Anna Cleal, KF10, Philippines

1)    How to smile

At the moment I am working as a Kiva fellow with the field partner organisation Community Economic Ventures (CEVI), based in Bohol, Philippines.  Here there are some of the most fantastic smiles I have ever seen.  It’s the real face lit up, all teeth accounted for, glowing beam that can spread far and wide.

Lesson: Plain and simple – Smile! Remember to smile as much as possible because everyone knows that smiles are contagious!

2)      How to laugh

Another one of those contagiously good qualities – people in the Philippines can’t help but laugh.  I’ve worked in 5 different offices over here with one thing in common, LAUGHTER.  It is very easy to become disillusioned into thinking that your jokes are getting funnier, but in actual fact it’s just that the audience is ever so partial to good ole chuckle from deep in the belly.

Lesson: Laugh! Don’t take life too seriously.  Do what makes you laugh.

3)      Short men can jump

For a country where the average height for males is 5’4’’, basketball is an ambitious national sport.  However, this doesn’t stop the Filipinos who are surprisingly talented players, despite their height.  While hard to compete at NBA level (average height is 6’7) they sure do give it their best shot and are highly competitive in the Asian leagues.

Lesson: Prove people wrong.  If you are apparently too short, too fat, too tall, too thin, not intelligent enough, then prove people wrong.

4)      How to sing

Ok so if basketball is the national sport then singing has to be the national pass-time.  It’s a break-through – you can do this anywhere and everywhere!  Videoke rooms, the office, walking down the street, in a restaurant, wherever!

Lesson: Don’t restrict yourself to just the shower, Sing! “Sing like no one is listening.  Dance like no one is watching. Love like you’ve never been hurt and live like it’s heaven on Earth” – Mark Twain

5)      How to pack your ride

The average Philippines motorcycle leaves the car pooling lane for dead.  If you want a more eco-friendly mode of transport then put your wife and three kids on a bike and Voila!  If you’re not a bikey from way back then just grab a van or a jeep and take your entire neighbourhood to town.

Lesson:  Ok so let’s try something a bit more realistic and pack our cars with as many people as there are seatbelts or take public transport.  If you’re travelling solo opt for a scooter!

6)      How to pimp your ride

Lesson: One of the main things about vehicles in the Philippines, in fact any object in the Philippines is that there are no COLOUR barriers.  C’mon people you’ve got a whole rainbow to work with.  Let’s put away the blacks, greys, whites and bring out the yellows, reds, lime greens, whatever.  Let’s try to get away from the black suit, white shirt, tie phenomenon unless that’s really you?

7)      How to eat rice

How to live, breathe, eat, sleep, everything rice.  How to grow rice.  Unlimited rice, rice with garlic, sticky rice, rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, RICE.  Okay I think you get the picture.  Unfortunately the Philippines is currently experiencing shortages in rice supplies and has to import a lot of rice from neighbouring South East Asian countries.

Lesson:  In order to support the Philippines in achieving agricultural sustainability choose an agricultural loan from CEVI going to one of its rice growing clients.  Help them produce enough rice to feed the nation and reduce their imports.  Let’s apply this model to the rest of the world; choose local produce, try to harvest something on your own, get more in touch with nature.  It feels good.

8)      How to grow tropical islands

They just seem to pop up everywhere!  The Philippines boasts over 7000 tropical islands; big islands, small islands, enchanted islands, tropical islands.  You name it, the Philippines has it.

Lesson:  I would 100% recommend embarking on a journey to this fine country, if you are fortunate enough to be able to travel.  And when you get here make sure you put money into the local economy not just chain shops and big name resorts.  In fact do this wherever you travel.   If you want any recommendations on some spectacular destinations within the Philippines contact me through my lender page.

9)      How to let people in – accommodate, and share

Filipinos are renowned for their ability to accommodate; even complete strangers will be welcomed with the utmost respect.

Lesson: Let’s build communities not gates.  If you have a fruit tree overflowing take some to your neighbours, work mates, friends at school.  Couch Surf.  Open yourself up to the world and connections with your neighbours in a global and personal sense.

10)   How to appreciate

One of the themes which is a big part of everyday life in the Philippines is the art of thanksgiving.  They are constantly thankful for what they have.  It is a philosophy which will get you through any situation in life and ensures that the positives are highlighted.

Lesson: When you wake up in the morning think of at least one thing you are thankful for before you start the day.  Cliche as it may be, if you start each day with a few Filipino philosophies; appreciating, accommodating, laughing, smiling, and singing then it’s much more likely that you’ll have a good one!

Let’s focus on the good news not the bad news.  Let’s move forward as a positive, unified, sharing, society based on the true human values of love and compassion.


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