I recall Ms. Marvi Trudeau’s first e-mail to me:

Your application for co-op student/internship has been forwarded to my office by Mr. Sebastian Qui
niones. Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI) is the social arm of Shell companies in the Philippines since 1982.  After evaluation of the profile you have submitted, we are happy to confirm that your application has been approved starting January 4 and ending August 26, 2016. You will be assigned in our office in Puerto Princesa, Palawan where we are implementing social programmes related to environment, ecotourism, health, and access to energy.

At first, I remember having a bittersweet feeling because I didn’t expect to be assigned in Palawan, which is far away from my significant other, family, and friends (I’m originally from Laguna). But after some discernment, I’ve come to fully appreciate the opportunity that has been given to me. At the University of Waterloo in Canada, where I’m completing my undergraduate degree, internships with a company as prestigious and significant as Shell is incredibly difficult to come by. And come on, it’s Palawan, number-one-island-in-the-world Palawan!

Elvin Madamba
Elvin Madamba is finishing his degree in Environment, Resources and Sustainability, minors in International Development and English at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

So, I started to read about the projects, programmes, and work being done in Palawan vis-à-vis social and sustainable development. I eventually became progressively more excited to work for PSFI in Palawan. I reflected to myself, “This is actually perfect!” My skills, my knowledge, and my ripening expertise in sustainability and international development make me a seamless fit as a Social Investment intern. And the opportunity to travel around Palawan is just cherry on top.

Elvin Madamba is finishing his degree in Environment, Resources and Sustainability, minors in International Development and English at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

I can say that this internship is one of the most fruitful and fulfilling experiences I’ve ever had, if not the most important experience in my young professional career. I’ve contributed to the many different programmes here in Palawan, including Movement Against Malaria (MAM), Save, Invest, Nurture Access to Green Energy (SINAG), Integrated Support to Indigenous Peoples (ISIP), and Turismo at Negosyo Dulot ng Ingat Kalikasan (TANDIKAN), among others. Some of my responsibilities include assessment of current social and sustainable programmes, profiling and documenting, contributions to report writing, SWOT analyses, stakeholder engagement, enhancement of key performance indicators, and all-around support as needed. My exposure to these programmes relating to health, environment, ecotourism, and access to energy has made me realize the immense amount of nation building work Shell has contributed to in the Philippines. There has been a lot of work done, but there is a lot more to be done. And it is evident that PSFI is one of the more influential and impactful leaders in achieving Philippine greatness.

But the work, as meaningful and substantial as it is, is only a part of what makes my experience so special. All of whom I’ve worked with have aided my growth as a young professional in development work – they truly care I make the most of my experience and that I learn. The passion for sustainable development from my co-workers and bosses makes me hopeful that the Philippines can ultimately achieve sustainable progress and development. I will never forget PSFI Palawan team’s dedication to the job and their camaraderie in the office.

I’m glad to be a part of something big, bigger than myself. I’m excited to go back to Canada and share all the lessons I’ve learned. I want to tell my friends, family, teachers, professors, and mentors the life-changing experiences my eyes have been opened to. But also more than that, I’m inspired to complete my thesis relating to Philippine development because of the social and sustainable development work I’ve been immersed in this year. My hopeful heart and empowered mind look forward to a future where the Philippines has achieved sustainability, a future that I hope to contribute to and be a part of.

By Elvin Madamba

Article published on PSFI news magazine October 2016 issue

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