A Day without Rain

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.

Alona, the cat

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!

Natalie and I are the 2 PULSE volunteers working at the Academy in the Philippines

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”.


**”A day without rain” is an instrumental song by Enya.


  1. Beautifully written blog, Lucas. I feel the roller coaster of emotions you’re going through from your thoughtful words. In the quiet moments when you can sit with your thoughts is where sometimes the unexpected learnings in life can happen. Thinking of you…

  2. Lukas – I really enjoyed reading your blog this morning. Thank you for taking the time to do it so that we can put ourselves in your shoes for just a few moments allowing us to travel the world through your blog. I will have to listen to Enya to hear the song you referenced. We miss seeing you at the Navy Yard!

  3. Lucas! Loved the blog. Glad to hear a young, hip gentleman such as yourself likes Enya…I feel kinda cool now!! In all seriousness, it is great to see you growing and learning through this experience already…only one month in! I trust you’ll continue to learn, grow and have even more of an impact on those around you. Keep in mind that fast doesn’t always mean better or more progress. There’s a quote that goes something like, “When we slow down, we go faster”. So, trust the process and enjoy!

    1. Enya has been on my playlists since I was 14, haha. No better way to study than setting up a good old-fashioned Enya playlist. And you’re absolutely right – love the quote!

  4. You hit the nail on the head about managing expectations. This is so true. I too am feeling the impact of time and resources. Thanks for the very nice blog post and I love the photos!

    1. Sometimes we take for granted how much we have in our hands to our jobs, right? I surely did. But at the same time I’m really enjoying this slow pace. How are things going with you otherwise? How’s mother Africa treating you?

      1. Mother Africa is treating me very well- and I am so blessed to have landed in the Pearl of Africa. I am getting great experience on “seeking to understand “. The lack of stable electricity, water and road infrastructure are barriers everyday and so being flexible and patient is a must. These things challenge me of course, but it’s changing my personal perspectives in good ways. Ugandans overall are kind, friendly and very accommodating. I love this country. Oh! And it’s absolutely gorgeous too.
        It’s so nice to hear from you- thanks!

  5. Hi Lucas. Your blog reminds me of my first months in Kenya. It was the rainy season and it rained just about every day. My best possessions were my hiking boots, rain jacket & umbrella. Walking to work 20 mins through the mud got old. Glad that you are making the best of your assignment. The pace of work is definitely different than at GSK. Stay dry….BJ

    1. Always dry, BJ! It definitely rains a lot here in the Philippines as well, which is why I tend to appreciate whenever we have sunny and warm days instead of just wet and damp.

  6. You are a poet & a philosopher too, Lucas. Love the honesty & rawness in your words — and the wonderful photos & Enya reference too 🙂 You are really bringing us along your journey — and I’m reminded of the African proverb: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” You are trying to go together — a much harder but ultimately more worthwhile task! Keep enjoying every moment — highs, lows & all. We miss you, but continue to be excited by your PULSE adventure!

    1. Very truthful proverb, one that I’ve now written on my journal to remind me of what’s really important every time I feel like things are not going as planned. And yes, this is all very exciting, and I can’t put into words how much I’ve learned so far.

  7. It sounds as if you are slowing settling in and finding your footing now that you are over a month into your assignment Lucas. I really enjoy reading your blogs – you are very good a putting into words exactly how you are feeling. It must be reassuring to have people commenting of their similar experiences and giving you encouragement. You’re photos are great – I particularly love the beach cover photo!

  8. Hi Lucas – I loved your post, and oh my, you have a way with words! I think we all go in eager to make change, and you are absolutely right, nothing can really prepare you for the sweet reality that many variables may be outside of our control. The beautiful thing is that we do have control over a few things….and that’s our unwavering passion to make an impact. I’m sure your contributions to this organization, just through your presence alone, add tremendous value. Please continue to share your journey – you are truly an inspiration!

  9. I love reading your blogs Lucas-reminds me so much of my experience in Sri Lanka back in 2010. The opportunity to take time away from normal life, reflect, grow, deal with new and sometimes challenging experiences is something which will never leave you. I can definitely relate to the nostalgic mindset too! Look forward to the next instalment, Daryl

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