of questions, like, "that one, there, is she a real American?" Well, yes, as a matter of fact, we're all real Americans!

Oh, and how could I forget this. Just last week, my barangay of Dancalan celebrated its fiesta. Every village and town in the Philippines picks a patron saint and then celebrates that saint once a year by having an all-day eating and drinking fest that starts at breakfast and can go til dawn. Our saint is Joseph, but I don't think that is really the point of the fiesta any more. It's more about the pig. My "family" spent the last nine months or so fattening him up for the killing. A guy -- the hired "killer" -- comes around the neighborhood to kill the pigs. He sticks a sharp knife in the juggler and the other men hold the pig down as he struggles, then slowly dies. Okay, a bit macabre, I know.

Last Saturday, I hid in the CR (bathroom) during the killing, though I could hear it pretty clearly. The pig squeals painfully loud. But for curiousity's sake, I did come out to watch the cleaning. (Pictures to come). It was sad. I happen to think pigs are cute, even if they are dirty. Plus, I'd been feeding the damn thing with my leftovers for months so I felt a bit culpable. I made him fat, too.

About four men cleaned -- by pouring hot water over the dead pig to take off his hair -- gutted and cut up the poor beast for the next day's feast. The good thing about all this is that not a part is spared. All of that pig, down to his little piggly toes, was cooked and eaten the next day. The men even wash the pig intestines inside and out with soap and water to prepare them for cooking.

The idea of fiesta is that you make a bunch of food and people go house to house eating. The men drink Ginebra gin and Imperador brandy and sing videoke all day, and the women, sorry to say, stay in the kitchen, cooking and serving for the men. Women don't join much in the drinking circles in my little neighborhood.

I made vegetarian food -- lumpia, mongo bean balls, fruit salad and a rice dish -- and it's safe to say, I had very few visitors! I had two PCVs, Dan and Cindy, come to visit and hang with my family so that was just fine. The three of us celebrated fiesta early that morning by taking a swim with the whale sharks. I swam a ways with some really big ones this time! Gorgeous sila, talaga.

So after all of that, I am taking a vacation. Ang best friend ko, si Catherine, and I will be taking a trip to Vietnam on April 5. I am very excited to see her -- it's been a year! -- and to see another Asian country. My apologies for being remiss on the blog. I'll try to keep up as I go along here.

Hello to all back home. Miss and love you guys!


Blogger The Mayor said...

Hi Julia,

Wow - glad to hear things are going well!!!!! Funny, I describe Ron just as you describe the President...... Gave Catherine a couple more books, although she is VERY selective. Have a great time on your vacation!!
Miss you

7:33 AM  
Blogger wrcampiii said...

Another great blog! I guess you are a celebrate now having met the President of the Philippines. Don,t let that go to your head. The project seem to be going well, if slowly. I won't comment on the pig kill! Ugh! I guess it is the same all over when you live in the country. Take care. Dad

4:49 AM  
Blogger Your Friendly Editors said...

Hi...I found this through you don't mind I post this Call for Submission. Hope that's okay...Share with interested friends
- Steve
Opportunities for Writers
Call for Peace Corps stories: Travelogue anthology of adventure and mayhem

An anthology of first-person travel stories written by Peace Corps Volunteers/RPCVs and compiled by two RPCVs -- Steve McNutt (Gabon 2000–02) and Jacob Fawson (Gabon 2000–02) -- both graduate students in Communication Studies and Nonfiction Writing. They are seeking, “funny, harrowing tales of self-deprecation and disaster. Sharply written and witty preferred over ‘how I saved the world.’ Meditative is good -- but make us laugh first. Vicarious fun. Think: bathrooms, food, medical, transportation, sex. Above all, think funny. Profits to charity.” Read about the guidelines at:

E-mail Submissions to: or
Deadline: Summer, 2006

11:51 AM  
Blogger Vania said...

Hey Julia:

Enjoyed reading your blog. Haven't heard from you in awhile. Sounds like you're making the most of your pilgrimage.


12:57 PM  
Blogger geary said...

Any bacon left over? It's a good thing we don't see or hear pig kills in America anymore, we'd all be vegan!

Looking forward to planting my tomatoes in a couple of weeks -- growing the Rutger's tomato this year in honor of Ed.

G & E

4:51 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

my heart bled upon hearing the bad news. i am not i any way associated with you and your works but i salute you julia.

i have visited your blog and read your posts and i am deeply saddened that this tragedy happened to such a kind hearted person like you.

i pray that God take your soul to paradise.

i already prayed for your soul and your family.

thank you for visiting our country and helping less fortunate Filipinos in the suburbs.

to your family, God bless you all! may God help you recover.

4:26 AM  
Blogger angel03 said...

i only knew about Julia through the news that's been going on for days with her missing and all and just few hours ago, an unfortunate news was out that's she's totally gone.

it's heartbreaking to know someone with a kind heart experienced such. she doesn't deserved it and there are lots of people whose very lucky being touch by her care, love and concern.

I got her blog from the news a couple of hours ago and although i haven't read all of her post, for me she already seems like an amazing person. it's sad to know she has left for good, i would've love to meet her.

to Julia, wherever you may be the Philipines was truly blessed to have you. you don't know any of us but you trade a good life in America from here in the Philippines.

and to her family, my deepest condolence. you had an angel and the Lord used her so don't be despair coz her life was never put to waste.we pray for your recovery and may you be bless always.

5:26 AM  
Blogger Selina said...

After i heard about Julia on the news, i searched for her blog and i am deeply and absolutely sadden to know that one of the few remaining souls who left their comforts to share their talents and blessings to the unfortunate has left us. She is truly an amazing person and i believe she is a hero to the Filipino people and even to the world in her own great way.

This is a great tragedy and i offer my deepest condolences to her family and friends. I know she will be in a better place now. She has touched the lives of countless people. She will always be loved.

May this blog serve as a testimony to the her nobleness and altruism and I pray for your family's recovery. We will always remember Julia in our hearts.

8:42 AM  
Blogger koko said...

This is my first time to put a blog first my English is poor and my spelling maybe not correct but right now i don't really care,cos i really want to say thank you for you Julia Campbell for very kind heart and for the love of our country PI,yes i don't even know u, only when i saw u in news your missing,and when i heard u had a blog,as of now im reading ur blog and im very sad it happened to you,i know God all has a reason but sometimes we may ask why??? and why??
I will pray ur soul and happiness when ever u are!

3:57 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Thank You Julia. and goodbye... but i, and many more, will remember you

4:01 PM  
Blogger ritchie said...

justice for julia campbell!

8:54 AM  
Blogger shailoe said...

Ms. Julia,

Thank you for being a part of our lives, for helping my kababayans, for giving us hope.

I may not know you personally but wherever you are.. mananatili ka sa aming puso't isipan at magsisilbing gabay patungo sa kabutihan.

You inspire me to be like you someday.. to make a difference, to touch other peoples lives and to spread love.

bukod tangi ang mga taong katulad niyo na iiwanan ang lahat para lang makatulong, maglingkod.

Again, Thank You.

Our deepest condolences to her Family and friends.

Me and my family are praying that justice be served.

6:20 PM  
Blogger nathzee said...

thank you for what you've done in the philippines.

may you rest in peace.

9:27 PM  
Blogger ronesmay said...

hi julia,

i feel so sad when the news came out regarding what happen to you here in our and my family are praying for your soul and we know that your in good hand now in the name of JESUS.we would like to thank you for giving an insperation to those less fortune children to push thier knowledge. may condolences for your family.

justice for julia


4:30 AM  
Blogger TheEnabler said...

Thank you, Julia, for showing us, for showing the world, the meaning of agape love. I am ashamed to be countryman to whoever took your life. I am honored to receive your selfless service in behalf of my countrymen. I pray for comfort and encouragement to your loved ones. You will not be forgotten, at least not by this person. Thank you, USA.

5:37 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

It was while reading about this tragedy that I found your blog. Wow!!! Never before have I ever seen a greater example of what is grace, and the world is in such desperate need of graceful women!!!

Your blog is a testimony that your time on this earth was so well spent, that you are a perfect model on how we should all conduct our lives, and your spirit lives on and it is for an ever expanding and continuing positive effect. There can be no greater example of what is a truly successful life.

8:31 AM  
Blogger Les said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Les said...

My heartfelt condolence to the Campbell family. Julia gave up life of comfort for Philippines, helping the unfortunate in my country. Her tragic demise is a loss not only for her family but for every filipinos whose lives she had touched in her own way.

Julia left a better world than the one she have found. She left her footprints in the hearts of every filipinos. She have made a difference in this ever changing world of ours, a world full of violence; Julia gave hope to the hopeless - she became a beacon of light, of hope.

Rest in peace Julia, you'll never be forgotten by the filipino people. Thank you very much for your service to our country. To the Campbell family, thank you very much for bringing Julia into this world. The filipino people join you in mourning her loss.

11:33 AM  
Blogger marshirette said...

Dearest Julia,

I feel the greatest regret in life for not having read and commented on your blogs when you were alive to read my comments.

I am deeply sorry for what happened to you.

You have surely inspired a lot of Filipinos. Thanks for sharing your life with my "kababayans".

To your family, may God help them recover from their grief.

May God welcome you in his place, a place so peaceful and safe for people like you who truly deserve to be in Heaven.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Aries said...

your an angel sent by God to help our countrymen,and we thank you for all the wonderful things youve done.wherever you are ,we want to let you know that you will always be in our hearts.

"Julia,The filipino People loves you and will always remember you."

8:21 PM  
Blogger jun91 said...

you are truly an example of having selfless love which knows no boundary. an innocent and positive outlook that everyone is created by God with goodness which such confidence resulted to your untimely demise... very regretable and unfortunate that only few people like you deserves such accolade which mere words are not enough to express. Thanks for giving such example so that in any way this country will come to realization that it does not anymore need people from other country to wake up to bring peace and prosperity tothis noble land... philippines. God is always with you... am sure He is.
- jun pulido

9:53 AM  
Blogger shawie said...

Dear Julia,
your prayers will surely reach the heart of God for you are now resting and at peace in His love. May you continue to watch over us from above.....


1:12 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home