As I de-boarded the plane in Manila last Wednesday, I was filled with energy and excitement about the work to unfold during the next month. The intense humidity and heat of the crowded Manila streets is palpable even through the air-conditioned walls of the NAIA airport. I gathered my bags, exchanged some money, purchased a local cell phone sim, and took the advice of Manila friends and requested my first Uber ride. Uber recently opened in Manila and it is a complete revelation in a city packed with far too many dishonest taxi drivers and traffic that is so intense it is impossible to describe in a simple blog post. After waiting only 10 minuets my safe, clean, and very affordable (under $5) Uber car arrived curbside and I was off to the high-rise concrete jungle of Makati!
On Thursday, I headed to the Peace Corps Office to see old friends/colleagues and arranged for a lunchtime solar light demo. The Peace Corps Staff was very excited to learn about the Nokero Solar Lights and the new GreenLight Planet lights we are distributing throughout the country. In fact the presentation was so successful we sold out of the new Sun King Pro 2 lights (complete with 3 light modes and two cell phone USB charging ports). I only carried over 5 so we could gauge interest and I am so glad that Peace Corps Philippines is excited to support this initiative. In light of this success related problem, we have found another local Philippine distributer of these new lights, Hybrid Social Solutions, and hope to order 5-10 more lights from them in the coming weeks.
Thursday evening I enjoyed street tacos with my gracious hosts in Manila, my old high school buddy Kent and his wife Susie have lived here for 2 plus years. Kent is a wildlife conservation photographer and videographer and Susie works for Catholic Relief Services. I am excited for Kent to head north in the coming weeks and capture high quality footage of ENCA Farm and our various projects.
I then braved the traffic to Quezon City to connect with Red at his iconic bar, Fred’s Revolution. Red, is the Executive Director of the fantastic local NGO The Institute for Climate Sustainable Cities. In August, we hosted him in Denver for one week to launch the incredible book Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change. Red and his team had just received the news that Agam was awarded the Philippine National Book Award! This is a huge honor and a great testament to the depth and beauty of Agam and the climate change mitigation work it supports. As we sat and enjoyed beers at Fred’s discussing our work and commitment to community development and sustainability I was reminded how blessed I am to be apart of this dynamic community of global change makers. All of this with only 24 hours in the country!
* Side note: Red is apart of the Philippine Delegation leaving for Paris in two weeks for the international climate talks. Last week he and others from the most climate venerable nations met in Manila to finalize their request for climate action.