The Philippines Study Tour – “Take Off’’


Flying for 11+ hours in a plane, with almost complete strangers, constantly invading each others personal space, you could be mistaken for thinking it sounds like the plot to a reality TV show, but it was actually the first ever Swinburne study tour to the Philippines.

Surprisingly, it was all smooth sailing (or flying, rather) and before too long, we had landed safely in Manila. Stepping over the threshold of the airport and getting smacked in the face with the hot, sticky air that is so indicative of Asian countries.

Meeting Thomas Graham, the founder of MAD Travel, or Tom as we know him, was an inspiring experience. Seeing him talk about Gawad Kalinga and the Philippines with such raw love, passion and enthusiasm, spurred something in me – a want, a need to experience these feeling for myself. Tom talked about our upcoming time at GK Enchanted Farm and urged us to think about “what we can learn from the community, not what we can teach them”, he said it would be unwise to go into the farm with a Western-superiority view of the world, instead we need to embrace the different aspects of farm, and open ourselves to new experiences.

“Bayanihan” is a concept that was foreign to me, and I must admit I still haven’t fully wrapped my head around it. Basically, from my understanding of the word it means ‘community’ and everyone helping each other – but I know it is so much more than that, it is a word with so much significance and deep meaning,

Tom’s talk made me so excited to get to the farm and experience the buzzing atmosphere, yet I know I have so much to learn and so much to understand – I have questions I need answers to, such as: what is Social Business? What is Social Enterprise?

Having no real solid idea of what I actually want to do with life-after-uni, I am hopeful that having this experience will be an enlightening journey.

In the evening, after dinner and a cocktail, we found a carnival. Amongst the flashing lights and the elation of freedom running through our veins, we bonded as a group.

In the space of 24 hours, we had become friends – keen to see what
awaits us on this journey.

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