Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Philippines: A Third World Adventure

Filipino kids gathering for a picture

Our two years in the Philippines were an adventure of two kinds.  It was the mid 70's, the Viet Nam war was still ongoing not that far away, we were living under Marshall Law with Marcos still running the country, and let's face it, living in a third world had it's challenges. The heat, humidity, disease, and poverty were oppressive. Our off base houses were protected by 24/7 hired security guards, bars on our windows and cement block walls with broken glass on top.   Adding to that a metal security gate into our property, and heavy wood sliding doors that locked down into the cement floors.  It did not create an atmosphere of safety.  More than once we woke up at night with Filipino men in our yard, hoping to find a way inside and "guerrilla warfare" was common out in some of the barrios.  They would sometimes shoot at our planes as they took off at night, and we talked to a missionary family once who told us periodically they left their place of mission work when the guerrillas were known to be roaming near where they lived.  We had no phone in our off base home and no cell phones at that time.  Our oldest two children rode a mini bus to preschool and there were bars on the windows and the door to the bus.  We were not allowed out after 10 pm without military escort, and we did not venture out after dark.  I will say I don't recall knowing anyone who was harmed while we lived there, but our two neighbors were both in undercover military security work and we know that there was more than one military family that was rushed in the dead of night out of the country for protection, besides other not so nice stuff was going on. We had little to no contact with our families back in the states, with letters being our only means of communication besides one costly phone call where we had to say "roger" at the end of every sentence.   Yeah, it was challenging.............

Then there were the bugs.....huge roaches that RAID would hardly kill, biting red ants, rice Beetles, house lizards (Geckos), cobras and boa constrictors, bats, and of course my encounter with a huge monitor lizard one morning in our yard!

BUT our time there was mostly amazing and delightful.

We made a point of getting to know and subsequently care about the people we had working for us, and went to visit our first and last maid's homes and also our "sew girl's" home.  We attending a wedding and a baptism with our first maid, Ampharo,  and our oldest daughter is a Godmother for her first child Maria Lousia.  We also celebrated Holy week with our sew girl down in Angeles City. Let me add here that it was a government policy that we hire maids, yard boys, sew girls, etc. while living there as military.  It was strange to us at first, but much appreciated!!  You really do your weekly cleaning every day there due to the bugs, etc.  We also were able to have three houses built for people we cared about (very inexpensive there), paid for a wedding and baptism, and helped some people with food when needed.  It was fun to be able to help others and certainly a joy to get to know, observe, and be a small part of the Filipino culture.

Our adventures in Baguio, a respite/resort town up in the mountains were always interesting, adopting two our of children while there was amazing, and driving to Manila and of course the Corregidor Island trip were exciting to say the least. We did fly to Taiwan and do the tourist thing for 4 days once, but stayed pretty close to home because we were in the adoption process.

We were there when Saigon fell and we were able to be a part of Operation Baby Lift, which had a powerful impact on my life.

We met some great military people and are still friends with a couple from those days.  They live in South Carolina now and we stay in touch through the social media and texting which is great.  It was in the Philippines that I was part of an interdenominational prayer group headed by the base commander's wife.  About 30-40 of us women would get together to worship and pray.  We also attended an interdenominational church on base and were part of a Baptist Serviceman's club off base.

Clark Air Base was like a small city with around 40,000 military personal and families assigned there.  They had a college, several schools, chapels, cafes, military clubs, grocery and clothing BX and a library.

We left The Philippines and the military in May of 1976 after 8 years of service, and Joel started seminary that summer.

Over the past 48 years of marriage we have moved often and certain events have changed our lives,  but our two years in The Philippines really impacted us, and God used  those two years to help shape and mold us in powerful ways. Forty years later we still talk about that time.  It was definitely a third world adventure of great proportions that will never be forgotten.

I hope as I reflect on our time in The Philippine Islands, it recalls for you adventures in your own lives and how they impacted and shaped you.  Life is an adventure in faithful living!

1 comment:

NanaNor's said...

Dear Renee, This was so interesting; I have a close friend who was born and lived most of her life in South Africa where the conditions were identical to those you mentioned(high fences, guards, etc etc)~in fact they had a metal door between the living area of the home and the bedrooms. Armed men who break into your home and kill you for something so little. I could never visit there because of the stress she has shared. People had Pit Bulls just for protection. I'm glad that the Lord blessed your time there and kept you safe. I have no experiences like that, I am still thankful for His hand of protection over me/us.
Sending love your way!