Filling the Days

Time in: 8:45 AM

 

The work I did at the office today composed mostly of translating the audio in the video of James, creating the subtitles, and positioning them in the sequence. I focused on this for a good while, and after that, I brought out the draft of Ashley’s story and worked on it. I also took time in organizing the files in our group’s folder on Google Drive. I imported some recordings from last Saturday, and went back and forth between the draft and the organizing.

Most of us were present in the office for today, although Ms. Shane wasn’t in. She hasn’t been since late last week, which is due to some personal matters she had to attend to. Even so, the office today was alive with activity with the additional company of interns from the University of Cebu, whom we’d already met a few weeks back, but never really had a proper interaction with until today. They had been to the same locations we’ve visited – the FCC, the library, the Inayawan center and community – and an exchange of stories of all our experiences there was the highlight of the office chitchat today.

With most of us present, we also discussed the event we’d been planning the past week – a small program to be held at the library in Sambag Dos as a culminating occasion of sorts for our internship. Our agenda today centered on delegating the tasks among us through committees. I volunteered to be in the group assigned to gather and provide educational videos to be shown to the kids during the program, which is set for this Saturday. They have to be full of useful advice and information, but delivered in a way that’s fun for the kids to appreciate and pay their attention to.

For this entire week, my to-do list is packed, since we also have other matters to attend to outside of and relating to our internship job, such as the processing of our Memorandum of Agreement and the upcoming enrollment for the next semester. But I hope for a good near-ending of our internship at Rise Above, and there was a little of that today from the fellowship I saw among us.

To more busy days with camaraderie!

 

Time out: 5:45 PM

Number of hours: Nine

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Bustling Back

Time in: 8:00 AM

 

My group was the only one in the office today. I was the first to arrive – not even Ms. Shane or Sir Flemming was there yet. We had four tasks to start on – three videos and one write-up – and two pending others.

We focused on reviewing and editing the video covering the Songahid sisters. It was long overdue, but we had to heed Ms. Shane’s advice and suggestions to improve it, so we took our time perfecting it accordingly and as best as we could.

Meanwhile, for half of the day, I was occupied with writing the story on one of our kids from Inayawan – little Ashley. We had decided to produce three videos out of our visit the other day and one article, which, as mentioned, is to be on Ashley.

I managed to finish the draft just before we had our lunch break. All the while as I was writing the draft, I was also assisting Grace in the brief moments when she consulted me on some parts of the polishing process. But for most of the afternoon, my progress was taking over the final stages of the editing and going through the entire sequence, fixing an out-of-sync clip and text here, repositioning some graphics there, noting the amplitude of both the video’s audio and the underscore at all parts of the film, and basically making sure nothing was out of place.

By around 4 PM, we were exporting the video, hopefully for the last time. We didn’t even get to work on our video of James, which was three-quarters done, at most.

I left the office at past five, thinking how today was a chill office day, literally and figuratively.

 

Time out: 5:15 PM

Number of hours: 9 hours and 15 minutes

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Re-realizing the Smallness of My Perspective

Time in: 7:30 AM

 

I went out early for our trip to Inayawan today. I met up with the other interns at the McDonald’s right across the Metro mall in Colon. I was the first to arrive, and when the others came we went inside the fast food restaurant so they could get some breakfast.

With me were Ate Bea, Janita, Ate Niza, Ate Janille, and Grace. Phoebe wasn’t coming with us as she was on rest because of her UTI diagnosis. Ate Khyz had excused herself for the day as well. So while waiting for Ate Jude, Ate Niza received a message from her that she was sick and stuck at home with a fever. And so we headed out for Inayawan at around half past eight, short of three people.

After a ride of perhaps thirty minutes, and a short walk up the street of our destination, we arrived at the Enfants du Mekong Foundation.

We were welcomed by Ms. Jessa, who had scheduled our meeting with the children at 1 PM today, something we weren’t informed about, since Ms. Shane instructed us to go there at nine in the morning. Nevertheless, we settled into their living room and made ourselves comfortable. Ms. Jessa told us that the children were told to meet with us this afternoon because she couldn’t accompany us to the kids’ homes this morning, as she had to attend a meeting in the center. They had their meeting in a gathering area outside the building, right next to the room we were staying in.

We were passing the time when Ms. Jessa went inside and asked us who was assigned to the girl named Marissa. I responded that it was Grace and I, and we learned that Marissa had classes that start in the afternoon, in the nearby night high school, so it was more convenient to give her home a visit this morning. We obliged, glad to have something to start working on now instead of in the afternoon.

Grace and I left the center and let Marissa take the lead. Introducing ourselves to her, we asked her a couple of questions along the way, discovering that she was fourteen, and currently in the eight grade. We walked a little further down the street we were currently on, and then Marissa took a left turn, going from the paved path to a dirt road flanked by some concrete houses on the left side and a field of grass with a few cows grazing on it on the right side.

At the end of the dirt road, we were met with a much narrower path, leading to a community of houses that were much less stable and well-built than the ones we’d passed by a while before. The pathway was often muddy and soft, so that our shoes sunk into a ground a little as we walked, and we took care to walk on the small boulders positioned as steps to guide us as we traversed the way. We passed by makeshift houses cramped side by side, and Marissa kept on walking quite a few steps ahead of us.

Soon we came out from the place to find a rice field in front of us. Marissa’s home was located in the group of houses right in the middle of it, which we were soon about to see. I’d never before crossed a field of rice paddies before, even with my mom’s family owning one or two, even as I grew up for several years in a province with fields that stretched as far as you could see. Today was the first time I did.

It wasn’t anything too difficult, nothing as tedious or messy as some presumptions would claim. The carved dirt path only often allowed for one person to occupy the space to walk forward, so it would be hard to have someone walk beside you. A few wooden planks to walk over here and there, and soon we crossed the field over to Marissa’s house.

Upon our arrival, we were immediately able to see her mother, who was situated by the side of a rickety wooden house right in front of us, a table with several dishes beside her.  She was sitting on a plastic chair, wearing Crocs, which were speckled with black mud, the gooey dirt that surrounded not only her feet, but the chair she was resting on, and the table that was positioned there to sell her food. We had to hop over on blocks of stone to a concrete platform.

We introduced ourselves, telling mother and daughter we were to film them in an interview as we peek into their daily lives. We asked them our questions right there, as Marissa’s mother was busy watching over her little stall. We questioned them about their family, how they were doing, what their means of livelihood were, how Marissa was doing in school, and Rise Above’s impact on their lives. This was of course followed by the usual portraits of of child and parent, then of them both.

We didn’t take too long, and soon we were on our way after thanking Marissa and her mother for their time. Marissa guided us on the way back, now with the company of some of her friends. Outside the interview, we filmed some filler videos – pans of the field and their community, footage of Marissa walking across the field, walking with her friends on the road. Soon enough, we were back at the Mekong center.

All the while, I was feeling a pain below my abdomen due to cramps. After returning to the center and enduring the pain, and then deciding I couldn’t just endure it anymore and be productive at the same time, I went out to get some painkillers at a nearby drugstore. I took one tablet when I arrived back, and had been sitting down for a couple minutes or so when our group decided to go out for lunch. The pain was still throbbing, but I was also hungry, so we all rode a tricycle to the nearby Gaisano mall.

We headed back just before 1 PM, arriving to find some of the children had already come. My cramps had subsided in the middle of our meal at the mall, so I was feeling quite fine by the time we came back. Some of the kids who had arrived were assigned to us, and Ms. Jessa told us we could now all go and head on over to each of their residences.

The first one we stopped by was assigned to Ate Niza. It was a small wooden house, so that when you enter the threshold you immediately step into a bathing and laundry area, where the other side of the room was a bed, separated by a curtain. Another entryway led into a tiny kitchen, with a ceiling even lower than the laundry and bed room. The family there had been living without electricity for years. The kitchen, which also served as their dining room, in which they conducted their filming, was then dark and hot. Janita had to shine a light in the direction of the interviewee as she talked, and the interview team had sweat dripping down their faces and neck as filming proceeded, and in time, some tears too.

It was one of those sad and unfortunate cases you feel helpless with, and sometimes you’d have to live after that wondering how they’re doing now. The family lost nearly everything when their mother died, and their father was the only supporter, with a little help from an aunt. The visit took some time, but soon after they all came out of the house, and we then went on deeper into the neighborhood and stopped at a house not very far from the previous one.

The interview there started on a much lighter mood – the little boy assigned to Ate Bea was adorable. We set ourselves up in their house’s front yard, and he sat facing all of us, who were sat on a bench. His mother was watching over by the doorway, quipping in here and there whenever the boy hesitated in his answer, encouraging him whenever he got shy. But I’ve learned that most of the time, these kids weren’t really shy in nature. They were sweet little ones who always had pure and honest answers, and they only got shy at times when they lacked a little encouragement and reassurance.

Grace and I discovered during the interview with the boy and his mom that one of the kids assigned to us belonged in their family, an older sister of his in their huge family of fourteen – he had eleven other siblings. The problem was that his sister wasn’t home. She was in school, at a half-day class on a Saturday. She was to come home at around five, and Grace and I were doubtful of being able to meet her today.

Our group soon went on with our journey to the other kids’ houses, and I talked to Grace about the time that we could spend instead going to our third subject’s house, who was already with us the whole time we went to the two houses. She was a little girl of six, and had her older brother along with her, and they both knew the way to their house. I proposed that we go on ahead with the siblings to where they lived, instead of going along with the others, as we still hadn’t yet had progress with our own assignments so far in the afternoon. It was already around 3 PM then, so Grace agreed. I talked to Ms. Jessa with Grace, and she agreed, saying we meet up at the center when we were all done. We all agreed, and so went our separate ways. The others with Ms. Jessa took a right turn while our little girl, Ashley, walked with us straight ahead to her home.

The way to their house was even more challenging than our visits to Marissa and the others. A huge change in atmosphere while we were on our way was the smell. We were in Inayawan, and the neighborhood we were visiting was right next to the infamous Inayawan Sanitary Landfill.

We weren’t even close to their house yet, and we were already met with an overpowering smell, no doubt coming from the nearby dumpsite you could see while walking on the street. The garbage was piled high as excavators drove around the large piece of trash-laden land. There were piles of garbage on both sides of the street as we walked on, garbage trucks every several meters or so. People were going through some of the piles of garbage, probably looking for scraps of metal and recyclable materials they could sell at the junkyard, which wasn’t far away from there too. Besides those milling around the garbage, there were also those who collected leftover food to create sacks of lamaw, a combination of the leftovers that is used as pig food.

Right next to the dumpsite was a slaughterhouse, from which a putrid smell intensified as we came closer to it. The sight of it all, as we trudged along on the road, with the dumpsite in view, people rummaging around in the trash, pollution from the many garbage trucks that came and went, made me think of a dystopian world, where human waste had accumulated most of the Earth and downgraded society to depend on getting rid of the waste for a living.

We took a turn from the main street, and went deeper into the community, where the stench was even worse – a combination from all the garbage around us, unsanitized surroundings, a ground covered with so much trash you’d have to walk further to see a patch of the actual ground under all the junk. And there was something else too – mixing in with the already horrid stink was the smell coming from a number of pig sties. The moment we turned the corner, my nose met with the unbearable stench, making me gag. I could actually taste the smell when I swallowed. It was hard to breathe too – every time I tried to unpinch my nose or breathe through my mouth, I couldn’t bear the smell, and made the journey by holding my breath every once in a while as long as I could. But of course, I had to breathe normally, so I had more than a whiff of the fetor occasionally.

On the way to Ashley’s house, I caught sight of the huge Inayawan landfill, only a stone’s throw and a fence away from where they lived. I intended to take a look at the place after meeting with Ashley’s family.

Their house was one of the unimposing, rough-and-ready homes squeezed among many in the poor community. Ashley’s mother came out to meet us, and we promptly introduced ourselves and told her our purpose for coming. She readily agreed to the interview, and set up a couple of chairs outside their small household. We started without delay, and learned that Ashley was a child among four, whose parents’ main livelihood was skimming through the mounds of garbage in their barangay as garbage pickers. On average, they earned 100-200 pesos a day, an amount they make do with to feed six mouths and send the little ones to school.

The interview proceeded smoothly, pictures were taken, and we took our leave soon enough. Ashley and her brother, Jimwell, walked back with us to the main road. Ashley had long since on our way to their home gotten comfortable enough with me to take her hand into mine as we walked side by side. At first I was surprised, but went along with it. During the interview, her mom told us that Ashley had a lisp, and had a hard time saying a lot of words, but I thought she was plenty talkative before and after I had known that I hardly noticed it.

On the main road, Ashley suddenly pointed at a man who was busy packing something into a sack, and yelled, “Si Papa!” (“It’s Papa!”) It was indeed her dad, and Grace and I introduced ourselves briefly. She filmed a little as he went on with his work, while I asked him a few questions, one of them what he was doing.

Naghimo’g lamaw,” he replied, still engrossed in his task. (“Putting together pig’s food.”) We left him a short while later to his job.

I asked the siblings where their mother worked, and they pointed to a dirt road on the other side of the street that clearly led to the dumpsite we had been passing by. Grace and I decided to see the place for ourselves.

It was familiar enough in the way I’d seen similar views in pictures and documentaries. But just as today I first crossed a rice paddy, I also visited the site where an entire city’s garbage is dumped every day for the first time. Surprisingly, the smell was less intense in the actual site than it was when we were in the residential area. Nonetheless, for the people of Inayawan, seeing a literal mountain of garbage is part of everyday life. But for me, it was a sight I never get to see everyday, no matter how dirty I’ve seen Cebu City be.

I once asked Ashley, in Bisaya, of course, “You’re used to the smell, aren’t you?” She didn’t really seem to understand me at first, so I repeated my question. “What smell?” she asked me back.

We left the site and moved on, now to enter the landfill, which was at the end of the road. We reached it to find a heap just as large and imposing, but on a much wide scale. We didn’t really go in by entrance to look at the most of the dumping site, but we were able to be right next to a part of the landfill. Grace actually climbed the mound, following Jimwell and his friends, who were just as small as him, and like him, wouldn’t heed our advise to not climb up there. I didn’t go up like Grace, because that meant Ashley would come with me too, and I much preferred to keep her on the ground.

After the boys and Grace climbed back down, we decided we’d seen enough and went down the road on the way back to the center. We told the brother and sister they could go home now, but they insisted to escort us all the way.

When we finally arrived back, the others had not yet returned. It was past four in the afternoon, and Grace and I rested in the living room and passed the time to wait for the others.

When they came, they immediately shared with us what they experienced after we broke away from the group. It seems both of our groups had visited the dump sites. While everyone was busy exchanging stories, the mother of our third subject came in to meet Ms. Jessa. When she finished meeting with her, I approached her and asked when we would be able to meet her daughter, Michelle, and ask her our questions.

Michelle’s classes were to end at perhaps 5 PM today, so she should be here right now, she told us. On weekdays, though, she took the night classes, which were from 2:45-8:00 PM. We were agreeing to meet on Monday morning, when she saw someone at the door and said, “Oh, Mitzie’s here.”

Michelle had arrived, and it was almost 5 PM. Her mom said we could do the interview right then, and there was still some ample lighting we could work with, so Grace and I immediately set to work.

We held the interview in front of the Mekong building, which was a bit inconvenient with all the vehicles passing by, but it was the place with the most lighting, and we didn’t have much time. We were further challenged when we learned that Michelle was a bit slow, so to speak. She had trouble saying a particular sentence and keeping calm in front of the camera. Grace’s camera battery went dead in the middle of filming so we had to borrow the foundation’s camera, which our group had brought along.

There was much relief when Michelle was able to say that one line perfectly, and then we soon cleared her part of the interview. Her mother had already been interviewed by Ate Bea from earlier, so she had a bit of a handle on what to say. But only sometimes. Still, by 5:30 PM we deemed we had enough footage to cover the story of Michelle, this lovely and cheery girl who was fifteen and still in the seventh grade. We found out her delay in school had been due to a lung condition, because of which she had to undergo surgery and put her schooling on hold for two years.

Even after we had turned the camera and recorder off, and Michelle had gone home ahead, her mother stayed with us to chat about her family’s story, and in a way, her own. She opened up beyond the camera and we listened. Before we knew it, it was getting quite dark, and my fellow interns were ready to leave. It was past 6 PM when we said goodbye to Michelle’s mom, and several minutes later, after thanking our hosts, especially Ms. Jessa and the old lady who was so hospitable to us, we left Enfants du Mekong.

This is quite a long post, I realize – almost as long as today was. I’ll never forget what I went through today, including the people I met, the children I got to know, and the environment I was thrust into. As I experienced today’s events, the people who crossed my mind include the many people who endure in similar circumstances across the country, around the world, the children from Sambag Dos and Guadalupe, my own family, the people around me, and myself. Seeing the people in Inayawan made me think how some people have it really bad, but how some people have it worse, how some other people have it even worse, and yet how there are surely more people who have even much, much worse, you would feel compelled to never be ungrateful again. It all took a lot of empathy, and that’s saying something for me.

On the way to get a jeepney, one of us asked the group, “If you were given a million pesos to live there for a month, would you do it?” Most of us said no, including myself. I realized then that there are a lot of people who, no matter how much they want to rise above (no pun intended) their circumstances, if they are presented with no opportunities at all to rise, will forever be limited by their circumstances and be forced to live with it. It’s hard especially when not everyone possesses the initiative. It’s made even harder when the will to rise is weakened by becoming used to their present circumstance to a point where they believe its limits are their own.

What a day.

 

Time out: 6:30 PM

Number of hours: Eleven

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Never Failing

Time in: 8:30 AM

 

Today was scheduled for another day of shooting in the same location as yesterday. I went out to Guadalupe around the same time as yesterday, and arrived with a few of the kids already there. There were only three kids when I came in, and the lady who taught them was tidying the library for the 9 AM learning session. I assisted her and picked up the toys scattered on the floor and put them back in their containers.

The learning session started promptly a short while later, and I had been the only one so far to have arrived. I gathered the kids to sit in front of the computer screen to participate in the educational video, an activity similar to yesterday’s. This time, though, only five boys had come in at the center today. Just as their teacher had begun clicking through each segment in the video, the telephone rang. She asked me to take over the exercise as she hurried over to answer it. I obliged, and browsed through each part of the exercise to help the kids learn.

I read basic words, including body parts and animals, and they repeated. It was actually just like yesterday’s exercise, and they pointed at their own body parts as the pictures on the screen showed what each one looked like, demonstrated the movements and actions of verbs, and voiced out common animal sounds.

We went through the routine about three times, as the children kept asking to do it again, although some of them tended to space out of the learning mood at times. When we finished, their teacher led them to their long table for writing and coloring exercises. At around this time, my fellow interns started to arrive.

The kids had a review of basic shapes, then proceeded to color in some circles and triangles. Their writing activity focused on practicing forming lines on paper – straight, curved, and slanted. I helped the little ones through these activities, guiding their hand to the right movement and showing them how to write it correctly, as well as telling them to slow down and take time to hold their pencil right for a better result.

Of course, there were a couple of them who hardly took part in the writing and drawing activities. I followed them as they ran around, chasing each other and pushing boxes on the floor, trying to convince them to sit down at the table so they could get their own stars (reward marks on their hand) too, appeasing them by saying they could bring their toys to the table.

When the boys finished their writing and coloring shapes, some of them requested for other pictures to color, so Janita drew them their pictures, and we helped them color it. Their session ended there, and so all the boys proceeded to play, and we joined in their fun, going along with them from time to time.

With fewer of the kids than usual, we didn’t have as many to attend to, and we were able to review some of the shots and footage we’d taken since yesterday. We considered not to continue over to Sambag Dos for today but it was just an idea in contemplation then.

Most of the boys were fetched by 2 PM, and for most of the early hours of the afternoon, it was nap time in the Family Care Center. We waited to leave until it was quite vacant in the center, and when the last two boys were picked up, we took our leave as well.

As we left, we decided as a group to skip the library in Sambag Dos for today, and instead make up for the few possible clips we may get there during tomorrow’s visit to Inayawan, the trip postponed since last Saturday.

My visit today at the FCC made me think that even with a small group of the kids, there was still a balance between the types of assistance we gave, which were the emotional type and physical type the kids required at some times, and the mental guidance during others. The boys were demanding, sometimes stubborn, and uncooperative. But they also showed interest, and there was still enthusiasm, humor, and the eagerness that never fails to hearten me.

 

Time out: 5:00 PM

Number of hours: 8 hours and 30 minutes

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Having Fun

Time in: 8:15 AM

 

Instead of a day at the office, today all of us interns went to the Family Care Center and the library in Sambag Dos to film clips for our documentary video of our internship experiences at Rise Above.

It was decided that we meet up at the FCC, so I headed there straightaway early this morning. I was the first to arrive, and when I did there were already a few of the kids present. While waiting for the others, I played with some of them and learned the names of some I haven’t come across during my previous visits there.

Ate Khyz arrived at around 9, so I had some company, and we entertained the kids together. It wasn’t long after she arrived that the kids’ learning session started. Today, they watched an educational video on body parts, action words, and animals. The kids would imitate each word spoken in the video, such as dog or nose. For body parts, they would then be told to point their own; for verbs, they would be instructed to perform the action; for the animals, they would be asked what sound the given animal makes. I aided in guiding the kids throughout the exercise, which several of them participated in eagerly.

After this, the kids sang and danced to a children’s song in front of us – well, only a few of them did this, as some of the other kids were in a bit of a grumpy mood that time in the morning. Shortly after, we had the children sit down around their table, where they were taught about colors and shapes. Like before, we guided the kids to recognize and name each color and shape. They proceeded to a writing activity then, producing sketches of circles, squares, and rectangles. A lot of them were from 4-5 years old, so it took a lot of time for them to grasp connecting the lines to form this shape and that. Some were achievers, and created rows of circles on an entire page in varying sizes; some were not as participative, and went on to doodle endlessly on their paper.

During this exercise, my fellow interns arrived one by one to join us. Most of us were there long before the writing activity finished, and with the kids playing around by then, we decided to show a film to the little ones. We asked the lady in charge of their lessons – whose name I either forgot or just didn’t catch – and she agreed. We put on Trolls, the animated musical from last year. A couple of them had already seen it, but most of them still enjoyed it, and they huddled in front of the big screen to focus on the movie. But even the movie failed to completely take away the attention of all the kids, so that several of them went outside the library to play in the hallway. After watching a bit of the movie, I went out to look at how these ones were doing with their toys and joined them.

Lunch break came in the middle of the movie, so we assembled the kids and served them their lunch. We followed after they finished. The morning learning sessions were over and all that was left for the kids was some leisure time until their parent/s picked them up. Most of them went home by the time it was 2 PM, which was went we left too. In the hours before this, I mostly entertained myself and the kids by playing with them again. I had met a lot of them during previous trips there, and so many of them were comfortable around me. Almost all of them adjusted easily to all of us interns there, actually.

When it was 2 PM, we left the center to head over to the library in Sambag Dos and obtain some footage of the kids who stayed there. A lot of those the foundation sponsored in Sambag Dos arrived for activities in the center at 4 PM, when school was out for most of them. Our way of filming in the second location involved brief interviews with some of the sponsored children, and shooting them as they drew a representation of what they like about the foundation or the library center they go to.

We only managed to get clips of three of them, because it was getting dark for the ideal lighting and we were short on battery after our visit to the FCC. It was already around 5 PM by then, so we left Sambag Dos on time, so to speak.

Today was fun in many ways, most of them having to do with the time I spent with the children. It was fun to calm a crying little girl at the start of my day, believe it or not, because she wasn’t hysterical or stubborn, and once she quieted down she almost always followed me where I went, which was amusing to me in a way. It was fun to coach the kids on the names of shapes and certain colors that were kind of hard to guess, like brown, and whispering the answers into their ears to hear them yell out the answer enthusiastically. It was fun to play shoot-the-blocks, where I pretended to shoot hoops while I threw Legos and toy blocks into a basin with some of the boys. It was fun to have a four-year-old girl ride on my back, jumping around as if I was a horse, and twirling around fast until I got dizzy, a contrast to her increasing excitement for every twirl.

This day was fun and encouraging, and somehow I hope to spend more of my days at Rise Above being involved in these type of interactions.

 

Time out: 5:15 PM

Number of hours: Nine

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Steadying Familiarity

Time in: 9:00 AM

All of the work I did today at the office was on the video of James. I took over after Grace and Phoebe had completed some of the process.

It was a short set of footage compared to our video of the Songahid sisters, but there was some enhancement needed to be done with the audio in particular. As James’s mom spoke in the clips, you could hear the sounds of vehicles passing by and blaring their horns at a distance close enough to distract the listener. We filmed the interview in the area farthest from the children in the center, and therefore farthest from their commotion, but it was also the closest to the gate, hence the loud intrusions suffered by the audio.

It wasn’t as bad as the audio from one of the Songahid interviews, however, and was much easier to correct. Fixing it was a smoother endeavor than solving the audio issue in our previous video. I took some time editing the audio, because even with the once-in-a-while horn from the passing jeepney, we were still close enough to the kids to catch any yelling or crying in the video.

After editing some of the audio, I rearranged the sequence in the video as well as doing some cutting and layering. I finished the sequence in more or less than an hour, and my fellow members view and approve it. It was about time for us to go in a while then, so we finished our work at that.

So in all in all, today wasn’t anything terribly exciting as it was another day of editing an output, but that’s office work, so nothing like that to be expected. I guess I’ve become used to having some days more eventful than others and not a steady amount of full-on excitement in this internship by now.

Tomorrow will probably be yet another full day at the office. I look forward to it.

 

Time out: 5:30 PM

Number of hours: 8 hours and 30 minutes

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Working and Playing

Time in: 8:30 AM

 

I arrived at the Family Care Center early today for our interview with one of our subjects, whose name was James. We had agreed on 9-10 AM for a meeting time, and at way past nine, James and his mother hadn’t arrived yet, so for about an hour or so, I did some editing on the Songahid video.

They arrived at past 10 AM, and we met James’s mother for the first time. She was small woman who seemed shy but agreeable. We sat with her and filmed an introductory talk with her, where she told us about her family, and James in particular.

It had been decided that we film a short video to tell James’ story instead of coming up with an article on him.

James’s mom found it a bit difficult to come up right away with things to say on camera, and so there was a lot of allowing her some time to adjust and think for every few questions. But it didn’t take too long. Despite being easily tongue-tied, she wasn’t tense and was determined to work with us on the video. It wasn’t long after that we wrapped up her interview and took shots of her with her son, and her daughter as well, whom she had brought along, and who was two years older than James.

Soon it was time to talk to James and ask him even fewer questions than we did his mom – and get it on film. This part we found tricky. There are children who are easily outgoing and sociable, who jump at the chance of having attention; some are quite laidback, and would be left behind in the ball pit while the rest crowded around the ice cream truck; but there are still quite many of those who are shy, whom you have to coax out of their silence for you to even confirm they’re paying attention. James was the third one – or at least when it came to strangers, like us, made worse by us being strangers with a camera.

First we asked him to say hi to the camera and then introduce himself by saying his name and age. He was quiet all the while, smiling down shyly at his legs (he was sitting down). The camera still rolling, we asked him instead about himself, how old he was, where he went to school, etc., hoping to at least get the answers from him this way. He answered us, but in a voice ever so small it was nearly drowned out by the noise from the other kids in the next room. Moreover, he couldn’t even look at the camera while talking to us. Each take of “Hi, ako si James” (“Hi, I’m James”) took more or less than five minutes to record, with the 6-year-old barely focusing on the camera or raising his timid voice. The more probing questions were even more of a struggle, where he hardly lifted his face to look at us, much less give us a proper answer.

In the end, we settled with the simple introduction from him, since he seemed so shy and quiet (how many times have I said those words in this entry by now?). He was a real withdrawn kid with us. Besides, it was nearly 11 by then, and his daily half-day classes start at 1 PM.

A while after we concluded the interview and thanked his mother, I immediately went back to our video. I was creating and editing the subtitles, which took longer than I expected – well into the afternoon, actually. We had lunch a little before twelve, and right after it I continued editing the video. I finally finished it a few minutes before 3 PM, which is quite a while for just subtitles, but I had to each text a few times because of different changes every time. I also had to review the entire clip sequence and check that the syncing was perfect, so that the next step – exporting it – would proceed smoothly.

But it didn’t. We rendered and exported the video at least three times and each failed attempt resulted in an unplayable clip. It was about time for us to leave, so we left it at the saved project for today.

It seems that all I did was literally work on the video all day today, but really there were fun moments in between – not that the editing process wasn’t fun for me, but I along with the other interns had fun moments with the kids. Some of the youngest ones were also the most adorable and easiest to talk to. They were talkative, and had a lot of funny things to say, which I’m sure they don’t even know is funny. We took pictures and videos with them and of them, catching sight of a little of their habits and personalities as innocent little ones. One of them was unbelievably talkative, shared the same name as one of us, and talked like an adult sometimes; another did brief catwalks in the playroom (which was the same as the small library) with an utterly serious face, abruptly leaped up for you to catch her, and talked about feeling kilig; yet another spent his entire time there in the center with no underwear at all.

I have a love-hate relationship with kids – sometimes they are the most precious beings on Earth and other times they are the worst monsters I have ever come across. Today changed none of that, but it definitely held up the love part about it.

 

Time out: 5:30 PM

Number of hours: Nine

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