Hanna Fernando-Pacua (PHILIPPINES) temporarily leaves her comfort zone to travel, serve, and perform around the world in five months. She hopes to share with you this very meaningful experience.

Up with People provides students with an extraordinary semester of traveling the world. As a student your perspectives on the world will never be the same. UWP is for that certain student who's looking for an intense, hands-on, involved global educational experience. The program addresses the very real need for young adults and leaders who have global perspectives, intercultural understanding, knowledge of worldwide social issues, leadership skills and a dedication to community service. For more information, visit www.upwithpeople.org.

HANNA's SATTELITE SITE and GALLERY (+ photos, videos, calendar) http://www.bananaspinuwp.multiply.com/

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Pinoys in Portland!

Photo: Tita Alice and Tito Eric were my dad's classmates in High School

The power of technology!

After 2 nights of staying with all the people in our host family's house, I learned that I was to transfer host families. And the best part was : They were a Filipino family and they were the Tadeos! Tito Eric Tadeo was my dad's classmate in high school. And it was very nice of them to "take me in" ! We even had a nice dinner with some of their friends.

I actually got to live in 2 states! All UWP activities were in Portland, but the Tadeos lived about 30 minutes away across the bridge in Vancouver, Washington.

They are a family of artists! Tito Eric is obviously a musician, Tita Vivian is a cool designer (she gave me a really, really nice bag which she design and created herself) and Noelle is – ah, I never really witnessed Noelle show off her talent, but I can tell that she has lots of it. I know she sings, she writes and that she’s really smart. (Ahem, definitely Up With People material)

I got the chance to visit her school’s Open House, the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics. The VSAA is what they call a “magnet school” – exclusive, specialized public schools that admit students based on talent and merit. The Open House invited parents to talk to teachers individually about what’s in store for the students for the year. It is basically a getting to know you session where they also discuss the grading system, status of performance, etc, etc. I was amazed at the curriculum and the depth of the discussions that they obviously have.

THANKS SO MUCH TADEOS! For the Pinoy meals, the good conversation, the music! I really hope that you enjoyed the show...

Portland, Oregon

Photo: Neighborly host sisters. Johanna, Megan, Laurel, Cassidy, Tiffnie, Hanna, Sarah, Kellys, Marita and Maria. Our host families lived close together so we walked around downtown Portland.

Portland week was sort of like a blur to me. (And I am writing this in Las Vegas, and I can't even recall last week!)

I was first hosted with 5 other students from the cast - Cassidy, Megan (USA), Maria (Sweden) and Matt (USA), Lucas (Belgium). I moved to another host family in the middle of the week, but that story deserves an entry of its own!

Portland was environment week (yey Kakay and Miss Adel, up to now you are my tag team for the environment!) and we watched Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth which was pretty good minus the snippets that screamed hey-you-see-I'm-so-smart-why-didn't-you-vote-for-me- now-look-at-your-president.

And just to make us aware also of how much waste we generate per week, each of us were given trash bags to carry around for three days. We were to throw our trash and excess food in the bag. This generated a variety of responses... some people didn't like it, while some people really had fun with it. I was one of the people who tried to eat less so we won't carry around that much trash. Food packaging in America is terrible. Layers upon layers of plastic!

People shared spoons, recycled water bottles , or tried to transfer their trash to other people (!) But it really was amazing to see how 68 people can contribute to soo much trash. We were also given the chance to take our carbon footprints -- which basically translates to

"If all of the people in the world lived like the way you do/ use up natural resources the way you do, how many worlds are needed to support us?"

If people lived like me, we would need 3.5 worlds. Oh, I need to cut down on my . One of my castmates needed 12 worlds! Living in the Philippines gave me the edge because I don't need to heat up the house.

We also did Stand for Peace (see http://bananaspinworld.blogspot.com/search/label/Stand%20for%20Peace) at the Prescott Elementary School.

My CI for Portland was for a women's shelter.

For regional learning, we went to the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument (no longer in Portland, but already in Washington state) , which I think was really nice. Check out the website here. One thing I love about America is how they value the natural wonders (or some) that they have. The trip to Mt St Helens was very exciting, beautiful, and educational!

This made me think back again to Crater Lake in another part of Oregon and how I hoped that our own Philippine Taal Volcano can have a nice and informative visitor center. I guess that can be one dream I have for my hometown.

Two shows again in Portland! I got to meet Katie Allen's (from Georgia) parents who flew in to watch the show. Katie is one of my ice-cream craving friends and also co-child wrangler (translation: we take care of the guest performers in the show) , ah and we are also both "signers" (not singers) for one of the songs. A big hello to Mr and Mrs Allen! It was great to meet you !Photo: Suzanne Maas from the Netherlands is the new Education Intern!

Wednesday, 26 September 2007


I just discovered wi-fi signal here in Las Vegas! I still owe you all my Portland entry. That will be up soon. But now, allow me to dwell on this moment of homesickness.

After 2 months on the road, it is finally settling in. Last week at a hotel, I met a Filipino lolo who was working as a hotel janitor and I found myself hugging him. I believe that will be a moment that I will treasure forever.

I miss my dad and our tiny apartment in Makati. The long walks to the office and the delicious food we eat. I miss our car and the long hours we spend in Manila traffic.

I miss my mom and her cooking and our Tagaytay weekends.

I miss my husband. I miss missing him while I am at home and he is in the base, I miss anticipating the time when he can come home to me. I miss the late night phone calls and unlimited text messages.

I miss Sir Mario and my officemates in AFI. I miss my meetings. I miss my Nescafe coffee breaks, precious moments spent sitting on the table in front of the coffee vendo machine at the 8th floor.

I miss UPLB and school. I miss driving through Calamba and Pansol and the winding road at PCARRD.

I miss Landmark, Glorietta, Powerbooks, Big Chill, Jollibee, Red Ribbon. I miss avocado shakes and tapsilog. I miss riding the bus to Binan.

I miss scrapbooking.

I miss my bed, my closet, my books.

Heck, I even miss junk text messages and the sound of tricycles!

I miss my old life! Who knows when I'll get it back?

-- hanna in a moment of sadness --

Sunday, 23 September 2007


Photo: Jules and Cassidy wrote that on the sand and made me pose

It was from Eureka, California to Coos Bay when I discovered my soulmate: The Snickers Ice Cream Bar. Mmmm. Go ahead, add it on to my growing waistline.

On Travel Day, we stopped by the Redwoods National Park. Amazing, magnificent trees! The bus dropped us off and we explored a short trail in the forest.

CI in Eureka was cleaning up a local sports stadium that the community members helped build. It was really beautiful. There was a baseball, football and soccer field. Season is about to start again. Another CI was working with the Physical Rehabilitation facility at the local hospital. We worked with physical and occupational therapists , and I found it really interesting.

We performed at the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts.

And it was also there where my dance shoes broke...

With my host family in Eureka, host mom Jacquee and host dad Duane! I was roommates with Sarah (from Kentucky) and Kellys (from Venezuela).

Back Track - Winston

Time is precious - our travel time from Portland to Las Vegas was moved from 10:30 in the morning to 1:30 in the afternoon. More time to update and to "regroup" my luggage. My goal is to be able to update this blog up to Portland as well as I can. Cross your fingers..

Back Tracking to Winston!

We visited the Roseburg Lumber Yard - which was a huge lumber processing plant. The machines were amazing!
We performed at the Riverbend Park in Winston and opened the Melon Festival parade! I got to ride on the float in my Filipiniana costume and danced to Up With People song (something that I wouldn't have had the guts to do at home...). Matthew Erley from Denver carried the Philippine flag !
Here I am with the Education Team -- Scott, Jeremy, Hector and Ellen. Jeremy and I were the interns. Challenging meeting place ! We squeezed in with all of our tech equipment. there simply wasn't enough room in the park!

Beautiful scenery... on our free day, we drove to Crater Lake. Our host family lived in Roseburg, Oregon and could not drive us around so we had the UWP Van with us. I was hosted with Carolin (Germany), Laurel and Amanda (both from Texas) and Christine (Staff, from Connecticut). I thought Crater Lake was very much like our Taal Lake. I hope someday we can also preserve the history and scenery of Taal Lake and also have an information and history center about it.

It was also in Winston when Rafael attempted to load his flash gun to my camera - and that procedure screwed up my memory card. I lost a lot of pictures from Corcoran (with firemen! sigh) and was unable to take photos in the Wildlife Safari and our community impact (CI) project in Winston.

I did CI at the Food Pantry, where volunteers gather twice a month to assemble food packs for underprivileged families. When I say "food pack" -- it is not like the food pack bags that we have in the Philippines during relief operations. These are BOXES of food, some of them luxury items for me. Birthday cakes and coffee and tea and granola bars and cottage cheese. But still, the experience made me see poverty in America.

The thing that struck me the most was meeting a Filipino family who was in line at the Food Pantry. I thought about the "stereotype" American dream image that we have back home: that whoever goes to America makes it big. This family probably had relatives in the Philippines expecting gifts and "pasalubong"! Yet, there they were - swallowing their pride and signing up for food rations.

Life is so different. Poverty is so different too. The family owned an Asian market and small restaurant serving Philippine food (woohoo! I visited them and ate adobo and pancit) , yet it amazed me how they are considered "poor". Which goes back to my comment before in Denver - when I thought America was overreacting about their poverty. But I understand now. I simply cannot compare the poverty here to poverty in the Philippines. Because poverty is poverty wherever we go.
Photo: Having fun with Philippine chichirya at the Asian Market. Look it's Boy Bawang!

Changes -- and Wilkommen!

Change in itinerary again! Notice that Lecco is no longer listed -- because we are going to Milan, Italy! I have never seen the Filipino movie "Milan" and now I have the sudden urge to see it. It is supposedly about a Filipino guy who goes to Milan to find his lost wife who was working there. I am excited to go to Milan because I heard that it is a gorgeous place and probably lots of Filipinos (I hope to gain more and more insight into the lives of Filipino immigrants and OFWs - a goal that suddenly popped up as I travel around)

I almost missed Italy -- because I applied for Europe Advance work. Advance work is another Up With People internship opportunity where a student will go ahead of the cast to a city in the itinerary to help in setting up and preparations. Yes, the student will most probably miss 2-3 cities or countries in the itinerary to focus on logistics, admissions, promotions, host family hunting , etc -- in an upcoming city. Sounds bad, I know, because who'd want to miss travel? But the opportunity and challenge of working in an entirely new environment is really too good to pass up.

I will be doing Advance Work for our 2nd German city, Prenzlau. I will be going with Ljuan Zequiri from Macedonia, and we were told that we were supposed to leave as soon as we get to Italy and spend 3 weeks preparing Prenzlau. Both of us were so disappointed because we were really looking forward to Italy. Good thing plans changed and we will leave Italy after one week!

I still feel bad that I will miss Switzerland - but just like what my mom always says, "You can't have your cake and it eat, too" ( or in this case, maybe chocolate!)

Wilkommen Prenzlau! For more information about Prenzlau, you can check out this site: http://www.prenzlau.info/

Friday, 21 September 2007

Coos Bay: The End of my Education Internship

Photo: Ellen was my staff partner for the Education internship. I had fun working with her.

Coos Bay was my intern city. This meant it was my chance to "run" the city as if I were the staff member. Since it was only a 3-day city, it was not that hard to setup. Also, count the fact that we only had one community service project for the whole cast. (This meant I did not have to divide the cast in many groups going to different places!)

I was so excited for our project in Coos Bay! It was a coastal cleanup while learning all about the Oregon Coast. As I did the announcements for the trip, I was so disappointed to notice that my name was NOT on the list! I was so bummed that I wasn't able to go -- and they saw whales and seals and also had a pretty awesome experience ! Please click this link if you want to learn more about the cast's day at the beach!


This was because the all the interns were signed out to meet with the cast manager to talk about applying internship lessons to real life. We were also given tips on how to write our UWP experience in our resumes or curriculum vitae.

Coos Bay was indeed a very charming city for me -- I thought it was a funky, artsy town and I had fun doing promotions around town with Sophie from China. (Promotions is when we go around telling people about the show , we also give out flyers and posters) They had a lot of quirky stores and a really cool scrapbook store! If I wasn't with Sophie, I would have just ditched promo and stayed there!

Show day in Coos Bay was very challenging but fun. We were in a very old venue called the Egyptian Theater, with no dressing rooms and barely a backstage. We had to setup tents outside in the biting cold so we can have a place to dress up in.

It was also the Coos Bay Fun Festival, and we got to perform a BTS there (BTS is Back Tracking Show, remember? A small preview of the show for free!) on top of a flatbed truck! It was also my first time to be in a small BTS Crew -- they usually get the dancers and singers for it to make sure that it will turn out alright. I guess I qualified for the "diverse" criteria ;-)

Coos Bay was very memorable for me - aside from having a great host mom who makes great breakfast (thanks so much Pat!) , I had a super cool roommate (Go Suze from the Netherlands!) - Ellen and I had a closing of my internship run (one on one), and then the Education team also had a closing meeting at the local Dairy Queen. Even if the internship is over, I am still looking forward to helping the Ed team as much as I can. I might have not enjoyed the logistics/ admin part of it, but I did enjoy the research, planning and execution parts of it. I definitely learned a lot, but maybe not as much as I could have. I have a lot more to learn! I felt like I did not do well enough in public speaking and putting my thoughts into (spoken) word.

Now, we are in Portland - first city without the internship and I feel like I have so much idle time it's crazy. I am always looking around feeling that I have to do something! Argh :-)

GO INTERNS ! Here is a photo of the first round of Interns after our closing meeting. We will miss working, but welcoming the less hectic schedule as well!

Catching Up (Again)

I am now in Portland...

(from the last time I wrote, I was in Eureka, then there was Coos Bay... then now here!)

I wonder how many times I'll have "catching up" as my title?

I wonder how many times I'll say "I am sorry for the late update!"

Sigh. Jessica Walters, an Up With People staff member, was right. It is really hard to keep a blog updated on the road!

1. The schedule is crazily PACKED. We wake up very early in the morning, go through the day barely breathing, and go home too tired to do anything else.
2. We love spending time with host families.
3. Lack of internet access in some areas.
4. Lack of creative juices
5. A lot of things happen in one day and it gets too overwhelming to write about ANYTHING

Okay, I might be making excuses, but these are all so true! If you are a blogger having a crazy hard time updating your site, please share with me the challenges you face!

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Would Love to Get Mail

Just found out that they forward us our mail ;-) So if you want -- I'd love to get mail -- thanks!

US Address (September)

Cast B 2007
World Headquarters
1600 Broadway Suite 1460
Denver, CO

Europe Address (October-November)

Cast B 2007
Avenue de Tervueren

Happy Birthday Memi!

"Memi" is my nickname for my mom -- this is a letter I made for them today! It's her birthday on the 13th of September.

Happy Birthday Memi!

I will be writing this in English since I will be posting this email on my blog too (to save time)

We are currently in Eureka, California - and it's show day today. I have this short opportunity to use the Internet in the staff workroom! Yey! But I am also doing research about the Oregon Dunes because the cast will be going there tomorrow.

(I know I missed telling stories about Winston, Oregon -- but briefly, our days there were filled with activities for the Annual Melon Festival -- which was like a city fair with food and game booths. We performed at the Riverbend Park -- an open park venue! It was really fun performing in the open and for the first time AND being able to wear jackets! It's getting cooler now.. I also had the opportunity to walk over to a Filipino Restaurant and chat with the family. They are from Sta. Rosa, Laguna! I ate adobo and pancit and bought Boy Bawang!)

This week is my last week as an education intern and I can say that I am sad but relieved! Sad because I loved doing it and knowing about education stuff for the cast ahead of time, and relieved because I get to be a student again and just go with the flow. By tradition, the last week of internship is also called the "Intern Week" where the interns get to run the city and the staff will be there as "support". It has been fun being an intern and I really learned a lot -- I am sure if I get the time to really sit down and reflect on it, I will find out that I learned even more. I encourage all students in Up with People to try and get internships :-)

Since it's intern week , I had the chance to design and facilitate a workshop with the cast. It was confusing to work on something when we are moving around so much, but Jeremy (my partner intern) and I were able to pull it off. Thanks to my experience with AFI and AYLC (yey!) plus some grad school background, we have gotten great feedback for the Values Workshop! Some even say that it was the best workshop they had this semester, and I tell you we have had lots! But off course, it could still be improved and I promise I will work on it.

I think it is really cool that I am being forced out of my comfort zone everyday in this trip be it something big like speaking infront of a lot of people, or something really personal like living out of a suitcase, living with dogs, interacting with people you are uncomfortable with (honestly !) -- Something new everyday, something frustrating a lot of times--> but I feel like I have grown a lot during this first few months on the road, and I look forward to the challenges ahead!

Happy Birthday again Memi! I am sad that I missed Sam's 30th birthday (eek) and missing yours and missing Pepi's. Wah. I am having fun but I am also missing you all, and I wish you were all here with me to see and feel everything that I am going through!

I love you!!! Ingat kayo lahat palagi!

Monday, 3 September 2007

September 4 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAM !

This is my husband Sam.
It's his birthday on September 4!
He will be ___ years old. (Gosh! That's old.. hehehe)
I miss him so much! I hope someday we can travel the world together!
I love you Sam :-)
-- hanna --