“umm…So is it cool if I keep my pants on?”
The genuinely innocent yet awkward question that preceeded my first ever full body massage as I tried to get a sense of the complex array of pillows, blankets, sheets and shorts that occupied the massage bed. The woman just looked up in what I now hope was comprehension rather than anything else, as my companions Jape and Taylor, both from the U.S. contingent of missioners, lost their cool experienced demeanor and almost died laughing.
Is it cool if I keep my pants on? A question that lends personality to the past 6 days of medical mission, immersion, fellowship and solidarity alongside my countrymen and the filipino organizers, volunteers and people I have come to love as my own blood in the past year.
As one of the two UMC Mission Intern’s on site, it is my responsibility to make sure the missoners, regardless of their Fil-Am heritage or not, don’t have a too difficult of a time re-adjusting in their immersion and mission period. As a foreigner in the Philippines, I was also accorded ‘delegate status’ as a missioner, and as a local organizer for the event, I was assigned to the secretariat team, in charge of billeting and making sure the 2012 delegates had all of their hot water needs in the remote location of Sitio Dulyan, where a lack of rain during our stay made procuring water, a difficult task in of itself, one where it was a struggle to be prepared, sensitive to the needs of our american friends and realistic enough to keep a level head. Is it cool if I keep my pants on?
We left Talaingod and headed down the muddy mountain, our group adopted as members of the Salugpungon of the Ata Monobo tribe. Each of us preoccupied with our own thoughts, trying to make sense of the alternate reality we had found ourselves in for the past 4 nights, the only physical pasalubong (souvenir) was smell of Talaingod in our clothes and our bags, a treasured scent that I’m sure the housekeeping staff at Apo View is enjoying as I blog. For them, it’s very cool if we keep our pants on AND keep them far away from Apo View hotel.