On the next day, I took a Phiippine airlines flight to Cebu at 2:30 in the afternoon and arrived at Mactan Cebu International Airport at 3:10, which was much earlier than ETA
. The airport was international, but very small. At the airport, I was supposed to see a Japanese manager from the English school. Somehow, he was not there and I had to wait more than half an hour until a Korean manager appeared, showing a drawing paper saying "Philinter". Then we headed for the school dormitory behind Days Hotel, but he told me that school was off on the next day. It was so ridiculous. Because nobody was in my dormitory room, I went shopping in Savemore supermarket and looked for a money exchanger nearby. At that time, I didn't know my school was on the second floor of the same building, Marina Mall. On my way back to the dormitory, I found a fried chicken stall and tried a few pieces, which was very tasty. By the way, there were a few interesting snacks sold in the stalls along the way to the dormitory, such as Puso and Balut. Balut is an egg with a half-grown duck in it. Actually, I tried it once, but the grotesque appearance of the duck prevented me from eating it all. When I reached the dormitory room, two Korean roommates, Sue and Born, was there. They were very nice and we talked more than one hour in our room. Then we had Korean dinner together in the dining room. It was not so bad, compared with spicey Korean cuisines I tasted in Seoul. We were able to use the free Internet on the second floor of the dormitory, where an unpopular cafeteria was also open. There were guards at the dormitory front and at the gate all day long and it relieved me, although I made it a rule to carry anything valuable all the time
I had five "batch mates", who entered the school on the same day, including three Koreans and two Japanese: Jacky, Sophie, Jenny, Tomoe and Emi. All of them were supposed to study there more than three months, although I stayed only one month. The Japanese manager, Etty, stayed in the dormitory and he was very kind and friendly. There were some Japanese students as well. However, according to the principal's talk, they didn't stay and study long enough to improve their English, although all the Koreans study more than three months to get a good result. Interestingly, some Koreans were in their late thirties or early forties and there was also a Korean English teacher staying with his wife and kid. More than half of young Koreans were thinking about going to Ausralia or Canada after studing English in the Philippines. Actually, I had got information about the English schools of the Philippines from Koreans during my stay in Australia. By the way, the new school building was supposed to be open soon, but I wondered if it had already been built.
On the first day in the school, I took a placement test, but I had nothing to do after that. So the Japanese manager asked the Korean general manager to give me a class. From the next day on, I had eight 50 minute classes
. Five out of them were private and one was an optional. I took an IELTS preparation class as an option and actually, it was the best English class of all I had ever taken in Japan, Australia, and the Philippines. The teacher had an interesting teaching style and it surely worked out to improve my speaking ability. Anyway, almost all the teachers were eager to teach English, while a few of them gave me enjoyable lessons. In addition, the general manager applied to my requests to change classes and thanks to him, I had a good schedule. Everthing was fine with the classes. The school jeepneys were useful to commute to the school, especially on a rainy day, although the dormitory was 10 minutes' walk from the school.
When I got into a jeepney for the first time in the town, the vehicle was very interesting to me. A ride costs about 10 pesos. The fare depends on travel distances. The conductor who stands on the steps at the back of the vehicle collected the fare, while the jeepney was running , neither when passengers get on or get off. He packed his jeepney with passengers until all the seats were taken. Then he pulled out a few small wooden benches stowed under the passenger's seats and placed them on the isle to let more passengers ride. That was the most packed vehicle I had ever taken.
Sometimes, I went out to Cebu tourist attractions on the weekend
. During the one month stay in Cebu, I visited Magellane's Cross, Fort San Pedro, Santo Nino Basilica, SM City, Mandaue cock fighting arena, Bohol Beach Club, Fisherman's Wharf, Lapu-lapu Shrine & Lapu-lapu statue, Pinoy Grill, and Shangri-La's Mactan Island Resort. To tell you the truth, I broke the 10 P.M. curfew of the dormitory a couple of times, although it was very important to protect ourselves. I think Cebu was safer than Manila, but I heard from a teacher about an robbery she had experienced and it was true that some Filipinoes had a gun. Anyway, when I went to Pinoy Grill restaurant with my roommates, it was the first time to break the curfew. My roommate's favorite girl, Chicks, worked as a singer on the stage there. So he seemed to go to the restaurant very often, but I didn't go there again. The second time was when I was invited to a festival in Lapu-lapu Shrine by Japanese friends. Actually, the dormitory gate was already closed when we left for the shrine. We took a jeepney from the side of Marina Mall, but when we returned, we had to take a taxi. In the shrine, we were not interested in the music stage, so we just strolled around, took a few pictures, and tasted fruit juice. Honestly, the decorated statue of Lapu-lapu looked strange. In the evening we got a brownout, we went to Anton's restaurant near MEPSA with Korean and Japanese friends. We took our homework there, but we just enjoyed talking.
On a Friday of the third week, we took a progress test composed of 5 modules: reading & vocabulary, writing, listening, speaking, and grammer
. All the students were given answering sheets for the vocabulary test and speaking test. The topic of the speaking test was English Villages of South Korea and I was surprised at Koreans' eagerness to study English. At the same time, I realized the big differnce between Japanese and Korean English industries. Anyway, I didn't expect good scores in the tests, but fortuantely, I took second place overall of all the students. In the afternoon of the same day, we took a jeepney to SM Hall for a special event of the school called "English Day". At the beginning, we sang three different national anthems: Japanese, Korean, and Filipino. Then I played a important role in a sit-com and performed a dance in a group, which we had started practising only two days before in the dormitory with the teachers. In the event, a speech contest was held and all of the selected students in elimination round the day before made a great speech. So I regretted that I didn't participating in the contest. All in all, however, I had a wonderful time in the event.
One day, before I left Cebu, my "batch mates" held a farewell party for me. The venue was Casa Verde and it was a little bit far from our dormitory, so we took a taxi. Because the restaurant was very popular, we had to wait for a while to take a table, but the food was so good and inexpensive. Besides, we happened to see our school friends in the restaurant
. We had a waiter taken a picture and it was put on their farewell card for me, which is now my treasure.
The 1st of May was a national holiday of the Philippines and the last day off for me. So I invited some friends and teachers to an island hopping. The travel agency picked us up at our dormitory and left for the harbor on the east side of Mactan Island, where we got on a boat. The first island, Pandanon, was small and not so famous, but the beach was very beautiful. We had a good lunch and enjoyed bathing, thanks to teacher Riza' arrangement. Then we headed for Hiltugan Island. To put it exactly, we didn't land on the island, but we enjoyed snorkeling around the boat. It became a good memory, but it was a pity that I had to go back to Japan the next day.
On the last day in Cebu, I took all the eight classes. Some teachers didn't know that I would leave on the day, but others gave me a souvenir or invited me to a dinner in a restaurant of Marina Mall. My "batch mates" gave me a collection of the messages. A teacher took the trouble of paying a visit to the dormitory so as to give me a gift. I was very glad and impressed. When I got back to the dormitory, a lot of friends were waiting to say good-bye to me. I was so sad and I couldn't help crying even in front of them
. Some friends tried to see me off at the airport, but I declined their offer. I said good-bye to them in front of the dormitory and headed for the airport by taxi. I couldn't stop crying all the way to the airport. I had a wonderful experience in Cebu and learned not only English, but also importance of friendship.
When I arrived in Manila at 9 in the evening, I had to stay over night there in the airport. The domestic airport looked clean and safe to stay. It got closed a little bit after midnight, then some guards approached me and asked a few friendly questions, and eventually, they let me stay there. Anyway, I was surprised to see a lot of Koreans in the domestic airport and one of them talked to me in Korean. Actually, it happens very often when I travel overseas, because I look like a Korean. In the next morning, a friendly guard took me to the international airport. He was very kind and gave me his business card. Against my anticipation, he didn't ask for any tip. In the lobby of the airport, I was talked to by a Filipino in Tagalog. That may be because I got a lot of suntan in Cebu. Anyway, I got on the Nothwest airplane and took a seat, but after a while, there was announce telling us that there was something wrong with the airplane and asking us to get off once. Eventually, I had to stay in the airport another three hours, although they gave all the passengers a meal coupon and a discount ticket for Nothwest Airlines.
On April 7, I was supposed to enroll in an English school, Philinter and the day before, I flew to Manila by Northwest airlines, because it was cheaper than a direct flight to Cebu. However Nothwest arrived at Ninoi Akino International Airport almost midnight, I had to stay in Manila overnight. My hostel was much farther from the airport than I had expected. I took a coupon taxi, although it was quite expensive, but the safest way. However, soon enough, my taxi was caught in a trafic jam around the church near the airport, because it was Saturday night. My hostel, Green Mango Inn of Paranaque, was difficult to find at first, but the taxi driver carried out his responsiblity to take me there. As soon as I got into my room, I went to sleep.