Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Month with Mabuhay Guides

I am in my fourth week and I didn’t have time to write a blog about last week because we have been so busy! Going earlier to class and coming home later. We, or at least I, are/am at the verge of information overload.

If you would read my previous entries, you’d remember that I said passing the exam for me would be like a cherry on top because I feel lucky enough to have already gotten in this extensive training; but after last week, oh no, things have changed, stakes are higher, and now that I am so much closer, I wanna finish it! They have altered the plan and will only take those who pass the exam to Bohol (instead of all 23 of us)! We also got to meet our London trainer, a very nice lady who is as excited as we are to get the “real” training started. The thing that got me most excited was…

*drum rolls*

Our uniforms will be designed and made by RAJO LAUREL! (yay!!) I was beside myself with excitement when I found out. We will be measured on Monday, March 2 for our uniforms. We will be getting 2 sets, a sports wear set for hiking and such, and also skirt and sport shirt set with blazer.

Yesterday, we were at Boni High Street and had our personality development class there, at this posh French restaurant, Aubergine. The ambiance was beautiful, really classy and obviously expensive.

We each had Difficultly Level 5 five-course meal (haha), and taught us how to use the knives and fork properly. We learned how to tackle a salad (by folding each leaf of lettuce into bite sizes before stabbing it with a fork); eat a whole fish using a fish knife (!) without flipping it over (eat 1st layer first then remove and set aside the bone then devour the lower half of the fish); how to drink soup with a soup bowl that has handles; how to peel a prawn with knife and fork; how to twirl pasta with a fork and a pasta spoon (!), peel the banana, orange and apple with fork and knife! and all along I thought I knew how to eat! Haha. Lia Bernardo, our instructor, also gave us a quick lesson on wine appreciation which means I took 5 half-full glasses of wine, I like!

Today, we start with our London trainer! Have no idea what to expect in the training, I’m a little anxious but a little excited! I hope I absorb everything! J

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Week of Mabuhay Guides Training

It’s been a week of training as a Mabuhay Guide. So far, it has been nothing but amazing! The things I am learning right now are priceless. I wondered a week ago, how this training would change me after six weeks, but it’s only been a week and I believe I have become more nationalistic somehow. All 24 of us, are learning from THE BEST OF THE BEST; no matter how cliché that phrase sounds, there is just no other way to describe them. I am learning NEW things about a country that I was born in, grew up in, and studied in for the past 25 years.

I feel like I’ve lived in a cave for a long time, but not absolutely like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave (that I have been facing a blank wall all these time), but more like I was looking at a painting by the window all these time, and understanding the world only based on the painting, and then I realized the window beside it was actually open, and I can look right through it. Now I am standing in front of this window, peering out of it, realizing, hey, there’s sunlight and it’s brighter than how I thought it would be.

These speakers we have, Mr. Felipe de Leon, Jr., humanitarian; Ms. Ning Encarnacion-Tan, nationalist architect, Dr. Florentino Hornedo, historian and archaeologist; Mr. Ramon Santos, composer, among others are like personified Wikipedia of their own expertise. They are mind-blowing lecturers that have touched each and everyone of us who are intently listening to their lecture. They fill our hearts with desire to become better people for the nation. We have no idea what our cultural identity is, which is exactly the problem why we are so crippled. We do not know what we should be proud of, we forget who we are before the Spaniards came, it is unfortunate that only a chosen few gets to know the truth.

You would also remember me comparing our situation as trainees, to be like America’s Next Top Model or Project Runway… you know what, it’s nothing like those reality TV! We do not serve our own purpose therefore we do not scheme and wish the other fails. We are learning so much that we wish everyone gets in so that we can be ambassadors and propagate what we have learned. I and my classmates are slowly getting to know each other and I think will eventually become good friends.

With this, I propose something to my mates; let us drive this passion to the next level, level as in like multilevel marketing (haha). We are 24 individuals, we are the few fortunate ones who were granted these knowledge, maybe in our little way, we can make a difference. We can each have 2 people we choose to teach our new knowledge to, and then each of them teaches another two, and then so on and so forth. I think we may be in for something big! This could be the cultural revolution that the Philippines need! Or we may also choose to become movers for change in our community, maybe starting in our high schools, talking to the youth and teach them at the early age our Culture. I may be too much of an idealist but I think we have to think big so that we can “poke”, as Ning Tan would put it, the hearts of people.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mabuhay Guides Training Day1

Today was my orientation and first day of training in the Mabuhay Guides program. We were welcomed by the project director, Susan Medina, the host of Travel Time. We also met Undersecretary Duarte who has been with the Department of Tourism for 33 years and he said he’s never worked a day in his life. He so loves his job, and wishes us the same thing when we get into the tourism industry.

They kept stressing about how extensive the elimination of the Mabuhay Guides are and how we were the chosen ones. Among the 150 people who submitted their application forms online, only 100 got to take the exam, and 50 passed the test to go the interview, and only 25 of us made it.

During the orientation, Susan Medina mentioned that Sec. Ace Durano got an email right after the 25 people got chosen for the training, the email came from somebody hi-ranking and was recommending someone and said he/she was very much qualified to be in the program. So, Sec. Durano asked Susan Medina if the said person was in the list or not? As they checked, the person apparently did not even pass the examination, therefore, the letter.

Sec. Durano was behind this project, it was his idea, and it was his vision. This program was conceptualized when Sec. Durano went to Europe and had the most unforgettably best experience he’s had as a tourist being guided, and he knew he had to do bring it back to help Philippine tourism. That is why Mr. Durano replied to the email with a simple, “OK.” He said that he will not taint this brilliant project with politics because he really wants only people who are qualified to undergo the training.

It is going to be a 6-week intensive training, which include 5 days in Bohol (yay!), we will also undergo practical training under the London Blue Badge Guide Trainer! We also received P5,000 as a transportation allowance for the 6 weeks; and upon receiving the cash, we also signed a contract that says, if we fail to finish the training, or drop out in the middle, we will have to return P50,000 to the DOT. This is such an amazing opportunity as they are getting the best of the best people to come and give us lectures about culture, history, arts, dance, music, architecture, geography and etc.

Anyway, when we come back from the training in Bohol, we’d have a day’s rest and then the next day, a written examination then 3 days of practical exam! :-ss It is until then we get filtered out once more, and finally be awarded the certificate of completion and a badge during the ceremonial dinner with no other than, Secretary Durano. We were discussing with the others that we felt like we were in a reality TV show or something, like Project Runway or America’s Next Top Model. Lol.

I cannot help but see us 23 (2 dropped out before signing the contract) like in some kind of movie, like Mission Impossible or Bourne Identity or something, you know we’re being the select few to be “trained” by the government from then on we become of service to the government, only not as spies or secret agents, but tour guides. Haha. Not that I am complaining or anything, but I do feel like I’m in some kind of study concentration camp, sort of feel like we’re computers, I think they feel like we’re sponges, like they just drag and drop information, which made me feel a bit intimidated and overwhelmed will all these pieces of information we have to take in. I mean if I feel like a computer, I’m afraid my hard disk won’t be enough, you know? (Which I doubt it will happen to any human brain) It’s just that I’m just afraid that I might be like a glass under a faucet of running water, that I won't even feel that I'm already full and new water are replacing the old water that's already know just over flowing...

I’m sure that they assumed or made sure (from the exam and interview) that we are adults meaning individuals who were not forced but came at their own free will to LEARN, therefore they would not even have to worry if these “students” were listening or not, right? because this is not like school. and it feels really good to have people expect that from you, I feel so grown up.

Having to undergo this training is great enough privilege for me, free knowledge from the best, getting to the exam would be the icing on top. At least that is how I feel for now. From today until the end of this training, I am so curious on what kind of person I would become 6-weeks from now, because I am sure that things like this change people. That’s why opportunities like this only come sporadically. I am so thankful for having to experience this so early in my life, and so grateful that I can afford to do this too. I am so blessed. J