Last Tuesday, we traveled from Los Baños to Taguig City, the location of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), our internship site. Our “official” work day began once we arrived at FNRI, and we were given an orientation about the program by Czarina and Celine. FNRI is a government run institution under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The institute conducts nutrition surveys, develops healthy alternative food options, and provides awareness to the increasing levels of obesity and malnourished in the nation. Cooper and I were assigned to the Nutritional Assessment and Monitoring Division (NAMD) which travels to different barangays (villages/districts) to conduct the food surveys.
After orientation, Czarina took us to the SM Supermall, which was one of fifty-eight in a shopping mall chain. It has a variety of stores, restaurants, vendors, a department store, and a supermarket. Of the 64 dining areas in the mall, I’ve been to 4. From there, Czarina dropped us off at our condos, which are really nice! We spent the remainder of the day unpacking, and then we had dinner at the mall.
The following day, the five of us commuted to FNRI via BMW (by means of walking, as Czarina likes to call it.) It’s about a 25 minute walk through bustling traffic to reach FNRI, and the mall is around a 15 minute walk from our hotel and on our way to work, making it convenient to stop by to get groceries or dinner. Wednesday and Thursday primarily consisted of the NAMD students getting oriented to the field surveys.
Just within those two days, I noticed some interesting things very different from a typical work routine in the US. For instance, during the lunch break, people have the option to attend a church service at work. Also there are areas of the office that have the lights turned off and people take naps. In addition, many people take off anywhere from as early as 11:30-12 to reheat their food, and their lunch break is until 1. It was interesting how different the afternoon schedule was from Americans who typically take half hour lunch breaks or eat while working. They even have zumba classes on Friday mornings, which Ross and Kate were almost roped into leading by their division.
On Friday, I went to FNRI’s Stakeholder’s Meeting, where the FNRI director discussed the importance of the program and how stakeholders were necessary to continue and expand portions of FNRI. The presentation was followed by questions from the stakeholders and lunch.
On Saturday, our group met up with Nathan and two of his co-workers from Human Nature, who gave us a tour of some of the historic sites in Manila. We visited Plaza Roma, Fort Santiago, Church of San Agustin, and Chinatown. Fort Santiago was occupied by the British, the Americans, and the Japanese where hundreds were tortured and executed. San Agustin Church is the oldest stone church in the country, and it was the only building to survive World War 2 in Intramuros, Manila. Most of our tour was done using horse carriages, which are commonly used by tourists.
Finally, our weekend ended with a trip to the market, where we bought groceries and tried our best to communicate to the locals. It would have been the perfect time to have brought our Tagalog 101 sheets.