Adrenaline & Adventure · Philippine Gems · Travel Tales

Community Immersion: A Nursing Mission In Narvaez, Cavite

Part of the requirements to finish nursing school here in the Philippines is to partake in a two week long immersion in the community. Similar to a volunteer work and medical missions, this project gives us a chance to give a helping hand in some of the less accessible areas in the provinces. Our mission is not only to give basic nursing care, but also to assess the baranggay (a local version of a small town, similar to a village) and find the risks in their lifestyle that possibly could affect their health. Once we do, we prepare a plan of action and thus we educate them on how to better the situation.

I wanted to share my experience because as much as I dreaded having to go through this at the time, it turned out to be one of the highlights of my nursing school experience. Prior to traveling, I was really accustomed to the comfort of my home– comfortable bed, reliable internet, countless forms of entertainment, food of my preference, a clean bathroom with hot water, etc. Immersing in the community means giving up most of that and trading it off with a much less ideal ways to my first world state of mind. Of course that was bound to change  with all the travels and adventure that I choose to engage myself in. Although this wasn’t entirely my turning point, this was probably my first step to that change in perspective.

My group was assigned at Baranggay Narvaez, which happens to be a nice little peaceful place tucked away in the province of Cavite. It’s the kind of place where everybody knew everyone. The type where you can leave your front door open with no worry that someone is going to rob you. It’s a place where people don’t have that much money, but it’s obviously not an issue. It’s the simplest way of life, but you see the happiness and contentment at the twinkle of their eyes.

 Our humble abode

Basically, we were given a host and we’re expected to immerse in their lifestyle and live the way they do. We do however make our own food to cause less trouble to our hosts. Most of the time we ate instant food such as canned goods and cup noodles. We could have cooked, but the market isn’t very accessible and we were instructed not to wander further away unsupervised. Not only that, but not many of us in our group really knew to cook at the time. However, on our last day, a fish vendor was roaming around the streets so we managed to cook some sweet and sour tilapia.

Our hosts gladly let us have their room so we had a bed to sleep in. We all brought our own sleeping bags and pillows because we expected we’d be sleeping on the floor, but they were so hospitable that they wouldn’t let us do that (an example of Filipino hospitality). It’s a simple home, very humble with no television or even complete furnishings. We didn’t have a screen on our window and one morning we woke up with a huge spider on top of my luggage. There is no flush in the toilet and there is absolutely no hot water. The bright side is, the cool January breeze was perfect.

We usually meet up with the other groups and our clinical instructor in the morning to discuss our findings from our assessment. This is also when we plan our health teaching program. After this, we do our rounds around the baranggay and go to our respective patients. We just give basic care when we do this, such as checking their vital signs and see if everything is going well. We also assess their homes so we can advise them to eliminate any risk problems. We usually finish this by noon and then we all meet up at our respective foster homes to make lunch. By then, our clinical instructor has already left so we’re left to fend for our own entertainment.

 Our morning meetings

 Doing our rounds with some medical students

 Blood pressure check

 Free ride at a back of a truck

It’s almost like a vacation really. We have the rest of the day to just nap in a hammock, explore the area, talk to the locals, and basically just hang out. We’d hangout with our foster family and the little girl just enjoys playing with us.

One afternoon, we all hiked down to the river where there’s an abandoned resort (my favorite kind of exploration).

One day, we were also invited to go to one of the groups’ host’s farm for some fresh coconut juice. She picked some for us straight from the tree and we drank it fresh right there and then. We walked around and discovered another river where we saw locals washing their clothes. It was quite nice, seeing the simplicity of their life here. The air is fresh, the surroundings are clean, and worries are non-existent.

At night time after dinner, we would either watch tv with our host’s neighbor for a little bit and before 8pm we’re already in our respective rooms. We don’t normally go to bed right away as we try to finish some daily requirements, but by 9 pm we’re already in bed just as everyone else is. And that’s how our days went. It was laid back and simple. They don’t have the necessities we consider such as wifi or video games, but it was nice to just be away from all of that for a bit. Sometimes, it’s just nice to feel disconnected. Ironically, when you do disconnect, it’s when you can feel connected to yourself and the world even more.

 Cooking the native way with wood

Engaging in experiences like this, it changes you. Your ideas, your state of mind, your views— it broadens. I’d be lying if I said that it was absolutely life-changing, because in the end I still went back to my comfortable life. But don’t we all after an exposure to major eye-openers? But when it comes down to it, when it comes down to why we travel and why we immerse ourselves in other cultures, isn’t that what we’re all looking for– perspective? Not necessarily to change the life that we live, but to appreciate what we have at home. Fortunately, the world is a wonderful place. Most of us fly across the world to indulge in eye-opener experiences like this, but sometimes, you don’t have to search very far.

Coffee farm

Link me to your similar stories down below…may it be traveling with a cause, volunteer works, medical missions, etc. I’d love to hear about it. 

39 thoughts on “Community Immersion: A Nursing Mission In Narvaez, Cavite

  1. I really relate to the idea that travel broadens us and gives us a better perspective. I’ve been fortunate to be able to take my kids on trips to places such as Thailand, Morocco, and Peru. I’ve never been immersed in life in a small village, though. That sounds like an amazing experience!


    1. Your kids are so lucky! I think it is important to expose children as soon as possible to travel and other culture. I’d like to do the same someday. Morocco has been a dream of mine for a long time now. But yes, this was a great experience. Thanks for stopping by, Marcy!


  2. I loved reading this post and feeling immersed in your experience through your beautiful words and pictures. What a wonderful life perspective you’ve gained. Best wishes in your nursing career!


  3. So cool!! I didn’t know a community immersion project was apart of nursing school in the Philippines (my mom is a nurse back in NY!)! What a great thing you guys got to do for the community. Best of luck with future volunteer projects!!


    1. Thank you so much! I actually applied for my license in NY! But I might have to transfer that to Texas. I can’t live in New York if I’m going to pursue a traveling lifestyle. There’d be no way with how much the rent are, haha!


    2. Thank you so much! I actually applied for my license in New York, but if I’m gonna pursue a lifestyle with regular travel, I’d have to transfer it to Texas. There’d be no way I’d be able to afford such a lifestyle with New York’s rent, haha


  4. “Sometimes, it’s just nice to feel disconnected. Ironically, when you do disconnect, it’s when you can feel connected to yourself and the world even more.” That’s my favorite line from this wonderful post. Like you, I really enjoy and get used to comfortable aspects of first-world life like comfortable beds, wifi, refrigeration, etc. When my family and I go “off the grid,” we dread it at first but in a matter of a few hours feel so much more connected to each other and the wider world. Thank you for this post.


    1. I like that idea a lot! That’s why I do like dragging my husband to isolated places because it’s pretty hard to get him out of his iPad. Just for the games at least, not social network, thank God he’s a kid at heart. Nonetheless, it really does make an impact on interactions. We do have a no gadget rule while eating together, anywhere we may be which seems to work pretty well. Unless I need to take photos of the food of course 😉


  5. Great post! I think everyone training for their chosen professions should have an experience like this. One that will show an alternate perspective and hopefully make a permanent impact. After all, no matter what you want to do with your life, having a solid dose of empathy and gratitude within you is never a bad thing.


    1. Thanks Jackie. It definitely is a game changer. Possibly one of the highlights of my training here not only because of the skills we do learn, but from the interaction itself. That’s something I don’t think I’ll ever get from just working at a hospital.


  6. Great initiative! Tom and I are doing the same thing now and are running a campaign for the kids in Smokey Mountain. We have an outreach event next week if you are interested in joining 🙂 Would love to have you join us


  7. What an enriching experience. That right there too is Filipino hospitality. I love that they share what little they have. I find myself immersing in these activities and getting a lot out of it. If only I could help more.


  8. Your description of Cavite reminded me of home in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada. It’s one of those places that you can be completely immersed because everyone knows your name and is happy to take you in.


  9. What an amazing adventure. It’s so cool to have such an immersive experience and it sounds like your hosts were very polite.


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