The U.S. Embassy in Manila puts on a large roadshow every few months in a different city as a large public relations campaign. The event is designed to celebrate the relationship that America has with the Philippines, especially focusing on three areas: Diplomacy, Development, and Defense. Hence, America in 3D or A3D.
The effort are championed by the Public Affairs Section and is a huge undertaking. They have so far done A3Ds in 4 cities in the Philippines. Several people from the Embassy are asked to volunteer to help at these events because it is such a huge production. I was able to go to this A3D to help out in Iloilo, a medium sized city a few islands south of Manila.
The weekend was full of fun (and work). We were able to hear professional performers from the Navy Band, Arnel Pineda, the lead singer of Journey, Jericho Rosales (who was guarded on his way out because people were literally screaming and chasing him down the mall), Erik Santos, a Bell Choir, Jose Chan (somewhat of a Filipino Neal Diamond and first Pinoy to win several Diamond records—what a legacy he started), and of course one of the Ambassador’s favorites, Stephanie Reese. They also had people share information about Veterans Affairs, Visas, the military, PeaceCorps, USAID, take photos in front of a green screen that became U.S. tourist spots for their Facebook pages, and food samples of the United States.
There was no time to rest. For four days straight we all worked together from before the sun rose until long after it set. I spent time at the Iloilo Port helping people go on tours of a visiting Navy ship from Hawaii (so fun to talk about things like Melona, Mochi Ice-cream, and the North Shore with them). Then all the spare time I had I was at the visa section answering questions. The long hours of constant talking (yelling is more like it) over loud music caused me to go hoarse. And that is saying something about someone that talks constantly on a regular based! HAHA! Just as I was getting to the point I could barely be heard over the music I asked, in Tagalog, a gentleman standing at the visa booth if he had any questions. To which he said, “Can you speak English? You’re Tagalog is really bad.” I was shocked! What a way to open a sentence. He then asked his question in English pointing at the board and it was my turn to not understand him so I said, “Can you speak Tagalog? Your English is really bad.” To which we both laughed and went on with our conversation (in Tagalog).
We had a good time. Met some interested people, had fun stories to share with each other, ate good food, and were so happy each night to get off our feet and rest.
There were two highlights of the weekend—it was all fun, but these made it all worth it. The first is that Lady Hiva bought herself a ticket and came down for a few days to spend with me. It was so good to have her around. Even though she had to hang out at the mall nearly all day while I was working I was still glad she was there. The next was hearing one mother and her son tell how they started an NGO program called 1Meal. 1Meal takes donations made by people eating out (usually 5 pesos) and then uses the money to feed children in local schools that normally would not have money to eat. It was so inspiring to see the way they reach out and better the lives of their fellow citizens.
It was a great experience! As tiring as it was and as much as my knees and ankles ached at the end of the day from standing hours on end, I am glad I volunteered to go.
Here are some photos from the weekend!
|Cramming in information before they hit the stage|
|Getting Ready for the Outreach|
|Calm before the storm|
|American car show upstairs|
|Military to greet the people|
|The line and we have only been open 10 minutes. I spent the majority of my time yelling for people to back up! I guess they figured if they crowded the space they would be helped sooner! LOL|
|The Green Screen photo booth|
|Navy 7th Fleet Band. They were really talented (and loud...one of the reasons I had no voice by Sunday)|
|Pondering how to get a visa to the U.S.|
|In between acts...|
|Meeting of the Minds|
|Far, Far Away|
|Out at the Port|
|The continuous nightlife party outside our hotel|
|The town market Lady Hiva visited|
|Need a knife?|
|Back at the booth after a long hot day at the Port|
|Teaching Hip Hop Dance|
|Trying to Hip Hop Dance|
|The Crowd gets bigger and bigger|
|Maybe she should be a preacher! :)|
|The crowds keep growing at the visa booth too!|
|The Old Miagao Chapel Lady Hiva visited, It is a UNESCO site now|
|Lady was impressed by the real bell towers tolling|
|Arnel Pineda, the lead singer from Journey|
|People packed in everywhere to watch|
|Colleagues posing as applicants!|