Saturday, March 31, 2007

Maasin, Leyte

March 15-17, 2007

Eleonor Credo-Lindner donated a 2-classroom building to her Alma Mater, Bactul1 Primary School in Maasin, Southern Leyte; in memory of her late husband, Arthur Lindner, who saw the need for the classrooms when he visited Bactul 1, so many years ago. Eleonor grew up in Barangay Bactul 1 to a poor family who prefer to have Eleonor go to work or be a housewife, rather than study. She walked to school sometimes barefooted or in wooden clogs, using banana leaves as umbrella to shield her from the rain. Eleonor persevere, worked her way through college and found success in America. In looking back through those years, she went back to Bactul1 to inaugurate the classrooms. Feed the Hungry is very proud to team up with Eleonor in donating these classrooms to Bactul.

Last Thursday, March 15, 2007, our taxi to the Domestic airport was already waiting before the 3:15 AM pick up, for our 5:10 AM Cebu Pacific flight to Tacloban. Thea of CFO joined us later at the waiting room in the airport. We saw Eleonor only when they called for boarding. In Tacloban, we were met by the Barangay Captain, ELeonor’s mom, brothers and sisters. Eleonor introduced us to her son Adam and friend Bob who accompanied her from Maryland. We boarded 2 passenger vans for the 4-hour ride to Maasin, Leyte.

In Maasin, we checked in at the Maasin Country Lodge and Restaurant. When we left Tacloban, ELeonor’s brother gave us a menu to order our lunch in Maasin. When we got to the restaurant, all our orders are already waiting for us. This is advance planning, Maasin style!

After lunch, we met with the Governor to sign the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the water supply system of Brgy. Pamigsian, Bontoc. After signing of the MOA, we traveled to Brgy. Magatas, Saint Bernard to monitor the Backyard Virgin Coconut Oil Livelihood Project. Saint Bernard is the town where part of Mt. Kan-abag slide down burying the Barangay Guinsaugon last February 17, 2006. The entire village was covered in more than 30 meters of mud, burying more than 1000 residents, including 200 students trapped inside the primary school. Almost ALL of the residents in the barangay at that time suffered, except for a few, in spite of international efforts to locate them. The few survivors are now housed in New Guinsaugon, Saint Bernard. We stopped at the Memorial Cross that was built to commemorate the event. From where we stand by the river, we can see the brown area where the slide happened, very distinct from the lush green landscape besides it.

It was getting dark; we decided to head back to Maasin as it will take another 2 hours to reach Brgy Magatas. On the way back, we had to slow down due to muddy road as we passed by fresh new landslide at 2 locations. What if a new landslide happens as we drive by? Well, although it was raining most of the time, no new landslide happened and we reached our hotel safely, had dinner, call it a day and went to sleep.

March 16, 2007- I woke up early and went to see the river at the side of our lodge. It was low tide and the very clear, shallow water was running smoothly. The river has multiple use as I saw some ducks swimming around, a kid taking a bath, a lady washing some clothes, several small fish gathering around the drain pipe from our hotel, a bigger fish feasting on some solid object ( I thought it was a yellow banana but it turned out to be yuk!) from the neighbor’s place.

We had breakfast and by 9:00 AM, we were at the office of the DSWD arranging the pick up of the school supplies to be distributed to the students. With a DSWD escort riding in his motorbike, we went to the store where they secured the supplies. Tess paid the owner, we loaded 3 big boxes and off we went to Bactul 1, about 30 minutes away. Bactul 1 was not too far but it was narrow, dirt, hilly road to the interior side of Maasin. Two welcome banners were at the entrance to the school and another banner was near the stage.

We arrived at the school at the middle of a mass for the blessing of the new classrooms. The priest was talking but everybody was looking at the newly arrived visitors especially with Bob, a six-footer American friend of Eleonor and her son Adam who do not look like a Filipino. The priest initiated the cutting of the ribbon to the building, the cutting of the ribbons to each classrooms and then the unveiling of the commemorative marker in the middle of the building. The priest then went around and blessed the entrance and every corner of the classrooms.

After the blessing, a very elaborate, well prepared program followed and the VIPs were invited to the stage including Eleonor, Bob, Adam, Tess, Thea, Barangay Captain, representative of the Mayor, the Governor, DOLE, DepEd, Principal, etc., etc. The invocation prayer was done by a group of students dressed in whites with white gloves; a girl sang the national anthem acapella; another group of students performed a native dance in full costume, barefooted, in the ground in front of the stage.

The governor praised Eleonor for ‘looking back’ into her roots in Bactul with the donation of the classrooms. The CGMA/DOLE explained the process of classroom donation. A very nice, enlarge, symbolic key was given to Eleonor to give to the Principal to signify the turn over of the classrooms. The DepEd handed out certificates to Eleonor, DOLE and FtH.

It was Eleonor who was the star of the moment. She told her story how she struggled through school despite their being poor; how she worked in college to afford it; how she rose from the ranks; how she found success from one position to another; how she decided to donate the classrooms in honor of her late husband; how she teamed up with FtH to be able to do it. According to ELeonor’ s brother Rodrigo, the construction of the classrooms was completed in 15 days by a labor crew and materials hauled all the way from Tacloban, some 4 hours away! It shows that no matter how hard it is, good deeds can always be done. That same afternoon after lunch, I talked with a furniture manufacturer and contracted to have 100 student desks, 2 teachers table and chairs, to be delivered to the principal in 2 weeks, at approximate cost of $12 each.

After the program, Eleonor started the distribution of the school supplies to about 100 students. Each student gets a back pack, colors, pens, pencils, papers, etc.; a lunch box and juice. Then, the adults get a chance to have a very sumptuous lunch inside the new classroom prepared by the brothers and sisters of Eleonor. We had the inauguration of a classroom in Batia, Bocaue, Bulacan last January 27, 2007; we had the ground breaking of a 2-classroom building in San Mateo, Rizal last Feb 12, 2007; this is probably the best classroom inauguration that I have attended so far. We went back to the Lodge and Eleonor stayed to bond with her relatives. Next day, she told me that they have a good time ballroom dancing in the barangay hall.

After breakfast, we had a tour around Maasin before we leave for the 4 hour trip back to Tacloban to catch our plane to Manila. We stopped for lunch in Palo, Leyte at the McArthur Park; took a brief photo-op at the memorial to the landing of Gen. Douglas McArthur commemorating his “I shall return” to the Philippines. The plane was about an hour late and as soon as it was ready, we flew back to Manila, completing another successful Feed the Hungry Story.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Siquijor Province

March 10-12, 2007

Feed the Hungry received a donation of $10,000 from Mr. and Ms. Harry and Rosa Yu and Mr. and Ms Johnny and Betty Ng of Valle Verde, Metro Manila. The couples were recent guests of Pablito and Tessie last October 2006, while attending the wedding of their niece in Lansdowne Golf and Country Club in Leesburg, Virginia. Since Siquijor is one of the last 3 provinces not yet reached by FtH, Pablito and Tess decided to visit Siquijor to do a feasibility study for the construction of 2 classrooms in Siquijor. Jeremiah Opiniano, a UST professor and a long time supporter of FtH, also collected dictionaries from his students for distribution in schools in Siquijor, through FtH.

At 4:00AM on Saturday, March 10, 2007, I sent a text message to Hazel of CFO and to Manny and Fely of Las Vegas that Tess and Pablito are on the way to the airport for the 6:30AM Air Philippines flight to Dumaguete City. Hazel replied that she is going to pass by CFO to pick up the dictionaries donated by UST students for distribution in Siquijor schools while Fely and Manny were also already on the road to the airport. In Dumaguete Airport, after retrieving our luggage, we hired a van to shuttle our party for the 15 minute ride to the Port of Dumaguete, for the ferry to Siquijor, Siquijor Island. At the ferry, we were met by Verna Alih, a local member of the Greater American Siquijorian Association (GASA) of California whom we have maintained a constant email communication since last year to jointly sponsor a project in Siquijor.

The fast ferry to Siquijor is no match to the rough seas between Dumaguete and Siquijor. It was a little bit windy and Bohol Strait, the sea passage, about 25 kilometers in width, is rolling and reeling, with “white caps” (breaking waves on top, meaning rough seas) all over the area. One in our party is very quiet, pale in color, while the other gave back to mother nature what she ate that morning. After about an hour of pitching and rolling, we arrive in Siquijor with a sigh of relief. At the pier, we were met by Leo Mamicpic, brother of Verna, a former resident of Las Vegas, now retired and residing in Lazi, Siquijor; and Ms. Pura Jumadla of the Department of Education, with a list of ALL public schools in Siquijor.

On the way to our hotel, we passed by schools in San Antonio, Cantabon, Pangi, and San Juan. After having lunch in our hotel at Coral Cay, we continue our trip to the other schools in Canmunag, Campalanas, Poo, Kinamandagan, and Lazi. It was a Saturday but there are some students and teachers in the school doing some review work in preparation of the national test. We talked to the teachers/principals about the student population in every school, the number of classroom, the problems facing them, etc. We distributed one dictionary for each classroom and the teachers were very happy about the donation. Fely and Tess gave some chocolates and lollipops to each students and kids in the school. In every school where there are teachers and/or principals, we were treated to fresh ‘butong’ (young coconut) juice and some cookies or merienda or something. Siquijorians are very hospitable and happy people; we forgot the warning given to us before the trip; to be careful of the food in Siquijor that it might be laced with some poison and/or potion of the ‘aswang’ (witch). About a week before our trip, a movie titled “Siquijor, The Enchanted Island”, similar to the Blair Witch US movie, was showing in the local cinemas bringing apprehension to some members of the group.

Leo gave us a tour of the St. Francis of Asisi Church and Covent in Lazi where he and Verna are members of the restoration committee. The floors of the church are big, hardwood, wooden planks, arranged in diagonal pattern and maybe the only church in the Philippines with a wooden floor, about a foot from the ground. Some of the icons and cherubin were stolen from the church. At the back of the altar, Leo showed us a long wooden cabinet, about 4 feet high, about 20 feet long, about 4 feet deep which was possibly made on site as it will not fit through the doors. The convent across the church is probably the biggest in the Philippines and still in use. It is also undergoing restoration. They have established a museum where they displayed some of the priest’s vestments, balusters, icons, journals, etc.

On our way back to the hotel, with Leo, Verna and Pura staying in Lazi, we should be lighter but maybe because of too much food that we ate, our rented van had a flat tire, luckily in front of a store with some people. Manny and Pablito, each ready with a flashlight like a Boy Scout, helped the driver replaced the flat tire, luckily with a spare. I was watching the driver as he tries to look for the jack and release the spare, as if he is not familiar with the van. Manny concentrated on lighting the work for the driver and I signaled oncoming traffic to slow down and watch out for the driver who sometimes is lying on his belly trying to position the jack under the van. For the rest of the trip, I noticed our driver to be driving slowly than before, maybe because the replacement tire is just as bad as the one that blew away.

We had dinner at Coral Cay Beach Resort, where we occupied a one-bedroom, and one bathroom cottage by the beach. It took almost an hour for us to be served our dinner. Most of the other guests are foreigners who learned about Coral Cay from the internet. The owner is an American who works as a carpenter in Lake Tahoe for 6 months in a year and spend the rest of the year with his Pinay wife who stays in Siquijor managing the resort. The owner approached us after dinner and Manny mentioned about the one hour wait for our dinner. He apologized for the service but he has only one cook that night. That night, we ordered our breakfast to be ready by 7:00 AM. the following morning.

We slept through the night without being bothered by any ‘aswang’ but Hazel mentioned that there was a ‘tuko’ (gecko lizard croaking near our bed that night). At 6:45 AM, we sat on the table and our breakfast was ready by 6:59 AM, ahead of time! We checked out of the resort as we have decided to spend some time in Dumaguete City before going back to Manila on March 12, 2007.

Our driver arrived about 7:30AM with a new spare tire. We went on to Lazi to pick up Leo, Verna and Pura for the remainder of the trip. Siquijor Island is shaped like a butterfly, with a perimeter road around the island and a road that went through Mt. Bandilaan and split the island into east and west side. We covered the schools in the west side yesterday and today, we targeted the schools in the east side. We visited the Minalulan ES and Cantaroc PS in Maria. Also, here in Maria, we visited the Salag-Do-Ong Beach Resort, where the government developed the beach and opened to the public with a P10 entrance fee. We drove on along the coast line to Enrique Villanueva where we saw the oldest house in Siquijor, the Cang-Isok House, more than 100 years old. Leo laments the use of metal roofing to protect the house but it ruined the restoration of the house to its original condition of nipa roof.

We had lunch in a coastal restaurant in Larena before we proceeded to a 2:00 PM meeting with a farmer’s cooperative in Lazi. The farmers are seeking funding for their irrigation system using solar power cells to run a hydraulic pump to bring water to their rice fields. We advised the farmers to provide a proposal so that we can properly evaluate the project.

We left Leo, Verna and Pura in Lazi and drove back to Siquijor for the ferry to Dumaguete City. They were going to sort and label some books received from GASA for distribution to different schools in Siquijor. We arrived in the Port of Siquijor about 4:00 PM for the 5:30 PM scheduled ferry to Dumaguete. Our driver stayed with us until we were ready to board the ferry which came in late, about 6:30 PM. We found out that the driver is a contractual employee of the owner of the van, who happens to be an employee of the DSWD. As soon as the ferry arrived, we boarded and bid beautiful Siquijor good bye.

From our trip around the island, from talking with the teachers and principals of different schools, knowing that the student/classroom ratio average about 30 students per classroom, we will recommend to our donors to designate the classrooms to other areas more in need, like the Bicol region. We also found out that the students are having problem with their everyday meals while in school and parents keeping them from school to work in the rice fields, especially from January to March each year. We suggested to the schools to submit a proposal for a Feeding Project for the students.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Baguio, Benguet

Friday, February 23, 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007- From Santo Tomas, La Union, the hospitality of Marietta C. extended to the next FtH Mission in Baguio City by offering the FtH volunteers a place to stay in their new, big townhouse in Brentwood Village. We left Santo Tomas, La Union after partaking a hearty breakfast prepared by the housekeeper of Marietta. With Manny driving his Honda CRV, with Pablito as the navigator, passengers Fely, Tessie and Eve had a good time talking all the way to Baguio City. Armed with a sketch of the direction to the townhouse (some landmarks but no street names), with the name and telephone number of the caretaker, we tried to find our way to the house. After several twist and turns through the winding street of Baguio, after stopping several times asking for directions, after finding ourselves in the same street twice, Manny and I admitted that we are lost and we decided to stop at the Botanical gardens, and requested the caretaker to take a taxi and meet us and show us the way. It turned out that the house is not too far away as the caretaker, Roy, just jogged his way to meet us. Roy is a graduate of fisheries and waiting for a regular job when he decided to take the job as the caretaker to support his sibling’s studies. Roy cooks and keeps the house spotless. After assigning us to our rooms, we decided to explore Baguio. The taxi cost Ph50 for the five of us, from the house to the SM Mall in town, about 15 minutes away.

Friday, February 23, 2007- Gift giving for the 250 children will be at the City Health Office (CHO) at 2:00PM. This is a project of the Association of Philippine Physicians of America (APPA) Auxiliary who is having a medical mission in La Trinidad, Benguet and in coordination with Feed the Hungry and CFO. We decided to leave early and locate the venue and after finding the place and meeting with our contacts, we decided to leave the car there and took a taxi to SM Mall for lunch. We had lunch at a roof top restaurant with a panoramic view of the City. We went back to the City Health Office before 2:00PM and soon after, the APPA Team of Lottie, Annie and other APPA Auxiliary members with Dr Willie arrived to join in the program.

After some introductions by the local health staff, Eve spoke about CFO, Lottie spoke about FtH and Annie introduced the members of the APPA. There were 2 dance numbers by the staff of the CHO, followed by the gift giving to the 250 children from 125 barangays of Baguio. The kids were from different Barangays, some from remote places and were very very happy to receive the gifts from strangers from the US.

After the gift giving, Eve, Manny and Fely went on their own to meet some friends; Pablito and Tessie went back with the APPA team to their medical mission in the Benguet Provincial Hospital in La Trinidad, about 30 minutes away from Baguio. We met with some familiar faces from Washington, DC like Drs. Fangonil (Pres. of APPA), Bacarra, Rivera, Lopez, and Dr. Cueto from NJ. We were then invited to the Closing Program in the Open Gym, Capitol, La Trinidad. A feature of the program is the sacrificing of a pig by killing ‘Babe’ in the middle of the court, after some ritual of thanksgiving prayer. A female foreigner left her front row seat and went to the back of the line to avoid seeing the sacrifice. I followed her to check her condition and she asked me “why do they have to do that?” The husband is Ok since he ate some of the pork, after it was boiled and cut up, and went back for a second serving ( must taste good!). After the “CANAO FESTIVITY”, the doctors went back to their accommodations at the Baguio Country Club and we went back to the Marietta mansion.

Saturday, February 24, 2007- The fourth week in February is the annual Panagbenga Festival in Baguio City. Saturday is the street dancing participated by students in costumes from the different schools and Sunday is when they have the floral parade like the Rose Bowl parade in Pasadena, California. We met with Fely and Manny at the corner of Session Rd and Cathedral St. and staked our place in the street to view the parade. Is this just a coincidence but sitting right besides us in the street is the family of the Dean of Engineering of St Louie University that I met yesterday concerning the engineering scholar of the Philippine Association of Metropolitan Washington Engineers (PAMWE) ! The parade was very colorful and entertaining but after sitting on my butt on the hard asphalt pavement for 2 hours, shoulder to shoulder with the other viewers that are about 10 rows deep, I had to give up and walk around to exercise my stiff legs and look for a better place to view the parade. We ended up having lunch in the balcony of a restaurant with a good view of the parade but just as we are about to eat lunch, the parade ended.

Manny and Fely decided to extend their stay in Baguio; Evelyn is going to see and stay with a friend so, we check Victory Liner for our trip back to Manila. We walked to the ‘old’ station only to be told that there’s a new station “just pass” the SM Mall. I left Tessie at the Mall and walked to the new bus station, about 10 minutes away, on hilly road, in the heat of the sun. We were thinking of seeing the flower parade on Sunday but ALL the bus seats for Sunday were already sold out. I went back to Tess and told her the situation and we decided to leave the same day. We went back to the house, picked up our luggage, bid Roy Thank you and goodbye, and went back to the bus station and took a “De Lux” ticket to Manila, about Ph550 ($11) leaving at 4 PM. “De Lux” is air conditioned express service to Manila, no stopping to pick up other passengers, with TV, rest room equipped, no pillows, no blankets; with a stewardess in short tight dress, who served us one small bottled water and one cookie. We sat right behind the driver but we cannot sleep because the driver is flirting with the stewardess, talking sweet nothings all the way to Manila. The stewardess was also sitting in front, near the door; adjusting/changing the DVD movies during the trip, trying to do the impossible of pulling her miniskirt down to her knees, checked the comfort room (CR) when I asked if it is working, plus other duties, as assigned.

It is amazing that the bus driver was able to drive almost 6 hours straight, just stopping once briefly to check the tires, checking his cell phone a couple of times, and almost talking with the stewardess all the time. We arrived at the Victory Liner Bus Depot in Cubao at past 10:00PM. There are a lot of taxis waiting but they are charging a flat rate of Ph500 for the trip to our place in Paranaque. I hailed a taxi with a meter cruising on the road and the trip only cost us Ph210. We got home safe and sound by 11:00PM.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Capas, Tarlac

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Henry B. of Ft Washington, MD. has been a loyal supporter of FtH and has been requesting FtH assistance in Capas for some time. We have this chance right after the Bicol Tour to visit Capas. Leaving CFO in Manila about 8 AM, we traveled to Capas, Tarlac , about 3 hours away from Manila and met Henry and Ernie at the Capas Medical Center where their group is doing medical and dental mission. Their Mission of Mercy have about 80 doctors, dentists and assistants delivering services to the poor people in Capas and other towns of Tarlac. Bing B. later joined us in this trip.

With Jerry of CFO, Bing, Ernie, Tess and Pablito, we went to this remote Barangay on top of a mountain, where the solid waste of Capas were being processed. The mountain was planted with some trees but too young yet to provide some shades. The head of the Local Government Unit (LGU) and 200 recipient children were already waiting in an improvised tent to provide shelter from the heat of the sun (we were told that it was snowing and freezing in Virginia at that time). The kids are really dark colored from too much exposure to the sun, their hair is short and some are curly. At the top of the mountain, you can see the small houses of the residents some distance away and then on to forever, as far as your eyes can see. The Mayor, with about 4 security guys fully armed, started the program with thanking FtH for visiting Capas. Jerry talked about CFO and Tess explained the mission of FtH to the kids and some parents, who are mostly interested in the bags of goodies that they will receive. The kids left smiling after receiving their goody bags. We went back to town and had box lunch courtesy of the Mayor.

After taking a short break, we traveled on north to Luisita in Tarlac City to investigate some possible site for a classroom for pre-schooler, under the initiative of the PRISM. FtH has been collaborating with Dwight Penson of PRISM since 2004 in providing classrooms for pre-schooler for indigent families to give them a head start when they come of age and ready to go to the regular school. FtH have constructed classrooms through PRISM in Padre Burgos and Unisan in Quezon.

We completed the gift giving and site inspection in Tarlac and headed back home to Manila.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Pasacao, Camarines Sur

Monday, February 5, 2007

The Bicol Regions of Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Albay and Sorsogon were hit with a 1-2-3-4-5 punch of Typhoon Milenyo (Sept 27, 2006), relocation due to Mayon eruption, Typhoon Reming (Nov. 30, 2006), Typhoon Seniang (December 7-12, 2006), and the Mayon landslide. The needs were great and FTH tried to put together 3 teams and CFO had 2 teams to meet the challenge. This is the last leg of a 10-town tour of FtH in the Bicol Region.

Monday, February 5, 2007- We left San Jose and headed west past Naga City towards Pasacao, Camarines Sur. It was a holiday and the local government was closed but the son of the Mayor and his special assistant met us at the Municipal Hall. He led us to the pier where a small boat was waiting already, loaded with the relief goods for the residents in a remote barangay. This Barangay Sarimao is isolated from the rest of the town and can only be reached by a foot bridge so it was decided to use a boat to ferry the heavy gifts, a 30 minute boat ride. As you ride the boat, you can admire the beauty of Pasacao, the sandy beaches, the clear water of the sea. I hope it will not be spoiled by any accident on the marine terminal for gasoline tanks that we passed by; it supplies the whole province of Camarines Sur with gasoline and diesel fuel.

We landed on the beach just across the chapel where we had the relief distribution. The water was still knee-deep and Tess had to be carried on the shoulder of a guide; almost broke his shoulder. Teenagers helped in unloading the bags of gifts. The chapel was small but it was able to fit most of the 200 recipients. Most of the houses around the chapel are one story, one room, nipa huts with new roofs already replaced after the typhoons. It was a happy get together by the residents with the gifts from strangers, from fellow Pinoys who cares about them, from half way around the world.

After the gift giving, we boarded the boat again for our trip back to town. The guides used a single bamboo pole to use as the ramp to walk up the boat. While Pablito was half way on the ramp, the pole broke! Either Pablito is too heavy or the pole is old and rotten, too small, only one was used, the boat is too high, excuses, excuses, etc, etc. Aboard the boat, we were served a snack of native delicacies and sodas.

On the way back to town, I asked the guides if they know a Bella B. who works in Washington, DC, who requested the relief assistance for Pasacao. Bella B, nee "Bella Amador, a very pretty mestiza, about 50 years old, whose kid was recently married in Las Vegas" (even foreign news travel fast in a small Bicol town) was immediately identified by one of the guides and offered to accompany us to their house in town. We met the mother of Bella but the father was in church. We said hello and goodbye and hope to see them again in Washington.

We went on to Hotel Villa Caceres in Naga City for the trip back to Manila, the following morning. Thus conclude the FtH Bicol Tour of 10 towns in nine days. Was it easy, NO! Will I do it gain, YES! YES!

NOTES: Last 2003, Carl (on his first FtH mission), Tess and Pablito did a gift giving in Naga City and we were the guests of the Pink Sisters in their monastery. The Pink sisters hardly talk, only prayed ALL the time. Five–star service in their 5-star guest rooms, complete with soap, toothbrush, slippers, towels and a hearty breakfast. We just have to be back before the gate close at 8PM (or we sleep in the street, I think). On that day, our plane was not able to land due to early morning fog and the plane tried to land in Legaspi City but with the same visibility problem. We flew back to Manila and waited for the weather to clear. At noon time, they totally cancelled the plane trip and we were forced to hire a van for the land trip to Naga (FtH Volunteers paid for the van). We arrived in the Naga City about 10PM, too late for the morning breakfast that was prepared for us, but the Pink Sisters were very happy FtH did not abandoned them. Carl have been joining FtH missions in the Philippines every year since then.

The preparation done by the CFO staff in coordinating the procurement and packing of the gifts, arrangement for the hotels and transportation for the volunteers, scheduling the gift giving with the local government units (LGU) and non-government officials (NGO) is incredible! And the bits and pieces of the puzzle all fall into its places. There were some delays and breakdowns but all were manageable and we were able to carry out the missions.

It was a fun trip of nine days. After 2 bottles of Robitussin DM, 30 capsules of anti-biotic provided by Nurse Malu in Bulan, a bottle of Listerine to gargle my sore throat, living in a hand carry luggage and a back pack of video camera, flashlight, camera, bottled water and TP; using one shoes and a pair of slippers; sleeping in 6 hotels with somebody snoring like me and me coughing all the time; practicing my ballrooms moves in 2 nights and after one breakfast; having a night swim in a hot spring in Irosin; having my $50 shoes repaired expertly by a child labor for $1 using his agile hands and crude tools; seeing the smiles of about 2,400 recipients having Christmas gifts in January; being able to locate the sites of eight (8) classrooms to be donated through FtH, getting proposals for Feeding Projects and Livelihood Projects, I will do it again for FEED THE HUNGRY and the poor people of Bicol. If there’s a will, HE will show the way!

Thursday, March 01, 2007