Getting to Metro Manila and Meeting CheckMySchool (Week 1)

Thursday, 5/23/2019

Getting to QC:

Check-in luggage packed. Travel snacks in the carry-on. A box of Cheez-It’s, four protein bars, and three pills of motion sickness medicine (just in case) and I’m ready for my 30+ hours of travel to get me from Chesapeake, VA, to Quezon City, Metro Manila, PH. This is my first time flying and living abroad alone.

After landing in Chicago, I discover that there are three Filipino grandparents (Amy, Carlito, and Lolita) taking all the same flights as me. I’m quickly adopted as their grandson and in exchange for pushing their wheelchairs to our departure gate they get me to the front of every line.
On the flight to Incheon, I sit next to a rising-senior (Josh) from UNC – Chapel Hill who’s also interning in the education policy sector in Metro Manila. He has also been adopted by a couple traveling Filipino grandparents. Literally, what are the odds? If you know the backstory of how my rising-senior friend Josh at W&M was intending to join me at the same internship this summer, the odds are incredibly small. The world is weird like that.

I land at the Manila airport and scramble to download Grab App, Southeast Asia’s Uber. We zoom through immigration and baggage claim, wait for our rides (mine, a Grab; the grandparents, their daughter), and exchange goodbyes. 1.5 hours in the Grab and I’ll finally be at my hotel. Immediately, I noticed that the architecture of this part of Metro Manila is extremely similar to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – the airport departure terminal, the highway, the buildings, just minus the skyscrapers and Spanish.
Finally, I get to my hotel!

Meeting ANSA-EAP:

My supervisor for the summer, Sir Wilson, meets me at my hotel and gives a quick tour of the stretch of Katipunan between my hotel and the ANSA-EAP office a few blocks away. Then, I go off to explore UP Town Center alone and eat some pretty decent teriyaki chicken donburi for about 3USD (this first week has had a lot of exploring and eating alone).

The next day, I meet my boss, Sir Don, and we spend the day together around Quezon City. First, we eat traditional Filipino food for lunch. Then, we revisit UP Town Center and explore the UP-Diliman campus. We spend the evening at the Quezon Memorial Circle park shopping for wild honey and doing calisthenics on the pull-up bars with a couple bros who are much more buff than us.


Monday, I woke up at 1:45AM to go to a school in Rizal for Brigada Eskwela, the national school improvement volunteer program which lasts a week. Transportation in the Philippines is complicated and takes forever; we took a GrabCar, multiple jeepneys, and a van to get to the school. We arrived around 6:30AM after three hours of driving. I mostly just spent the day learning about the program and how the Philippines’ Department of Education functions.

Tuesday, I woke up at 6:00AM to go to a school in Navotas. We spent the day learning a LOT about how to successfully institutionalize educational programs, which is a large part of my internship this summer (the other half is coding the app to be institutionalized). Wednesday through Friday, I have just been working on my schedule.

Until next week!