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Snapshot of the Philippines – English and Tagalog (also known as Filipino) are the two official languages of the Philippines, though there are several other major regional languages, most notably Cebuano (spoken in the Central Visayas region), Ilokano (spoken in northern Luzon), and Hiligaynon (spoken in the western Visayas and Mindanao). About 90% of the population in the Philippines is Christian, with the vast majority belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. However, a few southern areas, including the Sulu Archipelago, have a primarily Muslim population. Philippine culture is influenced by Malay, Spanish, and American cultures. Events such as barrio fiestas (neighborhood festivals) are common events featuring music, food, and dancing. The use of English as an official language has helped make many American trends popular in the Philippines as well, such as fast food, rock and hip hop music, and films. Basketball is the most popular sport in the Philippines, though boxing, soccer, and volleyball are also popular. The Philippine martial art style Arnis is considered the national martial art. Eating out and regular snacks between main meals are popular in the Philippines. Rice is one of the staple foods in the Philippine. Corn, adobo (meat stew using pork or chicken), meat and vegetable rolls, seafood, empanadas, and several varieties of fruit and vegetable are also commonly eaten. Roasted pig is often served as the main course for festivals and special occasions.
We are still collecting information on the Philippines Tacloban Mission. If you served in this mission and are willing to share your experiences with us, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Church is fairly strong in the Philippines, however retention of converts is an ongoing concern. Most people know of the missionaries and who the Mormons are. Chances are, you’ll meet people who have been members for quite some time. However, there are many members who are long time inactive or just newly inactive. There is a shift within the mission that doesn’t focus on proselyting as much as helping less actives return to church.
Rice is one of the staple foods in the Philippines. Corn, adobo (meat stew using pork or chicken), meat and vegetable rolls, seafood, empanadas, and several varieties of fruit and vegetable are also commonly eaten. Roasted pig is often served as the main course for festivals and special occasions.
Your mode of transportation is dependent on what area you’re assigned. If you were in a more rural area, you’d ride motorcycles (like a taxi motorcycle). In other areas you would use petty cabs, which are similar to a bus, and in Tacloban city, you’d probably travel by jeepnee which is a larger bus. If you’re in the city and your destination is only couple miles, you would probably walk.
Overall, the mission is pretty safe and theft and robbery aren’t big issues. However, if you don’t have an appointment set up for the evening, missionaries don’t go out after dark.
When you’re meeting an older person, you should bless them as a sign of respect. Blessing them means you grab their hand and put it to your forehead.
The locals and missionaries call each other by nicknames. For example, you could call a little boy ‘dong’ and a little girl ‘inday’. ‘Beh’ is another phrase like similar to calling someone babe. ‘Bitaw’ is also another phrase that means ‘true that’ and is a hip, young phrase.
You can get the majority of things you need in the Philippines. There are rubber shoes that you can buy, similar to Crocs that most of the missionaries wear and are very cheap. Because it’s always raining and you’re constantly walking through mud, these are good shoes to wear so it’s easier to clean your shoes and feet. Something you might want to consider bringing is a nail cleaning kit. Because you’re always walking in mud a nail cleaning kit comes in handy to clean your fingernails and toe nails on a daily basis. Flip flops are also something really handy to have since you shower with them on and walk around the house with them on too.
A letter from the United States will take about two to three weeks to get to Tacloban. If you are sending a letter, send it to the mission home and missionaries will be able to get mail every zone conference.
Outside your apartments, the water isn’t considered safe to drink since it’s not filtered. However, you will probably be in situations where you drink it anyway to be polite. Many people will offer you pop or soda and even though there’s ice in it, you drink it anyway.
Get to know your fellow missionaries–it will make your mission a whole lot more fun.
The local people are really open and friendly. Their homes, doors, windows, are always open. People are usually sitting outside since it’s so hot inside. When you approach homes, people will most likely be outside. Just be open when you approach and they will most likely be friendly towards you.
511 Maharlika Hwy
Fatima Vlg, Tacloban City
What items were hard to get or not available? It is hard to find any American food in the grocery store. There is one McDonald’s in Tacloban City but it is hard to find American food. Grocery stores don’t carry milk or cheese. They do carry a fake cheese (like Velveeta) but they don’t sell real milk or cheese. Everything else is pretty much available. The quality of things such as shampoo, conditioner or deodorant aren’t great but they aren’t hard to come by.
What did you eat the most of? I ate rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You have other types of food with your rice, but rice is the staple of every meal.
What is the craziest thing you ate? I ate balut which is fertilized duck egg. It’s considered a delicacy but you are eating a baby duck–feathers, beak and all.
What was most surprising about the culture? I enjoyed that they didn’t really feel embarrassed and were confident in themselves. The people were so funny and goofy and they’re not very self-conscious. As Americans, we are so embarrassed because we think people are going to judge us but these people embrace their differences and enjoy being different. I learned to be like them. It was a relief to feel that way. The other thing that was surprising was despite their poverty levels, they were were really happy. We’d go to a house and we’d sit on the floor and it didn’t seem to affect their happiness. These people were so happy, giving and humble. I’m sure they didn’t enjoy being poor but they’d still come out of their shacks dressed nicely, have their hair curled and very put together–it was just so cool to see.
What advice would you give to someone going to the Tacloban City Mission? Let people in and be their friend; enjoy them. It’s about the people and sometimes you forget that. You worry about being a good teacher and obeying the rules, but don’t be afraid to get to know someone–even if you don’t know the language. Make it about the people and open your heart to them.
What do you wish you had known before you served? I wish someone had told me not to worry about what I didn’t know but to be myself and share what I did know. Be loving, be friendly and that will make your mission wonderful.