October 13, 2019 when I left the country to represent the Philippines in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiatives (YSEALI) under the Environment and Sustainable Development cohort. With me are my co-fellows (see photo below), that we only meet during our pre-departure orientation in the US Embassy in the Philippines: Riza Magbitang (on the left), is a Product Development & Regulatory Assistant in a private agri-solution company and Shirin Caldita (on the right), is an Environmental Management Specialist in a City Environment and National Resources Office in the Philippines. The three of us will represent three different challenges in the Philippines, me for the Water Source Management, Riza for Sustainable Agriculture Practice and Shirin for Solid Waste Management. Different challenges but we were united as one goal, to preserve our environment and to make development sustainable.
Philippines is located in the western Pacific Ocean and bounded by Taiwan in the north, Vietnam in the farthest west, and Indonesia in the south. The whole country is consisting of 7,641 islands and categorized under three geographical divisions; Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Metro Manila, which is the heart of the Philippines, is located in the Luzon. Before reaching Washington DC, USA, we need to travel around 8,555 miles (13,767.94 kilometers) by plane.
It’s my first time to go to America and it is also my first time to travel for almost 24 hours. From Manila, we have a 6-hours flight to Incheon Korea to meet some of our co-fellows from Vietnam, Myanmar and Malaysia. It’s a good thing that we had a 6-hours flight lay-over in Incheon because we had a great time to know more each other’s personal information and our challenges. Thank you to ICMA for arranging this one for us because our stay in the US for the first week is very remarkable because of this people that makes me comfortable to be with.
We left Incheon Korea at 1025AM on 14 October 2019, and this is the most challenging trip for me. I expected to travel for 14 hours from Incheon to DC but I did not expect the boredom it will take me since it is my first time to travel that long. Thank you to the built-in monitor installed in front of my chair that entertained me and saved my boredom during my travel.
We arrived in the Washington Dulles Airport, USA at 1125AM on 14 October 2019. We just travelled 1-hour (hahaha) due to the time difference. I can’t contain myself when we passed by the immigration, this is my dream country and I am stepping on their land. Actually, there’s a weird saying in our province in the Philippines that the first time you step on the land of a country for the first time, you should kiss it. This is not a Filipino culture but weirdly I just did it for the sake of showing it to my friends back in the Philippines. hahaha