Hello all! It is 6:45pm on a wonderfully rainy evening here in Sta. Rosa, and me and L (can’t be bothered to type the -ark) are in the (now majority mold-free) apartment. I am planning to attend the mass of a nearby Catholic Church tonight, though whether this storm is a way of God deterring or testing my resolve to go, I do not know.
In any case, enjoy these pictures of a tricyles (left) and a jeepney (right) I found on Google images. I evidently cannot be bothered to take a picture of the dozens I see everyday.
On Wednesday, Ate Jam (the employee who I’m interning directly under) went to visit De La Salle University, Makati, where we officially launched the partnership between Human Nature and their engineering/design students to create in-store, zero-waste refill stations. Modeled as a competition between 10 teams, Human Nature will get to choose the winning design(s) and hopefully give the green-light to place them in HN stores – petition pending, of course. In order to get to Makati (which, according to Wikipedia, is a highly urbanized city in Metro Manila), I had to take a bus leaving at 7am from the Nuvali station about 15 minutes away from my apartment by bike. I was quite tired – but at least I had my breakfast!
After the launch, Ate Jam and I ended up getting some lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant, where I tried some famous Vietnamese iced coffee, or cà phê đá. It was delicious, and absolutely is the best kind of coffee I’ve ever had.
After lunch, Ate Jam left me alone to explore the city. I walked around for several hours, visiting a local Human Nature store and going to a few second-hand shops. Around 5, I attempted to take a bus to Suntrest Treetop Villas to visit a couple other interns who live there, but after about 15 minutes of stand-still traffic, I ended up walking a bit and getting a Grab (the Southeast Asian answer to Uber), with marginally better traffic luck. In talking to the driver (who kindly offered me a mango), I learned he was a father of 7, and that his wife did not work, making Grab their household’s sole source of income. As we’ve seen, poverty is only a stone’s throw away here, and I was deeply humbled imagining how difficult it would be supporting even a family of 3 on such an income, let alone 8.
When we finally got to the Villas, me and the two interns that lived there went to this incredibly boujie jellyfish-rooftop bar called Antidote that was atop a similarly boujie hotel called I’M Hotel. Such spots are typically not my scene, but it did offer an incredible view of the surrounding Metro area. Still, the fact that slums were present only 10 minutes away from this extremely elitist bar sullied my drink a bit.
In total that night, I believe we counted around 15 old, overweight white men with young Filipino women. Not cute.
The following morning (Thursday), I headed back to Sta. Rosa, and arrived at the office a little after 9am. I mostly researched chemical pollutants that are commonly in cosmetic products, and the adverse environmental side effects pouring them down the sink has on surrounding areas. I also drafted a template letter to be sent to various colleges around the country, so hopefully this coming week I’ll be able to send it out to them and get thousands of signatures for the petition.
On Friday, L and I sat through a new hires orientation for the entire day, and learned a lot about the company’s overarching mission, as well as some not-so relevant information about payroll. In any case, we all got a free bag of HN products to sample, and I have greatly enjoyed using their sunflower seed oil since. I also learned about ingredients to avoid in skin/hair care (see: parfum, mineral oil, TEA, parabens, phthalates, etc), and learned that some of my own go-to products contain them. Go figure.
I have also been deeply pondering the company’s “no fire” policy. This kind of thing would almost never be seen in America, where workers are probably the most expendable resource available to companies. But, as Dylan Wilk, the CEO of HN, pointed out, many of their poorer employees have been told they are worthless and expendable their entire lives. For a company to stick with them through thick and thin means a lot to these people, and encourages them to succeed. This policy has certainly been tested – Dylan relayed one story of an employee stealing from the company, a fireable offense anywhere else – they have stuck with it. And, after being in business for 10 years and winning multiple beauty awards, I’d say it’s working out for them.
That night, me and L went to see Toy Story 4, and tried some Filipino McDonalds. Both were very okay, although I was deeply hurt, as a proud Midwesterner, that the latter had no ranch dressing to offer. Despicable.
While I began this blog post last night, I am finishing it Sunday morning, at Coffee Project, once more enjoying a Vietnamese Latte. I will make a separate blog post about my impressions of the mass I attended. Goodbye for now, and as always, more to come.