When our plane landed in the Manila airport, it was raining. I not a fan of rain, but even the wet weather couldn’t put a damper on my mood. As a new ICM staff member, I was on a 101 trip to see the programs first hand and better understand the heart of ICM. I had never been to the Philippines before, and the 101 trip gave me the chance to visit Manila and two operation bases in Iloilo City and Bacolod.
The first thing I got to experience was Manila traffic! My coworkers and I grabbed an Uber to head to the hotel and had a lovely two-and-a-half hour ride, a good portion of which was spent inside a tunnel. Even inside the tunnel, hawkers walked up and down through the mass of slowly moving cars selling snacks and drinks to commuters.
Although the ride was long, it did give me a chance to take in the sights. I was fascinated by the jeepneys, a bus/truck hybrid with an open end and two long benches for passengers. Some of them were elaborately decorated with lots of colors. I even spotted a Batman jeepney!
The sun disappeared soon after our arrival, and I was struck by the lighting. I had just come from Hong Kong, one of the most brightly lit cities I’ve ever been to. These streets we were driving through were only lit by a few dim, blue lights. It lent a certain mysterious quality to everything, like we were driving through a movie.
Eventually we made it to our hotel and sloshed off through the rain to get dinner before turning in for the night. At 8:00 the next morning (much earlier than I’m used to in Hong Kong), it was time to visit ICM’s Manila office. I met the Manila reporting team and had a great day learning about their structure and procedures and then did some work together.
We breaked for a lunch of delicious Filipino food! It was all great but I especially liked the chewy, garlicky red sausage. It is kind of like the red Chinese sausage but more delicious (don’t get mad at me!). There was also pancit (noodles), sisig (pork and an egg), and pizza.
It was great to meet the Manila team and work together for a day. That night I went back to the hotel and tried to get some sleep. The next day we would be going to Iloilo where ICM has a base working directly with people in ultrapoverty. I was excited to see how ICM’s values, health, and livelihood were actually playing out in the communities.
By Laura Klemm, ICM Reporting Officer