My Internship Takeaways:

As this internship is coming to a close, I am getting more and more sad to leave this beautiful country. From meeting so many new friends and people to all of the wonderful opportunities I have encountered since being here, I have truly had an incredible experience. I wanted to sum up just a few things that come to mind when I think about my takeaways after living here for 2 months.

Hard workers:

  • Filipinos are some of the most hardworking people I’ve ever met. Every single person I meet at FNRI, and outside of the office, amaze me with how much hard work they put in to do their jobs. Everyone is so passionate and will work long, extra hours to get their work done with zero complaining. They are always willing to go the extra mile. I am especially amazed by the researcher and their endurance to live out in the field for many months at a time. Not knowing what the next barangay is going to look like or what people they will encounter. It is very hard work that many are unable to do. Additionally, the work being done by the researchers would mean nothing if it wasn’t for all the incredibly hard workers in the different departments at the office. Everyone contributes something to make the whole thing work and I have loved getting to see all the moving parts that make up FNRI. 


  •  I have absolutely loved being a part of this internship simply to be able to experience and see nutritional deficiencies and how they manifest in real life. Although these prevalent nutritional deficiencies exist, it is heartwarming to work with a company that is trying to combat them. As someone who is studying advocacy as well as nursing, it is so important for me to be able to see the health and nutrition of different populations. Through my work and experiences this internship gave me, I have an array of new knowledge that will contribute to my education greatly. Not to mention it has significantly enhanced my desire to want to work with underserved populations.

Filipino time:

  • This one I love and wish would be adopted by the US. I love when we say we are leaving by 6 that means I get at least and extra 30 minutes to get ready! Although it just goes to show how the people love to live in the moment and cherish the time they have. No one is too concerned or pressed for time, they just let the day take them where they need to go.


  • AC is a luxury. I never realized how much I took not feeling hot all the time for granted. I never knew I would worry about whether or not I turned the AC off before I left or going to the mall just to be in the cool aircon or find myself content with being drenched in sweat all the time. However, it has made me more humble and allowed me to feel grateful for that luxury I do have at home. 


  • The drivers are insane here, and how there aren’t 1000 accidents a day is beyond me. And the traffic- yeah, that one I don’t think I’ll ever get used to. It’s crazy to me that would should. be a 15 minute drive can take up to 3 hours especially. during rush hours. However just remember, there’s no traffic on Sunday!


  • Although I wish I learned more Tagalog, I feel as though I learned enough to get around and feel comfortable. Needing to take a Jeepney? Not a problem. Magkano and Bayad po will do the trick. Tagolog is such a fun language to learn and I hope that eventually one day I will be able to learn more. 

The people:

  • People in the Philippines are by far the nicest, most hospitable, considerate and compassionate people I have ever met. I have always been welcomed, loved, and treated as family. I love being called ate to the younger children, and I love that every person I meet makes me feel like I’ve known them forever. When someone who has so little, or maybe is going through a lot, or has had a bad day, you would never ever know it. I hope that every person has the opportunity to come visit the Philippines simply so they can know what it’s like to know Filipinos.

Return Plans:

The first time I came to the Philippines i made a promise I would have to come back. I knew I was leaving a part of my heart here. Now, that piece of my heart has only grown in size. Ever since being in nursing school, I. have waned to use my education to pursue medical missionary work to provide healthcare to those who are marginalized. This trip has allowed me to visualize and see what my life would look like doing just that and I couldn’t be more excited for what my future holds. I know it wont be long until I am on another plane headed back to Manila. Mahal Kita Philippines.

Second Field Experience Recap!

I have arrived back this past weekend from our second and final field experience in Puerto Princesa. I forget how much I love being in the field and living with the researcher until I come back to Manila.

We were allowed to leave 3 days early so that we could do some site seeing on our own before meeting up with the team on Monday. For those that do not know, Palawan is an island in the Luzon region to the left of the Philippines. It is one of the biggest tourist spots in the Philippines- and know I know why! Aside from the crystal blue fluorescent waters, incredible rock formations, dozens of islands, beautiful resorts, and plenty of places to visit, Palawan is also full of wonderful people.

We arrived Thursday night at the quaint little Puerto Princesa airport and headed to our hotel for the night. The next morning we woke up super early to be picked up by our tour guide at 6am. We got on a boat and traveled 2 hours out to Honda bay so that we could…wait for it… swim with wild whale sharks! Yes- the biggest fish in the sea. It was absolutely incredible and by far one of my most memorable experiences.

The next day we took a 5 hour van ride up to El Nido- what Palawan is known for. It was absolutely stunning, we even had the opportunity to go island hopping! On Sunday evening after and incredible weekend, we traveled back to Puerto Princesa to meet up with the team on Monday.

The field work:

It is shocking to me that even in a place with so much natural beauty and tourism, there still exists so much poverty and those living in underwhelming, impoverish conditions. Although, it really does makes you realize that poverty exists everywhere. Including places that are so desirable. This is also true in America. Although it may be less obvious than here, I learned in my previous Advocacy class that Poverty is always hiding in plain sight. However in Palawan, it is a matter of black and white living in the same place.

Although our field experience was much shorter (5 days compared to 15) we still had that opportunity to visit 5 different Barangays. That meant we were able to meet 5 new subteam, and we did in fact make a tik tok at every one.

The 5 barangays we went to were: Maunlad, Manghan, Bagong Sikat, Liwanag, and Matahimik.

Although some barangays we were only there for a matter of hours instead of a few days like Ilocos. It was still so much fun getting to know the researchers and having a small taste of what each Barangay is like. In one of the households we surveyed, there were over 15 people in the family we needed to collect data on ranging from elderly to newborns. We were there for 2 hours. I even got the opportunity to measure MUAC and ht on an infant scale- the baby however wasn’t too happy about the whole thing. It was so much fun trying to get the children to be on board with all the measurements. I also had fun practicing my manual BP skills on all the respondents.

Being apart of the field work with the researchers makes me appreciate them and all they do to collect important data about their country. Their resiliency and endurance to live out in the field and work as hard as they do every day is truly inspiring.

One of the most bittersweet moments from this trip was having to finally say goodbye to our incredible field supervisor, Ma’am Carol. However, we grew so close that we called her MomC or our Filipino Mom. She had taken care of us during both field experiences and we could not have been more grateful for everything she did for us. It is a bond that I will cherish forever. I know that know. anytime. I come back to the Philippines she will definitely be someone I make a point to visit. Love you MomC!

I am so sad our field work is complete however, I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to learn and see the things I did. It is an experience that will last me a life time and has provided me with things I will take with me through my future career endeavors.

Health Care for Dummies (Filipino Edition) 2/2

Preventative Care:

It is common in most developed countries to have routine medical checkups. That way, things can be caught early on before an emergency situation is required. In nations that struggle to provide any healthcare to their citizens, prophylactic treatment is the least of their concern. Here in the Philippines, most people use the public health system. However, similar to my last post about my experience with public hospitals, it can take days, weeks, even months to be seen, and that of course is if you even have the money.

My first time in the Philippines back in 2019, I visited a public hospital in San Pablo City, Laguna. The word baffling is honestly an understatement to my genuine reaction I had upon entering the hospital. Not only were the wards packed full with patients, many without beds, but there was a complete absence of hygiene, AC, or even healthcare workers. In the pediatric unit, there was 1 nurse for the entire floor full of at least 40 patients. One story will stick with me forever. 

A mother had just given birth to her 10 day old son. When I went over to look at the beautiful baby boy I quickly realized there was something very wrong. His lips were blue and he would only breathe once every few seconds. I asked the nurse to help him and she told me that not only do they not have the supplies, but the mother can not afford to pay for treatment. My Mom and I ran to the pharmacy and bought everything on the prescription and rushed back to the hospital. Within minutes of the nurse treating him, he began to breathe normally again. 

I couldn’t believe that they would just let the baby die because the mother could not afford treatment. It is a horrible reality that many Filipinos who are low on the financial ladder experience this type of treatment in Public hospitals similar to this one.

Treatment of healthcare workers:

Nurses and Doctors are not treated nearly the same way they are in America. Not only are they not highly respected, but they barely get paid an adequate salary for the immense amount of work they do. In fact, it is why so many people will get their nursing degree in the Philippines and emmigrate to America or other countries for better pay. Most of the time, these workers will send money back home to support their families and will go months, years without seeing their loved ones. This leaves hospitals short staffed which is why they are so overwhelmed with patients and getting medical care takes so long.

One of my coworkers actually told me she was a nurse before her current job as a Medical technologist Coordinator for the government. She passed her NCLEX and had planned to move to California but unfortunately, it did not work out. Her job now pays more than it would be to work as a nurse. That is just so crazy to me! And let me tell you, the nurses here are so incredibly smart and work so hard. I can’t even imagine being treated the way they are for everything they do  and  the conditions they work in. In addition, becoming a doctor is also not an ideal profession to go into. For having to go to school for so long, you make just as much as any other “high paying” job. This is also why the number of doctors here is so scarce. There was another person who had told me she was a doctor before but went back to school to become a nurse so she could work in the United States for much higher pay than what she was doing!

Access to medical care:

Remember when I talked about transportation a few posts back? That plays a HUGE part in how one receives medical care. Especially for those who live in rural places, the closest (real) hospital may be many hours away. During my time in the field, I learned that in one of the Barangays I was a good 2 hour drive away from a hospital- and that’s of course by car. Many people rely solely on public transportation to get around and do not have access to a private form of transportation. What happens if there’s an emergency? For many, you find anyone nearby that can help. Some people will go their entire lives without seeing any medical attention. A large reason for this is that they have no way of getting there. 

My first trip to the Philippines we visited one of the largest Slums in the Philippines called Tondo. It is miles long and miles wide packed  full of people who live in makeshift homes and constantly struggle everyday to survive. As we were passing out food to some of the individuals who lived there, I noticed the incredible amount of homeless children who didn’t  have anyone taking care of them. I also met a woman who was about to give birth to her 4th child- she was 19 years old. I asked her where she would go to deliver her baby. She told me her neighbor comes over when she is ready to deliver. As the overwhelming amount of thoughts about all the possible things that can go wrong,  I was left simply amazed that so many people live like this-  and its totally normal to them. 

The legs of a little girl living in a rural community with little access to medical care.

Although there is so much more I could talk about in regards to health care here in the Philippines, I feel that these short testimonies alone can paint a pretty vivid picture of the harsh realities that exist here. Ever since my first trip to the Philippines I had considered working as a Nurse without boarders in developing nations who lack medical care. Now, having been here a second time and developing an even greater understanding of how many people are marginalized in health care, I have only been affirmed that it is what I am supposed to do.

Health Care for Dummies (Filipino Edition) 1/2

One’s inability to receive proper medical care has an incredible impact on their general well being.

It is normal for us to see a dentist once, even twice a year. When I talked to some of my coworkers, who asked how I kept my teeth so white, they informed me that here in the Philippines, one will only see the dentist when there’s a problem like a toothache or missing teeth. This concept is a central theme to how most medical care works here in the Philippines; on an emergency basis.

In my advocacy class we learned about ‘hot spots’ which are essentially people who are responsible for most of a hospital’s revenue. This is due to the idea that emergency medicine is one of the most costly practices in health care. Emergency treatment is far more expensive than it is to receive routine medical care or annual checkups. However, those who cannot afford insurance or medical care in general typically fall into a brutal routine where the emergency department IS their medical care. 

According to the PSA (data actually collected from the company I am working for) 29% , or 1 in 3 Filipinos die due to non-communicable diseases (NCD) with Ischemic heart disease being the number one killer. What is so interesting about NCDs is they more often than not can be completely avoided. With proper medical care inducing routine checkups, access to healthy foods, medications, and most importantly: education, so many of the diseases can be avoided. However, in a country where routine medical attention is uncommon and access to any care at all is only for a select few, it is not surprising that NCD’s surge the country. 


Education is one of the most important factors playing into the health of the country. Without any understanding about how diseases spread and how to be healthy, one may never have the ability to adequately take care of their health. It is why STD’s and even unplanned pregnancies are so unbelievably common here. 

I had a conversation with one of my coworkers who informed me that she did not take a sex education class until college. The only reason she took that class was because she signed up for it. Sex Education does not exist in schools, only a select few will ever take it, and not until they are much older. The topic still remains to be very sensitive to most and from my experience, it is very uncommon to talk about. I was baffled to learn that this type of education does not exist especially when understanding how incredibly high the rate of STDs and unplanned pregnancies are here. 

In addition, education about eating healthy and proper hygiene are also uncommon. Disease like diabetes, hypertension, Metabolic syndrome, or small viruses like the flu would be significantly less prominent if people actually knew how to take care of themselves. 

I Just Need an Antibiotic

Health care in the Philippines is quite an interesting subject. Although I have not experienced what it’s like to work in healthcare here, I have had many experiences with the public (and private) hospitals. Through my observations, personal testimonies with coworkers, and even an unexpected, personal, experience as a patient, I feel that I have gathered quite a bit of information about how healthcare works here. As a soon to be health care worker, experiencing different healthcare systems and understanding how they work is something I love learning about. And honestly, what a perfect way to truly understand what it’s like to receive healthcare than to experience it firsthand as a patient. 

When I was out in the field, I sustained many battle wounds- aka bug bites. For some reason, the Mosquitos really like my American blood! One bug bite in particular did not go away, and my inability to leave it alone caused it to become infected. Attempting to use the skills I’ve learned in my med surg class, I unfortunately was unsuccessful in my attempt to eradicate the infection. If I was in America, a quick trip to the store to buy Neosporin would have definitely done the trick. However, sadly that medication does not exist here. The best I could do was buy hydrogen peroxide and iodine (antiinfective). After a few days of my thorough attempt to heal the wound, it only began to get worse. I probably waited longer than I should have, but who can blame me, Nurses are the worst patients! I knew however that this needed an antibiotic and the longer I waited, the worse it would get. 

I didn’t truly realize the huge undertaking it would be to receive just a week’s worth of antibiotics. I first began by searching for nearby health clinics. Luckily, there was one in the mall nearby. After work, Ankush and I walked to the clinic only to be told that the doctor can’t see me until Friday. They only had an OBGYN on that day and their internal medicine doctor only works on Fridays. In other words, if you need anything before then, you either wait or go somewhere else (which is not as easy as  it sounds). I was so shocked that one would have to wait so long to see a doctor, what if it was an actual emergency?

Health clinic at local Mall

Determined to get the bug bite under control I looked up another clinic nearby. I found 3 on google maps and attempted to call all of them before making my walk but no one answered- that should’ve been a sign. The first clinic didn’t even exist, it was a pet shop! I then walked to a pharmacy and asked them where the nearest walk-in clinic was so I didn’t walk to any more non-existent clinics. After a short trike ride I ended up at a Private medical hospital. I was greeted by the nurse who asked me what brought me in. When I showed her my wound she made a concerned face and told me to come back tomorrow afternoon so I could be seen by the surgeon. At first I was told that I needed to be seen by a surgeon. I was then frustrated I was yet again told to come back. Not ready to give up, I asked the nurse where I could go so that I could be seen today. She told me about the Makati medical center. After an hour-long commute (remember the traffic?) I reached Makati.

I was so surprised, it felt like I had traveled back to America, the hospital was huge and I was instantly greeted with a nurse who took my vitals and admitted me to the ER. Within 1 hour I was seen by a doctor and prescribed antibiotics- it was even faster than it would be back home. “Why was it so fast?” I wondered.

The entire trip cost me $120 for 3 medications: an antibiotic, pain medication, and antiemetic, and the cost for being seen. After receiving my bill I ignorantly thought, “Wow! This is so cheap! And it was so fast”. Shortly after I realized the reason it was so fast was because the hospital felt like a ghost town and the ones who were there could actually afford it. 

The entire experience was stressful and inconvenient, yet, I am considered one of the privileged ones. Not only was my emergency not severe, but I had the money to afford all the transportation and ability to pay upfront. Most would have either waited to be seen (in frankly a clinic whose practice is questionable) or they would have not been seen at all. Sadly, that last option is the most common. 

Having gone through this experience intrigued me to further understand what it’s like being a patient in the Philippines and how all different types of people on the socioeconomic ladder receive health care. In my next few blog posts I will share my accumulation of thoughts, experiences and personal testimonies in an attempt to illustrate Filipino health care.  

A Walk Home from School

Last semester I took an Advocacy class called, Engagement in the city. A frequent topic discussed was the concept of the neighborhood effect and how the spatity of where people live affects their life chances. Life chances are opportunities people have that allow them to have more or less life chances than someone else. Many of these things can be related to educational attainment, socioeconomic status, employment, access to transportation, etc. 

Transportation is an integral part in how people live. It allows us to not only get from one place to another but also have the ability to acquire the resources we need to survive. I’ll give a simple example: the ability to get to school. If a child is unable to get to school, then how will they obtain an education that will allow them to get a job that makes them money. It is a vicious cycle that can be analyzed in multiple different ways. Today I am going to dive into transportation in the Philippines and the things I have observed during my time in the field as well as personal experiences I have with getting around!

I never expected transportation to be one of the more difficult things I would have to deal with while living abroad. Not only is finding a way to get around intimidating and a bit confusing, but the traffic is unreal! Transportation in the Philippines is much different than in the United States. At home, most forms of transportation are through private cars and public transportation like bus, train and air. Many of those forms of transportation are not common here. In my earlier blog post I briefly talked about Jeepneys which is a common form of transportation here. You wave down a jeepney similar to a taxi. You then ride until you get close enough to your location to walk or to transfer to another Jeepney. It is all easier said than done, they move quickly and oftentimes it is difficult to know if you are even heading in the right direction. However, I will say after a few rides you definitely get the hang of it. Another form of transportation is via Tricycle which consists of a motor bike with a small carriage to the right of it. Although it looks small you can fit up to 6 people not including the driver. It is quite amazing to watch. Although private cars also do exist they are not as common and quite impractical. It is extremely expensive to own a private car because of gas prices and the car itself cannot be afforded by many Filipino salaries. Traffic is constant and rarely lets up, unless it’s Sunday. To get 5 km(3 miles) in the US might take 10 minutes but here it could take up to an hour. You always have to account for traffic in your travel times.

Traveling to a Barangay by Bamboo boat (only form of transportation)

Transportation like I said can be very difficult and many can’t afford it which is why a common way of getting around is through walking or biking. When I was in the field I traveled to Barangays that were very rural and quite treacherous to get to. One story I wrote about in my notes stood out the most to me: 

A Walk Home from School – I had just climbed up over 100 stairs to get to the top of this beautiful waterfall only to realize there are still many meters of rocky terrain and smaller waterfalls if I truly wanted to reach the top. Although I find myself exhausted and overcome by my adventure already I decide to enjoy the view from where I’m at. All of a sudden 4 little children round the corner of the steps and begin their walk into the same path I took. At first I thought they were playing in the waterfall but then They continued walking and walking. They were no older than 8 and as young as 4. They held hands as they walked through the more dangerous and slippery areas. The oldest boy would test the boundaries before his two younger sisters and brother made their way. My coworkers told me there’s a village upon the waterfall behind the cliff. I watched in utter disbelief as I realized these kids were walking home from their trek into the town. To and from school, the store, even just civilization, these kids must make this hike. How dangerous I thought, how could a mother let her children do this? However, another part of me thought well what else are they supposed to do. Sometimes these children will carry bags of rice or food bags. I watched as every once in a while they would slip and fall back a few feet. It was truly remarkable to watch them reach the top. 25 minutes just to cross the waterfall.” 

I truly believe transportation is an important component to the way people live and the opportunities to important life chances someone has. I constantly think about these children and how making this climb is the only thing they know and may ever know. I wonder about their access to food and water, as well as school and medical treatment. Examples of this are what attribute to the reasons some people live the way they do. I continue to be amazed by everything that I see and experience every day that I am here. I truly am amazed by the people here and the resiliency they show in so many different ways. 

My field experience recap!

And just like that, I’m back at Sienna Park in Manila. 15 days flew by. I figured I’d give a recap of my time in the field, highlighting some of the key things I experienced while I was there!

We traveled to the northern part of Luzon island to the region of Ilocos Sur. We took a bus which left at 10:30pm and it took 7 hours to get there. We travel at night because the traffic is so bad during the day it would’ve taken us an extra 3 hours to get there. Our first stop was to the beautiful city of Candon. It serves as one of the main cities to the small, rural communities that surround it. We were so fortunate to stay at a really nice hometel for the first 2 days and meet some of the locals who work there, including the cutest little boy named Franco. It was there that we met our first subteam.

DOST-FNRI has multiple teams in which each are designated to a certain province in the Philippines. Team 2 was assigned to Ilocous Sur. Within the team are many subteams composed of local researchers and medical technologists that are stationed at different Barangays (what could be compared to as a neighborhood or smaller town). Throughout our trip we jumped around from subteam to subteam and got to meet so many wonderful people and form many new friendships! Truly one of my favorite parts of the trip was getting to meet so many people not only through work but in each neighborhood we traveled to and lived at during our time there. We also got to meet so many mayors and Governors to let them know a little bit about the research we were conducting!

Our living arrangements were a mixture of luxury or the bare minimum. Our first city, Candon, we stayed in a beautiful hometel with air conditioning and even a running shower! However, in the following barangays, we stayed on tile floors with sleeping bags, no AC, and bucket showers! (Stay tuned for my experience about that in the future!) It is usually a tossup as to what kind of living conditions subteams will have and they often do not know until they arrive. A few of the Barangay living arrangements we stayed at that I thought were more severe, teams told me were some of the nicer stays. I can only begin to imagine what other Barangays may look like.

After Candon, we traveled to Danuman West in Santa Maria. This was a much smaller barangay than the first and much more rural. Houses were a very great mixture of makeshift materials and nicer concrete homes. It was there I experienced our first brown out! This is where they shut down all electricity to the entire town for the whole day. Yes, that means no AC, not running water, and no light. I remember the small ounce of fear I felt knowing that AC was not accessible and the forecast showed temperatures of up to 98. Little did I know that would mark the last day I would have AC for the rest of the trip.

Although many people would feel burnt out after experiencing the way that we lived for over a week and a half, I could not be more grateful for having the opportunity to truly live in the shoes of those we were living among. It was extremely humbling to experience for myself the way millions of people live every single day of their lives. It was even more useful when conducting our surveys because we could actually see how living the way they do plays an integral part in their health and nutrition.

Our next barangay was the tiny town of Bia-O. This may have been one of my favorite locations simply because of the people who lived there. In my earlier blog post I talked about playing on the beach with all the children which was by far the highlight of my trip. There we were able to assist in taking measurements like Blood pressure, height, weight, BMI, MUAC as well as even conduct some interviews on food security, food recall and lifestyle habits. I learned so much from the people I met and interviewed and could write an entire other blog post about the responses.

Finally we traveled to the city of Caburaro, Santiago and Cabugbugan, Tagudin. We met 2 more subteams and assisted them with their final data collections. Each Barangay we traveled to were so different yet so similar. Between the foods I tired, the people I met, and the friendships I made, this experience has truly been one to remember!

Stomachs of Steel

There’s one thing that’s for certain, I will never have to worry about going hungry here!

That’s ironic isn’t it? Considering 4.5 million Filipinos do not own a home and over 27% of the entire population live below the poverty line (Philippine Statistic Authority). In other words, millions of people are starving everyday. All the neighborhoods I have traveled to thus far have a fair disparity of the wealthy living among those who are poor. Although, every single person regardless of socioeconomic status live in harmony as neighbors- friends even.

Last time I traveled to the Philippines I got to experience Tondo which is the largest, highly dense slum in the Philippines. People that live there not only live in makeshift homes on top of each other but there is little to no access to medical care, education, or even basic necessities like water and food. While I was there, I noticed that so many children had light strands of hair. I asked if it was popular or common to dye your hair, knowing that in the US, lightening hair is a common fashion trend. Although it is popular for some people, most of the time in young children it is a sign of severe malnutrition. The lightning of the hair is due to a lack of protein which causes thinning of the hair and the lightening of the color. This horrible realization is overwhelming once you begin to realize really how many children there are suffering from not eating. 

One night, after we concluded surveying the homes in our neighborhood we took a trip to the beach (only minutes away from where we were staying). I managed to gather 25 Filipino children and taught them how to play American games like Tag, Sharks verses Minos, Little Sally Walker and Simon says. This was by far my favorite day. They were infatuated that an American girl (in which most of these people will only see a foreigner once in their entire lifetime) was playing games with them. After running around for an hour we were all exhausted and sweaty so we sat on the beach to catch our breath. One girl was panting and said she was thirsty. I had asked her if she had water she could go get from home. Immediately, she got shy and shook her head no. It pained me to face that horrible reality that many of these children go home hungry and thirsty wondering when they will eat again. However, one would never even know unless you ask due to their deceiving smilies, laughter and passion for life that tend to overshadow those hunger pains.

Going back to what I said about never going hungry. Since I’ve been here I’ve eaten more than what I would eat in an entire year. It’s 3:00pm and I’ve had 4 full course meals. A full course meal almost always includes rice and some type of meat and fresh veggies. They also love to include Filipino desserts which is some variation of glutenous rice. One of my favorite things about this country is how hospitable the people are. No matter what socioeconomic status one comes from, everyone will greet and serve you with food (including the ones that can barley can afford it). It’s always open arms and full plates if you’re a foreigner in this country. I actually find myself challenged to keep up with how much they eat! Although, when I think about how sick I feel from all the food I’ve consumed, I feel guilty knowing that so many people around me experience the complete opposite issue.

I’ve realized the Philippines has very little grey area when it comes to living. You either have enough to survive and live in manageable conditions, or you find yourself struggling to make ends meet every day. Although the middle class does exist, it is hard to come by and compared to American standards it’s not the same. I continue to be humbled by the harsh realities I see every single day, but I am also amazed by the joy and love this country has for one another – something I hope to share with others and abide by when I return to the States!

Heat waves

It’s been a whole 12 days and this is the first time I have actually had the time to sit down and write about my experiences so far!

Each and every day I have been here I think of 30 different things to write about. At the end of the day when I would sit and reflect on the things I saw, I found it difficult to recall those intimate and real feelings that overwhelmed me in those moments. As a result, each and every time I saw, heard, realized, or felt my mind pondering, I wrote it all down in my notes app- aren’t smartphones so handy?! Now I have pages full of detailed authentic thoughts that I can easily go back and reflect on. These blog posts I will be posting over the next few weeks I will discuss topics from my notes and eventually I will  post the complete list throughout my time here.

Okay so let’s get one thing straight, the Philippines is hot. And it’s not like 80 degrees on a summer day in Bloomington, IL hot- It’s like 98 degrees with the humidity at 65% and the “feels like” at 105 on a “good day” hot. Let me tell you, when you walk out of the airport in your Chicago weather clothes from 30 hours before and you take that first step outside, it feels as if you could quite literally be wearing a winter coat and snow pants in Florida. Although in the United States you only stand outside for a short amount of time before hopping into a nice, cool, air conditioned car. However, in the Philippines it’s always pretty much a coin flip as to whether or not your next location will have AC or if an air conditioned car is even available. And let’s be honest, you will most likely be taking a jeepney or tricycle (which is the Philippines form of government regulated public transportation). 

Although I can spend my first blog post writing a detailed explanation of my transition into Filipino time, getting settled in my new condo or trying my first Filipino foods, I feel that this post may be more beneficial to cover prominent realizations, issues, and topics as they come. 

Let’s go back to the topic of heat. Although it’s known that the Philippines has a very tropical climate, it can never truly be explained in writing unless you experience it in real life. 

It is ALWAYS hot. Some people spend each and every day in the sweltering heat. Of those employed in the Philippines, many of those include manual labor jobs such as farming, construction, merchants, etc. 23.8% of all people in the Philippines that are employed work in the agriculture sector- much of which is done outside (Philippine Statistic Authority). But it doesn’t stop them from getting work done, although it does take a little longer – but who can blame them. However, instead of going home to a nice air conditioned home after work to decompress after a long day in the sun, many return to houses made of light materials such as bamboo, tarps, metal scraps, and zero AC. You can never escape the heat unless you are one the few fortunate enough to belong to the upper class. 

My first day of work in my field placement, we set up our data collection station in the town’s center. Most town centers in the Philippines always consist of a basketball court and awning. Basketball is a hot commodity here, it is every Filipino’s favorite pastime. Even adults after work will gather and play a few games together. I watched as kids from all over town would gather and play basketball together. No matter the size, age or economic status, they all bring their own balls and play together, all day. The heat never stops them from engaging in their daily games of scrimmage and 10 seconds. I even had the privilege to play with some of these children. Within 10 minutes I found myself drenched in sweat and exhausted but those kids just kept on playing. 

Despite the heat, I have met so many incredible people thus far. Filippino’s never fail to impress me with their hospitality, resiliency, joy and passion for making new friends- oh and their obsession with taking photos! No matter the conditions, every single person treats you with kindness and compassion. A lot can be learned from these people and I think one of those biggest lessons is resilience.

Leaving the country in T-8 days!

Hello or kumusta kayo! Welcome to my Freeman Asia blog!

As I sit here in my spacious, air conditioned, living room I wonder where I may be sitting a week from now writing my 2nd blog post. I ponder what I may be looking at, what I may be sitting on, who I will be with, where I will be and will there be any air conditioning?- hah!

The Philippines is hot and humid, especially in the summer. Their weather is very tropical and unpredictable. One day it could be down-pouring and the next it could be close to 100 degrees. I am lucky to know what I am getting myself into as I have been to the Philippines before! I traveled with my mom in the summer of 2019 with my church for a mission trip. We spend 14 days in the city of San Pablo interacting with different communities and helping in any ways we could. One of the things I am most excited for is to visit the many friends, some who I consider family, back in San Pablo.

Although I have been to the Philippines before, it doesn’t make the anticipation grow any smaller. I am curious about many things as the unknown can be scary. Last time I traveled I was with my mom. This time I will be completely on my own with people I have only briefly had an acquaintance. I am excited to find out what I will be doing, where I will be living, as well as the new lifestyle and routine I will grow into. When I return in August, I know I will have an abundance of experiences and opportunities under my belt that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

I couldn’t be more grateful for IWU as well as the Freeman Asia program for allowing me to embark on a unique journey like this one. I have looked forward to this since my freshman orientation day I had in 2019! In 8 days I will be on a plane traveling to the other side of the world and the next time you hear from me I will be in another country. See you soon or paalam!