Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Welcome to Craig Bosman's Peace Corps Blog

Welcome, visitor!

Below this post is the blog I created and maintained during my 27 months of service in the Peace Corps. I was a Coastal Resource Management volunteer in Amlan, Negros Oriental, Philippines from 2007 to 2009.

After leaving the Peace Corps, some volunteer buddies and I backpacked around Southeast Asia for a couple months, and I returned home to Seattle. Back home I snowboarded a lot, spent time with family and friends, helped out my parents with their used book business, worked for the Census, volunteered for a political campaign, and finally settled in for a year working at my alma mater, the University of Washington. Now I'm at UC Berkeley studying for a master's degree in public policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy.

The posts below are presented in reverse chronological order as originally written and posted. Enjoy!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

So, this is how it ends

It's been a very long time since I sent out anything or even posted on my blog, and I hesitate to even write this, uncomfortable and pressed for time as I am in an internet cafe in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, Philippines. But seeing as my 27 month Peace Corps service has come to an end, thus marking a major transition in my life, I should probably write something (also, my mother won't stop harrassing me to do so.)

When I applied for the Peace Corps, I wanted to use my skills to help people, to fully experience a new culture, learn a new language, travel, and have unforgettable experiences. It hasn't always materialized as I imagined, but reflecting on my experiences, I think I have achieved all of these things. Since the last time you may have heard from me, I've written and not published, I've photographed and not posted. Someday I'll synthesize all of this coherently, I hope. For now, here's a quick update.

I left my town of Amlan, Negros Oriental one week ago after a busy time wrapping up projects, saying goodbye to my new family and friends, attending despedidas thrown in my honor, and trying to get some alone time to make sense of it all. The end came quickly and felt rather abritrary, being based on 2 years in town rather than any seasonal, cultural, or work-related event. Leaving my town was harder than leaving Seattle, because I don't know if I'll ever be back in the same capacity, though I do hope to return to visit multiple times.

I spent the bulk of my time over the past few months setting up a public library, working with high school students to design and (begin to) paint a huge mural, helping the municipality get a new speedboat for the volunteer coast guard, marketing and developing products made of recycled plastic for a supplemental livelihood project with fisherfolk, and a bunch of other stuff. (I'll post my official Description of Service when I get a chance.)

I've also had the chance to see a lot of the Philippines and have some amazing experiences -- caving among mummies in Sagada, climbing the tallest mountain in my province, swimming with whale sharks in Sorsogon, and enjoying simple things like mountain biking, snorkeling, soccer, and tennis in my town.

For the past week I've been in the forbidden province of Mindanao (there are rebel activities and violence that plague much of the province) but the places I have been are totally safe and absolutely beautiful. We've been whitewater rafting, hiking up volcanoes, relaxing on white sandbars, riding motorcycles, scuba diving, and indulging in great food. I'm soaking in the best of the Philippines for one last time before I move on to travel for a few more weeks. With some Peace Corps buddies, I'll be flying to Thailand tomorrow and spending about a month traveling through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos, before heading to Korea for a week+. I arrive home on September 24 and will be promptly kidnapped by my parents and whisked away to Lake Chelan for some quality family time before returning to Seattle to hopefully attend every remaining Mariners game of the season.

I'm not totally sure on my future plans, but here is what I have for now: I'm studying right now for the GRE and plan to take it in October, then spend the first couple months back in the US visiting people, attending copious amounts of sporting events, enjoying the northwest life, and applying to graduate schools for a Master's in Public Affairs/Public Policy to start in 2010. I'm only about 65% sure of this plan right now, it will depend on doing more research into schooling options, where I get in, and how much money is bestowed on me. After the application process is done, I may look for work in the Seattle area or consider a short-term international assignment.

When I was last in the United States, the economy was humming along, Obama was a junior senator, the Sonics were stil in Seattle, the Sounders weren't in the MLS, nobody had ever heard of Sarah Palin, T-Pain, Soulja Boy, or Autotune, iPhones did not yet exist, streetcars had not yet returned to Seattle, and I don't remember texting being very popular. Obviously all of these things have changed, and I am very interested to see what else has changed. For example, I can't recall offhand how many new cousins I have that I haven't yet been able to meet.

Although I have had a fantastic experience in the Peace Corps, with all the ups and downs, I am looking forward to being back home and getting to see everybody. I'm sure it will be an overwhelming experience with some reverse culture shock, but I'm hoping my long road home will help with that and that I'll return to the US a couple years older, a little bit wiser, and ready to start the next step. I'll send out my contact info in the US once I get everything figured out. Thanks for reading this and for all your interest and support over the last two years!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Story of the Flood

Alright, I've finally gotten around to editing and revising my flood story, which was mostly written during the ordeal or in its immediate aftermath, and therefore captures the events and emotions quite accurately. I put more time into this than anything I've written thus far for this here blog. It's too long for a blog post, so I've published it via Google Docs and it's available for viewing here:

Now a brief update [spoiler alert]:
- I have moved back into my house and things are, incredibly, more or less back to normal.
- The plane tickets that I was buying when the flood hit resulted in a great trip to the Bicol region of Southern Luzon. I got to visit some friends, climb some mudflows on Mount Mayon, and most awesomely, swim with enormous whale sharks.
- My camera wasn't fixable, so I have no photographs of either the flood or the trip, although I'm trying to get some from neighbors and friends.
- I have a little over 4 months left in the Peace Corps, and this feels weird to me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Horrendous Flooding

Some may have already heard the news, but we had another flood, and it was way, way worse. This time I didn't make a funny video because my camera, stored about 7 feet high, was broken in the flood. I am ok, but my house is not. At least it's still standing -- lots of people lost their houses and a few lost their lives. I lack the time and energy to write the essay I want to write about this, and the experience isn't yet over, anyway. There's still mud to clean, 4 days later.

In the meantime, I urge you to read this news article if you want some more information:

I will write more in the coming week.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The "Easy" Ride

Waiting outside to go to the city,
No buses will stop; they show me no pity.

Time after time, they drive right on by,
I throw up my hands, yell swears, and ask, “Why?!”

Sadly resigned, I ride jeepney at last,
I am not amused; we're immediately passed.

The driver, it seems, is looking for riders,
He sees possible pesos in all standing road-siders.

In braking he's harsh, in traffic he lurches,
The Catholics cross themselves as we pass churches.

Knees knocking knees, a woman's breastfeeding,
I focus my eyes on the page that I'm reading.

A screaming young baby's disrupting my nap,
A rather large lady sits right on my lap.

I can't move my legs, or not bump my head,
Each minute riding this fills me with dread.

With tapping of coin, I at last disembark,
Time has passed slowly, it's now almost dark.

Fresh air and free legs, a new lease on life,
It’s great to be rid of the "easy ride" strife.

Next time, I resolve, I'll make the bus stop --
If not by my gestures, I guess I'll throw rocks.

*Author's note: the smaller jeepneys in the area are called "easy rides." In other areas, they are known as multi-cabs, which is much less of a misnomer.

Friday, January 30, 2009


...It's almost the end of January.

Quick update: Malaysia was awesome. I will collect my thoughts on it sometime, but not here. But you can view pictures from the trip here:

While I was there, I met some folks who were teaching in Korea, and their various visitors. In the second week of January, 3 of them stopped by my site for a few days, which was really cool. They had a good time.

I've been delightfully busy lately. Creating dive tourism brochures, designing tickets, writing and editing a coastal resource management plan, relaunching recycled goods livelihood products (this one is fraught with the most missteps and setbacks), and setting up the municipal library. We have a small staff now, and we're hoping to open sometime in February.

Socially, I went to the Sinulog festival in Cebu City a couple weeks ago. It was pretty wild, and there were way too many people, but that's all part of the fun. I didn't really take any pictures, so I encourage you to check out for more details. And then this past weekend I was up in Manila yet again for what is essentially a Peace Corps ASB meeting.

HEY, ARE YOU READING THIS? Cool, hi. I bet you have some books. Do you want to donate some of them to our library? Get in touch with me. Thanks!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Sadly, it seems that Christmas caroling in the US has been relegated to old-folks homes and shopping malls, but it is alive and well here in the Philippines. From November through January, bands of carolers roam the streets every night. (This is called mamasko, which is basically making "Christmas" into a verb.) Most of them are children with sweet voices and simple noisemakers - a stack of flattened metal bottle caps nailed to a piece of wood - who sing medleys. There are more professional bands that go around too, like groups of men with guitars or larger groups of teenagers with drums and other instruments. After playing for a minute or so, they will stop and then begin saying "maayong pasko... maayong pasko... pasko... pasko..." ("Merry Christmas.. Merry Christmas.." then more pathetically, "Christmas.. Christmas...") until you give them money or hide yourself deeply enough in your house that they eventually go away. If I'm at all visible during the performance, I feel compelled to give them money, but if I'm behind closed doors and can hardly hear them anyway, I usually just stay inside. Otherwise it would be like giving out candy at Halloween every night for a month.

I took a video of a group of younger kids singing their medley on my porch. I can be heard yelling "kanta!" (sing!) to a kid who is just mugging for the camera, thinking I'm taking a photograph instead of a video. It fades out, I give them money in the interim, and then they sing the thank you song.

And here's a photo of an older, more intense group:

And a serious guitar band last year during Christmas:

This also seems like a good place to mention my favorite Pinoy Christmas decorations, which are these awesome stars. It depends on the size and material, but here is the making of one with bamboo and plastic. Then lights are put inside. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures yet of this big green one lit up.

But here are some smaller ones, so you get the idea. They look great in trees!

This will do it for this blog for 2008. I'll be back in January with an update on my trip to Malaysia, which I'm leaving for tonight. Happy holidays to everybody!