Tides Ebb as Islands Dream

Brian J. English


Sean decides to join the Peace Corps shortly after his mother’s funeral. However, his motives are unclear. He is unsure whether he has joined to please his deceased mother, to build his own self-esteem, to satisfy a desire for adventure, to fulfill a need to belong to a community or because he genuinely wants to help others.

The honeymoon phase of living on an island in the Philippines ends abruptly as he awakens to the mournful cries of a mother who has just lost her child to dengue fever. Sean realizes that he is an outsider and must prove himself a loyal member of the community if he is to contribute to the island’s environmental initiatives. Although he gains the trust of many community members, no good deed goes unpunished. Jealousies and misperceptions sabotage his efforts and vilify his reputation.

Sean finds relief from the physical and psychological challenges of living on a small island by escaping to Cebu City and Mactan Island. Although the excursions are under the pretext of Peace Corps training and duties, his absence further alienates him from the community on Gilutongan, his Peace Corps site. In Cebu, he befriends a group of expats from a local pub. They broaden Sean’s perspective of life in a country with seven thousand islands.

Sean also makes friends with Nick, a benevolent American that owns a modest beach-bungalow resort on Mactan. Nick introduces Sean to a Rachael. His relationship with Rachael offers solace for the growing hopelessness and dejection he experiences on Gilutongan. However, his inner conflict intensifies as he tries to balance his commitment to the community and his time with Rachael.

Through a series of incidents, Sean becomes entangled in a murder investigation and the disappearance of a girl from Gilutongan. Sean’s tarnished reputation complicates his ability to continue his volunteer work in the community. He sees his dream fade as he fails in both his commitment to the community and to the lady he has grown to love.

Copyright © 2012 by Brian J. English