At 1:45 AM my cellphone alarm inconsiderately woke me. It was time to leave Manila and head to Ligao City, where I will teach at Bicol Regional Science High School over the next ten days. We left the hotel at 2:00 AM, battled the ubiquitous Manila traffic to the airport, and arrived in plenty of time for our 4:35 AM boarding call. The flight to Legazpi only took an hour, chump change compared to the flights we took to get to Manila. We deplaned via a staircar, down which I nearly took a tumble as I became distracted and overwhelmingly awed by the Mayon Volcano, the iconic stratovolcano that looms large over Albay. I had to immediately take a picture:
Angelo, my partner teacher, and Jenn, another TGC fellow placed in a nearby school, and I we greeted at the airport by Kristina and Agnes. Kristina is a Physics teacher at Bicol Regional Science High School and the host teacher for Angelo and me. The Teachers for Global Classrooms program relies on alumni of the ILEP program to serve as host teachers. Kristina participated in the International Leaders in Education Program (ILEP) program in 2016, spending a semester taking education classes at Kent State University and guest-teaching in high schools nearby. Agnes is another ILEP alum who had been scheduled to be a host teacher this year before some of my colleagues dropped out of the cohort. She will be hosting us a bit as well during our stay. Here's a selfie taken by Kristina on our way to Ligao:
After a half-hour ride from Legazpi, we arrived in Ligao City and checked into our hotel. Once we had settled in, Kristina left Angelo and I to rest a bit. A few hours later, we decided to check out Kawa Kawa Hill, which was a short walk from our hotel. Kawa Kawa Hill is an ember cone that is simultaneously a nature park and Christ-themed tourist attraction. As we hiked up the (very!) steep path, we encountered life-size sculptures of the 14 "stations of the cross," starting with the last supper and ending with the resurrection.
It was unbelievably hot and humid. We later learned that "no one climbs Kawa Kawa in the middle of the day, that's crazy." Kawa Kawa is called "the hill with no hilltop" because, as an ember cone, a crater exists at the summit, rather than a peak. The last few stations of the cross are on a path that loops around the rim of the crater. Here is the view from the top, as a thunderstorm rolled in:
Can you spot the long green-roofed building to the left of the image above, directly upward from the collection of red-roofed houses? That's the school I'll be teaching in once the weekend ends.
Angelo and I had dinner in the hotel's restaurant, the Philadelphia Cafe, which is saturated with Flyers, Phillies, Eagles, and 76ers merchandise. The hotel's owner lived in Philadelphia for twenty years working on HVAC systems before "retiring" home to the Philippines to become a plumbing supply baron and, eventually, hotel owner. The hotel's owner introduced my to the area's congressman after dinner.
Some bonus photos: