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Friday 2 July 2004
Working abroad: Stevie Cameron
Written by Stevie Cameron, AIESEC member
Stevie with Filipino friends in Manila
Stevie (centre) with Filipino friends

Stevie Cameron is travelling to the Philippines this summer.

He's travelling with the AIESEC student organisation, and he's writing a regular diary on BBC Birmingham.

SEE ALSO

Stevie Cameron
Stevie's in The Philippines.
Introduction
Diary 1
Diary 2
CSR Conference
Diary 3
Diary 4

Andrew Webster
Andrew's in India.
Introduction
Diary 1
Diary 2
Culture Shock!
Diary 3
Diary 4
Diary 5

Jess Rudkin
Jess is working in the Czech Republic.
Diary 1
Diary 2
Diary 3
Diary 4
Diary 5

James Eder
James is sharing his marketing skills with local people in Colombia.
Introduction
Diary 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
Diary 6 - Aims
Diary 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11
Diary 12 - 13 - 14 - 15
Diary 16 - 17 - 18 - 19

Working with AIESEC
Jame Eder introduces the student organisation.

AIESEC in Birmingham
Amaneeta Shokur explains more about AIESEC and how she is involved.

Scheila
Scheila came to Birmingham from Brazil on a student scheme run by AIESEC.

Students index

The Philippines
Profile of the country from BBC News.
WEB LINKS

AIESEC
Official website for the UK.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

FACTS

PHILIPPINES FACTS

Population: 80 million (UN, 2003)
Capital: Manila
Major languages: Tagalog (Filipino), English
Major religion: Christianity
Monetary unit: 1 Philippine peso = 100 centavos
Exports: Electrical machinery, clothes, food & live animals, chemicals, timber

AIESEC FACTS

AIESEC (pronounced "i-sek") stands for the Association for the International Exchange of Students in Economics and Commerce.

AIESEC is the world's largest international student organisation with 30,000 members in over 86 countries.

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Friday 2 July 2004

Twelve days ago, I took my first steps into Manila. It's taken me a long time to really feel comfortable here, and even now, I still find the culture difficult to adapt to. However, what an eye-opening 12 days it has been!

Stevie outside M&S
Stevie outside M&S in Manila

It's a city of two halves, and I'm based in the wealthier of the two. In the Makati area, there is every modern convenience and luxury you could ask for. From Marks and Spencers to Pizza Express, it's a district covered in malls.

Weather whinging

Filipinos congregate in malls all the time, to eat, to shop or just to relax. This is mainly because they are air-conditioned, which is more than a relief after standing outside for only five minutes. The temperature ranges from 30-40 degrees and the humidity lies at 89%. Bear in mind that at the moment it is winter - I'd hate to think what their summer is like! I feel like a typical Brit amongst my Filipino friends, always complaining about the weather!

Weird and wonderful food

The Philippines is a country where avocado and sweetcorn are turned into ice cream flavours, where chicken intestines are served on the street, like we sell hot dogs. For mealtimes, 'sisig' (pig's face) is a popular dish, though you can also have a lobster for £1.50!

Stevie with Jolibee
Stevie with Jolibee!

Every meal of the day is served with rice, and even a MacDonald's meal (45p!) comes with a portion.

However, the most popular of them all, well at least for me, is Jolibee. This is the nation's biggest fast-food chain and it serves a large variety from Filipino dishes such a pabalok, to spaghetti bolognese (with sausage meat and sweet sauce).

Nothing is as generic as you'd expect, even the Starbucks drinks here come with jelly cubes in them!

Rush hour

Stevie on the jeepney
On the jeepney

Manila is a very polluted city - imagine rush hour traffic on the M25, on a rainy day when there are road works.

With no exaggerations, this is what central Manila is like every day. The roads have no lanes or markings and seatbelts aren't worn in the back. As you sit in a car, streams of people knock on your window, begging or selling street goods. The other alternative type of road travel is the jeepney, a sort of mini-bus, which costs around five pence for a short ride.

Fantastic people

The people are the country's greatest asset. They are amongst the nicest, most hospitable I have ever met. Everyone shows an interest about my home, and look in awe as I tell them I am from England.

I often get stared at as I walk down the street, because of the colour of my skin, and people shout out "Hey Joe", a term they used for Americans during the WWII!

I've had days where I question whether I'll be able to cope here for my whole summer. But then, I look at the many experiences I've already had, and I see that it's about more than just enjoying myself. I'm here to appreciate another world. A world that is more different from home than I could ever have imagined. Twelve days down, only another 47 to go - there is still so much to learn, explore and encounter.

Written by Stevie Cameron

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