It’s been a little over a month since I arrived in the Philippines. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been here forever; other times I get really surprised by how fast it’s going. Some days are long and filled by gloomy clouds, like a tempest ready to storm your senses away; most often, though, the experiences you live are so wonderful, and the people you meet are so amazing, that it’s easy to feel reassured that coming here was the right thing to do.
At this point, life has entered a fine routine. I live in a beautiful town 3 hours south of Manila; in bucolic Cavite, tall buildings are replaced by ancient rambutan trees (an Asian fruit) and corn fields, the air feels fresher, and the warm breeze keeps evenings cool and comfortable – quite a contrast from hot-and-humid Makati. At the NGO campus, I found a spot where I can sit outside and do some work whilst watching the trees (where I’m writing this right now.) Whenever I come here, I’m joined by Alona, the campus cat, nicknamed by me after one of the most amazing places I visited here in the Philippines (Alona Beach, in Panglao island).
I have to confess that adapting to the countryside is hard. To avoid missing the city life too much, I keep myself busy with cooking or exercising at home. My housemate Natalie Thwaite (another PULSE volunteer working at the Humanitarian Leadership Academy) is also great company. Coming from England, Natalie has introduced me to the it’s-time-for-a-cup-of-tea mantra, where you take a moment to sit down, have some warm tea and relax, chat with a friend, or just chill after a long day. And it works – thanks, Natalie!
In terms of work, I haven’t made as much progress as I thought I would by month #1. That said, many past PULSE volunteers advised me to manage my expectations regarding what’s really achievable in a span of 6 months. You were right guys – I now realise that no matter how much you prepare, there is only so much you can do with the time and resources you are given.
Home is still missed. There is not a day that I don’t think about Philadelphia, my friends in the US, or my family in Rio. And that’s fine, it keeps me healthy (I’m very nostalgic, remember?); what really matters, though, is that progress is being made. Maybe not on the pace I grew used to, yet still progress. It’s PULSATING, it’s happening, and we’re getting there. Today was a good day – “a day without rain”.