I’ve had a crazy last few weeks, as you can imagine, so apologies for the not posting earlier any. The last few days in the Philippines had been the most tiring, stressful yet fulfilling parts of the trip with Hungry Minds, Kaya Co., and with family, as we tried to jam-pack everything (even my suitcases) before I would return to the United States. Before going to the airport, for example, I was running on less than two hours of sleep!
The 26-hour journey from Manila to Japan, Japan to Atlanta, Georgia and Atlanta to Vermont didn’t make up for the lack of sleep, as I actually got sick when I arrived home. The doctor told me I had strep throat and I was getting hives all body. 😦
Luckily I’m better now, finally at my university in Ithaca, NY! 😀 The campus is just full of nature and beauty. I’ll show you pictures later.
Anyway, here are some photos from my last week that I’d like to share with you! No long description this time. 😉
Food for Hungry MInds – Buwan ng Wika & My final lunch with the students
Binondo Food Trip!
Last week, I stayed overnight to visit the Hungry Minds School in Malolos, Bulacan. At first look, Malolos would seem like a pleasant provincial city. In history, it’s deemed as the site of the constitutional convention of 1898, which led to the establishment of the First Philippine Republic. Moreover, Malolos is considered the site of education in Central Luzon with several universities in the area.
The place we were visiting was not the Malolos I had imagined.
This was Bangkal. Not the Bangkal subdivision in Makati or the very same Bangkal tree from which its name is derived. Started 10 years ago, Bangkal, Malolos became a resettlement community for informal settlers living along McArthur Highway so that the government could build a new railway. While I saw no evidence of the tracks they were planning to build on the highway that morning nor any evidence of the people who once lived there, it was in Bangkal where I saw life live on.
On that day, Teacher Candy, Karina and Oliver, a Hungry Minds volunteer, accompanied me to Bangkal with Ate Gina, the social worker for Malolos Hungry Minds, as our tour guide in the community. Along the path, we saw kids roaming everywhere and men and women selling goods from their carts and sari-sari stores. As we passed each block, I noticed that the houses – as grey and void of vegetation as they were – at least looked quite spacious compared to the homes of Hungry Minds children in Manila. Sure, Bangkal isn’t the prettiest of places, but for me it was slightly hard to imagine that when Ate Gina first made home visits, it was common to see alcoholics, drug-addicts and the occasional dead body on the roads. At Hungry Minds in Malolos, 70% of students come from Bangkal, and while the current students did not experience its early stages when there was no electricity, sewage and little community feel, living in Bangkal still poses a struggle to many of its inhabitants.
That morning, we visited Lenard, a full scholarship student who will be studying Architecture at De La Salle University – College of St. Benilde, and his “kapitbahay”, Maynard, a third-year Veterinary Medicine student at Central Luzon State University. Though Lenard and Maynard were obviously close, their personalities were strikingly different. While Maynard and I chatted about our interest in agriculture in the Philippines, Lenard was more shy and reserved, yet definitely perceptive. We didn’t have very much time to talk, since we were running late, but after chatting over a plate of palabok from Lenard’s proud mom, we moved on to the next house to meet Aira, a well-rounded high school girl interested in Accounting. While again, out time was cut shot, taking a few bites of the delicious biko made by her mom, I could see her positivity and willingness to learn as she happily shared with us her art pieces and perfect homework sheets.
Aira was the last house we visited in Bangkal that day, but before we could move on to Hungry Minds School, we took one last stop to meet Elmark, a 4th grade student at Hungry Minds. We had imagined the walk a little far, but not as far as walking through several banana fields, a rice farm, and a pond in front of Elmark’s house where his father harvested kangkong, the family’s main source of livelihood. By the time we arrived at his house, we were sweating and tired, but questioning why Elmark was at home on a school day! What we realized was that though he stayed at home awaiting our visit, he had begged his parents to let him go to school that morning. Of course, he was so ecstatic when we decided to bring him back to school in our mini van.
We arrived at Hungry Minds School in the afternoon to another buffet of delicacies and a choir of students overly ecstatic to see us. From what I heard that day, the mayor had donated the building for their school just this year, but due to lack of funding, the Malolos School currently supports only 4th and 6th grade classes. As Teacher Ana, the Lead Teacher, Teacher Kristal, Teacher Daisy, Teacher Bevz, Teacher Jayme, joined us for our third lunch of the day, I would often lift my head to see some of the students peaking in to spy on Oliver and me, their first visitors for the school year. Obviously, despite how tired I was for the lack of sleep the night before and our journey through Bangkal that morning, seeing their smiling faces definitely made up for the exhaustion.
After lunch, I followed Teacher Candy and Karina into the 6th grade class, while Oliver taught art to the 4th graders. Before I could interact with the students, though, Teacher Candy wanted to talk to the kids about a book they had read called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Who was Charlie? Where did he come from? How did he become the owner of Willy-Wonka’s chocolate factory? While listening to their conversation, I noticed that Teacher Candy slowly started to draw parallels between Charlie and their own lives. As Teacher Candy delved deeper into these issues, asking, “How has Hungry Minds changed you?” the joyous faces I had seen turned into rather sad yet eager looks as more hands were raised to answer the question. Some said it changed their whole outlook on life or that it simply gave their parents something to be proud of. As more children talked, I saw students breaking down their coating to reveal rather fragile and difficult lives unseen from the giggling smiles I saw when I first arrived. From the once-gregarious Carlos sitting next to me, for instance, I was shocked to see tears rolling down his cheeks for simply thanking Hungry Minds “…for giving me friends to eat with during lunch.”
During those two days I was at the school, I learned a great deal about the culture of Hungry Minds in Malolos – the openness of the students, teachers and parents, the overly genuine, ecstatic and warm greetings of the kids, and the parents and grandparents willing to lend their hand for a better life ahead. I held the attention of the students by giving them sneak peaks of my life in a place that snows all year round, amusing them with my illegible autograph, which decorated pages and pages of their notebooks, and even demonstrating a little bit of basic hula to the 4th grade students. I chuckled when their faces turned to disgust at the bitter ampalaya dish they’d have for lunch and pose in funny positions when we’d take pictures together.
Throughout my time at Hungry Minds, I fell in love with their outrageous greetings and the infectious laughter of the students. I enjoyed the positive energy of the teachers as well and the kindness from Teacher Bevz who let me stay over in her home that Wednesday night. By the time I had to say my final goodbyes the next day after lunch, I too didn’t want to leave when the students leaned in to have a group hug and pulled me by the arms and waist begging me not to leave.
Maynard and Lenard, whom I became extra close with within two days, decided to accompany me on the ride back to the MRT. While I watched the students wave back from the balcony as we left the vicinity of the school to the dirt road, I knew underneath their positivity and unlimited energy were backgrounds more devastating yet fulfilling than my own. Yet, Hungry Minds had fostered a community for them to express their feelings – to laugh openly, to be confident and brave, and not to be afraid of the tears that rolled down their eyes or those swelling up in my own.
On Friday morning last week, on our supposed holiday from school, my Tita Naty and I trekked up to the third floor of the building to meet the alumni scholars of Hungry Minds. Though I’d been with the school for almost a month, this was my first time working with the alumni, a group of 77 talented, ambitious and equally smart students with the brains to run a city and a plethora more beneath them with just the same ambition.
While I had finally become comfortable working with the 4th to 6th graders for the past month, memorizing everyone’s name and understanding little quirks about each one of them, honestly, I wasn’t sure how it would be with the alumni, especially among those my age. What did they think of me being here? Are they interested in what we’ll be doing? And can they understand my Tagalog? Unlike the younger children who get excited to see new visitors, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Nonetheless, these feelings quickly dispersed when I sat around the table to talk to the officers of each batch before the other grades arrived. Though shy at first, once they opened up, they were tentative, interested and funny to be around, especially when it came to the eldest of the group, Wesley, whom I met before, Alyssa, Gilbert and Justine.
The purpose of the day was to generate ideas for community service projects based on the interest of the students. Beginning with the officers, we narrowed down the projects to parents, community and fundraisers. Then, from 9:30 am 4:00 pm, the officers, Christine and I hosted the workshops for the 7th and 8th graders, 9th and 10th graders and college students, whom all worked in groups to develop projects that could be used by Hungry Minds. Though I wouldn’t say the whole day had gone smoothly, seeing as I spoke limited Tagalog and met most of the alumni then and there—nor would I say it was easy for them, having to create a full-blown project in just less than an hour—I was honestly blown away by what we all had accomplished. Through collaboration and creativity, we produced 10 proposals that could be seen happening within their community. A barangay zumba dance class, a community earthquake safety class, Junkshop 101 – an arts and crafts fundraiser, a musical recorder music lesson curriculum, Balls for a Cause – a street food fundraising event, and a bag-making/livelihood project/day-care rehabilitating project to name just a few! Impressive!
Although exhausted by the end, I watched each alumnus leave the school, each returning to their daily lives outside of Hungry Minds. Though I had heard of the struggles and ultimate triumphs of some of these alumni to overcome obstacles in their lives because of Hungry Minds, seeing them in person and realizing that these people—these students—are still undeniably human is a powerfully humbling experience.
Throughout the day, I saw genuine kindness in these alumni. I met Justine, a student who had just finished her 100th hour of work at a hospital that afternoon, Wesley, a student at De La Salle who cancelled his internship meeting to be with us, Alyssa, another De La Salle student and our personal photographer, and Gilbert, a student of College of St. Benilde, who has overcome many pains in his life to be where he is today. I knew that they didn’t need me to tell them to give back to their community. They didn’t need me to remind them not to forget where they come from. Being here as an outsider and yet a member of the community, I realize, is to see how each individual person can contribute to a greater cause. In Kaya Co. it is to see how collaboration among social entrepreneurs can result in positive work. Here in Hungry Minds, it means joining like-minded students together so that they can be the change for their communities.
As I indicated in my earlier blog, I decided to travel to Manila two weeks ahead of the Kaya Co. internship to visit family, friends, and various local food industries in the Philippines. (Sorry most of these stories are only being shown to you now!) As a Food Science student and international food aficionado (“kalatog pinggan”), I am particularly interested in these sorts of food trips and processing plant tours, more so than going to SM mall or some fancy beach (although I’d be happy to go if I had the chance). So, my mother connected me with many of her former food science classmates and close friends from UPLB, opening my eyes to the different food industries of the country and their economic potentials.
So, to follow up on the mini food trips I’ve been having over the last two weeks, I’ll start first with my trip to Santo Tomas, Batangas to visit small-scale coconut processing facilities. These businesses are run by participants belonging to different local women’s organizations. This observation tour was made possible with the help of the Santo Tomas municipality’s Livelihood and Cooperative Office. Special thanks to our personal comedian/ tour guides: Mr. Marcos Victor Cornejo and Mr. Dario Chavez, and our photographer, Mr. A.J. Leyco (PC for all of the pictures!). Accompanying me on this trip were a number of retired but still very active UPLB Food Science Professors Tita Linda, Tita Mafe and Tita Dory – my mom’s long-time friends, kumares, and classmates. (Visit their website here!)
In the Philippines, the coconut (Cocos nucifera) is not just a plant but a versatile living resource that yields all sorts of useful products from its roots to the tip of its leaves. I have to admit, most Americans love coconuts but can’t tell the difference between “young” (or immature) and “old” (mature) coconut. But here in the Philippines, “age” really makes a big difference.
Young, green, immature coconuts have the soft, white meat, and clear coconut water inside. These are known locally as buko, and Filipinos love to drink and eat them as a refreshing snack. The older or more matured coconuts (niyog) are often husked of its outer layer (exocarp and endocarp) and are usually sold in the market looking like hard, brown, and hairy coconut ball with three “eyes.” According to my dad, the mesocarp is composed of a fiber called coir or “bunot” which has many traditional uses. When the matured coconut’s hard shell is cracked open in half, inside you’ll see a thicker and tougher white “meat” (the endocarp or niyog) which are usually harvested for its saturated oil which can be used as cooking oil, baby oil, or hair lotion.
The coconut meat can also be shredded or ground and mixed with sugar or molasses as dip for suman, puto, kutsinta and other delicious desserts, or made into sweet coconut candies like bukayo or pakumbo. If you squeeze the freshly shredded coconut meat of its juice, you’ll get coconut milk or gata, which is a staple ingredient of many delicious Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Filipino dishes. Before the invention of floor polishers, my parents used to manually polish their floors using bunot, which are dried coconuts sawed in half. Isn’t the coconut wonderful?
Now with this little background information, let me give you a quick overview of the different coconut products being processed by the women of Santo Tomas:
- Fresh Buko
Our first stop brought us to a local buko meat and juice harvesting business located on the main road of town. Here, the meat is scraped out with a metal tool, washed with slightly chlorinated water to sanitize the product, frozen and then sent to local buko pie bakeries or restaurants in the area. This business, like many other local buko harvesting and processing businesses, is the basis for many of the buko products found in Batangas.
Pakumbo is a buko dessert prepared by simmering all the ingredients in a large vat of boiling water for several minutes. Using only shaved buko meat, sugar and bits of langka or jackfruit, the finished product produces a delicate dessert with a sweet, crunchy texture served on aromatic pandan leaves. Here in Santo Tomas, Mrs. Aida Malabuyoc and Mrs. Senya Raning have used this secret recipe to make their own special pakumbo dessert.
Although I had never tried pakumbo before, I enjoyed the sweetness of the dessert especially in the company of the nice Batangueno guides and entrepreneurs. As we were waiting for the pakumbo to finish cooking on the stove, I enjoyed listening to the lively conversations amongst the UPLB food scientists, our friends from the Sto. Tomas City Hall and the two pakumbo lady hosts.
- Coconut Wine
Buko wine has become a fairly popular drink in the Philippines. In Santo Tomas, Doctor Helen Grace Navarro has been making buko wine as a way to provide local women with a source of livelihood. As president of Bigkis Kababaihan (Women’s Association), she started the buko wine project, which evolved into a local sustainable product. Although arriving (embarrassingly) several hours late (I guess that’s normal Filipino time), the Bigkis women, all dressed in their Bigkis uniform, greeted us warmly and fed us with plethora of delicacies. Wow! When they say people from the province are nice, all I can say is, these women are extremely nice!
Of all the products we saw that day, the only one that used niyog was a food company that makes bukayo, a mature coconut dessert made from brown sugar mixed with thinly grated coconut, and heated on a large wok. The work of Mrs. Yolanda Malabanan, this specialty bukayo is pounded right in their backyard. First, the niyog is placed and stirred in a large steel “wok” called talyasi. As the niyog caramelizes, brown sugar and other ingredients are added until the whole mixture reaches a consistent brownish color. Now I tell you, stirring this thick, highly viscous mixture of sugar and grated coconut is hard work! What’s interesting to see here is that to keep the stirrer awake, we saw him dancing to some 80s music, getting his muscles working. Next, once the bukayo cooking process is done, it’s transferred into a square, wooden tray, where it is compressed then chopped into small, rectangular candy pieces, wrapped in plastic sheets, and ready to eat.
I have to thank the Santo Tomas municipality’s Livelihood and Cooperative Office for arranging this trip and for providing us with a comedian of a tour guide and photographer. Also thanks to my mother’s lovely, retired, yet fully working food scientist friends from UPLB: Tita Linda, Tita Mafe and Tita Dory. Because of these nice people, my Tita Mely and I were able to experience a variety of unique and tasty Filipino delicacies, including a unique insider view of how they are prepared by the industrious men and women of Batangas province.
When I first chose Food for Hungry Minds School as my internship for the Kaya Collaborative summer outreach program, I didn’t realize the vast importance of the decision I’d be making. In fact, I honestly wasn’t sure if I would forgo the 8-week-long internship in the Philippines working in the social sector, when I could have stayed in the U.S. and worked for a food company – seeing as I’m currently a food science student. Nonetheless, I decided to fly to the Philippines, convincing myself whole-heartedly in my decision to brace eight-weeks under constant heat, rain and the daily struggle to commute with my limited Tagalog. I took the risk to join Hungry Minds because I saw a need for social change in various social sectors, but most importantly in the prospects of a good education. And so begins my story.
At 6:45 am last Monday, I arrived at Food for Hungry Minds School, lugging around a tub of animal crackers and canned sausage—food items I found in my mother’s balikbayan box that arrived just the other day. While I had mentioned to friends what I’d be doing at Hungry Minds School since being accepted as their intern in February, I still didn’t know what to expect. Only when I heard the cheery greeting of children announcing, “Good morning Ate Sierra!” and smiling eagerly at me during our morning assembly did I start to see what this internship would actually mean.
On my first day, I met Teacher Candy, the Principal Executive Director of the school, who first began my introduction to the program. From her, I learned of the school’s humble beginning as a project started by employees of Navitare to create a school literally on wheels in the basement of a Makati church to their current branches in Pasay City and Bulacan. Then, from my conversations with Teacher Amie, the lead teacher, Teacher Mel, one of the oldest teachers at the school, and Karina, the school’s fundraising head, I learned about their personal decisions to leave their jobs in the private sector and work for Hungry Minds. From them, I heard many stories of the students they’ve helped, those living in pedicabs next to the railway and in squatter areas yet who have made it to science high schools and eventually top universities in the country. It is from these incredible success stories that drive teachers, staff members, parents and alumni to continue investing their time and energy into Hungry Minds.
As you can imagine, I shed quite a lot of tears on my first day at work, with Teacher Candy of course, assuring me that this was all part of the learning experience. These tears, however, were not necessarily because of their impoverish lives or anything else that would make my head shake (although bad enough as it is). What I instead saw was that within the mind of every child was this vision to see beyond the poverty. Through their own blood, sweat and tears, through education, and through the support of their parents as well, I saw the power of Food for Hungry Minds acting on these students to transform the face of poverty.
Looking around at all of the smiling 75 students, I couldn’t fathom the fact that at the end of the day, these students will return to a life very different than the one at school. Some may not have food to eat, electricity to light their homes or a proper roof to keep them safe from the rain. Some in the future may not be able to return to Hungry Minds because their makeshift homes will be relocated or due to family issues, they cannot handle the workload. Despite these difficulties, I can see the power of Hungry Minds influencing the outlook of every student in the school. They find joy in what Hungry Minds has given them and see that, albeit challenged, they stay challenged, positive and hungry for more.
In Teacher Candy’s effort to immerse me into the Hungry Minds mindset, on my second day, I was signed up to visit homes of the Hungry Minds students in Pandacan, St. Ana, and Paco with our two social workers, Christine and Mia, and Karina. While I’ve been living with my Tita in Pandacan, using a tabo to shower and sleeping five in one room, I foolishly assumed that I knew what it was like to be poor in the Philippines. That said I had never experienced seeing the other side of Pandacan, the more congested parts hidden from the main road. These parts—too narrow for jeepneys or tricycles—host the majority of barangay residents and life within the community. With hidden basketball courts, chickens roaming in and out of the road, men eating at communal tables in the streets, children playing everywhere and even a meat shop hidden in one dark alley, this was what life that I hadn’t experience at all even after all the times I’ve returned home. While I didn’t think of congestion, lack of privacy or limited space as an issue while I was walking from one student’s house to another (perhaps because I was taken aback by this new scenery), I’m starting to realize now as I write this reflection that my own experience is incomparable to the majority of those living in these congested areas. Moreover, I am now beginning to see that these students and parents I meet through Hungry Minds have risen above the limitations of poverty, an accomplishment more distinguishable than any accomplishment I will achieve in my lifetime.
During the first half of the trip, we visited three alumni of Hungry Minds: Joan, a student at Manila Science High School, Wesley, a scholar at De La Salle University, and Hannah, a teacher. Naturally bubbly, I saw Joan as this unbelievably resilient girl whom you would have never expected once live in a tree house that eventually had to be torn down. Wesley, a full-ride scholar on his third-year at De La Salle University, blew me away with his plan to work in the industry once he graduates. In the same light, I saw Hannah as a quiet yet hardworking student who has been a successful teacher after graduating from Philippine Normal University. Despite their positivity and driving force to raise their family from poverty and give back to Hungry Minds, I couldn’t stop looking at their homes made of plywood scraps, cloth, tarpaulin and concrete, blended within a mosaic of fifty other doors and windows on a single alley. In this environment, these students could have easily dropped out of school, married early or found drugs as a way out, but they didn’t.
I began to understand these students’ motivation to choose education when we visited the home of Angeline Valmes, the mother of Jimmcel, a student whom I had the chance to meet during lunch with the fourth-graders one day. While I had mentioned visiting the congested homes in Pandacan and feeling quite surreal, the Valmes’ flimsy, exposed hut truly opened my eyes to the spectrum of poverty here in the Philippines that we often don’t notice. What shocked me was that while Jimmcel’s father is a pedicab driver and Tita Angeline works part-time, the only house they can afford for their family of eight is next to the train tracks with no electricity and stable roof to support their home. They even told me that when comes the rain, the baha or flood will reach up to their knees.
Despite these challenges of washing themselves in open air, sharing a wood board as their bed, and the potential of being relocated, they understood the needs for their Jimmcel to continue his education at Hungry Minds. It was during lunch and the fourth-graders’ daily read naturally session that I witnessed not only Jimmcel’s friendly, boyish side, but also his mature, determined side that thinks not of himself but of the future of his family.
What has been challenging for me to realize during this trip is that these are the lives of Filipino children. These are lives that have faced tremendous hardship and who carry the weight of the family on their shoulder, more so than I could ever imagine myself doing. They are complex human beings who have seen life at its worst. Yet they have synthesized these experiences, internalized them, and sought out by themselves a new life, better than the life that they were given. And yet, I have to remember that they are just children.
I see the impact of Hungry Minds in so many shapes and forms, and I cannot tell you how thankful I am to be part of this mission that has become the saving grace of the students I see every week. I’ve learned so much just within a few days at Hungry Minds, but I still don’t think I can fully wrap my head around everything just yet, because honestly, I have never come into contact with anything so devastating and so inspirational as the stories I’m hearing now. I am determined to learn more about myself and others while I’m here.
I left the Philippines because of basura. I can’t stand the trash. Ironically, that’s also the same reason why I came back. My phobia became my challenge.
“Look over there,” Tita Myrna sitting next to me says as we finally reached the top of a small bridge on our way to Pasig City. Experiencing the first rainfall of the season, our car was stuck in heavier than usual Manila traffic. Cars, buses, trucks and passenger jeepneys were queued bumper to bumper. Adding to the chaos were the hosts of unruly motorcylists and jaywalking pedestrians weaving their way through the narrow city streets that’s quickly turning into a big parking lot. I saw lots of kids playing and running barefoot in the rain. Trash were scattered everywhere, along every streets and corners that we passed by. Looking outside the car window, I could see globs of trash floating in the river as it meandered farther in the distance before emptying its contents into Manila Bay. Everyday 8,000 tons of plastic waste are thrown in Manila, clogging sewers and flooding whole neighborhoods. This ‘basura problem’ is what made idealistic humanitarians like Tita Myrna to return to the Philippines and help.
“The solution is biodegradable plastic,” Tita Myrna states firmly, a project she has been working on for nearly two years here in the Philippines.
Tita Myrna Nisperos is my mother’s long-time friend, dating back to her Food Science days at the University of the Philippines at Los Banos (UPLB). The first time I met her was when we picked her up early that day on our way to San Miguel Corporation’s packaging facility. All I knew about her was what my mother told me…that she was famous. Famous in that she had accomplished quite a lot in her career as a food scientist, and that she’s also kind and sincere, working hard not for money or fame but for love of the Philippines.
On that morning, Tita Myrna agreed to give me a guided tour of San Miguel’s food packaging facility. She taught me the basics of food packaging by showing how a product gets transformed from a graphic illustration all the way to the fancy adhesion and extrusion machines that glue several layers of material together to give the package its nice, glossy finish. While I observed this breathtaking operation, Tita Myrna’s mission in life kept coming back to my head. What about the plastic waste? The ketchup packets, the Milo milk cartons, baby soap and UFC spaghetti sauce? What happens to these common household consumer packages and non-biodegradable plastics after they’re emptied of all their contents?
In the Philippines, by legal definition, 60% of the material should decompose in soil within two years in order for it to be considered biodegradable. Of course, in the Philippines, some companies claim biodegradability without any proof. Tita Myrna took on a different approach. Using her food science expertise, she created the first biodegradable plastic made from indigenous materials. She hopes that her formula would one day make its way into grocery bags, food packages and sacks for rice, cements, feeds and flour. In the process, she also hopes to create a green industry that turns trash into cash…or at least non-toxic compost.
On our ride back from San Miguel to her house in Manila, I learned more about Tita Myrna’s impressive accomplishments – a Doctorate from Louisiana State University, a Master’s from New Zealand, and Bachelor’s degree from UPLB (all in Food Science); two patents with the U.S. Department of Agriculture; guest lectures around the world; and now this — a new biodegradable plastic that can be used throughout the Philippines to help reduce the country’s perennial flooding and pollution problems. I thought, “Wow! How lucky can one be?” I’m sitting next to a superwoman who has been solving the world’s most persistent problem since day one!
Tita Myrna — my heartfelt thanks, not only for the wonderful plant tour at San Miguel Corporation, but also for being such a wonderful inspiration!