So that's it then. After a bit more than one and a half years here in the Philippines I have to return to New Zealand. I really need to get a job as soon as possible.
It has been one fantastic ride here. I'm so glad I didn't let any of my fears stop me from taking the step to come here and work in charity work, as it's been a couple of the best years of my life.
I arrived here in January 2007 and spent the first six months renting a single non-aircon room in a retired man's house, in perhaps low-middle-class neighbourhood about 45 minutes from the CBD. Every morning I'd walk past the wet-market to catch the buss or jeepney to the office...even little things like that become cool memories, so lively is a Filipino wet-market.
I've heard it said that the honeymoon period of living in a developing country ends after a few months, but I've never gotten sick of living here. I ended up moving to a studio space in the CBD last year, and have great friends here.
Adventures I've had have included interviewing a peace-building sultan in a Muslim conflict zone here, camping on the beach on a tiny island in the Hundred Islands, building houses in the burning summer sun alongside the future recipients of the houses, interviewing CEOs of multinational corporations and discovering motivations far beyond simple corporate social responsibility, and seeing children move from lives of no hope to having real hope of a better future.
I've also managed to extend my vocal range through regular karaoke singing with friends, as well as some singing with local bands, in addition to a few guitar jams.
This is an excellent place to live, and there are 7,109 islands to explore in downtime. My language learning has gone reasonably well, and I'm keeping it up for when I return, perhaps for a holiday next year.
For any people on here coming to the end of their education, I recommend taking some time to do something like this before you get to be 30 - the age I was when I came here. There are extra difficulties at my age, including the need to take time out from career and financial progress etc.
Also, if you're straight out of college or only a few years in to work you may be able to get financial help from US AID or whatever your local equivalent is.
Lastly, food and beer cost very little here, and girls are generally slim and pretty. Occasionally dealing with corruption can be irritating, but generally because you're working in charity you're not subject to it too much. Shopping is excellent and in truth I believe tourism in the Philippines is a somewhat undiscovered gem, compared to known meccas such as Thailand.
Wish me luck finding a job please haha...