Hey everyone! Sorry it took so long for us to finally post, but to make up for it we will post a bunch of pictures and let you all know what we’ve been up to for the past few weeks!
Melissa arrived in Manila on Sunday, and I arrived the following day. Joaquin Palencia picked us up and took us out to a great lunch at the University of the Philippines and then we spent the rest of the day walking around the mall. The next day we met up with Melissa’s uncle Tito Ning, a very talented pool player and bar owner, who took us around to lots of cool places around Manila.
We first went to Dampa seafood place where Tito Ning treated us to one of the best lunches I’ve ever eaten in my life. Here’s the way Dampa seafood works: You first go to the fish market and pick out the freshest seafood of the day. You then bring it to the restaurant next door where they cook it up for you in the most divine sauces you can imagine. Melissa’s uncle picked out fish, squid, mussels, crab and prawns. A massive feast for just the three of us!
After our meal we went to the uncle’s house for several rounds of pool. Needless to say I got my butt kicked badly, but I did learn a lot of new tricks for making better shots. After pool, Tito Ning continued to show us more of the city at night. We went to a church and statue of Rizal, and then to a fountain / water show that spouted water in sync with lights and pop music. Celine Dion’s famous ‘My Heart Will Go On’ started playing, and Melissa and I started singing along when all of a sudden a scruffy looking toothless guy walked past us and said, “Hello Jack, Hello Rose!” …that really cracked us up and left us with a satisfying day full of fun, good eats, and adventure.
The day after we headed out on a bus to Daet – a lengthy 10-hour trip, but we were entertained by the movies playing on a little TV in front of the bus – lots and lots of B-rated 80′s movies like NAVY SEALS and communist Philipino war movies. After arriving in Daet we met Dr. Bong Palencia and Gerry, the Dean of Computer Science students. We then settled into our dorms and walked around the town center.
That weekend we went on a wonderful outing with the school to a piece of land next to a river the Palencias own. We all went swimming in the refreshing river to escape the extremely hot and humid weather, and Jeremy went cliff jumping further up the river. Some of the staff were kind enough to share shrimp and pork adobo they brought with them for an afternoon snack.
It’s been a lot of fun hanging out with teachers from the school. We’ve enjoyed going out for karaoke and drinks with Gerry, Poly, Dario and Eric. Melissa and I both celebrated our birthdays last week and the office here treated us to ice cream and Pansit – noodles sort of like chicken lo-mein.
We’ve also visited the lovely Bagasbas beach, only a 10-minute tricycle ride from our dorms. I’ve been strapping my board to the top of a tricycle and heading down to surf almost every morning, and have already made some friends with the local surf bums.
The waves here have been pretty small, but I can’t complain when the water temperature is 84 degrees! That’s amazing compared to the frigid wetsuit-only California waters. Fingers crossed for a big swell this weekend!
This past weekend we took a trip down to Naga, a city 2 hours south of Daet. We went to the CWC – Camarines Sur Wakeboarding complex and had a blast wakeboarding and kneeboarding! I’ll post some videos of our mad wakeboarding skills later.
In terms of work, we’ve been making significant progress assessing the organizational structure and enrollment process of OLLCF (Our Lady Lourdes College Foundation). We’ve held interviews with the registrar, accounting office, deans, and old and new students. The registration process is pretty complicated, and students have to spend about an hour and a half going back and forth between teachers, deans, the registrar and the accounting office to enroll into classes. With the information we’ve collected, Melissa mapped out flow and sequence models to give us a visual representation of the data, which will help us gain a better understanding of the entire process.
Before we can develop any kind of information system, there are a couple things we see that definitely need to be addressed. To begin, both the accounting office and registrar have no internet access, and the entire campus internet bandwidth is extremely slow, so our priority this week is to hold a meeting with the local ISP and get the whole campus online. Another problem we’ve noticed is that most of the registration process is done manually, with stacks and stacks of papers piled up every where. To speed up this process we plan on making a simple database with Microsoft Access so the registrar and accounting can quickly pull up student information. A lot of data is stored on Excel spreadsheets, which can be imported into Access easily.
Whatever we do, we are choosing to stick with a low-tech solution and tackle small problems one at a time – good advice from Professor Randy Weinberg when he visited this past week. From what we see there is not enough infrastructure to support a complex school information system so our goal is to provide a stronger base for future TCinGC teams to expand upon. Providing good internet access and digitizing the paper data seems like a good place to start!
There are still many things for us to see and do – Jeremy plans on joining OLLCF’s soccer team practices and learning Eskrima (or Arnis) – a Philipino martial art using bamboo/wooden sticks for self-defense, and Melissa might try playing with the volleyball team. See you until next time!
-Jeremy and Melissa