Here are some things that I adore about the Philippines so far.
1. You have to become one with the chaos. What appears to be chaos to us really works for them. It feels like we're playing "Frogger" when we cross the street. It feels like there is no good time to cross the street, as cars, jeepneys, busses, and pedicabs appear to never stop and are often quite haphazard in their movements. But really, anytime is a potential "good time" to cross. You just have to feel it.
2. Don't be shy. Just sing! Karoake is everywhere and highly valued.
3. Smile. Bacolod is the City of Smiles. Although it was explained to me that this is because of the history of sugar plantations in the region, and thus, an overindulgence of sugary foods, I think there's more to it than that. There is a joy of life here that is contagious.
4. Education and educators are highly respected and valued. The Philippines invests heavily in education, and the level of respect given to educators by their students and communities is clearly visible. Students at Colegio San Agustin have a special bow that they give their teachers when passing them in the hallway and when entering a classroom.
5. Environmental stewardship education seems to be the norm here. It is present in the clearly labeled recycling bins all over the school campuses. It is present in the beautiful school learning gardens in many of the schools. Teachers are also incredibly interested in the ways we teach environmental sustainability and stewardship in the States. I've visited schools in Indonesia and Nicaragua, and I did not witness the level of environmental concern that I'm seeing here.