This week was a very hectic week. It started with us attending and manning a booth at the World trade center for NSTW(National Science and Technology Week). The first day of NSTW, Micheal and Sean along with the FNRI dance group called groove, performed a couple of dance numbers that were really good. The next few days we manned a booth on Bigmo and other complementary food technologies developed by the FNRI. Then, after the event was concluded, we attended a Birthday and sending away party for the retiring Deputy Director. There were other dance and singing performance here and then, he gave a speech in which he said goodbye to the Institution. Then this Wednesday, we traveled to Makati city hall to attend a pretesting of the DOST Pinoy Module. We were required to attend the NSTW week celebrations even during the weekend, thus were unable to do much traveling this week.
This week was far less exciting than the previous weeks. We were mostly in the working on infomercials on the Low fat Ice Cream and Infobits on Breastfeeding Awareness Month. Micheal and Sean have been practicing Dancing for the NSTW week held at the World Trade center. I, however, due to my deficient dancing skills, choose to sit this one out and observe. To my Surprise, they are really good, and I was impressed with what I had seen. We were also involved in the preparation for the NSTW week and we were informed that we were manning a booth. During the weekend, we rested and traveled to downtown manila to meet up with the IRRI group and the MAD group. There we went to an unlimited sushi restaurant, which was far from exciting for me because I don’t even like sushi. Hopefully the coming few weeks will be far more exciting than this.
This week was one of the most eventful weeks that I have had here. It all started with the FNRI Anniversary and the Stakeholders dinner night and celebration. It was quite an eventful Night. It started with a prayer and national anthem and consequent speeches from the Director of the FNRI and The Secretary of DOST(Department of Science and technology). This was followed by speeches from various partners, signing of Memorandum of understanding with various private institutions and Universities. Afterwards the FNRI announced their new ambassador and they opened the stage for various performances from people who work at the FNRI. After a couple of beautiful renditions and a dance performance, they opened the floor for dancing, which surprisingly seemed highly choreographed, even if they were just coming up with stuff on the spot. The next couple of days after the celebrations at the office were slow. Now however, they have us working on various ways technologies of the FNRI and have asked us to come up with newer ways of promoting them for the general public.
This weekend I met up with Weslyean Students in Los Banos and we went to Lakes Pandin and Yambo in San Pablo City, Laguna on Saturday and Pagsanjan falls on Sunday. Both were amazing places to visit but Pagsanjan falls was something special. The way to the waterfall looked like a scene from Jurassic park or the movie Anaconda. Simply put it was magnificent and by the end of the trip we got to stand under the waterfall and even got to enter the little cave underneath it. On our way back we were caught we heavy rain so we were soaked. The trip however was worth it.
This week was the anniversary of the FNRI, which meant that it was filled with three days of seminars and celebration at the Philippines International Convention Center. A few days before the actual event, we were tasked with helping people here to prepare for the event. On the first day of the event, we went to the PICC and participated in the opening ceremonies which featured an opening speech by the Director of the FNRI, health tips from various nutrition specialist, a panel discussion with mayors, specialists and other officials and a get fit quick regimen by celebrity fitness coaches. After having lunch(which of course was really good) we broke up into different sessions in which various specialist and scientist presented their studies and findings. I attended 2 ted talk style sessions on Chemopreventive Properties of Selected Pigmented Rice, Fruits, and Vegetables in the Philippines and Incoming Message: How
Genes Dictate Nutrient Intake and Common Risk Factors of Non-Communicable Diseases in Selected Filipino Adults. I also attended an Interactive session on Navigating your way to the iFNRI website which had various competitions where you could win prizes. On the second day, I attended an undergraduate research competition in which three finalist presented a paper on Risk of Undernutrition Among Preschool Children Born to Teenage Mothers, Assessment of Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices of a State University’s Student-Athletes: Basis for the Development of a Nutrition Education Program and Tsaang gubat (Ehretiamicrophylla) decoction as an aid in weight management: A pilot study on the effects of Ehretia microphylla consumption on the body fat of overweight and obese Filipino young adults aged 20-29 years old. After lunch we proceed to attending the various closing ceremony panels and a closing speech by the Deputy Director of the FNRI. Tonight, we will attend a stake holders dinner to officially End the three day celebrations.
On the weekend before the event, we decided to go to downtown Mania and tour the city. We saw many cultures in the city including Turkish, Moroccan and Jamaican restaurants. We also went to the Mall of Asia, met a few other internationals from France, Singapore, Scotland and the US. More over this has been a very interesting week.
The second week in the Philippines was very hectic. After days of orientations, we actually began to work. For now there hasn’t been much to do around here but we have been introduced to various projects the FNRI are working on. Low fat ice cream and genetically engineered rice that has higher concentrations of iron and vitamins, depending on dietary needs, and the nation wide surveys on the nutritional status of the Filipino people are a couple of the projects that have caught my eye. The FNRI has so many things in it. The Nutrigenomics Lab, The Biochemistry and Microbiology Lab, a sensory testing are and the like. Thus far, though we haven’t really started actual work but we are doing a lot of socialization with people in the office who have been so nice to us.
On Saturday we traveled to Metro-Manila and went to Rizal Park, nature museum and toured the Intramuros. Our first stop was Rizal park. The park was named after Dr. José Rizal, who was a Filipino nationalist in the during the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines. He was widely considered to be one of the greatest heroes in Filipino history and was executed by the Spanish colonial government for the crime of rebellion after inspiring the Philippine Revolution by his writings. The first thing you notice at the park was the huge statue of Dr. José Rizal and a huge multitude of Filipino flags. The park had everything, from statues depicting the life and death of Dr. José Rizal, to horse carriages that carried people up and down the park.
After touring the park we found a tricycle driver who also happened to be a tour guide and he offered to tour us around the Intramuros. The three of us hoped on and our tour began. Intramuros, or the ‘Walled City’, is one of the oldest districts of Manila, built on the south bank of the Pasig River around 1571. It was built by the Spaniards – more specifically by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi – and is bound on all sides by moats and thick, high walls, with some over 6 meters high. While touring the walled city, the Spanish influence becomes very apparent. The architectural structure of the buildings highly resemble those in Madrid and other Spanish cities. Intramuros, particularly the Fort Santiago, was designated as a National Historical Landmark in 1951.
Next stop was the National Museum of Natural History. The building was huge and filled with various Geological, Ecological and Anthropological facts about the Philippines.
On Sunday, we traveled to the city of Batangas to visit the Taal Volcano. Taal Volcano is an active volcano located on Luzon island. It was a 45 minute hike but I personally choose to ride a horse which was quite the experience. Riding a horse up and down the Volcano in that rough terrain was quite difficult and scary but once you get to the top and see that crater lake, it all becomes worth it. Thus far the Philippines has been amazing and hopefully there are more amazing adventures to come.
After month’s of anticipation, weeks of preparation and a near 24 hr flight in a plane decorated by Hello Kitty gear(which, i must admit, was really cool), we finally made it, we’re in the Philippines. Manila is nothing like i expected it to be. Its beautiful and yet very crowded, much like the city I am from. The traffic, the roads, the manner in which people drive, even the infrastructure was similar and it in made me feel like i was back home. What’s not similar however is the humidity. Temperature here i around 90-95 Fahrenheit with lot of humidity, which means a lot of sweating for me.
Our first stop on our trip was Los Banos. To say this place was beautiful would be an understatement. The city was located in a very mountainous region that had multiple rivers surrounding it, according to locals. The Biodiversity in the region was also very intriguing. There was great plant and insect species diversity in the area and we even got to see a few lizards and rodents but, due to time constraints, we weren’t really able to see much of the wild life. There were also a lot of hot springs located in this region, which were told was due to the Volcanic activity of the mountain. Our host, Tito Mon, also told us that the city of Los banos was in the Guinness World records books for the most amount of people showering together.
In Los banos, we were given a brief introduction to Filipino history and cultural etiquette then were treated to a feast. The food here has been really good. Their main staple is rice and people here eat rice with literally everything. They are also big here on pork, seafood and chicken. One concept I have really grown to like here is the concept of ‘Merienda’. These are little meals or snacks pre and post lunch, which means you get to eat 5 times a day!
After 2 day in Los banos, we returned to Manilla and moved in to our very nice apartment in Sienna Park. Then, we were given orientation at the Food and Nutrition Institute and given a tour of the institution. For now, we are still adjusting but still very excited for the many more trips and adventurous that are bound to come our way. But for now, Paalam.
Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton