It is 5pm here in Taiwan where I am currently, waiting for the direct 14-hour flight to Chicago set to leave in a few hours from now. This, then, will be my last blog post – I know, I, too, am crushed. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end.

I will start off with a brief description of the past couple weeks, mainly focusing on my weekend in Hong Kong and then my extended stay in Coron, Palawan, that began Wednesday (7/31) and ended just two days ago (8/6).

Me, looking at Hong Kong

Of Hong Kong, I mostly saw the city and part of an island I forget the name of. I went to visit the other IWU interns that are there, particularly my friend Adna Mujović, whose blog you should also totally check out. It was an incredible (if expensive) weekend, and it was quite an interesting moment to be there what with the protests against China occurring all over the region. One major takeaway from that trip is how politically active Hong Kong is, and how apathetic America is in comparison. For weeks now these protestors have been demonstrating against the encroaching authority of Beijing, and that kind of determination and commitment just seems to be wholeheartedly lacking in America today. Sure, the stakes are quite different – Hong Kong has less than 40 years of their political freedom while America is a somewhat functioning democracy with systems to allow certain peoples’ voices to come through. But I couldn’t help thinking about, say, the Women’s March, which I was passively involved with in Chicago. The idea behind the March is no doubt an important one; the President is a known sexual predator and misogynist, and women (and people in general) ought to stand up, united, to fight such outdated and icky ideas. But what change did the March actually bring? It was a single day of demonstrating across several cities and that was all. No real, material change came out of it. In the most cynical of interpretations, the whole thing was a show for people to feel like they were doing something against the sexist fabric of America so they would be even more passive as abortion access is stripped away and a sexual predator is appointed to the Supreme Court – but hey, we all did our part by walking for 2 hours in a police designated route, right?

An eggpuff/bubble waffle

In any case, highlights included going to a hot pot restaurant, getting a few podcast recommendations from some non-IWU interns there, and getting locked out of my Airbnb at 1 in the morning.

I present the entrance to my airbnb on the 3rd floor
where I may have had to sleep for a night

The next week was quite a short one for me, as I headed to the airport for Coron Wednesday morning. Still, on Tuesday I had a productive meeting with my supervisor Anna Wilk, who had just gotten back from the UK. I presented to her all my findings from my research and recommendations for moving to paper rather than plastic packaging, and I think it went quite well!

Coron, Palawan, was incredible for the first few days I was there. Wednesday evening through Friday were fantastic, as I swam in lagoons, lakes, and above some coral reefs. It was wonderful, particularly when a sea turtle swam directly underneath me! I stayed at a very cheap hostel and met some other Filipino travelers as well as a group of Polish college students. On Saturday night we all sat down for a lovely meal together, seen below.

I had originally planned to leave on Sunday (8/4) morning, but a monsoon decided that was out of the question. My flight was canceled, and I didn’t get back in Manila until Tuesday afternoon. I was very grateful to be back in Manila, as there was a legitimate worry I would have to stay in Coron until Thursday, and miss today’s flight back to Chicago, which was something that I really did not want to happen. But, luckily, things worked out – they often do.

Yesterday, L and I went over to the Wilk’s house for lunch with our supervisors for an intern lunch thing. We had lasagna! It was wonderful, and I was very grateful for the homecooked meal. Later at the office, our coworkers surprised us with some giftbags filled with Philippine snacks, which we were very thankful for. It was super strange leaving the office that day knowing I would soon be back on the other side of the world, returning back to this American life of mine. I spent the rest of the evening with my coworker friend Z[ee] at dinner and then at the Coffee Trail Cyclery with my pal Eric. He gave me a coffee on the house.

I am sure it’s a cliché, but I will miss my little corner of the Philippines. I hope all I’ve learned will transfer back with me, and that I have legitimately grown as a person from this experience – and will not simply forget and go back to my pre-internship self. I would be lying if I said I wish I was not coming back. Even though they’re only a day away, I miss my friends and family far too much to ever be 9,000 miles away from them for long. And as much as America grinds my gears and irritates the hell out of me, it’s still my home.

Thanks to everyone for following this blog and tagging along with me on this adventure. As always, more to come – just not on here. Salamat!

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