Drone shot above the office in Tacloban.

For six months, I got comfortable with being uncomfortable, chased sunrises, explored the thick jungles of neighboring backyards, and waddled through the clear waters of isolated islands.

I also got lost in a city which was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. This super typhoon was a category 5 storm that destroyed most of the city. Taking away thousands of homes and lives. Storya.ph was created by GAP Labs (GoAboard Philippines) for the voices of survivors to be heard. A friend said to me, “When you’re so low, you can only go up.” From this moment on, I was forever grateful.

Kalanggaman Island sunrise.

The outdoors in the Philippines is something else.
A tropical country with a vast amount of diversity.
Over seven thousand islands.
Wild jungles, pushing through the coarse forest.
Moss, mountains, and undisturbed life.
Water so blue it matches a clear sky.

Reality spoke.
And this beauty was overtaken, sometimes
By plastic, waste, and unwanted goods.
The resources aren’t enough to contain the problem.
But the sunset will still sit on the edges of the pebbled sand.

I volunteered for GoAbroad Foundation at a village in Palo called Cangumbang. Here, the children always came running to greet you. They scurried to help carry in supplies and they held your hands with great energy; all were curious about who you were. Some liked to toss the frisbee with me and some liked to watch and giggle on the sideline.

Sometimes there were movies, but every day there were worksheets and fun activities. Their education is important, but it was also rewarding to be a reason they smiled that day. To me, they were the best company.

I’ve learned to love with a little more purpose.