The next day I woke up bright and early and I managed to sneak in a swim before heading to the site. Eric arrived at exactly thirteen minutes past eight in the morning. We collected my packed lunch before heading to the build site which was about eighteen kilometres away from the hotel. The ride to the site allowed me to have a look at the beautiful countryside between the hotel and the site.
After the short ride, we soon reached the site. There were already a number solid houses which had been built for the villagers who reside here. They have built roughly half of the houses for the victims of the hurricane. Almost immediately I was put to work. After getting safety equipment from Eric I started my job of plastering cement on the houses. It seemed relatively simple but it was hard work.
The build site
That became the course of my work for the next few days. While there were short breaks in-between the work was tiring. We were working for hours under the hot sun but the work was really rewarding.
More images of the construction site
Every day on the site we would be working for the whole day with an hour long break for lunch. However before we started work Eric introduced me to Muriel who is in charge of the education programme at the local church. She invited me to join her for lunch the next day to tell me more about the programme she is running here and to get to know me more.
The day went by quite quickly and soon it was the end of the work day. It was quite a long tiring day but it was quite rewarding. After the end of the work day, Eric offered to show
me around the capital city of the island, Bantayan city. We looked around the main church, the main square and the market which was quite the sight.
The market place in Bantayan city
The main church and square in Bantayan city
After looking around Eric took me back towards the hotel but first we headed for one of the caves that are a popular tourist site on the island.
On the way, we got to see some mangroves which populate the island before finally reaching the cave.
To my surprise, I found that the caves were actually part of some resort and it was incredibly crowded. Nevertheless, I decided to take a look. It was a bit of a disappointment as I expected something more secluded.
The cave in question
After the caves, we headed back to the hotel where I proceeded to have a relaxing evening. I was recommended some restaurants by Mr Macatulad and I tried one which was famous for their pizzas and they did not disappoint. After yet another incredibly flavourful pizza, I headed back to my hotel to rest for another long work day ahead.
"Healthy dinner round 2
The decor of the restaurant
The next day I woke up feeling fresh and did my island morning routine of exercising and swimming in the ocean. I then got ready for the next day of construction and met up with Eric who brought me to the site. Today was similar to the second day, I spent a fair deal of time doing some plastering on more houses. Today I decided to spend my lunch time with Muriel who told me more about her programme to help the kids in the village. I was fascinated by her drive and passion for volunteer work and helping out the members of her community. It started when the boxing day tsunami hit back in 2004. She was inspired to do volunteer work after she had seen how so many people around the region went to help. She soon ended up going to Nigeria to do help set up a school and education project in the region. What started as a simple 2-month posting ended up becoming a ten-year posting which changed her life completely. It was truly an inspiring journey and it goes to show how people with the right drive can achieve some truly great things.
Muriel, the real hero on this project
After having an enjoyable lunch at the church, I headed back to do more plastering on the houses. At the end of the work day, I asked Eric to bring me to the nearby town so that I could go and buy the kids some stationary. While we were heading to the village we saw the project manager and he stopped his truck. He introduced himself to me and offered to bring me to the shop with Eric to buy the stationary. After shopping, we parted ways and I headed back to the hotel to relax before our final day of work. In the evening I headed out to another of the restaurants which Mr Francis Macatulad had recommended to me. I treated myself to another Italian dish and a nice cold San Miguel before heading back to the hotel to rest up.
I woke up bright and early and did my morning routine of swimming and exercise. I decided to venture out a little and eat breakfast outside the hotel and found a charming little restaurant. They served up a great breakfast of eggs, toast with marmalade and pineapple juice.
A new breakfast joint
Soon Eric picked me up and informed me that today I would be painting a house. The house I was working on was partially painted by a group of university students from the US. I decided it would be my job today to finish what they started. They had managed to complete about a third of the house in the base coat. My aim was to finish painting this house with the base coat.
The house in question
Most of the day was spent doing just that and it was hard work. I met with Muriel during our lunch break again to give her the stationary items I had bought as gifts. She was appreciative of the gifts I had got for her and the kids as she knew they would be put to good use. We spent the time getting to know more about each other. When lunch break ended we bid farewell promising each other that we would see each other again.
Painting continued and soon I managed to finish painting the house with the base coat. After clearing up I headed back to the hotel and Eric gave me a certificate for my construction days as a volunteer. I bid Eric a fond farewell and a generous tip as a thank you for all that he had done for me over the past four days.
My guide Eric
Before I headed out for dinner I had to check out the view one last time
These waters never fail to amaze me
I decided to have a late dinner tonight and check out some of the local nightlife before heading back to the hotel. The local nightlife consists of bars, clubs which offer a variety of activities such as pool and karaoke.
After the interesting night out I headed to crash back to my hotel to prepare for the long journey back south to Cebu city.