The Journey Begins

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

JUNE 9 -14

After a 15 hour plane ride to Taipei and a 2 hour plane ride to Manilla, my Philippines experience had finally begone. My first few days were spent in Los Banos. This is where we received our first of many orientations. In orientation, we began to learn a lot about the Filipino culture and language.

One of my favorite customs of the culture is “Merienda”. I immediately noticed that this was the Spanish word for snack. Filipinos like to eat 5 times a day with merienda being between breakfast and lunch. Also between lunch and dinner. On the topic of Filipino food, it has been really good. Everything that I had tried, I have liked. I will update that sentence when I take the “balut challenge”.

Filipinos have a very strong connection to family and friends. This is even evident in their language. We were taught to address people our age as “Ate and Kuya” (Sister and Brother). As for people older than us we must say “Tiya and Tiyo” (Aunt and Uncle). This was very interesting to me, since you do not need to be a realitive for these titles. Many locals have been really nice to us and over extend themselves to treat us as family.

Que Jackson, David Werner, and I buying mangos from a local

After our 2 days in Los Banos, it was finally time to part ways with the other Freeman Asia students and go to our internship site. As of right now, we are staying in the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) dorms while we wait for the water in our apartments to be turned on. However, this has given me more time to get to know my fellow interns.

Food and Nutrition Research Institute

JUNE 15 – 21

We have finally arrived at Sienna Park. This is where we will be staying for the rest of our time in the Philipienes. The area is really nice with a basketball court, pool, and gym.
17th Today, I started my actual first day of work. From Sienna Park to the office the walk is about 25 minutes in the unforgiving sun. On Mondays and Fridays, the day starts out with FNRI’s flag raising ceremony. I got my first assignment. I am making a video to instruct the general public on how to make FNRI’s new technology. Low-Fat Low-Sugar Icecream!
18th The FNRI staff and I are starting to get pretty close. We even all eat lunch together now. They have invited me to go to the lake with them.
19th Today we had an earthquake drill. This was something I was totally not used to because we dont get earthquakes in Louisiana.

JUNE 22 – 28

The other interns and I had a very eventful weekend. On the 22nd, we went to central Manilla. Here is where we went to Rizal Park and toured around the city. We got to see many historical sites such as the Japanese ruled areas during WWII. Then we spent the night in Los Banos with the IRRI students. In the morning, we headed to Taal volcano. This is an active volcano completely surrounded by water, so we needed to take a boat ride to get to it. The climb was really fun and it was my favorite part of my trip so far.

The view from the top of the mountain
On the way to Taal

25th We take “Grabs” to work everyday now and they are starting to become difficult. This is because the ATM just gives us 1000 peso bills and grabs are only about 100 pesos. I found that the people here never or rarely have enough money to break these big bills.

Today I helped in the training of the new members to the FNRI team. We told them about the food technologies that we have created and the projects we are working on.

26th Today after finishing up another training one of my coworkers “invited” me to a bible study. (She dragged me into this random room full of 24 people and made me introduce myself) Though it was very unexpected, it was fun and I felt very welcomed. Even if most the service was in Filipino.

27th Finally its Friday! This weekend we plan to hang with some of the interns from the other sites. Our destination…….Makati

June 29 – July 5

Wow what a crazy week! Last weekend we went to Makati and met up with the students from IRRI and Makati. We participated in things the school would totally approve of. That’s all I’m going to say about that 🙂 The next day we went to Mall of Asia or “the wormhole”. This mall was HUGE. We actually didn’t even get to see all of it so maybe one day we will return.

As for the work week, it was also very eventful. Tuesday and Wednesday we went to the 45th FNRI Seminar Series (FSS). This is an event where researchers are allowed to show their work and movements they have been working on throughout the year. On Thursday, there was the Stakeholders night. This event is where all the Stakeholders come to join FNRI and thank them for their continued cooperation, or where new partnerships are formed. (plus free food)

As for what this weekend will be is yet to be determined.

Inside the FSS

July 6 – 12

Finally we had a weekend to just relax. The FNRI girls were back from their field work so we showed them around the city on Friday. Saturday and Sunday we just lounged around the apartment.

This week was definitely slower than last week. I just had office work to do. Right now I am updating the Facebook of FNRI with their research about pregnant and lactating mothers.

I am now officially apart of the FNRI Groovers. This is a dance team that FNRI has to preform at big events. I am a little nervous about my decision to join because we have our show on the 18th. I have never been in a dance group before, so whats a better way to show that than to have my first performance on National television. Overall the fun has conquered the stress in the situation.

A lot of the interns from IRRI are coming down for the weekend (I miss my own bed already). Should make for a great time and new stories to come.

July 13 – 19

This weekend was a really fun experience. On Friday we went back to Makati with the other interns, and on Saturday Sean and I went to a coworker’s birthday party. It was my first time inside the home of someone from the Philippines. It was interesting to see all the differences from an average American household.

I spent most of the week preparing for the dance on Thursday. On Thursday, we killed the dance and after I had to go back to working. I was responsible for manning a few different booths for the DOST Science and Technology week. Most of them were show casing the products that our department has been working on.

We were needed to help man these booths all weekend so unfortunately no epic adventures.

World Trade Center DOST Science and Technology Week

FNRI Groovers

July 20 – 26

Last weekend as a mentioned earlier we were needed to help with the booths. I was presenting on Bigmo and vitamin D deficiency. This is a baby food that is a rice and mongo combination. I was also there to answer questions about what are FNRI’s current projects.

This week Sean got sick so he wasn’t able to go to work Monday and Tuesday. However, this event showed me just how much the FNRI staff cares. They constantly asked Anaol and I about Sean and one of them actually took off of work to bring Sean to the clinic.

Wednesday Anaol and I went to Makati city hall to attend a pretesting of the DOST Pinoy Module. This is an opportunity for users of the FNRI product to provide their feedback on how to better the module.

Friday we got to tour the FNRI genomics lab and learn about their NuGen company mission and purpose. Also, today a few coworkers are coming to spend the night so we can go to a waterpark on Saturday. I have to think of something to cook for everyone because everyone is bringing a dish. Till next time!

July 27 – August 4

This week was a short one. We requested to receive Thursday and Friday off for our trip to Palawan. We spent Monday through Wednesday working on our presentations for FNRI.

Now for the fun part. We got up at the pleasant time of 2:30 a.m. to make our flight to Palawan for 5:35 a.m. We arrived in Puerto Princessa at 7:00. From the airport we met our tour guide and headed strait to a city tour.

After the city tour, we finally got to go to where we would be staying for the next three nights. We all napped up then went to a nearby beach later that night.

Friday in Palawan was my personal favorite. We went to the world famous underground river. The river stretches out for miles and is filled with millions of bats. That being said, I was sitting in the front of the boat, and a bat ran right into my face!

After the river, we went zip lining from one part of the island to the other. Sean and I went together so we picked up a lot of speed.

On Saturday, we went island hopping. On the first island, Starfish Island. Here we were able to swim and snorkel around the island.

The boat we island hopped on

We then went to eat on the next island, but we got caught in a storm. The waves were crazy but we eventually made it to the next island. Our last island got cancelled due to the bad weather.

We ended the day by having dinner on the bay!

Finally it is the last days. These days were the bittersweet goodbye. The worst was hearing our coworkers ask if we would visit again. I know its something I can’t promise, but I wish I could. The plane rides were long and boring, but I am excited to be back.