Week 7

Weekend in La Union 7.21-7.23  

La Union is the province around 7 hours north of Parañaque, where our condo is. It is known for surfing. On Friday morning we decided to head to a nearby bus terminal to figure out how to get to La Union. We knew we would have to take multiple busses, but we were unable to plan which busses to take in advance. Lukas, Hunter, Kennedy and I figured out the first bus, but when we got dropped off at the next bus terminal we couldn’t figure out how long we would have to wait for the bus we needed to get on next. We decided to just take a private van to La Union, this was a much faster option but it did cost a bit more than the buses would have. We made it to our hostel which had no air conditioning and one singular fan, we also slept with mosquito nets because there were no windows. We dropped our things off at the hostel and got ready for dinner because we were all super hungry. We tried a top rated restaurant in the area, which didn’t live up to its expectations; however, it was located on the beach so the view did make up for it. On Saturday morning, we woke up around 7am to go to surf! We first made a stop at the nearby 7-eleven for sunscreen. Sunscreen is expensive here and it’s hard to find any skin care products without skin whitening in it. Before surfing we ate a late breakfast. We went up to a tent on the beach that said surfing lessons and took an hour surfing lesson. It was my first time and I was a little nervous, but my instructor was so helpful and cheered me on even when I fell. The back of my legs and lower back got super sunburnt unfortunately, but no worries I brought aloe! I surprisingly liked surfing even though I wasn’t the best at it, I still had a lot of fun. After surfing we went to get something to drink before heading back to the hostel for showers. Later we went to dinner at an Italian restaurant and randomly got a free ride back to our hostel because it was raining. On Sunday, we checked out of the hostel and went to make pottery! We took a trike to get to the pottery lesson and the driver and I exchanged numbers so he could pick us up later and drive us to the bus terminal. I had never used a potters wheel to make anything with clay so I was super excited, it was really hard to come up with ideas especially because I was a bit limited with my skills. Since it was our last day in La Union, we couldn’t leave our pieces to get fired in the kiln so we are just going to have to let them air dry and hope they make it back to the US safety! After pottery, we found a restaurant called Casa Margarita. You might be thinking it’s Mexican restaurant. We did too and were really disappointed to find out it was just Filipino food, but we made still ate an early dinner there and figured out which bus we would try to get on to go home. I contacted the same trike driver and he picked us up and dropped us off at the bus terminal. We talked with a few of the workers and waited about 30 minutes before we were informed that all the buses heading south were full. We only had one option, take a shared van to a bus terminal near Parañaque. We all squeezed in the van for a 7 hour ride back home. Earlier in the day we were informed that we had the following day off because of the typhoon that was coming. Typhoon Egay is now classified as a super typhoon, but I haven’t really seen much of its effects because it has hit harder more north and toward the coast. There has been some very hard rain and it has been much more humid out, but thankfully everything is okay. 

7.24 Today we had the day off because the DOST office was closed due to the typhoon. I was able to sleep in a little and unpack my backpack from the weekend. Later in the day we went to see the Barbie movie! Today was a much needed relaxed day. 

7.25 Today we reported to the office, we only have three more days left of our internship. We spent the day with another division within NAMD (nutrition assessment monitoring division), Nutrition Statistics and Informatics Section (NSIS). This division has a statistics unit and informatics unit. The statics unit is “responsible for the data management of the NNS (national nutrition survey) data; develops statistical methodologies and designs for nutrition survey and special studies conducted by the division; and conducts statistical and collaborative studies related to nutrition”. The informatics unit has “developed information systems for the conduct of nutrition surveys; manages all data generated from the nutrition surveys and provides saftey nets toward its sustainability and maximum utilization; and provides nutrition survey/assessment tools and services through latest information and communication technologies.” The eDCS is the information system that anthropometry, dietary, and biomedical researchers use to input data. After lunch we were taught how to use stata software which is a statistical software. We tried to use state to recreate results from the NNS (national nutrition survey) by using data sets found on the FNRI enutrition website. 

7.26 Today we worked from home to create and complete our presentations. On our last day we will present an overview of our internship and time in the Philippines. This presentation included learnings, challenges, skills developed, and pictures from our three deployments as well as reports on our time in the office and at the seminar series. To conclude my presentation I included my overall internship experience and general recommendations for the future. Overall, this has truly been an amazing experience and I have had a wonderful time in the Philippines. I am so thankful that I was able to travel throughout the Philippines with this internship and meet so many new people. Not only was I able to learn about the National Nutrition Survey and all of the components that go into it, but I was also able to meet locals who changed my outlook on life. I am very grateful for all the FNRI staff that took us in and treated us like family, it made my time in the Philippines so special. I have learned what it’s like to be a nutritionist/dietitians in the field and along the way have learned a lot more about living a happy and rewarding life. Each of the sub teams got along so well because they avoided conflicts and helped each other out. The US has a much more fast paced way of life. Spending my summer in the Philippines has been very beneficial to how I view life; being kind is always possible and goes along way, do what you truly enjoy and what makes you happy, take each day as it comes, and take lots of pictures!

7.27 Today was our final day in at FNRI. We took our last walk to FNRI, surprisingly not as hot as it typically is because it is still windy from the typhoon. All six IWU interns at FNRI gave presentations about their internship experience and overall time in the Philippines. I was really nervous to give my presentation, but it went okay and I am glad it’s over. We at KFC together for lunch, got certificates of completion, and received our impressions and final remarks from our supervisors at NAMD. After lunch Lukas, Kennedy, and I headed back to the NAMD office to say our final goodbyes to everyone. It was so bittersweet especially because it really doesn’t feel like I have been here for two months already. Sir Boy made sure to give us coffee and snacks before we left and Ate Steph, our internship coordinator gave us all a little gift before we left. Of course we took a few pictures with the NAMD staff before we went back to our condo. Hunter, Lukas, Kennedy, and I are planning on going out for one final dinner together because Kennedy is leaving on Saturday and the rest of us are planning on going to Batangas for a few days before we go home. Our flight is at 6 pm on Tuesday. In between now and then besides our weekend in Batangas, I have to figure out what I am leaving behind, packing my bags, and cleaning the condo. I can’t believe my time in the Philippines is coming to an end. I am excited to go home, but also sad to be leaving. I truly have had an amazing summer in the Philippines. To celebrate the end of our internship we went back to Yingying Teahouse, a Chinese restaurant we went to earlier in our trip.

Final Weekend plans — We had four days between the end of our internship and our flight home. Hunter, Lukas, and I decided to spend our last weekend going to Batangas. Batangas is known for scuba diving and is only a few hours south of Manila. On Friday we took a grab to the bus terminal in Manila and got on a charter bus headed for Batangas. We had nothing planned. We didn’t have a hostel booked or know where we would be able to scuba dive without being certified. On the bus ride, I was looking up hostels to see where we could stay. My phone battery was slowly dying and none of the hostels I was looking at had websites or working phone numbers. I had to use facebook messenger to contacts four different hostels to see if there was room for us to stay the entire weekend. Luckily one place responded, I told them we were on the way and my phone died. Collectively we only had one phone with phone battery. When we arrived at the Batangas bus terminal we figured out that we were 45 minutes away from the hostel in Mabini. By this time it was 9pm and we were trying to figure out how to get there. Thankfully some trike drivers came up to us asking where we needed to go and one of them was able to drive us all the way there. After we got off the trike, we had to search for the hostel. We went through peoples backyards and finally made it. The hostel workers I had been messaging had stayed up waiting for us to arrive! The three of us were really hungry so we looked up food nearby, there was Italian restaurant a short walk away still open so we walked there. During our walk, we realized that the town we were in wasn’t very touristy and didn’t have much going on. When we arrived at the restaurant, it wasn’t open so we walked back to the hostel feeling defeated. In the morning, we got breakfast at the hostel. I got Bangsilog, which consists of bangus (milkfish), garlic fried rice, and 2 over-easy eggs. Silog is a typical breakfast dish in the Philippines with some sort of meat, rice, and eggs. At breakfast we asked a few of the workers about scuba diving, one of them told us her father in law does scuba lessons and we could go tomorrow. For lunch we went back to the Italian restaurant, this time it was open and we stayed there for a few hours. The hostel was located right on the water and rented out fins and goggles to snorkel/free dive. Between lunch and dinner we went in the water and I talked with the hostel workers about how we ended up at their hostel. We went to a resort for dinner, it was one of the only places open around us. After dinner we had to ask on of the workers to drive us (in his trike) to the nearest ATM. Everywhere in this town was cash only so we were running very low on cash. He drove us 20 minutes north to the ATM and drove us back to our hostel. The next day we woke up and got breakfast at another resort before scuba diving. A trike picked us up at the hostel and drove us 20 minutes south to the very tip of Mabini. When we arrived we put wetsuits on and all of the gear. I was very nervous, but the instructors taught us the basics before we went in the water. I spent about 30-40 minutes scuba diving before I decided to go back in. It was a lot of fun and I was able to see a lot of fish! After scuba diving, we took a nap and went to a nearby hostel for dinner. The next morning, Hunter and I went back to the ATM for cash to pay for the hostel. It was our last full day in the Philippines and we were headed back to Manila. We took out just enough cash to pay for the hostel, but when we got back to the hostel they gave us a bill for 3,000 pesos over what we anticipated. Luckily I asked if this was a mistake and it was! After we checked out, we took a trike to the jeepney terminal. A jeepney is a form of public transportation. It is like a long car with an open back for passengers to hop in and out. We got in a jeepney headed toward the bus terminal. By this point I was running so low on pesos that I had to pay in all coins for the jeepney. To get off the jeepney you just say ‘para po’ which means this is my stop and the driver pulls over. To pay your fare, you pass your money to the next passenger until it reaches the driver, along the way you say say ‘bayad po’ meaning here is my fare (it sounds like buy it so it was easy for me to remember). Before getting to the bus terminal we went to McDonalds for a quick meal. Of course we had to get one last coke float and bff fry. We took a charter bus back to Manila, but realized the bus terminal was farther than where we lived so we asked to get off early. At this point it was around 8pm and we were hungry so we found a nearby Japanese restaurant. After dinner we took a grab back to our condo. I packed up most of my things and headed to bed for the last time in the Philippines. In the morning I finished packing and the three of us headed to FNRI to collect our certificates of completion. When we returned from FNRI it was almost time to leave for the airport so I turned in my keys to the tenant. My dads friend, Jo came to pick us up and drive us to the airport. There was so much traffic, but we made it to the airport and through security with an hour to spare. This is the end of

Bangsilog for breakfast
View from the hostel
Us on the jeepney
Scuba diving location ft. Lukas
Layover in Abu Dhabi

Week 6 Last Deployment to Cavite

7.14 The travel to Cavite was very short compared to our two previous deployment locations. We traveled from FNRI to Barangay Hall Anabu ll-E in Cavity City. We met one subteam apart of Team 1. I was able to meet with Kay, the researcher I was paired with during practicum, at the very beginning of our internship. The researchers were already gone doing house locating and initial interviews, so the three of us talked to the ATC (assistant team coordinator), Ma’am Paula. After a short meet and greet, we took the barangay transportation truck to the mayor’s office. We met with the mayor of the city of Imus. He gifted Team 1 with a stipend for food and water. This is a great example of Filipino culture, being so welcoming and helpful to everyone. When we returned to the Barangay Hall, the subteam had returned from the field, and it was time for lunch. We got to meet the subteam briefly before and during lunch. During our stay in the barangay, I didn’t have good reception, so we spent a lot of time hanging out with the members of the subteam; they were all very funny and so much fun to be around. They actually told us before lunch that they had practiced their English the day before in anticipation of our arrival, I found this to be very sweet because they actually wanted to be able to have a conversation with us! We spent a lot of time just laughing because we didn’t understand each other, but it was always so fun. After lunch, we went with the researchers into the field to finish the rest of the house locating and initial interviews for the day. This was the first time that we had to take a van to every house because we were located in an urban area. During my observations this day, I found out one of the households prepares food for three days at a time- this is the first time I had encountered this and also many of the researchers first time too, so the dietary researcher assigned this is household just had to figure out how to accommodate the respondent to make it work for the both of them. The three of us got our own room to stay in with air conditioning and a bathroom. The water in the area only turned on from 5am to around 7am so we needed to make sure to stock up on enough water to last us the day. This was the first subteam that we actually witnessed splitting up tasks: going to the market, doing the dishes, and cooking dinner. 

Initial interview and consent
courtesy call
Biomedical set up at the barangay hall

7.15 Today we woke up early to start the anthropometric and biomedical collections. We spent our morning with the biomedical researcher learning how to take blood and learning more about what happens to the blood in the field to prepare it before shipping it to the office. I learned how each blood vial is prepared with anticoagulants if necessary, how to use the vortex after sample collection, what each of the vials were used for, what order to collect the vials of blood in, how long to let each of the samples sit before the vortex, and finally how to separate the serum/plasma from the red blood cells to send it to the lab at FNRI. Kennedy and Lukas took a nap after the biomedical component was done for the day and skipped lunch. I ate lunch with the team before heading into the field with two of the researchers. We went to one household with only one person, but it was still lengthy. This was the first time that I took body measurements inside the respondent’s house. I helped set up the scale and stadiometer. After the 24 hour food recall was complete, I took the respondent’s blood pressure three times, asked the respondent the questions on the mental health survey, and filled out the booklet for the respondent’s height, weight, and body measurements. After all the anthropometric measurements were taken, she completed all of the remaining interviews. During this time, I cleaned up all of the devices used for the anthropometric data collection. Normally, for the mental health survey, a small booklet with questions is given to the respondent to answer on their own time; however, we asked the respondent if she was comfortable with me interviewing her to complete it and she agreed. We still had 3 more households to go to, but the researchers let me go back early because of how time consuming the next households were going to be. I went out later in the night to do the final food weighing, which involved weighing dinner plate waste and all the condiments that were originally weighed at the beginning of the day (to see total consumption throughout the day). 

Taking anthropometric measurements in respondents house
How the serum/plasma samples are separated and labeled accordingly.
Practicing putting tourniquets on

7.16 Today we woke up early again for anthropometric and biomed data collection. It had been raining our entire stay, but this particular morning it was raining extremely hard, so only two households showed up. We were able to take a break before breakfast. At breakfast, it was explained to us that if the respondent ate something during the food weighing day (and they were able to easily purchase it), they should buy it and weigh it. I observed the final packaging of the biomedical sample collection (blood and urine), which was to be sent to the office the following day. Our day was not very intense with work. For dinner, the team bought pizza and donuts as a final meal for us. It was so good and such a nice gesture. The following day was the medical aid’s birthday, but unfortunately we would be with a new subteam by then, so we missed their celebration for him. We also did a few tiktok dances with the team and took lots of pictures before leaving. Today was my oldest brothers wedding, I was really sad that I couldn’t be there to celebrate with him and all of my family, but everyone cheered me up and I got to see pictures and videos throughout the day.

On site hemoglobin testing

7.17 Today we woke up and ate breakfast with the team before traveling to a new barangay. Our new subteam came to pick us up because they were transferring to a new location. We were all squeezed in a van together, and our luggage was in another truck that followed behind us. We got lost and took a few wrong turns along the way to the new barangay, but we eventually made it to Silang. We immediately put our stuff inside and took a few trikes to lunch at Jollibee. I was finally able to try the spaghetti, it honestly was really delicious. I just took out the chunks of meat. After lunch we went to the grocery store to pick up a few essentials for the week. We were able to take two trikes all the way back to the barangay hall- we fit seven people on the trike (not including the driver). At this barangay, we all slept on the floor of a daycare together. The comfort room (CR) had a door that didn’t close and there were no big buckets to store enough water for us to all shower. We were able to use the two CRs in the building next door to shower, however there were so many cockroaches. In this area, the water only ran from 11pm to 1am! I spent some time talking with the local kids, there was a huge language barrier, so I pulled out google translate. I somehow had a huge group surrounding me- it was so cute and we took a few pictures together. Every time I came out of where we were sleeping- all the kids screamed ABIIII, it was both overwhelming and heartwarming. After spending time with the local kids, I accompanied Leah and the medical aid to the market. This subteam also split up tasks, so it was their turn to go to the market. The three of us took a trike to the market and got everything we needed for dinner- tofu, mixed veggies, and fish. On our way to the market, we dropped off a container at a water refilling station. Since I was alone without Lukas and Kennedy I felt even more out of place because I was the only white person there, but it was okay, and I never felt uncomfortable at any point. Sanitation here is different than in the states, so it’s very interesting going to street markets and seeing how vendors are selling things. We had to go into the wet market, where they sell fish and meat- the smell is always so unbearable to me, but I made it through by only breathing through my mouth. On our way back to find a trike, we came across a dirty ice cream vendor- I had been waiting to try this since I found out about it a few weeks ago. It was only 5 pesos (less than one penny) for a very small cone of avocado and strawberry ice cream. Once we got on the trike we went to pick up the water, it only cost 25 pesos (less than 50 cents)! When we returned back to the barangay hall I took a bucket shower and settled in before dinner. The team leader, Ma’am Hannah, luckily came with me and sprayed all the roaches she saw with raid. After my bucket shower I opened the bathroom door and a huge roach came running towards me so I screamed; when I went back to where we all sleep, a few people were laughing because they could hear me scream it was really funny but so scary to me. We all ate dinner together, super good and then we prepared for our day off tomorrow. 

What a typical transfer looks like… not much room
View from respondents house
Market mixed veggies
Dirty icecream
Squeezing on the trike together
Sleeping arrangement
The market we went to get what we needed for dinner
The wet market
More produce at the market. We got some tofu on the bottom right

7.18 The team was able to take the day to go to Tagaytay because they were not able to start data collection yet and the courtesy call wasn’t planned until the following morning. We left at 6am to go to Tagaytay, we ate breakfast together. I have turned into a pescatarian here so I ate a meal with fish and there was complimentary bulalo, a bone marrow broth. After breakfast, we walked up a hill to see the view of the Taal volcano. We rode horses, took pictures, and made a few tiktoks. We ate lunch at a place with outside dining so we could enjoy the view! After lunch we headed back to the Baranagy Hall. I was exhausted, so I took a long nap, woke up for dinner, and went back to sleep for the night. For dinner, the team prepared pasta, which was so good, and switched up the normal menu, which is usually rice with veggies and some sort of protein. 


7.19 Today we transferred to our final subteam. They were in Alfonso, Matagbak. We got lost along the way, but eventually got there! We first stopped at the barangay hall where the researchers were finishing up their data collection for the day. The researchers didn’t sleep in the barangay hall, they actually stayed in the house- this was the second time I experienced data collection being at a separate location from where we stayed. We then brought all of our stuff to the house they were staying at, and got to sleep in a bed for our last! This was our last full day in the field, but there wasn’t much work for us to do prior to lunch. At lunch we were able to meet most of the subteam, they were so welcoming! At dinner, we fully met everyone and talked about our future plans after college. I love talking with the members in each subteam, and I love seeing the dynamic between each of the subteams. We asked a few questions about how the groups are put together, I was actually very surprised to find out that the subteams are typically just randomly put together. While it is kept in mind where everyone is from, the subteams aren’t put together because they are friends to begin with. Reflecting back on each of the subteams, all of them have gotten along so well and of course it is the beginning of their deployment. They really seem to mesh well with each other and I truly enjoyed my time with all of the researchers I met.  

The house we stayed in for one night
Barangay Hall for anthropometric and biomedical data collection
Sleeping arrangement ft. Lukas taking a nap

7.20 We spent the morning going to one more household and observing some anthropometric and biomedical data collection at the barangay hall. I took my final three blood pressures in the field. We ate lunch together; the team prepared pancit for us because Lukas said it was his favorite the night before. A bunch of locals gifted the team with produce that they grew and food that they had made, so lunch was extra special. We had fresh soursop smoothies and pickled papaya, along with pancit. We were able to take home fresh avocado and pineapple too! After lunch, we waited for Ma’am Paula to come pick us up with the van to transport us back to Manila. When we made it back to Siena Park, we decide to do laundry- this time we found a place much closer to where we live! We prepared for our weekend in La Union and went to sleep.

Last manual BP in the field
Observing one last interview
New laundry spot
Final goodbyes 🙁
Pancit for lunch!
Dragon fruit plants near a respondents house

Week 5

EL NIDO 7.7-7.10

We spent three days and three nights in El Nido, Palawan. This was a mini vacation and all of the IWU interns in the Philippines were able to meet up for the weekend. Lukas, Kennady, and I arrived in El Nido very early on Friday morning. We spent the morning in the hostel waiting for our room to become available. The view from the hostel was phenomenal and I met some very cool people from all over the world. On Saturday we got up early for an island hopping tour; this consisted of stopping at different beaches, snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming. While snorkeling I got stung by a jelly fish and while kayaking my legs got super sunburnt, but I had such a fun day it was all worth it. Hunter and I kayaked together through Big Lagoon, we had such an amazing and peaceful time, although I did make Hunter paddle us almost the entire time. Overall I had a great weekend and it was great to see the other IWU interns. We headed back to Manila at around 3 am Monday morning and went in for a half day in the office after we got back.

Office work 7.10-7.12

7.10 We traveled back to Manila very early today. The airport was extremely small, only catering one flight at a time. Our flight was delayed by about an hour so the airline bought everyone breakfast and we spent the time taking a nap. When we got back to our apartment in Manila, we took a quick nap, unpacked our things, and got ready for a half day in the office. We decided to take a grab to the office because it is very affordable and the walk at noon would have been brutally hot and sweaty. My back and legs were still very burnt so the last thing I wanted to do was be in the sun for too long. When we got to the office, everyone seemed surprised to see us again because we hadn’t been there for work since before our first deployment in mid June. We were paired up with the dietary editing team for the day. We visited their office and tried data editing which was very confusing at first because there were so many codes and additional research that needed to be done. The dietary editing team is in charge of editing the dietary component of the NNS (national nutrition survey) data submitted from the field researchers. This data includes the 24 hour food recall and food weighing. The data from each household is put into a separate spread sheet and printed out. In order to edit the data one must reference several documents that provide codes for different food, food preparation, and source. After we tried to edit one households dietary data, we observed how to properly weigh food condiments used, this is done in the field in the morning and at night to see total use throughout the day. We were given a snack of turon, deep-fried banana rolls which were very delicious before heading home for the day.

7.11 Today in the office, we were given breakfast of arroz caldo which is rice porridge, I really enjoyed it. After breakfast we spent the morning with the food matching division. They explained that the The Philippine Food Composition Table (PhilFCT) database is used to provide information on the chemical/nutritional composition of foods. The database “It contains subsets of nutrient data, descriptors and photos of foods that were generated and compiled at the FNRI’s Food Composition Laboratory.” If a respondent has consumed an uncommon food or a food that is not within this database there are several things that can be done to determine the foods nutritional composition. First the field researcher must identify that it is an uncommon food and take a picture of it and provide a description, it is then the team leaders job to upload this into a spread sheet that is shared with the food matching team in the office. In the office, research is done on this food to find its nutritional-makeup by using foreign databases. We were shown all of the databases that every country has, I didn’t know that so many countries had such databases. A great example is the USDA’s (US Department of Agriculture) FoodData Central. Researchers may use this database to gather the data and determine its nutritional value to the consumer. The researcher have to also research the food to make sure it is the same as the one the respondent had consumed and input it into the same spreadsheet as before. The researcher must then use two other databases to ensure accuracy before it is submitted to the director of NAMD for approval. We spent the afternoon in the lab observing how the biomedical samples are tested. Iron, Vitamin A, and Iodine are the most common micronutrient deficiencies in the Philippines. We observed in two different labs; the first was for serum/plasma samples to measure vitamin A content, the second was for urine samples to measure for iodine excretion. We observed chemists separating the retinol from serum blood in the vitamin A lab and in the urine lab (which did smell strongly of urine) were more hands on and got to use pipettes to take samples of the urine and transfer into test tubes. The Plasma/Serum Vitamin A samples are tested with Spectrophotometric using HPLC. To test for Urinary Iodine Excretion (UIE), the Sandell-Kolthoff Method is used. I am not very familiar with either of the methods during my observations, so I cannot explain in detail what happens, but we got to see how the samples from the field are actually sent to the FNRI labs and tested in a timely manner. FNRI also has other labs to test Hemoglobin, Serum/Plasma Ferritin, Serum/RBC Folate, and Serum Zinc. After work, later at night Lukas and I tried to do laundry. We walked all the way to the usual laundry spot, but the owner told us it was too late to start doing laundry- so we got a trike back and went for a late night swim with Hunter and Kennady.

7.12 We woke up a little earlier than usually to get a grab to the laundromat. We did full service so we were able to drop our clothes off and head to the office. We had some difficulties calling a grab, so we took a trike to the SM and had to walk the rest of the way to FNRI. We spent our time in the office completing a write-up/reflection on our previous deployment in Pangasinan. A good friend of mine from high school happened to be in Manila for a few days, luckily our schedules lined up and we were able to meet for dinner. It was really refreshing to see a familiar face in a foreign country. 

7.13 Originally we were supposed to be traveling to Cavity City for our final deployment, however due to some complications it was decided that it was best for us to leave the following day. I spent the unexpected free day taking a nap and packing my bags. For dinner, we went to get sushi at the SM and later went to see a movie.

Vitamin A Lab
Urine samples

Week 4.

6.26 Returning From Marinduque

Today we traveled from Marinduque back to Manila. We waited until 3pm to leave, hoping to catch the 5pm ferry. We went into town one last time to get some dinner, we decided on pizza… rookie mistake. We were so hungry that we ended up finishing the pizza, but it was one of the grossest things ever. Lesson learned, pizza is different in the provinces. Finding a ride to the port took a lot longer than expected and it was pouring rain, so we missed our original ferry. Luckily the next ferry was leaving at 7pm, so we kept ourselves occupied by playing heads-up. Our travels back to Manila were shorter than expected because there was hardly any traffic, we got back at 1am.

6.27 Rest Day 1

Since we got back so late, we were given a rest day. We spent the day in Makati. We got brunch and finally sang karaoke. 

6.28 Rest Day 2

Today we had another day off! We all slept in for a little bit and took the day to relax in preparation for our next deployment. We spent a few hours doing laundry. This was our second time going to the same laundromat and the owner remembered all of our names! When we were doing laundry it started raining super hard and I kept getting splashed by cars while on the trike back. We met Tito Mon at Siena Park because he had a quick meeting with some other IWU interns. It was so nice to see him again! We ate dinner with Ate Steph, our onsite internship coordinator and Ate Francis, a team leader who will be traveling with us tomorrow. At dinner we discussed our travel plans and signed the necessary paperwork prior to our deployment. We ate at a Japanese restaurant which didn’t have many vegetarian options, so I tried a California roll for the first time which was very good. When we returned from dinner, I packed my bags for our upcoming travel and went to sleep as early as possible.

Pangasinan with team 4


At the bus station
Everyone wanted pictures with us

Today I woke up at 4:30am to start travel to Pangasinan. We took a charter bus all the way to Pangasinan with Ate Francis. We met a few of the people apart of team 4 to travel to our first barangay, Tobor. When we first arrived, we met all of the local officials and introduced ourselves to the subteam and the local officials. We immediately took lots of pictures, I felt like I was famous, but it was also a little overwhelming the entire time we stayed there because I was constantly being asked to take pictures. The people in Tobor were super welcoming and friendly, they immediately felt like family and I loved being there. The local officials prepared dinner for everyone and we all ate together and got to know each other. During dinner it was raining, we were eating outside under a canopy and water was leaking through- it was really not a problem at all, but a local came with an umbrella to hold over my head and wouldn’t leave until I was finished with my food. Our living arrangement while in Tobor was very nice. Lukas, Kennady, and I got our own room with AC, a bathroom with water that ran at all hours of the day, and there were men that stayed outside all night as security.


Today we transferred to be with another subteam for the day. First we completed a courtesy call for the Mayor of Malasiqui, Pangasinan. Similar to the other courtesy calls we completed, we all introduced ourselves and the team leader explained the purpose of the data collection taking place. Since the subteam in Tobor was locating houses, we went with another subteam in Pangasinan to experience a courtesy exit. Lukas, Kennady, and I then met with another subteam where we met a city council official to complete the courtesy exit in Santa Cruz, Pangasinan. Next were taken to a livestock slaughter house, where the subteam was stationed for data collection. We observed the final data collection and editing, except there was an added bonus- listening to pigs dying… just kidding this was actually a super upsetting day for me. I really had no appetite for the rest of the day. The councilwoman later invited all of us to get a snack with her and her son. She even paid for us to stay in a hotel for the night! We happily accepted the offer, we were able to swim at night, sleep in a bed, and shower with running water. This made my day a little bit better. Lukas and Kennady tried some street food, which I didn’t participate in because it was all chicken and pig and I am vegetarian. After we swam we observed how the team leader completed data consolidation, since her team was transferring to another barangay the following day. Field researchers do not work set hours, it really depends on what needs to be done each day- so when we are in the field we work strange hours, but are able to have breaks throughout the day.

Example of how we traveled from place to place with all of our belongings. It was very tight in the van!


Tools used for 24hr food recall, to help respondents provide accurate servings/amounts

Today we traveled back to Tobor, where we were originally. Tobor is very rural, so the ride from Santa Cruz to Tobor was long and bumpy. I got super motion sick, but luckily when we got to the barangay, a local official gifted me with katinko oil to put on my wrists so I wouldn’t feel nauseous. The katinko oil has come in handy many times since and it can be used for other things such as bug bites! For field work today, as a group we went to one house and watch and perform interviews. The three of us along with the team leader, a local official, and two researchers walked to a household with 6 family members. This subteam had a slightly different way to complete their interviews, but it seemed a lot more efficient. All of the demographic interviews and 24 hr food recalls were completed for each of the family members. These interviews take a long time so we all took turns interviewing the respondents. We tried crickets that the family had… very interesting! When we finished with this household, it was about to rain so we just headed back to the barangay hall. Lukas and Kennady tried balut from someone on the street. Balut is a fertilized developing egg embryo.


We spent the morning observing the biomedical component. This was really interesting because it was the first time things were really explained to us. As a nursing major, I enjoyed this part, the biomedical research taught us how to take blood two different ways. Next we went to three different households to complete the demographic interviews and 24 hr food recalls. Again we went to these households as a group, and it seemed very efficient. At one of the households, we completed a mental health interview. This was the first time we actually completed this interview; it was very thorough, and the women I interviewed didn’t speak very good English, so Sir Erwin (the team leader) helped translate. When we finished our work for the day, a local invited us to see his garden and gifted us with pineapple! When we returned to the barangay hall, the power went out for a few hours because of how hard it had rained. To pass time a few of the researchers and I ate pomelo fruit with suka (vinegar with garlic and hot peppers).

Observing the biomedical component. Blood draw and urine sample collection.
Taking blood pressure
Pomelo fruit
Harvesting pineapple


On our fourth and final day, we woke up very early to complete the morning food weighing for three households. All the condiments are weighed in the morning and at night to see how much is used throughout the day. At each of the households, we took the respondents’ second day blood pressure. This consisted of taking three consecutive blood pressures, waiting two minutes in between each. We went back to two households for food weighing before they prepared lunch, neither of them had any plate waste so we were able to head back to the barangay hall for lunch. One of the households gifted us with pancit which was so good. Pancit is a traditional Filipino noodle dish with mixed veggies and meat. After lunch, we had time to interact with the locals. I took my first motorbike ride and played volleyball with local kids. At night, the local officials prepared food for a boodle fight! A boodle fight is big feast where people gather around a table covered in banana leaves. What is on the leaves depends on how it is prepared, our feast had rice and an assortment of food like vegetables, fish, tofu, spring rolls, and salted eggs. When you eat off banana leaves, you are supposed to eat all the food in front of you. We took lots of pictures and ate so much food. We spent our last night dancing with locals for a few hours, they taught us some common dances and it was so much fun.


Today we traveled back to Manila. We woke up and packed our things. As soon as we left our room all of the local officials took pictures with us for nearly an hour straight. They were all so sad that we were leaving and some even started crying. They told us not to forget them, but I don’t think I will ever forget such a wonderful group of women. All of the people I met in Tobor were extremely generous and inspirational. We said our goodbyes to the subteam and took a charter bus back to Manila. When we got back we unpacked our bags and went to the SM to get clothes in preparation for a two day seminar.

7.5 & 7.6 The 49th DOST-FNRI Seminar Series: Innovative, Accessible, and Affordable Diet for All: Products of R&D and S&T Services

During the two day seminar series we heard from multiple presenters and learned about research conducted and new technologies developed within the last year. We learned so much from all the presenters and poster board presentations. There was a wide variety of information covered throughout the two days. There was a technical sessions about Combatting malnutrition and increasing immunity against infection; Iron Symposium; Paving roads towards better health for women and children; Improving Methods to Assess Health and Nutrition; Advancing food safety, food quality strategies, and innovative technologies to reduce malnutrition and foodborne illnesses; Development of Amino Acid Method for Generation of Philippine Food Composition Data; What’s in Your Food; Development and Innovation on Functional Food Products for Improved Health and Nutrition; Tools to develop a healthy and affordable diet; Healthy Diet; A Guide to a Healthier You Symposium. I found it especially interesting that information from the ENNS (Expanded National Nutrition Survey) was used for the basis of much of the research presented during this seminar. We received a USB drive with a collection of all the abstracts from the two day seminar series, this is a useful guide to go back to and look at especially if I missed something. On the second day of the seminar series I won a raffle, but it was all canned meat- so I gave it to someone else sitting at our table. After the seminar was over we headed to the SM Mall of Asia for the first time, it had so many stores and I hope to go back before we leave.

Week 2 & 3.

Preparing for Fieldwork

6.15 & 6.16

We went to the final send off meeting prior to our departure in the field. Each team took pictures and we are going to be traveling with both team 2 and 4. We talked about how to prepare for our departure on Monday and met with our on site supervisors to make sure everything was in place for us to leave. Our fieldwork departure date got pushed back a few days so we had a few hours to do some independent research on the FNRI enutrition website to browse all the nutrition surveys published dating back to 1978.

I experienced my first earthquake. Although I didn’t feel anything, the entire building evacuated for the 6.2 magnitude earthquake.

Second Weekend

6.19 Travel to Marinduque With Team 2

There are 5 teams from NAMD currently traveling around the Philippines to conduct research for around 6 months. Each team is split up into subteams, team 2 has 7 subteams; each subteam has about seven field workers: one team leader, two anthropometric researchers, two dietary researchers, one biochemical/medical technology, and science aid. There is also an IT field worker who vists each subteam as needed, he is staying with our current subteam. We were first assigned to be with subteam 3 and we are going to visit another subteam to witness how they transfer to a new location within Marinduque. Each team has a field supervisor who visits each subteam for a few days to ensure that everything is going as planned. The field supervisor for team 2 is Ma’am Gen, she traveled with us and made sure we had a great week in Gasan.

We woke up at 3am to make it to FNRI before 4am. We took a van from FNRI to Lucena Port. We then took a ferry from the port to Marinduque. We got off the boat at around 3pm, but still had to meet with our assigned subteam in Bacong Bacong, Gasan. When we first got to where we were staying we had a courtesy call, we introduced ourselves to local officials and explained the purpose and process of data collection. By this point the sun was setting, so while everyone was getting situated we went to watch the sunset on the beach. When we came back we had time unpack our bags and lay out our sleeping bags on the floor.

There are 12 people sleeping on the floor side by side. We luckily have outlets, two fans, and occasionally an AC that turns on. There are two very small bathrooms where we use the bathroom and take bucket showers. The water turns off at 5pm, so if there is no water in the bathroom buckets, we have to go downstairs to fill them up. The water also turns off at random points throughout the day, I have found it to be easiest to take a bucket shower right when it turns on in the afternoon. One day there was a massive spider in one of the toilets, so we just all tried to stay out of there until it left.

As a subteam, making meals is part of the job. They get together to make a plan about who will cook which meals and what everyone is okay to eat. The first few meals were all vegetarian to accommodate my diet! Having home cooked meals the past few days has been really nice and has been some of the best Filipino food I have had so far.


A putong is a traditional ceremony performed in Marinduque. During these ceremonies, visitors are honored and welcomed. I really wasnt sure what to expect the first time, but it was fun and special. Locals gathered and sang to us as they placed crowns on our heads, gave us flowers, and showered us with confetti paper, flowers, coins, and candy. During the ceremony everyone was so happy and laughing. We couldn’t let the crowns fall off our heads as we tried to grab the coins and candy being thrown at us, and we were instructed to keep the coins for good luck! At the end of the song, everyone took lots of pictures and there was so much food for us to eat. Kennady, Lukas, and I got to experience this ceremony twice, both times were incredibly special. This ceremony doesn’t occur regularly because it isn’t super common to have visitors. It was even more special to have white people at the ceremony which is why everyone wanted to take pictures with us. The second time we had more of a communal feast where we all ate together with our hands off of banana leaves! We were instructed to eat the food in front of us which included fresh pineapple, rice, chicken curry, fish, salted duck egg, tomato, and cucumber. It was a lot of food and when we finished our food we had to say Tapos (done)! I got cheered on to finish all my food and was even applauded for eating so well with my hands. We got to keep our crowns from the first ceremony! The fresh flowers we were given had santan flowers, which have a small drop of sweet nectar if you suck on the stem. We got to experience this ceremony three times, each was a little different, but all very fun and special.

Data Collection Process Day 1

Field researchers start to collect data on the first day, their data collection is on going throughout their time in the barangay so it must start asap. Each field researcher is accompanied by a local official to ensure their safety, they must first locate the households before conducting any interviews. The first interview starts with a basic Covid-19 screening, an informed consent form, and an initial basic demographic interview.

Team leaders spend the first day going to the mayors office of the town doing a courtesy call. At this time they introduce themselves and explain the purpose of the data collection. The team leaders also buy snacks to give participants after the biomedical component of the data collection, blood collection.


Work I did on Day 1: 6.20

We spent the morning with the team 2 team leaders doing the courtesy call. Unfortunately, we didn’t meet with the mayor of Gasan, but we did introduce ourselves to his secretary and explained the data collection process and purpose.

After lunch I followed Ma’am Daph and a local official to conduct an initial demographic interview. Sometimes these initial interviews can be lengthy, it depends on the number of residents per household. Prior to the interview, the respondents temperature is taken and there is a short questionare about Covid-19 to make sure they are not sick

Data Collection Process Day 2

On the second day, everyone wakes up early to start working.

In the mornings, the two anthropometric researchers start taking measurements around 6am. Luckily the families come to them. They start with another Covid-19 screening and temp check prior to body measurements. Measurements include height, weight, mid-upper arm circumference, hip circumference, waist circumference, and blood pressure. Typically this part of their data collection is done before lunch, leaving the rest of the day for individual and household interviews. These interviews are very lengthy and take over an hour per household member.

The biomedical researcher and assistant collect blood and urine samples after the anthropometric data is collected. The respondents get snacks after the blood collection and are asked to sit down for a few minutes to make sure they don’t pass out. The blood and urine samples are sent back to Manila to be tested, the only on site testing is hemoglobin. Respondents blood and urine is test for vitamin A, zinc, crp + ferritin, fasting glucose, lipid profile, hbA1c, liver function, and pre-impaired glucose tolerance. There are also special tests done for certain demographics such as lead tests and folate tests.

The two dietary researchers work with the households to determine which time they will go to their houses. The dietary researchers have to go to the participating households multiple times for one day; first they go before breakfast to weight the raw, unprepared food prior to preparation; they go again before lunch to weigh plate waste from breakfast and weight the raw food prior to its preparation for lunch; they go again before dinner to measure plate waste from lunch and weight the raw, unprepared food before dinner; they go once more after dinner to measure plate waste from dinner. Depending on the household heads availability, at some point in the day the dietary field researcher must also conduct a food recall interview. This interview is about the food the respondent has eaten the day prior.

These are long days for all the researchers and is on going daily until every target household is accounted for.

Throughout the day, researchers are editing their data on paper and inputting it into the electronic data collection system.


Work I did on Day 2: 6.21

I woke up early to help with anthropometric data collection. I practiced taking body measurements and did some observing too.

First the respondents height and weight is taken twice for accuracy. The two weight measurements must be between a 0.30 kg difference, the two height measurements must be between a 0.50 cm difference. If the difference is more than the specified value, the researcher must take a third measurement and record two measurements that satisfy the acceptable difference.

To take the MUAC (mid-upper arm circumference) you and the respondent must be standing, you take the respondents left arm and instruct them to hold their palm up at a 90 degree angle. You measure from the tip of the shoulder to the tip of the elbow (olecranon process to the acromium) and take half of that measurement to measure the circumference of the respondents arm. The researcher must also measure waist and hip circumference. To find the respondents waist, you must measure the length between the pit of the respondents rib and iliac crest and find the middle. To find the respondents hips you must find the iliac crest and measure 10.1 cm down. After these measurements are taken they are marked as completed. Each of these measurements is taken three times, if each reading isn’t within the acceptable difference range- the researcher must redo all three measurements. The acceptable difference between readings of MUAC/Waist/Hip circumference is 0.5 cm. Some measurements are also accompanied with notes to comment on a respondents physical remarks incase measurements may seem off.

Before and after lunch, I went with Ma’am Sam to observe and help with dietary research. We walked through farm land to reach two households. I was able to weigh the respondents unprepared food for before lunch and helped input the data.

I have so much respect for the field researchers, they wake up early in the morning to work long days. It is super hot outside and often times researchers sleep on the floor without air conditioning. They are able to accommodate very well depending on what each location is like. Living out of suitcases isn’t easy, especially when you are doing it for months at a time. Also not having any days off and working all the time is a little stressful. All of the researchers are always super friendly and helpful. Even though there is a language barrier I have had some great convos- when we don’t understand each other we just laugh.

We ended the day with bucket showers, watching the sun set, snacks from the sari-sari store, and meeting locals.

Data Collection Process Day 3

Everything from day 2 is repeated on day 3 until every target household has been accounted for.

Between data collection, field workers spend their time taking naps and/or editing data.


Work I did on Day 3: 6.22

Again I woke up early to observe and help collect anthropometric data. We are staying right above a school so in the morning kids come early to play basketball and run around- except while we are there they cant really do that. The kids had seen us before, but this morning was the first time we got to say hi. We talked to them in English and they tried their best to respond, but most of them don’t know much English. We took some pictures together and during their recess they played basketball with us.

After lunch, most of the anthro and biomedical data had been collected for the day. We took a trike to go to the market. I finally bought clackers (lato-lato). We also bought food for dinner and snacks for our adventure tomorrow.

Again we ended the day with bucket showers and watching the sunset! Tonight the electricity went out for about an hour so we had to eat dinner in the dark.

Data Collection Process Day 4

Everything from day 2 is also repeated on day 4 until every target household has been accounted for.

Depending on the number of households each subteam is assigned, the researchers may have more days of work. Around this time, most of the actual data has been collected and researchers are working on editing and inputting data prior to having their team leaders looking over it and submitting their work.


Work I did on Day 4: 6.23

We woke up early again, but this time we got to have a relaxing morning on Gaspar Island. We took a boat ride to the island, ate breakfast together, and swam. The locals made us lunch which was fresh fish, rice, and an assortment of veggies. We ate off a banana leaf and ate with our hands!

We spent part of the afternoon observing as the researchers mostly edited their data, and we also took a nap. Later in the evening was our first Putong. We packed our bags and prepared to leave to another subteam tomorrow.

Data Collection Process Day 5

Depending on how many households each subteam is assigned, work may be close to done at this point. Toward the end of data collection in a barangay, researchers spend a lot of time editing their written data before inputting it into the database.


Work I did on Day 5: 6.24

Today we switched from subteam 3 to subteam 1. Subteam 1 was in Barangay Caganhao in Boac. We spent the morning introducing ourselves to the new subteam and observing as they edited their data. We got to experience another Putong later that evening. The electricity went out after the ceremony was over and didn’t turn back on until the morning. It was a very sweaty night!

Data Collection Process Day 6

Subteam 1 completed their data collection in and prepared to transfer to another barangay in Boac. At the new barangay they must complete another courtesy call for the local officials to introduce and explain the data collection.


Work I did on Day 6: 6.25

We observed the transfer process of a subteam. We introduced ourselves during the courtesy call and enjoyed a few snacks the local officials prepared for us. We all ate lunch together and got some souvenirs. We went to the national museum together. We then experienced our last Putong in Marinduque, and finally sang some karaoke! We leave tomorrow afternoon to go back to FNRI.

Week 1.

06. 03. 23 – 06. 07. 23

Travel to the Philippines.

A group of eleven IWU Freeman interns departed from O’hare on 06/02. We started with a 13 hour flight to Abu Dhabi, UAE. I converted my money to Dirham to pay for everyone to get a taxi ride to the hotel, we had to bargain a little bit because they kept trying to raise the price. We spent our 16 hour layover sleeping and attempting to explore Abu Dhabi; however, it was too hot, and nothing was around our hotel. Our nine hour flight to Manila departed at 2am, all of us left the the hotel at midnight. Getting a taxi for all eleven of us was not easy, so we split up into three smaller groups and luckily reconvened before getting on the shuttle bus to our plane. We finally landed around 3pm on 06/05, but had to wait at the airport for two other IWU students on different flights until 9pm. In the airport I was able to convert USD to PHP (Philippine peso), get a sim card and a local number, and got some dinner.

6.3 Accompanied Sam Ocker on first plane ride!
6.5 I met a friend on the plane and celebrated Hunters birthday in the airport! She said “smile” and then took a picture of herself lol —————>
View from hotel in Abu Dhabi. It was over 100 degrees!
Here is the actual picture our plane friend took!
First Jeepney ride!!!
Group dinner at Kamayan at Palaisdaan Resto Resort

When all 13 Freeman interns were accounted for, we left the Manila airport and headed to Los Baños, Laguna. My intern group stayed in SEARCA, a hotel on the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). We had orientation with tito Mon and kuya Gillian for a crash course on basic Tagalog and cultural norms. We had a group dinner, and broke off into our smaller internship groups shortly after. Five other interns and myself stayed one more night in SEARCA before leaving for Parañaque, Metro Manila where we will be living and working for the majority of our time here! We were only able to drop our bags off in our condo before heading to orientation at FNRI.

6.7 Orientation at DOST: FNRI-NAMD

During orientation we learned a bit more about our specific internship with NAMD, met several supervisors from FNRI, and got a brief tour. We received our internship schedules, which has since been altered. A few of the workers walked us back to Siena Park so that we knew how to get back in the morning!

Field Work.

06.08 & 06.09

The day after orientation was our first day of field work practicum. On both days we walked from FNRI to a nearby community. We set up in a local church. I was paired with another trainee, Ma’am Kay, and her supervisor. We all went into two houses to conduct interviews. The first initial interviews were a basic interview mainly about demographics. The following interviewers were lengthy, based on age and other health factors that asked about food intake, living situation, overall health, nutrition, and mental health. During the interviews, field works would write down the responses on paper and later input them into the computer database. I was able to observe how to conduct the interview, although there was a language barrier I was still given the opportunity to talk to the household head and conduct part of the interview! I also observed how to input the collected data and got to input some data too.

The following day, we went back to the church, this time the families/households met us at the local church for the anthropometry part of the data collection. We took several measurements including height, weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure. I mainly took blood pressure, which was a lot of fun because I got to put some of my nursing skills to use! Other field works went back to the households for the dietary data. At this time, total food intake was recorded by weighing food before and after it was eaten, as well as the amount of food waste. These field workers also entered everything into the logging system and estimated how much their food cost. I am looking forward to observing this part of the data collection, I was unable to do it this time because most of the dietary data was collected much earlier in the morning (before I got to FNRI).

At the end of both days we then walked back to FNRI and met with our on site supervisors to discuss our day and what is to come. As a side note, since this was just a practicum, there was no blood drawn; however, it is part of the data collection on the second day for the members of the family to have their blood drawn!


I have been trying lots of new food, some I like, some not so much lol. I have enjoyed most of the food I’ve eaten such as turon, taho, and all the fresh fruit. I didn’t enjoy ampalaya or ginataang puso ng saging.

I am a vegetarian; however, most of the food here has some sort of meat, so I did try chicken twice so far. I am not the biggest fan and I don’t think it sat well in my stomach, but at least I tried it! I will probably try some chicken or fish again on this trip.

At the FNRI office, Sir Boy always gives us food. In the morning he typically has pandesal with coffee ready for us. He has given us snacks like skyflakes, fresh mango, birthday cake, and pancit noodles. So thankful for him! When we stay at FNRI for the day, we eat at the cantina and get to order food there. For our two days in the field, they ordered Jollibee!

We went to the SM for groceries and basic necessities, however our hotplate stopped working so we cant really make any food for the time being. For dinner and weekend meals, we have been mainly going to the SM because it is so close to our condo. We have also eaten at other places as we explore such as Ying Ying Tea House, The Penthouse 8747, and McDonalds.

On our walk home we stopped to get pineapple from a vendor on the side of the road, with salt of course!

First Three Day Weekend


We went to BCG and took our first grab (the equivalent to uber/lyft) to The Penthouse 8747 where we ate dinner.

Baluarte de San Diego in Intramuros.


We spent the rainy day in Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world. We ate lunch at Ying Ying Tea House and walked to Intramuros. Intramuros, the Walled City was really cool to walk around.

On our way out of Intramuros, we walked past a small community of people who asked Lukas and Hunter to play basketball. Kennady and I talked with some local kids and learned how to play with the clackers, which are two balls held together on a string that when moved correctly make a clacking sound… I have seen so many kids playing with them and figured it would be easy, but it took me a few tries and I still wasn’t that good


When the basketball game was over, we started walking to catch a grab, but it started raining super hard. We waited the rain out under a bridge and attempted to dry off a little bit. Luckily McDonalds was near by, I tried a coke mcfloat which was really good. We were having a hard time calling a grab, but made it back safe and sound.


We spent Philippines Independence Day hiking Mt. Binicayan. Despite being a 3/10 difficulty and marketed for beginner hikers, this hike was very hard. We did go hiking the day after lots of rainfall, so the trail was very muddy. I also forgot my inhaler, whoops. Kuya Albert and Lukas helped me so much on the ascent and descent. I slipped on mud so many times and then fell off a rock straight on my back, despite being cut up and bleeding I made it to the top! I also made it down safely and don’t have many injuries. After we got down, we had mango shakes and I took my first bucket shower!

View from the top of Mt.Binicayan, the picture doesn’t do it justice.


Sienna Park

The security guards at Siena Park already recognize us and let us in right way! Our condo has two bedrooms, both with AC, one bathroom and common area. We also have a hotplate, oven, microwave, electric kettle, rice cooker, and toaster. We have been trying our best to put these appliances to use with the groceries we bought, however our hotplate stopped working

Our complex has a swimming pool, which we are finally able to use! There is also a laundry service, but we learned the hard way that it takes a while to get your clothes back.

Kennady’s bed broke, and it is currently being held up by her suitcase. Although there are a few issues that have come up, I am very happy that we have somewhere safe to stay that has AC!

We are able to keep our things in the condo even when we are out for field work, which is a huge relief.

Walk to Work

Our walk to work is about 2km, or just over a mile. Although it doesn’t seem that far, I am sweating so much before and after work. We pass the SM, take the footbridge, and then walk in the street until we get to DOST. Along the way we pass stray cats and dogs, strange smells, lots of people asking us to “hop on” their motorcycles, people asking for money, food vendors, get lots of strange looks, but always get waved at told good morning and hello!


It feels like I have been in the Philippines for way more than a week, I have made so many memories. I am very grateful to have Lukas, Kennady, and Hunter with me. We have gotten a lot closer and that has made the entire trip much more enjoyable. I am also so happy to be interning at FRNI-NAMD, all of the workers are so kind and welcoming.

I have already been in several uncomfortable situations, but I am left with fun stories to tell and have learned from all of them. First and foremost, bring toilet paper everywhere… you dont want to be left air drying!

I have already gotten used to getting looked at differently. I have grown to love getting asked to take pictures and selfies! I love how respectful and helpful the people are here.

I am looking forward to spending many more weeks here!

Here is the footbridge that we walk across, below are street vendors and lots of traffic!

Office Work

06.13 Practicum Debrief

based on the two days of practice field work last week, all the supervisors gave feedback to the trainees on what went well and what still needs improvement. I also sat in on a presentation about updates in the database used for NAMD surveys too.

We ate lunch at the Cantina! Lunch time is generally from 12-1pm and during this time the lights are turned off the conserve energy. We also had time to write down on observations and thoughts on the practicum from last week.

Ata Steph took us to the bazaar (marketplace) in celebration of the 65th DOST anniversary! I tried taho.

06.14 Orientation for Field Work

We were assigned to our groups for traveling, groups 2 and 4. We are leaving for Marinduque, the heart of the Philippines sometime next week. Originally we were supposed to depart on 6/15, but we are still waiting on clearance to travel. The FNRI auditorium was packed with all five field work groups, everyone in each group was called onto stage and the entire group had their picture taken.

It is common for prayers to be read/played prior to gatherings. In the orientation went over how to conduct the surveys, although the field workers have had training on this, it is important to go over to discuss any changes, see if anyone has questions, and give reminders. Most of the orientation was presented in Tagalog, however we are still able to pick up on some of what is being said and we are caught up on the important parts after. Some times, a lot of people will be laughing and we are left clueless as to what is going on, we just assume they are laughing about us lol.

Sir Boy of course gave us plenty of snacks and we ate lunch at the cantina again!

First Blog Post

Hello! My name is Abi Morris, I’m currently a student at Illinois Wesleyan University. This summer I will intern with the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) in the Philippines! For this internship specifically, I will work with The Department of Science and Technology-Nutrition Assessment and Monitoring Division (DOST-NAMD) portion of FNRI. Check back soon for updates on my internship!