Young Filipinos meet Asia (second of three parts)

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Monday, February 24, 2014

STORIES of persistence and perseverance were just heard from the Dugong Dakila batch or the 2013 Philippine Youth Ambassadors of Goodwill, as they meticulously prepared for the 2013 Ship for Southeast Asia Youth Program (SSEAYP).

These 28 young Filipinos did bring down the cultural and language barriers that separated them from other young Asian delegates, just so they can build up friendship and discuss social issues and the same time showcased the beauty and uniqueness of the Filipino culture.

But that’s just half of the story, Davao region representatives Sheldon S. Silva and Sheena P. Onlos shared the second half of their journey in what they described an experience that immersed them in other cultures.


Club and Voluntary Activities

National presentations were not the only venue to showcase fully the diversity of the culture for each country, but these two activities on board as well showcased other aspects of each nation's cultural diversity and uniqueness.

For the club activities, Sheldon said the Philippines showcased the colorful Masskara Festival of Bacolod wherein they had the delegates paint maskaras.

Other club activities included Vietnamese coffee making, Thai massage, and sand art, among others.

A voluntary activity was a scheduled activity but not required.

Being a country who loves to celebrate the Yuletide season, Dugong Dakila gave the delegates a moment to remember with the joyous and unforgettable Christmas Party despite obstacles. In fact, Sheldon and Sheena said it was one of the most attended events on the ship.

"Not all of them really understood what Christmas really is. Being the only Christian country among the delegates, it was a stretch for to explain what Christmas really is, that it is not only giving gifts and Christmas trees but it is really a religious event," Sheldon said.

He also said they also held exchange gifts and karaoke singing as part of their Christmas party.

Home stays

Delegates were able to immerse themselves with the culture of every country they visited for three days and two nights. Aside from being fun, learning, and transformative experience, Sheldon and Sheena also found it as an emotional experience.

Sheena said her best home stay experience was in Singapore. She, who is from a Mansaka tribe, was impressed how Singapore values urban planning that it utilized well the lands, despite being a small nation.

"My home stay sister is an environmentalist. She taught me how to develop and value your land," she said.

Sheena said when she thinks about Singapore, she is always reminded of the importance of valuing the land they own whether big or small.

For Sheldon, his home stay in Vietnam was the highlight.

"Me and my home stay brothers became really close during my stay there, that when I had to return to the ship we were very emotional," he said.

He said one of the most memorable moments they had was when they just sat in an alley in Vietnam and dawdled away drinking coffee.

"These are the experiences a home stay can only give you. No tourist guide and no tour schedule," he said.

Sheldon and Sheena also shared that the Philippines received the highest ratings of all home stays in the program.

"They said that once they disembarked from the ship, they can immediately feel that 'it is more fun in the Philippines'," Sheldon said.

Sheena and Sheldon said the delegates saw that Filipinos were high-spirited despite the country’s experience with Yolanda last year.

Both of them said that even though the program ended, they are still in contact with their home stay families up until now.

Sheldon and Sheena still have a lot to share, the 51-day journey can’t be told in two parts, the reason why we will be having a third part on the institutional visits and how the SSEAYP delegates extended their assistance to the Yolanda victims.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 24, 2014.


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