Author Archives: ngeorge


I am finished with the Freeman Asia internship. It was a truly life-changing experience for me. I have many experiences, met many new people, tried new foods, and learned new things. This internship has made me a better person. I am more well-rounded. 

I knew my life was a privilege, but living in rural areas and doing research was a potent reminder of that. 

It was very sad to leave all the friends we made. I felt very sad especially when our guide, Ma’am C, had to leave us in Palawan. The last day was a bag of mixed emotions since we were happy to come home but sad to leave this wonderful experience. I will probably not see the Food and Nutrition Research Institute for a very long time. I do plan to come back, however.

Currently, I am in Doha airport on a 9-hour-long layover. Saying goodbye is hard, but that means I’ll say hello again one day.

Week 8 – Tiny Update

The beginning of this week was great. On Monday, we went to San Pablo City to see Madelyn’s friends from her mission trip in 2019. We continued to do statical analyses of the surveys taken during our field work. We are currently working on our end-of-internship presentations.

Today, there was also an earthquake 45 kilometers away from Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. We are about 428km away from there, or 7 1/2 hours away. However, I could still feel it all the way from Manila. I felt a wobbly sensation, and I didn’t know whether it was the ground moving or if my brain was acting weird. I asked if people felt that the ground was shaking but everyone said no. However, 10 minutes later I got the news of the earthquake. I must have some strong senses.

Week 7 & 8 – Palawan Excursion

We went on a short vacation to Palawan from Thursday to Sunday. It was a lot of fun. We went surfing with whale sharks, snorkeling, and island hopping. The whale sharks were surreal and it was so cool swimming so close to such a big animal. Snorkeling and island hopping were also fun. The islands were extremely pretty. El Nido is a hidden gem, with beauty like the Maldives but at a fraction of the price. We were extremely tired after island hopping and slept for 16 hours after.

We went to Puerto Princesa for our fieldwork. We stayed in a tiny hotel the whole time. It was similar to our first excursion where we took measurements, bloodwork, and surveys. The only difference was that we didn’t stay in the Barangay hall like last time. We met the Barangay captain and had dinner with him on the last day. At the end of each day, we also did activities like biking. We had to say bye to our field supervisor, Ma’am C, which was super sad. She was so nice. We flew back to Manila and have work on Tuesday.

Week 6

This week, we did a lot of lab work in the office.

We shadowed medical technologists and observed how to do analyses of iron, vitamin A, and iodine levels in blood serum. We did a high-performance liquid chromatography to do this. For iodine, we had to run 18 test tubes and rapidly switch them out when putting solution in them, or when putting them in the centrifuge.

We talked with the team after our time in the lab which was fun.

On Wednesday, we woke up at 6:30 to go to work at 7. We are required to stay for 9 hours, so if we go to work at 7 we stay til 4. We typically used to stay from 8 to 5.

I am currently in Palawan today, and will be staying til Saturday. We are doing field work on Monday, so we were able to go a couple days early for vacation. We are in Puerto Princesa and will be going to El Nido tomorrow. We are going to swim with whale sharks, go snorkeling, and island hopping.

Week 5 – Day 2

Today we learned how to do statistical analyses of the anthropometric data collected. They use several statistical software to do this.

Week 5 – Food Validation & Spot Checking

This week we continued our office work. We continued food validation and we started something new called spot-checking. This is to ensure that the surveys match the list of foods each household eats.

If there is a mistake, we note it on the sheet.

I am getting more used to the heat every day.

Week 4 – Concluding our First Excursion and Going Home

This week, we had our last excursion in Tagudin, Illocus Sur, and went home on Friday night. We did the same tasks like interviewing locals with the ENNS, taking measurements, and inputting data. This barangay was especially fun because I actually got to interview a local myself instead of just shadowing. On our last day, we hung out with all of the teams at the beach, went swimming, and ate dinner with the mayor. We also went boating. At 11:30 pm, we took a bus to Manila.

It was extremely hot in our room in Tagudin, and the A/C felt heavenly when we got back. We had two days to relax before work on Monday. On Saturday we went to the pool and just relaxed for a bit. On Sunday, we went to the Mall of Asia. It was very big and looked super fancy. I got three pairs of fancy shirts.

On Monday, we started working on our presentation where we described our work in the rural excursions. We also did some food validation which is the evaluation that provides evidence that food went through a particular process (cooking, frying, etc.)

Week 3 – Surveying and Traveling

This week, we went on several rural excursions.

We first went to San Jose where we got settled and basically toured the city. After that, we had our first actual deployment to Danuman West, Santa Maria. At every location, we stay at a “Barangay Hall”. A “Barangay” is the most minor administrative division in the Phillippines typically overlooking a village. The hall always has a basketball court with a large roof covering it, if that makes sense. We shadowed researchers and medical technicians as they interviewed locals to assess food insecurity. The survey they used was the “Expanded National Nutrition Survey”. It consists of several sections assessing the food people eat, and their living conditions.

Our next stop was Biao, Santa Maria, a few minutes away. Over here we didn’t have good data, we only got somewhat good data near the beach, but not near where we stayed. It was a good experience though. We had so much fun with our coworkers and the locals. Immersing myself in their living style and culture was transformative. Living without wifi was not bad at all because there was always something to do. We did the same surveys, and also took measurements of people like their height and weight. Our adventures were fun, there are so many stray animals like dogs and cats. I love cats a lot and playing with stray cats is fun. We went to the top of a beautiful waterfall where we could see the river below.

Caburao, Santiago was our next stop. We did the same tasks such as surveying and taking measurements. Of course, meeting locals was the highlight of my trip. However, a notable second was that I found a purple dragonfruit. It was exhilarating. I only see white dragonfruits in the US. It was super pretty.

I am currently in Cabugbugan, Tagudin. Yesterday, to get to the Barangay we had to cross a river using a boat made of bamboo. That was an experience. Our surveying and measuring were the same. I enjoyed talking with the locals again. Some of them are super interesting. Notably, two of them had family members working in Qatar which I thought was cool.

Weeks 1 and 2 – Getting Oriented and First Excursion

It has been quite an adventure so far. 

We had a 31 hour trip from O’Hare to Manila. A 13 hour flight from O’hare to Doha Airport, a 9 hour layover, and an 8 hour flight from Doha to Manila. During the layover, I explored the airport and it was very pretty. 

Once in Manila, we met with Tito Mon and ate dinner. If you don’t know I have a gluten allergy. I was very scared of finding gluten free food but it turned out to not be a big deal. Most restaurants serve rice, vegetables, and meat. The term “gluten-free” is not well known but a lot of food are naturally gluten free so I just eat that. Most times I eat rice and some meat like chicken, beef, or pork. 

We had our orientation at the University of the Philippines – Los Banos for two days. After our flight we arrived at 10pm and started at 10am. We had a crash course on filipino culture, and Tagalog. On our last day at orientation, we had dinner and everyone started to leave. First, the interns at Cabrini left, then the interns at IRRI left. The interns at FNRI (us) left last. 

We live at Siena Park residences, a fancy condo with a swimming pool. We went out to buy groceries and a wifi box. After that we were settled and rested for a bit. 

Our first few days of work were a bit of an adjustment, to say the least, but we got through it. We had two full days of work from 8-5 then on our third day we left early at 12. The day after we had our first excursion, we left at 10 pm and arrived at Candon, Ilocus Sur, at 6 am. 

We had a great first day touring the town. The second day, we shadowed medical technologists while they conducted surveys on some households in underprivileged communities. We also learned how to take blood pressure and take measurements. It was very interesting to see and learn about. I can’t wait to do this in the field. Today, we toured Vigan, Ilocus Sur. It had a lot of Spanish style buildings presumably due to Spanish colonialism in the past. 

Join Me On My Journey – Freeman Asia 2022

Hello Everyone!

I am studying abroad in the Philippines. I will be working in FNRI’s Nutrition and Monitoring Division, and post a blog update weekly starting June 11.

Thank you to IWU for this incredible opportunity.