It’s here – I reached my last week in the Philippines. I can’t believe it was only 6 months ago that I arrived in Manila. Feels almost like a century ago… Time can be funny sometimes, eh?
When I submitted my PULSE application, I wrote that, amongst other reasons, I wanted to do this to 1) help other people, 2) learn from new challenges, 3) develop leadership skills and 4) venture into the “outside world” that exists beyond GSK walls. I can’t say I accomplished them all, and at times I get this uncomfortable itch when I say that out loud, but then I remind myself that the ones that I did achieve were super rewarding.
I didn’t get to help as many people as I thought I would, but I’m super grateful to have had the chance to share something I know, and learn something from, with the ones that I interacted in more meaningful ways. I didn’t save the world, but I explored it to the fullest. I got 2 diving certifications and saw sharks, I travelled to Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, and to many tiny, tiny islands in the Philippines. I didn’t become a better leader, but I became a better person. Or at least one that is able to recognise my virtues and flaws and try harder to grow from there.
On the positives, there are plenty of things to tell and share about my adventures on this side of the globe, but I will single out the most important one: the people. No matter where we go, people are people, and yes, we are all the same. Be it in a suburbia town in Rio de Janeiro, in a metropole like Philadelphia, London, or New York, or in the (beautiful) chaos surrounding Manila and its busy highways. The friends and people I met here will stay in my life book forever. Last week, I was at a bar with a few of them and, for a moment, I stopped dancing and just looked around – 2 months ago I didn’t really know any of these folks, and yet there we were, sharing something beautiful, laughing like we’ve known each other since childhood. It’s funny how bonds can spark so bright – almost magical!
I don’t know what the future holds yet. However, as hard as 2017 has been to all of us who live in the United States, I still hold some hope that things will be okay at the end – no matter how the dark the force is at the moment.
And Philippines, you will always be a beautiful island to me. One that became my short-term home quite unexpectedly. One where I got to be a child again and just start a temporary life from tabula rasa, a blank page, and scratch my best self from there. One where I did something that can help save kids caught in the middle of humanitarian crisis and natural disasters – even if in a small scale. One that will remain intact in my memories – an ageless, eternal land full of joy. My very own Neverland.