Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Payatas, Quezon City

Whatever happens in life, HE designed it with a purpose. For one misunderstanding in scheduling, FtH have a corresponding success story. Please read on to know the hows and the whys.

We have been changing the schedule of the launching of the Feeding Program in Lupang Pangako, Payatas, QC so many times we had a confusion in the end. Last week, we requested Ms. Jennifer of CFO for the use of a van this Monday, March 10, 2008 for an 8:30 AM pick up at the Intercon Hotel for a 10:00 AM launching in Payatas, Quezon City. Gina, Norma and Gretchen were at the Intercon before 8:00 AM and met Lottie and Willie at the lobby. At 8:30 AM, while having breakfast at Bread n Talk in Glorietta, I texted Jerry and Evelyn of CFO that we are already waiting at Intercon and I got two different replies. Jerry said that Elmer, the driver, is already at the Intercon while Evelyn replied “ wer r u going?” . It turned out that the schedule was for 2:00 PM, confirmed by Vicky Weineke, the head of our partner “Kabisig ng Kalahi”. Vicky said it is very hard to move the schedule to the morning as no families will be there and the head of Mead Johnson, the milk supplier, coming from abroad, is already scheduled for 2:00 PM. Ms. Vicky agreed to meet with the FtH volunteers at 1:00 PM at Intercon to lead the way to Payatas.

Emergency FtH meeting among ourselves, we decided to wait for the 2:00 PM for Payatas and just do another FtH tasks while waiting. We went to the Pius Center in United Nations Ave. in Manila where we hope to rent an office space, as recommended by Bishop Ted Buhain, for a very minimal fee, almost free. The office in Manila is required so that Feed the Hungry can be certified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to be a non-profit organization in the Philippines. The office is about 12 x 20 ft with the front window facing UN Avenue. With a very good location, all we need now are some details to make a decision on the office.

Before we left Intercon, Ms Gretchen invited the FtH volunteers for lunch at the Manila Golf Club. After the office visit, we met with Ms. Gretchen at the Manila Golf Club. It was a big brunch of boneless daing na bangus from Dagupan, gumbas, Vigan langunisa, garlic rice, mixed gulay, pickled mushrooms, bread and local cheese, etc. About 12:30PM, we headed back to Intercon to meet with Ms. Vicky. For one misunderstanding, FtH Volunteers were able to visit the future FtH office and had a very nice lunch at the prestigious Manila Golf Club.

Ms. Vicky arrived on time at 1:00 PM at the Hotel Intercon. She gave me a sketch showing the location of the Barangay Health Center where we will hold the launching. We followed Vicky in their Honda SUV to Payatas. After about 5 stops to ask for direction from tricycle drivers and bystanders along the way, we finally arrived at the newly completed Health Center in Barangay Payatas and met the local barangay officials, head and staff of the DSWD, Health Department, and a group of about 50 housewives and 2 fathers with their kids in their lap. Some of the mothers are very young, some with no more teeth (look for her in the photo).

Payatas used to be the dumping site of garbage from Metro Manila. Behind the Health Center is a BIG mountain covered with grass. I believed it is a mountain of trash already put to ‘retirement’ and covered with grass. What is trash to others is the livelihood of many people in Payatas where they pick the garbage of re-useable items like plastic bottles, metals, glass, etc. You will know when you’re in Payatas when you can see the tons of materials gathered from the trash, with a different “aroma” in the air. FtH have been here before doing gift giving to the Payatas children on the invitation of former VA resident, Boots Anson Roa.

The program started with an invocation, followed by playing of the National Anthem, speeches by the local officials, Ms. Vicky, chief of Mead Johnson; Lottie, wearing 2 hats, talked about FtH as the Chairperson of FtH and the other, with Willie, as the sponsor of this Payatas Feeding Project. While the officers were signing the Memorandum of Agreement between the mothers, Kabisig, FtH and local officials; Gretchen, Gina, Norma and Willie started giving away donuts and juice (donated by Gretchen) candies and chocolates (donated by Gina and Norma). Mead Johnson also distributed to the kids their chocolate milk product.

After the program, we head back home, braving the rush-hour traffic, dropping Gina and Norma in time for their next appointment at St. Lukes; thanking Gretchen for her participation in the mission, donation of donuts and juice for the kids and inviting FtH volunteers to lunch; we said good byes to Lottie and Willie who are heading back to Virginia after their very successful and meaningful 2 month FtH Mission in the Philippines.

On the way to Payatas, one of the FtH volunteers donated to Feed the Hungry the sum of P28,000 for a Feeding Program in 2009, in Pangasinan, regardless of the misunderstanding in scheduling, another success story.