[Alumni Reflection] Brad Meehan: “A reunion with old friends”
I worked for ACYPL as a program officer from 2009-2013; during that time, I was able to work with delegations from around the world, enabling me to gain many friends. I stay in touch with many of these alumni via email and Facebook, but sometimes, when the stars align, I am able to see them again. I count these reunions among the highlights of my life.
This past December, I took the opportunity to travel to the Philippines for a week to reconnect with alumni I had worked with in the US. Although I was only there a short time, I was able to visit with four alumni in different parts of the country. I started my trip by going to the island of Bohol, where I met Abeleon (Abel) Damalerio. Abel took me to many amazing historic and natural sites around Bohol, including Baclayon Church and the Chocolate Hills. I was also privileged to have a private audience with Bohol Provincial Governor Edgar Chatto, an ACYPL alum from 1997, and a great guy! I also had the opportunity to meet Abel’s family, who were incredibly generous and welcoming to a traveler so far from home.
After altering plans due to problematic weather, I flew to Manila and met Aristotle (Aris) Gaza (Philippines to US 2010). After grabbing dinner with his family and braving the Manila traffic, we went to his hometown of Hermosa in the Bataan Province. Aris just happened to be on holiday from work, so we were able to spend the next four days together. I saw incredible landmarks and cultural sites, but spending New Year’s Eve with his extended family was the best.
With 2014 behind us, Aris and I went back to Manila, where I bid him farewell, and met Enrique (Ricky) Dela Cruz (Election Program 2012). We had the chance to catch up over dinner, and I met many members of the National Movement of Young Legislators (NMYL), ACYPL’s in-country partner in the Philippines. After dinner, we all went to karaoke, referred to as videoke in the Philippines–the hours flew by, and I said goodbye.
On my last morning, I met Carla May Bautista (Election Program 2012) for breakfast. Though our time was short, we had a lot of laughs and, it was great catching up with an old friend.
Though I did discuss government and policy, as we do on ACYPL exchanges, being in the Philippines reminded me that the delegates themselves were what provided me with such an invaluable experience during my time at ACYPL. These connections are treasures that I’ll always be grateful for, and having the chance to rekindle those friendships in person was priceless.
Brad Meehan is an English teacher at the SDA Language School in South Korea