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Constructs Refurbished

Text By : Leah Marie Sernal
Photos By : Leonard G. Reyes

One student is bound to learn theories and principles inside the thick, air-conditioned, and isolated classroom. He or she is yet to see the pragmatics of it only through illustrations and visuals presented by the academe.  And being that student, I came out to take another step of learning having that principles and theories at hand.

Unexpected Acceptance

Who would ever thought that a hesitation would bring three students into the toughest practical exam that tested their capacities and limitations? Every student who is about to face their senior year is bound to have an internship and that doesn’t excuse me from that phase.

Together with two other students, who were excited to plunge into a summer-escapade vis-a-vis internship on the other, we sifted through several agencies that would fit our competencies. Wanting an extraordinary experience brought us to call an agency based in Nueva Ecija. Deliberation happened and another agency was given. For a span of time, we took an offer we thought would make us happy and satisfied but at the early end, led us to take another chance and start over again.

This is a simple point I have to ponder on about taking choices. How many times was there an incident that things we took for granted were the same things that gave us the happiness we initially thought they lacked? In short, the agency we took for granted was the same agency that accommodated us with no further hesitation, an unexpected acceptance that I never imagined would happen. An acceptance that marked the total shift of my constructs and that I have to be thankful to PRRM.

Panorama of Experience

The author, Leah (left), at work in Nueva Ecija, one of PRRM's areas of operations since the 50's. For their 4-week internship, Leah and her classmates, Dustin and Pao, were tasked to produce videos on PRRM's partner organizations.

Being a development communicator inside the academe is static and dull. You know what you should do but it was hard to know why you should be doing it. The ‘What’s‘ can easily be taught and learned but the ‘Why’s‘ are questions yet to be answered only if you venture outside of your comfort zones as students.

Early on for my first outdoor experience, we stopped by the Nueva Ecija branch of PRRM and interviewed farmer and women federation leaders. It was at that very moment that I felt very naïve because there were a lot more societal issues presented than what I expected.

Having an inclination towards the women’s federation, I was so surprised to know that there were many perspectives not given attention which in turn are indeed big issues. I did realize that there are still many facets of reality that I should know and learn.

After the comprehensive interviews, we headed to a very interesting place named Mangandingay.

Mangandingay, a barrio of the Science City of Muñoz, was in our itinerary for our Nueva Ecija fielding. We went to the watershed of the place and obviously because of excessive heat, it was almost in the stage of drying up. They said that before, it used to irrigate some adjacent farms but now it seems useless. It may have been due to human negligence that it ended up that way but we can’t also remove the fact that the pressing issue of climate change exacerbated the problem. A sudden of rush of pity filled me but at the same time a feeling of certainty, that this place will soon recover.

Visiting Mangandingay, which featured a water catchment and dam built in the '50s.  

Visiting Mangandingay, which featured a water catchment and dam built in the '50s.

After visiting the watershed, we went to visit some local people and listened while they were being interviewed. As I heard from the staff that I went with (Sir Nappy, Sir Leonard, Sir Rommel and Mang Boy), it was the first community that PRRM developed and helped, circa 1950s. Their simplicity of lifestyle is very amazing! As they mentioned some problems in the community, I noticed they weren’t complaining much as urban people do. They enumerated certain problems and after which, they also enumerated their ways of managing the problems.

Dustin and Pao, Leah's co-interns, imbibing PRRM's history at the National Training Institute in San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija.

Our last stop was at the National Training Institute (NTI) of PRRM in San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija, where we stayed for the night. It was a very big place, probably several hectares, and a virtual haven of nature. It was a bit peculiar place because of its antiquity but it says a lot about the history of PRRM. It was where I saw that PRRM people indeed “live what they preach”. They maintain trees, plants and animals to address food security.

Speaking of food, I got to eat goat meat and a kind of beetle, both my first time to eat such. Exotic foods for me, from now on, are thumbs up! Majority of the facilities there were worn out already probably because of some maintenance cost issues and lack of people but in the coming year, they plan to restore the grandeur of that beautiful area.

Constructs Refurbished

I have to say that I really enjoyed the whole PRRM experience. It was like a year-long internship that I had. Three years of learning inside the academe was surprisingly tantamount to five weeks of internship.

Leah enjoying the fruits of a 4-week internship with PRRM.

Leah enjoying the fruits of a 4-week internship with PRRM.

Here is where the shift comes in; I think I am liking the world of Development Communication, a world not for “money-making” but for “people-making”. I saw the need for people who will aid those who are incapable of empowering themselves. I saw the need for people who will help mobilize others and show how life should be moving. I saw the need for people who will pursue advocacies to uplift others. I saw the need for more development communicators that know how to cut across barriers to bring messages of development.

I have to say I am thankful to PRRM for accommodating us and teaching us the pragmatics of the theories that we have. They are a group of exceptional people. They are a group of fun and happy people. They are a group that I sooner want to be a part of.

My internship was a blast!


Related Links:

Leah’s Blog

PRRM’s Internship Program

Learning and Enjoying in the Philippines by by Charlotte Floors, MSc Forest and Nature Conservation Wageningen University, The Netherlands




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