I never thought that I would be starting the first quarter of 2014 traveling to three countries! It’s really mind-boggling and a very humbling experience for me. So right now here I am sharing my first fabulous destination this year–Honolulu, Hawaii!!!
How did I get in here? Well, late last year, I decided to dive head long on a challenge I did not expect would change the course of my life. A colleague buzzed me about an opening at the East-West Center’s 2014 Jefferson Fellowship program. I didn’t really expect to get accepted but five weeks after submitting my credentials and paper requirements, I received an email congratulating me for my upcoming participation! I was really teary-eyed, excited, my heart pounding…and all I could say at that moment was “Oh Lord, Thank You!” –words are not enough, really. It’s a three-week fellowship designed for American and Asia Pacific journalists and aims to foster open dialogues on the challenges that reporters like us face in our day-to-day coverage of events in our home countries. I’m so proud to represent my country as I’m the only one from the Philippines here. I’m also excited to meet colleagues from Pakistan, China, Myanmar, US, India, Taiwan, Tonga, Afghanistan and Indonesia on this trip and of course, heads of the EWC team that got us here in the first place. We are right now in Indonesia which is the second leg of our study tour. But I still couldn’t get past that humbling experience of living at the University of Hawaii, getting around Hawaii for the first time while bonding with foreign journalists, visiting the Pearl Harbor for the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial tour, getting to talk to former US Admiral Dennis Blair (via Skype) and visit the US Pacific Command and talk personally to US Admiral Samuel Locklear (sorry gadgets were not allowed inside the facility so I have nothing to show and brag about, just the experience)! But, I really find it so cool! And we’re also truly grateful for Mr. Ferrar who toured us around Oahu (the third largest and most populous of the Hawaiian Islands), offered us valuable historical information about the origins of the Kingdom of Hawaii and how it became part of the US, guiding us through the fabulous places in Oahu–Waikiki, Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, Kaneohe Bay, Kailua Bay and North Shore and a whole lot of other famous landmarks within Honolulu.
One thing about my stay here is that I felt so at home. I didn’t feel like I left the Philippines. Not only did the weather feel the same back in Manila, I am secured with the knowledge I have plenty of kababayans here and even got to chat with them. The world is truly awesome. That’s why I don’t mind going to wherever my itchy feet would bring me. Now, I’ve stricken off Hawaii in my bucket list. But of course, I wouldn’t mind going back here should I get another chance… 😀 Aloha!