It was the first time I was ever sent to the field. I had been at the office since 2014, and it was only in February 2016 that I got to hop on a plane to get to work.
Going to Gingoog, Misamis Oriental via C-130 took at least 2 hours. It was cold, and inside, we sat facing each other, our seat belts the only thing that kept us in place. It was quite a bumpy ride, but the sound of the engine and propellers lulled most of us to sleep.
From the provincial airport, we still had to ride a chopper going to the small town. It was a 15-minute ride–albeit the longest 15 minutes of my life. As you would observe in movies, the sides of the chopper are open. (You also get to sit beside a machine gun! This thought both bothered and comforted me at the same time.)
We were on the ground to document the Peace Caravan in the area. Given the proximity of the town from the urban center and their history of conflict in the area, the people in the community had limited access to healthcare and social services. So the government began sending out medical missions to these far-flung towns, bringing in doctors and social workers. There were also booths for technical and livelihood assistance.
Met tribal leaders and women who, for some, are consulting doctors for the first time in their life. I really wish I had more time to go around and hear their stories; but our movements were limited, given security in the area.