From an English Pub in a Filipino shopping mall:

Disclaimer: ‘Twas supposed to post this exactly week ago, but I didn’t. Oh well. Happy reading.

Just trying to keep things interesting here. Exactly two months in, folks! It’s day three in the Philippines—and I’m in love.

I’ve stuck with the mindset of “no expectations” throughout this trip. It’s prevented me losing morale when things don’t go as planned, freed me from worrying about what the next country will have in store, and so much more. That being said…I’m not going to lie. I had pretty high expectations for the Philippines—and my time thus far in country has far exceeded them.

Manila has been one of my “must visit cities” since I was pretty little. Everyone I’ve come in contact with throughout the last three days has been both incredibly helpful and kind. This has made what I thought to be an exhausting and draining last three weeks abroad seemingly painless. I am just so thrilled to be here.

Today was my first day with Ang Misyon, an organization founded in 2012 that aims to “promote and showcase the Philippines as a competitive and significant force on the global stage of Classical Performing Arts.” Ang Misyon does this by providing different pathways in the pursuit of excellence in Classical Music, striving to ignite social change and youth development primarily for underprivileged Filipino youth.

My Saturday was completely packed. I arrived at the regular Saturday rehearsal space at 8:30 this morning, and I didn’t wrap up my time there until nearly 6pm. My day, though, was likely the most inspiring of this trip yet.

Each Saturday, students in the Orchestra for Filipino Youth (OFY) and the Young Filipino’s Orchestra (YFO) travel from all across the Philippines—quite literally–for a day filled with rehearsal and fun. Nearly all the students commute at least an hour to come to the rehearsal space, and many two or three hours. I spoke with a teenage violinist this morning who hops on a boat at 5am each Saturday morning just to make the 10am downbeat for the string sectional. The students don’t mind, though. The soak up their day, taking advantage of every minute of rehearsal, sectionals, and time with friends.

Three interviews, three sectionals, and three rehearsals later, I write to you as I sip my craft brew from this English pub noted above. Throughout the next few days, I’ll be visiting another OFY rehearsal, in addition to several satellite organizations around the Philippines, also under Ang Misyon, through Sistema for Filipino Youth.


The pub manager just turned down the lights and cranked up the music in this joint, so I guess it’s time for me to wrap this up and get out of here. Thankful for:

  • 1) A tasty beer—it’s been all too long.
  • 2) The safe, secure feeling that hasn’t left me thus far in the Philippines—no place is completely safe. Whether I’m strolling through my small-town neighborhood or walking down Michigan Avenue, I know to always be aware of my surroundings. Naturally, though, throughout this whole travelling solo abroad thing, I’ve had to put up a huge guard in last two months. However, I feel much more at ease in my Metro Manila hotel, walking down the street, dining at local cafes, and roaming shopping malls. Don’t worry though, Meemaw—I’m still keeping my wallet close, my whistle closer, and my passport closest. 😉
  • 3) The teachers in middle and high school that both inspired and encouraged me to pursue music—you all know who you are. There have been many times throughout the past three years at Northwestern that I’ve questioned the ways in which I want music and education to manifest themselves in my future. The last two months, though, have been quite a reaffirming time in both my current major and long-term career goals.