During the final days I was in Manila, I could not come to terms that my time there was truly ending. It felt so comfortable visiting the Canossa clinic or the Philippine General Hospital every week, spending time with the Kuyas and Ates who worked in these settings, and interacting with a variety of patients. Thus when it came time to say goodbye, it was one of the hardest things to do.
At Canossa, I had grown closer to many of the Ates and Kuyas through the weeks as we prepared meals, dispensed medications, took vitals, and spent time together. Through sharing stories with one another, I was able to learn more about them, their families, their interests, and more. Therefore on our last day there- after the Kuyas and Ates had surprised us with going away gifts and cake- I could not help but get emotional (aka I cried like a baby) when saying goodbye to them.
At the Philippine General Hospital, we spent one day a week making arts and crafts with patients in the oncology ward. Through the weeks, we had a variety of crafts- like making crowns, masks, flags, rosaries, or bracelets- that we would create alongside patients. I enjoyed getting to know patients and their families through conversation and hearing about their lives. Sometimes, when it was harder to communicate with a patient through the language barrier, I tried to find other methods to get to know them. One of my most memorable moments was with a teenage boy named Sem, where I learned of his interest in art and spent an hour at his bedside drawing. I initiated a competition where we tried to draw a portrait of his mother without looking at the paper, and we all cracked up at the end results. Being able to share smiles and laughter with patients and their families brought me an unspeakable amount of joy each week, and I felt overwhelmed with sadness when it came time to say goodbye.
I knew that saying goodbye would be difficult task for me. What I did not expect though, was how much more painful it was to be unable to properly say goodbye. In my last week, I had believed I had all the time I needed to meet up with people one last time to say a proper farewell. In the end though, this did not work out as expected. I had wanted to visit the daycare one last time to see the children and Ate Ethel- but due to severe weather and flooding, classes were canceled during the days we attempted to visit. I had wanted to say goodbye to my friend, Lailani, since I had promised we would hang out one last time before I left. Due to bad timing though and event conflicts, we never did. I had wanted to say goodbye to Ate Sheryl, essentially my mother during my time in Manila, thinking that I would be able to see her the morning that I departed for the airport. But, due to how early I had to leave for the airport, we were unable to meet. It was distressing for me to be unable to properly say goodbye to people that were integral to my time in the Philippines. While I was able to say goodbye to them over Facebook, it just was not the same. It is a feeling of unfinished business that made my leave with a heavy heart. Hopefully, I’ll be back someday.
Despite this bittersweet aspect at the end of my trip, there was an overwhelming sense of happiness when I reflected on everything that had brought me to that point, and the bright outlook I had moving forward. I was grateful to have had such an amazing two month experience that broadened my outlook in life.
I am thankful for FIMRC for providing this opportunity to travel abroad. Thankful for the support from my family, friends, and others who made this trip possible. Thankful for friends who ended up coming along and making my trip absolutely incredible. Thankful for new friends who came into my life through this adventure, who I hope stay in touch with me for a long time. Thankful for all the Kuyas and Ates I have met, who have shown me the power of compassion and dedication in helping others live healthier lives. Thankful for being able to meet such a diverse groups of people, and seeing different facets of humanity through their stories. Thankful.