Spotlight on Ati Jelma – Homestay in Port Barton, Palawan

I wanted to write this blog to give you an idea of the type of families we have on our homestay register. Jelma is the purok (small community) chair women, she works hard, for the community, but she has no job, no income.

I wanted to write this blog to give you an idea of the type of families we have on our homestay register.  Jelma is the purok (small community) chair women, she works hard, for the community, but she has no job, no income.  At the time we visited Jelma she was busy working on the Purok Christmas tree. In Port Barton each Purok will make a large Christmas tree with RECYCLED decorations, using chip packets, plastic bottles and anything they can find. The best Christmas tree will win a prize, and Jelma really wanted her Purok to win.

Jelma has 3 sons, and one adopted daughter nicknamed Baby.  2 of the sons work in other parts of Palawan, and the other is a fisherman.  Sometimes he will catch enough fish to sell in the market, sometimes he won’t.  Baby works in Puerto Princessa and sends money to her mother for living costs.  Baby is half way through a computer course but the family ran out of money and so she must save to complete the course.  To complete the course she needs 6000PHP (around US$150).  She has been working for a year now trying to save money but she earns 270PHP/day and her living costs are around 200PHP/day. If she will send money to her mum then it is very hard to save any money to complete her course.  Basically she is no closer to her dream of completing her computer programming course, and working in something that she loves.

Jelmas exceptionally polite grandson near their house – Unfortunately Jelma and Baby were too shy to be photographed. Jelmas exceptionally polite grandson near their house – Unfortunately Jelma and Baby were too shy to be photographed.

The family needs 6000P for Baby to finish the course.  Accommodation in Port Barton costs between 300P-1500P/night.  The family has a spare room in the house because Baby is working in Puerto.  Yes the house is basic, but when we were there we slept like logs, chatted to the family in the evenings, learned about their lives in Port Barton, laughed with them, and experienced their hardships with them.  The family cooked for us, and got us fish at local prices.  They helped us to find a good boat for island hopping, and we had an experience we could never have had in a beach resort.

Jelmas native style home, room includes double mattress on the floor with mosquito net, blanket, pillows, towels. Everything you need. Jelmas native style home, room includes double mattress on the floor with mosquito net, blanket, pillows, towels. Everything you need.

When we stayed at the house we gave the family 300P/night. We stayed 3 nights, and because the family had cooked some meals for us we gave them over 1000PHP at the end of our stay.  This is 1/6th of what is needed for Baby to continue her education.  If six more guests stay in the house for 2-3 nights instead of a beach resort then Baby will complete her education. So come on, homestay! You might be out of your comfort zone, but you will be helping the livelihood of the family, and handing over money will feel good.  You will experience the true Philippines, what it means to live in a community, and you might just discover that discomfort doesn’t always = dissatisfaction.  On the contrary being uncomfortable keeps us in touch with who we are.  Jelmas profile will be added to our network soon, but all families that we choose have similar stories.  Book your homestay now at www.philippineshomestay.com.

The sights of Port Barton – an added bonus of the homestay! The sights of Port Barton – an added bonus of the homestay!

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