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Challenge Accepted

By April Aquino

Rice coffee and soymilk go together surprisingly well.

It was nearing midnight and I was in the small café in my Laoag hotel, listing down all my tasks for this assignment.

From the start, I knew this trip was going to be challenging. For one, I was already wrestling with a hurdle before I even left: I couldn’t get all my clothes to fit in my precariously bulging backpack.

See, I fully intended to pack light for this assignment. Six days, five articles, four projects, three barangays, two municipalities, one fidgety worrier (that would be me), and an indefinite number of things to take into consideration — that’s a lot to manage. And I knew I couldn’t possibly do all of that if I’m weighed down by 10 kilos worth of stuff I didn’t really need.

In the end, I managed to cut my load in half, haul my ass to the airport, and arrive in Laoag in one piece — albeit two hours late.
But that’s not what’s keeping me up, and I don’t think the coffee’s to blame either.

After weeks of coordination and planning, Danica and I are finally on the road for our first big AFAI assignment.

With the goal of tracking Performance Challenge Fund (PCF) projects from 2010-2012 filed under the Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation (DRR-CCA) category, we set out for select PCF-partner LGUs.

Danica was assigned to Marinduque and Kairos took on Surigao del Sur. Me? I was designated to evaluate four PCF-funded projects in Ilocos: three farm-to-market road rehabilitations in Carasi, Ilocos Norte and a concreting and parapet wall installation in San Esteban, Ilocos Sur.

Of course, a great deal of preparation went into this assignment and that should be enough to calm my nerves, but I still somehow felt uneasy as I trooped to my room on the second floor.

It could be the thought of being in a place that’s completely foreign to me, this being my first time in Ilocos. Or that this is my biggest assignment so far, and who wouldn’t want to do well and leave a good impression? It could also be the fact that I have articles to accomplish and I’ve put so much pressure on myself lately to get back to writing. Or perhaps because I’ve always perceived AFAI work to be extremely technical, something I’m not particularly accustomed to.

Or maybe I’ve had too much caffeine in my system and I’m completely misinterpreting this apprehension as nerves when it could really be just excitement at the prospect of accomplishing what I set out to do? Aren’t those two usually mistaken for the other?

As I climbed into bed and let out that much-awaited yawn, I started to feel better. The infinite number of opportunities for new experiences, learnings, and possibilities that this trip afforded me far outweighed all my worries.

And as I finally dozed off, I had room for but one last train of thought: Bring it on!