Shine checking in for the last time on the blog post. It is with a lot of mixed feelings that I write this blog in the taxi on my way to the airport. I am excited to finally see my family again, yet I have a heavy feeling in my heart to leave behind my mentors and friends, from whom I learnt so much and become close to. This journey has been filled with humbling experiences, reflections and self-discovery. This intense 10 weeks has challenged me, questioned me, and rewarded me in so many ways. Truly, my time in the Philippines has shaped me to become a better version of myself.
Our final week in the Philippines was filled with late nights working on our final reports and presentation. In midst of the busy week, we all carried a heavy feeling knowing final goodbyes will come soon. At every goodbye we were asked what our favorite moment of the summer was. Without any doubt it has been the inspirational people that I have met over the 10 weeks. What they all shared is the fact that they have chosen to dedicate their career and their life for a bigger purpose. It was such an honor to meet Mama Ranger who spent all her life protecting the sacred lives of Tubbataha. I also remember distinctively our short encounter with Miss Jeanne, who with her novels and song was among the first to start the movement aimed to preserve the Cuyonon culture. Of course, the environmental officers with whom we spent the most of our time has made a big impact on my over the summer. In their everyday work, the Environmental Officers are making such important contributions to the company to ensure that next to profit sustainability stands in the forefront of business. Each and every member of the team carries an incredible amount of passion for making the world a better place. I remember a dinner conversation with Environmental Officers Monique and Estefania about purpose in life and why it is so important that each individual carries some weight for the public good, when suddenly Estafenia’s phone buzzed. She stopped speaking and showed me her phone saying that this is why she has travelled all the way from Columbia to fight for the environment. On her screen were photos of fish and turtle missing limbs on shore because of dynamite fishing. It was a very powerful moment for me during this internship. I applied for this internship because I was interested in learning about the way the private sector influences society to move for the better. What I have learnt is that it is individuals who are pioneering this move of the private sector. Heading the environmental team is Miss Marigs. I cannot express how much of an honor it was to have met her and have had conversations with her about development, governments and goals. Always with eloquence and grace, she shares the best advice.
I am so grateful for the relationships that I have built outside of the work context. The owners of Kape Namangan especially were so sweat and treated me like family from the start. Also, all the staff from Lio Beach who served me food day in day out; they have shared stories with me and really made me feel welcome. I will miss everyone.
Our final presentation happened in Manila. There we had the chance to meet Fernando Zobel de Ayala. He treated us to a fantastic dinner at Shangri-La. The cohort and Fernando shared a wonderful conversation about the state of the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries, US-China relations and our role amidst all of this.
With this summer coming to an end, I just want to say thank you. To the Environmental Team, Erika and Pops of Kape Nimanang, the staff and everyone who helped us in this incredible journey, thank you so much for welcoming the five of us with kindness and warmth. I will always remember you.