Meet our team in the Philippines
Discover how COVID-19 has impacted the work and communities of our Filipino team, and how yoga, motorbikes and cooking are helping them stay positive.
As a result of COVID-19, our team in the Philippines has had to adapt quickly to meet the evolving needs of the program. Since Australian volunteers returned home in March 2020, the team has shifted focus to improve their technology skills, strengthen relationships with partners and run online workshops.
Myles Liquigan leads the team as the Program Manager and is supported by Recruitment Program Officer Ingrid Saplagio and Administration and Finance Officer Nathan Revilla. We asked the team to reflect on how COVID-19 has affected their roles and their local community.
We also discovered what the team likes doing outside of work and what their favourite Filipino dishes are!
How has COVID-19 impacted your community?
Myles - ‘In the Philippines we are seeing a lot of reverse migration as a result of the pandemic: people moving back to their rural hometowns. Many people have lost their jobs and have left the metropolitan areas. I see this as a possibility for rural growth and a bloom of local talents.'
Ingrid - ‘Apart from the horrific impacts of COVID-19, I think this is a big learning curve for our government, workplaces, schools and institutions. One change that I love has been working from home. Since I don’t need to face the horrible Manila traffic every day, I have more time to be productive at home, and life seems more balanced.'
Nathan - ’We are all going back to the basics – barter trading, and creating things from scratch. At Easter we made our own palm offerings** out of available materials at home as we can not easily buy them due to lockdowns. We were pushed to learn things (thanks to YouTube and Google) and became DIY plumbers, electricians, bakers, etc. as services became limited. We realised the value of appreciating people around us who normally help us do these things.’
How has your role changed since COVID-19?
Myles - ‘The last in-person presentation I gave was back in early March. I used to travel to different sites facilitating workshops and meeting program stakeholders. Now it’s all virtual of course. I’ve learned through this season more than ever that being resilient and learning to change direction in life are necessary characteristics of any professional.’
Ingrid - ‘I haven’t recruited or processed any applicant for face-to-face volunteering because of our recruitment and mobilisation halt. Currently, I’m more focused on maintaining engagements with our partner organisations and checking in on our remote volunteers.’
Nathan - ‘Administrative work has changed significantly as most of the daily routines used to be done in the office (phone bills, coordination work, venue preparations, supplies inventory, etc.). Since the start of the lockdown, I opened myself to other program tasks such as assisting the team in contacting our local partner organisations and volunteers, and focusing on improving my technology skills, like using Zoom.'
Can you tell us what you like to do outside of work, and what your favourite Filipino dish is?
Myles - ‘I love cars and motorbikes; I miss being able to travel. My favourite local dish is Sinanta: it’s a Filipino noodle dish from my home province, Cagayan Valley. It’s prepared with flat egg noodles, rice vermicelli, spring onions, clams, shrimps, chicken and pork in an annatto* infused broth.'
Ingrid - ‘I enjoy yoga and can now do a few variations of headstands in my practice. Hands down my favourite meal is chicken and pork adobo! It involves meat, seafood or vegetables marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and black pepper. I love eating this with boiled eggs. There are many variations but this is our local version.’
Nathan - ‘In my spare time I watch cooking shows and I love cooking. Some of my friends and family are surprised that I can cook quite well. One of my favourite desserts is the decadent Sans Rival - made of nutty meringue layers, buttercream filling, and crunchy cashews. This has been my comfort food during the lockdown.’
The Philippines team would like to acknowledge they have been inspired and energized by their colleagues’ openness to innovate and connect in new ways with volunteers, partner organisations and each other.
*Annatto is an orange-red condiment and food coloring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree, native to some tropical regions.
**See photo of Nathan’s palm offerings