On January 14, 2018, 2017 NEXTGEN Fellow Camillo Geaga spoke at a Bayanihan Foundation fundraiser about his trip to the Philippines. He spoke eloquently and from the heart. Here is an excerpt of how profound the trip was and how it affected him:
“Hello, my name is Camillo Geaga. I was a recipient of the 2017 Bayanihan Foundation NEXTGEN Program. I was born in California and in 2017 was my first time in the Philippines. My trip gave me a valuable and enriching experience of my lifetime. In August 2017, we first landed in Manila International Airport. We visited a public hospital in Calamba, Laguna. Then, we visited the shrine of Apolinario Mabini and Taal Volcano.
My favorite part of the trip was the karaoke at our resort. The karaoke music played on until 4 AM in the morning. We stayed at a resort located below Mt. Makiling in Calamba, Laguna. I was suffering from severe jet lag and I fell asleep so early by 6 PM that evening. However, I woke up to the sounds of karaoke music blaring outside. The music did not bother me. In fact, it showed me an emotional side. The trip fulfilled an emotional longing and affirmation.
But most of all, the trip made me realized that I also had to take care of myself. Before the trip, I have not been taking care of myself properly. Now, I have to take those first steps of being well. I love the rich, fresh foods I ate in the Philippines. I love the bananas. I love the greens – the malunggay leaves, the monggo beans. I love the lugaw (rice porridge with ginger and chicken). I love how fresh the food was. It made me realize that taking care of myself is part of being of a community. The trip gave me as a sense of family. For the first time I had the sense that I belong. I realized how impactful the trip was. A little glimpse there, a little memory here. The journey of the thousand steps begins with healing myself now.”