We arrived to the Philippines in two groups, the majority of the group arriving late Saturday night and the remainer of the team arrived late Sunday night. Sunday was spent exploring Manila. We ventured out on foot and explored Rizal Park, a large public park in the center of Manila, and Intramuros, the oldest district and the historic center of Manila.
We took a break from exploring the city on foot by sitting down for some cold juices and desserts. Sam ended up trying Halo-Halo, a popular Filipino dessert, which made everyone jealous until he found unknown surprises in the bottom of the glass.
On Monday, with the full Philippines team in Manila, we headed to the CRS offices for orientation. The CRS staff in Manila provided us with a thorough introduction of the Philippines and CRS’ work in the Philippines, with an emphasis on CRS’ agriculture program. As our project seeks to address the barriers to financing for rural farmers in the Philippines, we asked many questions of the CRS staff, trying to get a better sense of the scope of their current work.
After having a lunch for the CRS Manila staff, we headed to a meeting with PinoyME and the Peace and Equity Foundation, two organizations that provide funding for social enterprises. Both organizations have sought to address the needs of poor, rural farmers and have investigated the barriers to financial lending for small farmers. Representatives from both organizations provided a great deal of insight and information on the status of agricultural microfinance in the country and the barriers that must be circumvented to secure and enhance the the livelihoods of poor farmers.