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!

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