This post will be the start of a series entitled ‘Reminiscing PB88’; PB88 being short for Peace Boat 88th Voyage, a life-changing global trip that I think is worth documenting and sharing. I visited 23 ports in 20 countries with PB88 and I ambitiously hope to write a post for each port over the next couple of months while my my memories are still fresh!
First, a short introduction to Peace Boat in an easy-to-understand Q&A format. Please bear in mind that I don’t officially represent Peace Boat and this is strictly my personal experience as a volunteer staff onboard.
What is Peace Boat (PB)?
PB is first, as the name suggests, a boat. But it isn’t just any ordinary boat, read on to find out more.
What does the boat do?
It is a cruise ship that literally circles the world 3 times a year on average, carrying almost 1,000 passengers on each global voyage which stops at about 20~25 countries each time.
Who are the passengers on PB?
The passengers are mostly Japanese people who want to travel around the world by cruise ship. Most of them are Japanese because the organisation is based in Japan but efforts are being put into the internationalisation of passengers as well as staff.
Why ‘Peace’ Boat?
Because PB is run by an NGO by the same name which advocates for peace, human rights, sustainable development, and environmental issues. Educational and international or regional exchange programs are held onboard the boat or at the places the boat visits in order to foster cultural understanding.
What was your position onboard PB?
I was an English ⇔ Japanese volunteer communication coordinator (CC), aka an interpreter / translator.
Who do you translate for?
PB invites both Japanese and non-Japanese experts in fields related to PB’s mission in promoting peace to come onto the boat to have lectures for passengers so we interpret an English speaker’s lecture into Japanese and vice versa. Besides these lectures, as there are non-Japanese people onboard at any given time, there are thousands of other onboard activities that require interpreting, no matter big or small. We also translate the newspaper and onboard news TV programme daily and interpret for local tour guides at ports. Of course, facilitating communication in informal settings, e.g., a conversation over lunch between an international passenger and a Japanese passenger, is also a common task.
Did you get paid?
Nope! As the name suggests, I was a volunteer, hence I didn’t get paid a salary. However, I got to stay on the boat for free and got a free trip around the world while learning about things that broadened my horizon in ways beyond what I had imagined. It was definitely an eye-opening and fulfilling experience that I would recommend to anyone!
MAGANDANG HAPON! (Hello in Tagalog)
- Date: 2015/8/26~ 8/27
- Port Name: Cebu
- Country: Philippines
- First time there?: Yeap!
- What did I do?: Free day on Day 1, ‘Country Life Experience’ tour Day 2
What I learned about the Philippines onboard:
Poverty in the Philippines is a really serious issue that the country has been struggling with for a long time. I don’t remember the statistics but after a Google search I found out that a little less than 25 million people i.e., a quarter of the whole population are living under the poverty line. According to this source, a family of five needs to earn at least RM750 a month to be considered ‘not living in poverty’.
To put it into perspective, 25,000,000 people is roughly 80% of Malaysia’s population. These 25,000,000 people in the Philippines are living in poverty because they do not have RM150 a month.
Lots of ‘kampung’ (village) houses on the way to the Hadsan Cove beach, where I snorkelled with my CC friends on the first day.
Japanese Filipino Children (JFC)
One of the first guest lecturers onboard was Ms. Carmelita Nuqui, Executive Director of an NGO called Development Action for Women Network (DAWN). Through her lectures, I learned about the problems faced by the Japanese Filipino Children (JFC), children born out of wedlock between Japanese men and Filipino women. The number of JFCs is estimated between 100,000 ~ 200,000, most of them conceived in the 70s when Japanese salarymen went on organised ‘sex trips’ to the Philippines, or between Japanese men in Japan and Filipina women working in Japan as entertainers from the 80s till present day. Most of these children have been abandoned by their Japanese fathers because the fathers are usually already married and have their own families. DAWN advocates for the protection of the civil rights of the JFC as well as immigrant Filipino workers in Japan. They also work to help JFCs find their fathers in Japan and to promote economic independence of women through a fair trade fashion and handicraft project. Check out my shameless modelling of one of their products below:
Here’s me (2nd from the left) wearing the beautiful fair-trade batik dress I bought from the NGO DAWN booth set up onboard. One thing that I remember from the lecture was that these women are metaphorically ‘sewing’ their lives back again by sewing these clothes and making other merchandises like pencil holders and pouches. Note: This picture was taken after I came back to Malaysia a few weeks after PB.
Other pictures taken on my free day:
Here’s Meg and me when we first docked at our first port!
Crossing the truss bridge to Mactan Island on the way to Hadsan Cove Resort!
I feel like this is an important picture to upload despite its bad quality because it shows something that happens at each port for about 20 mins to 1 hour — everyone (in this pic, everyone except Jason, hello Jason!) going online using the free wifis at cafes to catch up on things as there was only slow and expensive wifi on the boat. I also was on my phone for about 20 mins before lifting my head and turning my attention to the beautiful view that was ↓
Beach at Hadsan Cove Resort. It was quite quiet despite all the small boats you see in the picture. We were the only group there swimming and snorkelling.
BBQ dinner at Larsian. Very tasty and good value for money. The pusos (rice wrapped in coconut leaves) reminded me of ketupats in Malay cooking and were a nice balance to the sweet BBQ meat. Photo taken by my friend Kahoru!
- Expenses (only Day 1, as I worked on Day 2): US$20, about RM87.00
- Post Card sent to family/bf: None. There weren’t any pretty ones on sale.
- Wifi Facilities: Free Wifi at the cafe near the Hadsan Cove beach and at McDs in Cebu city.
SALAMAT PO! (Thank you in Tagalog)
NEXT PORT: SINGAPORE!