Hindi sayang: Story of a meaningful internship

By: Jacob Esguerra


I have come to hate the word sayang. I do not want to feel regretful all my life just because of a wrong decision. Rendering my 200 hours at the Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (HLAF), I can proudly say that I did something good and great at the same time.

Looking for a company to render a 200-hour on-the-job training had not been easy for me. When you do not know what you want to do in life, deciding becomes really hard.

Luckily, HLAF found me. Yes. I did not find HLAF, it found me. To cut the story short, a friend of mine recommended HLAF to me. I stalked its Facebook page and what they are doing in their organization caught my interest. I wrote a letter of intent, sent my resume together with my portfolio, then the rest is history.

My first week went really well. It was as amazing as the advocacies of HLAF. I had the opportunity to meet our training supervisor, Mr. Melvin F. Nuñez, who is an alumnus of BatStateU BS DevCom. Together with my co-interns, we also met with the HLAF’s Executive Director, Atty. Rommel Alim Abitria, who is so cool and super nice. We presented the initial draft of our communications plan to him, which summarizes the target deliverables we need to accomplish throughout the internship. We also attended several advocacy training organized by the organization in which we were tasked to document.

Those training became our starting point to know more about the organization. The second week was a bit challenging for me. It was my first time to interview a former PDL (persons deprived of liberty) for an article included in our deliverables. It was hard for me because I had to be cautious with my word choice and the way I talk. After all, we never want to bring up trauma or dig in the past they probably want to forget. Good thing, our supervisor never fell short in reminding me and my co-interns of the proper approach to talk to them. It was an amazing experience because it is not every day that we get to talk to people we thought we could not talk to.

I also had the opportunity to meet other staff of HLAF, Kuya Wendell Manaloto and Kuya Peter Olea, who are both officers of the Focused Reintegration of Ex-Detainees (FRED) Program of HLAF. I also interviewed them to know more about the FRED Kumustahan Group which was the subject of the first article I wrote for the organization.

The third week had been exhausting yet fruitful, as we had to finish several tasks assigned to us. We attended a consultation meeting of the ALG Foundation wherein we helped the members of the group improve their designs and content for their publication materials. We also managed to finish the report of the children’s code consultation of HLAF together with the province of Catanduanes. Also, we were able to attend a consultation meeting with the second-year Multimedia Arts students of De La Salle – College of St. Benilde for their HLAF Design Communication collateral.

Moreover, I was able to finish my article about the FRED Kumustahan Group. This FRED Kumustahan Group is simply a group chat in Messenger which serves as a support system for the former PDLs. In this article, I realized how hard it is to be a former PDL, and how HLAF continuously and consistently works towards helping them improve their lives.

During the fourth week, I had the chance to attend a courtesy meeting with the warden of the La Union Provincial Jail. During the meeting, HLAF staff and law student interns introduced the Jail Decongestion Program of the organization and what are its objectives. Afterward, I wrote a news article about it which is now available on HLAF’s Facebook page. I was also able to write two more news articles this week about the Lucena City Jail – Female Dorm Pre-Release Formation Session and Basic Orientation Seminar and Case Consultation of Roxas District Jail. These news articles are now available on the organization’s Facebook page. My FRED Kumustahan Group article finally got published, too. Productive week, indeed.

My fifth week had been positively draining. Meetings piled up so fast, I had articles to finish, plus the sudden tasks given by our supervisor. But it felt good, honestly. It felt good to know that you are contributing to achieving the objectives of the organization. I had the privilege to interview a jail officer from San Juan City, a Vice-Mayor from Catanduanes, a social worker from Good Neighbors International – Philippines, a principal, a barangay secretary, and a law practitioner. Simply, from different walks of life. I am just thankful for the opportunity to have interviewed them. The interviews will be used for the articles included in our deliverables. I was also able to write another news article about the Basic Orientation Seminar and Case Consultation that happened in Quezon City Jail.

The last week of our internship had been nothing but fulfilling. I was tasked to write several news articles about the five-day online paralegal training for jail officers. These articles are now available on the Facebook page of HLAF. On July 21, I attended the Bicol Regionwide Advocacy Session which aims to provide children from Region V and its neighboring provinces with basic knowledge of their rights as children. After the session, I was tasked again to write a news article. I was also able to attend the meeting of psych and law interns for their collaboration for a nationwide mental health webinar. The meeting was documented and our supervisor again tasked me to write a news article.

Having all those said and done, I can confidently say that I have learned and gained a lot because of HLAF. I got exposed to what awaits me in the future after finishing my degree. I have seen how the world works outside the four corners of the university. I have witnessed how challenging it is to survive a day knowing that your work haunts you even after working hours.

In a span of more than one month, I feel like I did something meaningful for the community and myself. My internship at HLAF is something that my future self will thank me for. Undeniably, it was an exhausting journey. But it was beautiful. It has a taste of magic. Hindi sayang


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