Summer Internship: An Introspection

AB Political Science student Angeline Gervacio shares her learnings and experiences as an intern of the RBAP-MABS Program

180 hours. This was how long I worked at the USAID-supported RBAP-MABS program for my internship this summer. I am Angeline Gervacio, currently taking up AB Political Science at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Almost everyone who knew about this internship asked me, “What are you doing there?” Well, I always think that there is a purpose why I chose this path, working in their office in Intramuros, Manila for about 2 months.

In the first week of my internship, I was asked to join the field officers’ Smart Money training for the Rural Bank of Mabitac in Los Baños. The province was just a two-hour drive from Manila and the workshop would be held for two days. Even though I only got a chance to attend the first day of the training/workshop, I could say that I pretty much got a good dose of what the RBAP-MABS Program is about. Like what most people say, you wouldn’t know how great it is that you’re dealing with until you try doing it yourself! It was a long day but I was happy to see the participants get involved actively during day one, considering it was spent mostly on introducing the new technology they were being offered.

In most of the weeks I’ve spent in the office, I was helping out for the preparations for the National Roundtable (NRT) Conference this year. I wasn’t really tasked to work for only one department, so I got to experience a lot of different fields. I helped in the communications department, mostly by updating the company’s websites. I edited and uploaded photos and videos of events that transpired. Also, I helped in making the NRT tarpaulin and write scripts for those who were asked to deliver a message for the said event. Along the way, I was getting a clearer picture of how this microfinance program has been helping people in far-flung areas in the country. I also helped compute data for the microfinance specialist in the office, trying to be more familiar with formulas, research data, and draw results from these to have updated bank status in preparation for the EAGLE Awards.

In one of those twenty-five days that I was with the company, I also got to witness the Knowledge Exchange Program of the Central Bank of the Philippines (BSP) facilitated by the East Asia Department of the Asian Development Bank. This visit was coordinated by the Rural Bankers Research and Development Foundation Inc. (RBRDFI) for the representatives from the Bank of Mongolia. It was to show the delegates how mobile phone banking is being used in provinces here in the Philippines. I was very much impressed that our country has been internationally recognized for being pioneers in this kind of development. Like me, initially, the participants weren’t getting a vivid image of how telcos and the banks work together in the mobile phone banking business. Eventually, the participants got a better view as they continued their visit and flew to Cantilan Bank located in one of the provinces in Northern Mindanao.

AngelineOne day I was asked by my supervisor if I could co-host the EAGLE Awards Night, which will be held on the first night of the NRT. To give you a brief background on the EAGLE, it is actually an acronym for Efficiency, Asset Quality, Growth, Liability Structure, and Earnings. This award is given to the outstanding banks which garnered exceptional scores for the five EAGLE criteria. I was hesitant at first but then I thought this opportunity will be a very good experience for me, and it might be one of the highlights in my stay at MABS.
Then, on the last day of my internship at MABS, as I hosted the EAGLE Awards Night, I witnessed with my own two eyes the significance of the project. It was a ten-minute video featuring the less fortunate people who were helped by microfinance. Thirty minutes into the night’s event, the excitement of the guests in the ballroom suddenly changed. Everybody was moved as they saw the emotions reflected in the faces of these people. We witnessed how their lives changed into what they had only dreamed of once. Before, they had no idea of how they would get financial assistance to support their families. But with the loans they borrowed from RBAP-MABS partner rural banks, not only did they have an initial source of income, they also managed to expand the businesses that they had started. It was extremely heart-warming to see these families’ lives that changed over time, seeing how they grew in several ways.

The night went on and my knowledge on the RBAP-MABS Program became brighter and more vivid. It was different knowing the program by lifting lines of paragraphs from papers and news articles, from actually seeing how people had their lives changed and hearing their personal stories first hand. It definitely changed my way of thinking. Basically, I learned how to be conscious of the less fortunate people in our country, and think of ways of how to help them. This project on microfinance has been effective in creating avenues for these people in the rural areas to reach out to the world around them.

Primarily, this summer internship has been an eye-opening experience for me, not only on what the project is about, but also on how the project has been helping the development of our fellow countrymen.

RBAP-MABS staff with BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr., and Ms. Maria Rendon and Ms. Teresita Espenilla of USAID

RBAP-MABS staff with BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr., and Ms. Maria Rendon and Ms. Teresita Espenilla of USAID

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Jove Tapiador, without whom I wouldn’t have known about this program in the first place. I would also like to thank Mr. John Owens, Ms. Mely Agabin, Ms. Adie Sotelo, Ms. Adora Santos, and all my co-workers in the Intramuros office, for keeping me under their watchful eye and for being exceptional in guiding me all throughout my internship!