Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rosario, Cavite

From 2005 through 2011, the physically challenged students of Rosario Elementary School (RES) had grown from the one-classroom donated by Fil-Am Manassas to the 4- classrooms, 2 story building donated by the Local Government Unit (LGU). The funding was not enough to provide the ceiling in the hallway and the principal is requesting FtH to assist to complete the building with a ceiling to give comfort to the students during the hot summer weather.

Almost every year since 2005, FtH is visiting the RES, donating 2 Braille machines, school supplies and snack or lunch for the physically-challenged (PC) students. This year, in addition to the snacks and slippers for the students, the Principal requested some materials to fully cover the ceiling and provide comfort to the students. Mila with her ever-ready tape measure in her hand bag, measured the area to be covered and Eve of CFO will provide the estimate of materials needed. The school official is requesting only the materials and their local engineering staff, with the PTA, will install the ceiling.
After the turn over of TV and Braille machine in Indang, Cavite and snacks for the students in Rosario, Cavite, the FtH Volunteers, except Martin, Pio and Dr Eusebio, were treated to a special merienda at the local residence of Cesar and Fely Pontanilla of Fairfax, Virginia who are from Rosario, Cavite.

In this FtH mission, Larry and Mila donated the Braille machine and TV for the students of Indang, Cavite. With the funds Larry and Mila donated, the lunch and snack of all the PC students were also provided. The balance of the funds available will be spent on the purchase of building materials for the ceiling of the Rosario SPED classrooms. It is expected that the balance of the funds available will not be sufficient to cover the cost of building materials for the ceiling of the SPED classrooms. Any tax-deductible donation to FtH for this special project will be greatly appreciated.

February 20, 2011

Indang, Cavite

FtH dedicated this day for the physically challenged students of Indang Central ES in Indang, Cavite in the morning and the SPED students in Rosario, Cavite in the afternoon. These students need more special attention than the regular students because of their mental or physical capabilities. One parent reported to me that her daughter who is 14 years old will be joining the regular Grade I students in the same school, and she’s very happy because that’s progress! One parent mentioned that they come all the way from Mendez, a neighboring town, because the school in their area is not equipped to handle special students. This is the first FtH classroom specially designed for physically challenged (PC) students with ramps, accessible from the street, wide toilets with grab bars, etc. Martin and his son Jonathan co-sponsored these classrooms with the sister-in-law of Martin, at considerable cost than a regular classroom. We had to demolish an existing building so that this classroom could be located near the main road and be accessible to wheelchair-oriented students. Martin and his 2 brothers, Pio and Dr. Eusebio, also joined this trip, the first time the three brothers were together on an FtH charity mission.

On the way to the school, we passed by a Pure Gold Store in Alabang to buy a TV set requested by the teacher. As if Somebody is also watching after the PC students and FtH, the TV was put on sale one day before we bought it with 20% discount to be within our budget of P5, 000. The Braille machine to be donated to the school by Larry and Mila was ordered from the manufacturer in New Jersey at 50% off to FtH. It was shipped to California where the kin of Martin shipped it to Manila at no cost to FtH.

As a side story, on a recent FtH mission in Roxas City, Capiz last January 20, 2011, the SPED school in that city requested a Braille machine for their school. The FtH Volunteers Gloria and Baby immediately agreed to donate the Braille machine and it was ordered. The machine arrived one day before Larry and Mila left for the Philippines and it was hand-carried to Manila. The machine is now with CFO for delivery to Roxas City SPED School.

The PC students and their parents/lolas were already in the room waiting for us. The program was started by the principal with the introduction of Larry and Mila as the donor of the TV and Braille machine and Martin as the donor of the building. The PC students were treated to a lunch from Jollibee and then were fitted one by one for slippers by “Old Navy”, a branded name in the Philippines that were donated by Terry and Eden Dela Cruz, nephew of Tess from California. It was shipped by balikbayan box last Nov 15, 2010 and arrived in the Philippines about a week before the visit to Indang SPED FtH classrooms.

After sharing the lunch of fried chicken, spaghetti, and rice with the special students, we said goodbye to the very happy students and the much happier teachers and principal with their new teaching aid of a Braille machine and a TV.

February 14, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Muntinlupa, Rizal

Do you know what it takes to make a Feed the Hungry Feeding Project come to a fruitful, meaningful, successful ending? A lot of coordination, lots of expensive phone calls, meetings, checking and double checking and on the day of the event…. you crossed your fingers, say a lot of prayers and let things happen as to come what may. And the best things always happened for HE said, “anything you do for my brethren, you do unto me” or something like that.

This all started when we arrived last January 10, 2011 at the T. S. Cruz Village in Muntinlupa, Rizal where we saw young boys playing basketball in the court where it is supposed to be young kids being treated to lunch on a FtH sponsored Feeding Project. We, and 3 other car-load of FtH volunteers did not know and we were not informed that the venue had been transferred to another location about six (6) months ago. We ended up in a meeting at our house in Hillsborough, getting to know each other and talking about other FtH projects.

A lesson learned, we did not leave it to chance for the next feeding session in the new location. We got a map showing the location but the driving instruction is different as indicated on the map. We met with the operator of a rental van at Jollibee in Glorietta 4 in Makati and talked about rates, dates, time and pick up station but 3 days before the event Lottie called to ask about the van whose driver is supposed to contact Lottie right after our meeting. On the day of the event, our guide suggested meeting at the parking lot of Festival Mall, near the “Shuttle” CafĂ© ( actually Seattle’s Best) and I changed it to the my favorite place, the Jollibee shop at the rest stop at Southern Luzon Expressway (SLEX) where we do not have to pay parking fee. There were five volunteers from the Makati area but the meeting place is in Shangri-La-Edsa, about half an hour away. Baby H. called that she will be driving and I requested her to pass by Cielito Inn to pick up Carl, Jeanette and Kara.

Then I asked Vi B. if she and her niece can take a taxi to Muntinlupa because the van is already full with 15 passengers. She did and asked her to meet us at Jollibee at SLEX which is closer. After calling me for more instructions, talking to the taxi driver and the niece, we saw them at Jollibee enjoying their second breakfast and happy about the experience. The driver asked to be paid for the trip back and toll fees but Vi still insisted it is very cheap, and with her portable calculator, “only” $9 for the trip!

Our guide arrived and I asked her to go ahead with Tessie as I need to wait for Baby H. and Carl in another car but asked to leave behind somebody to guide us to the place. Baby arrived in a small red car with three passengers crowded at the back. I asked Kara to transfer to us as I was driving a bigger but older Nissan Cefiro (this model is not in the US). We arrived at the Espeleta Feeding Center, passing through narrow streets with no names, crowded with tricycles and pedestrian, made it to the place with no scratches.

The van carrying Lottie, Willie, Ethel, Mario, Bing and wife, Armando and wife, Dr Chua, Dr Sonny from Hawaii who traveled from Greenhills, Ernie, Paul M who joined the D’Palaos Golf Club, Ben and Grace was almost behind us. Twenty one (21) FtH volunteers in 2 cars and a van made it to the feeding center this time, on time!

One more additional problem on our return from the Feeding Center. Baby with Ethel had to go another place leaving 5 volunteers in the Makati area stranded. How do you fit 5 passengers in 3 spaces in the van? Very easy, I requested our host to drive Tess, a sacrifice, back to Hillsborough and drove the 5 volunteers to Makati. We had lunch of 2 biggg pizza, 2 lettuce wrap and bottomless tea at the CPK in Glorietta 4. I had free lunch since I am the designated driver. And we all went home happy to have done our good deed for the day.

January 26, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pandi, Bulacan

DO you know what it takes, what happens when you donate a classroom to Feed the Hungry? As soon as FtH receives your donation of P400,000 per classroom, complete with blackboard, chairs, teachers table, lights and electrical outlets for future computer connections, 2 electric fans, upgraded comfort room (called CR in the Philippines, Restrooms in US) with flushing toilet, wash basins, soap and toilet paper holder, ceramic tiles in the floor and walls for easy cleaning; with removal partition to convert the two (2) classroom into a big meeting room; insulated roof, 2 exterior doors for safety, grille windows for security, painted through out……..the wheels of progress starts rolling.

With the assistance of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, FtH start looking for a suitable school that needs classrooms due to overcrowding of students. The schools in the town that the donor will select or where FtH will assign the classrooms, a short list of schools with a high student to classroom ratio, generally those with over 50 students per classroom, or those with 2 shifts of classes, from 7:00AM – 12PM and from 1:00 – 6:00PM. With the short list of schools, CFO staff and/or FtH Volunteers visit the site to ascertain that there is ample space to build the classroom, selection of the building site to minimize the cost of construction; that it is not on a flood plain or the floors had to be elevated to prevent flooding; that the lot is titled to the school to insure that the classrooms will stay in the school “forever”.

With the school selected, the site approved for building, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is drafted by CFO, naming the signatories to the agreement and their responsibilities; FtH to provide the funds to build the classroom, to seek the services of a contractor to build the classrooms; CFO to coordinate and monitor the construction of the classrooms, to provide to the contractor partial payments as progress is achieve according to the agreement; the contractor to build the classrooms; the Principal to provide temporary housing and utilities for the construction; the Barangay Captain to provide the permit at no cost to FtH and assure the safety of the construction workers and provide assistance as needed like providing back fill materials when the floors had to be elevated.

Assuming that there are no delays due to inclement weathers, lack of building materials, the classroom can be completed in 45-60 days. The classrooms are turned-over to the school for immediate use. Inauguration ceremonies are held to instill into the students the need of giving back to the communities, hoping they will follow the example of the FtH donors who have been successful in life because of their education.

Pandi is the last of the 3 schools we visited, after Meycauayan NHS and the Kagabay Site in San Jose Del Monte, all in BULACAN. We started early and went home late but always happy that FtH were able to donate another classrooms, Nos. 77 & 78.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Payatas B, Quezon


April 5, 2010: We visited the unfinished Hope Youth Center in Payatas B, Quezon City with contractor Engr Myles, and discussed the situation with Rev Lando Jaluag. The original contractor went bankrupt and abandoned the construction. Rev Lando was able to get in touch with FtH Board member Lito and Lito seek the help of FtH to complete the construction. Together with financial help from Lito’s church in Kona, Hawaii, it was decided to help Rev. Lando finish the building where he planned to help the youths in the area.

December 28, 2010: Rev Lando is now Fr. Lando, after his vows of priesthood. In seven (7) months of preparation, signing of the Memorandum of Agreement, and construction, the building has been completed and painted. It was time to inaugurate the building with the arrival of the donors from Kona, Hawaii. We drove to Dusit Hotel in Makati to meet with Lito at 1:00PM, where Martin picks us up. Together, we proceeded to the Tower Condominium near Wack Wack G&CC in Greenhills, where Dr. Sonny Genio is staying. One more stop at Richmond Hotel in Eastwood to meet Edgar Francisco, all from Hawaii. With the party completed, we headed for the Youth Hope Center (HYC) in Payatas B, Quezon City for the scheduled 3:00PM inauguration.

The Bishop of the Diocese of Antipolo did the official blessing of the building. We had a candle light procession from the parish church to the HYC about 2 block s away. There were 2 stations where we cut a ceremonial chain, before we reached the front door of the HYC where the Bishop started the blessing of the building. The Bishop sprayed the holy water in all the rooms, the kitchen, bathrooms and the walls of the building to make them resist damage. After the blessing, we returned to the church, had snack prepared by the students of culinary department, entertained by some members of the youth club.

The YHC will be used for training of the youths in the area for massage, cooking, weaving, sewing, and other skills to help them find jobs and be productive citizens. The YHC will provide a place for the youths to meet and keep them busy, away from drugs and crime, under the guidance of Rev. Lando.

Jan 7, 2011


Vangie just arrived the day before from the US and immediately went to work in giving the Dumagats (an indigenous people, IP) of Rodriguez, formerly Montalban, Rizal some meaningful beginning for the Year 2011. Tess did the preparation for the gift-giving to 300 families AND a separate package for 200 children. With a limited budget of $7 per pack, Tess selected the items from Pure Gold Grocery store and arranged with the manager to repack into individual packages and deliver the 500 packages to Martin’s warehouse in Pasig, Rizal. Rodriguez is some 2 hours away from Manila, through narrow, congested streets and Pure Gold will deliver only up to Pasig. Martin volunteered to deliver the gifts to Rodriguez in their company truck, free of charge. On Dec 28, 2010, we went back to Pure Gold to order additional P100 worth of groceries per package, when we were told that there was some left over budget available to spend in 2010.
We were supposed to be in Rodriguez, Rizal by 10:00 AM and Martin decided to meet in Pasig at 6:30 AM, making allowance for traffic delays.  I left Hillsborough Subd. At 5:00AM, waking at 4:00AM, to meet with Eileen A., a new FtH volunteer from Seattle, Washington, whom we met during the conference sponsored by CFO last Dec 8, 2010. I emailed Eileen with 3 possible locations where we can meet but I did not get a reply back. When I left Hillsborough, I texted Eileen that I am on the road and when she replied “ OK, see you soon”, I thought she was not coming and we will see each other on the next mission. When I was some 15 minutes away, already on C-5, she texted again that she’s on the way. I found out later that she was trying to get a taxi since 4:00 AM and finally her cousin checked on her and decided to give her a ride. The moral of the story is email and texting is cheaper but phone, in person, is better to avoid miscommunications.
I parked on a Shell gas station on C5 in Pasig and emailed my location and waited until Eileen arrived. It was 5:30 AM; we decided to have breakfast at Jollibee at Tiendesitas before continuing to Pasig. A breakfast of corned beef on fried rice and egg with coffee is very much welcomed by my empty stomach. We were at the warehouse of Martin by 630AM, well-fed, happy and on schedule.

Martin also had to be awake by 5:00 AM to do some last minute grocery shopping for
his New Year dinner party at home, with only about 20 relatives. It was a big sacrifice for Martin to go with us on this mission and leave his duties at home but he knows about 300 families are waiting for us in Rodriguez and away we left his warehouse at 7:30AM in his van, with his truck and 2 guys following us.
We passed by San Mateo, Rizal the town before Rodriguez. We noticed a lot of indigenous people (IP), maybe Dumagats or Aetas, dark short people with curly hairs, some with babies tied with bandanas on their front or backs, begging in the streets, living on sidewalk, under canvas tents. About a week before, I read in the papers about Badjaos camping in the Monumento area in Balintawak. These Badjaos are normally living on houses built on stilts over water in Sulu, in Southern Philippines. Same stories about mountain people in Mindanao migrating to Davao City, being housed temporarily in basketball courts, begging in the streets. It only means that ‘progress’ claimed by the government are not filtering to this indigenous people.
We arrived in Rodriguez around 9:30 AM, after asking for some direction twice. There were already some beneficiaries waiting in the courtyard of St Rafael Parish Church. We noticed some volunteers hauling lunch boxes and lining them up in the church. We also noticed that some of the ‘natives’ are straight haired, light complexions and doesn’t look liked the IP guys we saw in San Mateo. We talked to a mother with a baby in tow and she told us that they came from the mountain, about 2 hours away, by walking down the mountain and taking a tricycle into town. It appears that some IP had already intermarried with some lowland people and “improving” their race, the real Pilipinos.
We backed up the truck and unloaded 800 gift packs, one at a time, passing the pack from one volunteer to another, like a fire brigade. We then distributed lunch boxes of rice and ground beef, with gallons and gallons of water to push it down. After lunch, the IP settled down and Vangie started the program with a prayer and information about FtH, introduction of the volunteers and acknowledgement of the assistance of Martin for the use of the truck.

Vangie invited some natives to perform before the crowd and we were not disappointed. A girl even cried while singing, an adult lady sang with gusto and then a party of 4 dancers and 2 singers, in their native attire, did a native dance but with a Tagalog song, I think. The performers were given some chocolates as their prize and then we proceeded with the gift giving.
We started with the 300 adults that were issued a claim ticket, no ticket, no gifts. And the volunteers relayed the passing of the gifts from one volunteer to another until all 300 were served. Some late comers were also given their gifts. It was a smooth operation until some IP decided to form a second line and then a third line, very eager to get their gifts or afraid they will not get any. We had to stop the distribution a couple of times until they form just one line and everything went fine.
FtH volunteers then had a quick meeting on how to handle the gifts for the 200 children with no tickets. There are families with 4 or 6 kids and we only prepared for one kid per family, for 200 kids. It was decided that each kid will line up with their mother or father or Lolas and the barangay captain who knows all the families was positioned in front to identify and make sure that only one kid per family will receive the gift. The plan worked and we were finished by 1:00 PM.
We said our good byes to Vangie, her sister Loy who requested the distribution of the gifts to the Dumagat people, her brother who brought along his 3 teenage daughters to help in the distribution, and other local volunteers in the area.  Then, on the way back to Manila, Martin treated the very hungry FtH volunteers of Pablito and Eileen and himself to a very delicious Chinese feast at the Shangri-La in Ortigas.
It was a very long day, a long journey for me starting at 4:00 AM and ending up about 4 PM, luckily on the same day. Was it worth for the Dumagats to spend a day waiting for $8 worth of gifts, traveling more than 2 hours, one way, from the mountain to the town and then another 2 hours going back in the afternoon? It must be or else they would not have done it. And they were very happy to bring back something without paying for it, a gift after Christmas although some or most of them are not Christians. If the Dumagats are happy, the few Feed the Hungry volunteers are very happy to bring smiles to so many families.
Jan 5 2011

Barangay Lubayat Elementary School, Real, Quezon

Tess was already awake even before the alarm I set on my cell phone which is 5:00 AM. I also set another alarm on my watch at 5:30AM, just in case I overslept and miss the first alarm. We are still suffering from jet lag due to the time difference between Virginia and Manila which is 13 hours at this time of the year.
I have a schedule to meet with Martin at 7:00 AM in Valle Verde 5 in Pasig City,  then to meet with CFO staff in Real, Quezon to inspect the ongoing on construction of 2 classrooms donated by Jonathan Gaw from NY and his father, Martin Gaw, in memory of Martin ‘s brother, George Gaw. To accompany us in this inspection is the auditor from the Commission on Audit to make sure that the construction is done according to the agreement with CFO and the contractor, before allowing CFO to make a partial payment to the contractor, Engr. Myles.
I left our house in Hillsborough, Alabang around 5:30AM, hoping to get some breakfast along the way. The McDonald and Jollibee on C-5 were still closed before 6:00 AM but the Chow King at Tiendesitas in Pasig was already waiting for me. I ended up with a bowl of King Congee, a bowl of porridge with salted eggs, a piece of meat, etc., and a cup of coffee, for less tahn $2.00. Savoring my salty breakfast and reading the bad news in the Manila Bulletin, I left at 6:45 AM to meet with Martin, about 5 minutes away.
Martin and Pablito are supposed to meet with CFO in Real, Quezon, at the crossing of the National Rd and the local road leading to Barangay Lubayat. The last time Martin visited Lubayat to do the site inspection, Martin used his brand new Toyota and the road was so bad that the chassis of his car kept bumping on the road. This time we transfered to the CFO van which has a higher clearance but still bumps the road in some spots.
The local resident in the rest stop where we waited for CFO told us that Barangay Lubayat is just a ‘short’ 9 kilometers away, maybe about 30 minutes drive only. After the CFO arrived and had snack of soda and pastry (actually local bread with some fillings) from the corner store, we all rode on the van and started our ‘trek’ to Brgy. Lubayat.
After a short 100 feet of concrete pavement, the road turned into 10-kilometers of mixed surface; of dirt road, dirt and gravel road, some boulder road, some road over a creek with no bridge, then another 100 feet of rough concrete road in front of the school and then.... no more roads. And it took us an hour of crawling, and bumping and rolling but we made it to the school. Now I know how Martin felt with his new car last time.
We were met by Principal Rowena R. Sagun and Teacher Mary Jane F. Friginal  of Grades 5 and 6, who will occupy the new classrooms, who’s students are old enough to take care of the new classrooms, with brand new flushing toilets, compared to the principal’s office with the ‘squat-buhos’ style of toilet. We were told by Principal Sagun that they were visited by The Learning Tree for possible donation of computers but were turned down because their old classrooms are not properly secured to prevent theft of the computers. Prin. Sagun will request reconsideration with The Learning Tree with the new classrooms.
We were shown the stage which ‘temporarily ‘housed the students for more than a year, while waiting for additional space to come from heaven, as the teachers prayed for a miracle to happen.  And the miracle did happened when FtH donated the classrooms. The new classrooms were provided with lights, 4 ceiling fans, the chairs and tables will arrive tomorrow to complete the project, the painter will finish the label on the walls, the stainless steel marker is already in place; the movable partition was greatly improved from the earlier version; the walls are freshly painted just waiting for the inauguration to happen in January 2011 when the students are back in session. The new classrooms are a big contrast in appearance to the old dilapidated, un-repaired, un-painted classrooms with broken glass.
We were treated to lunch of rice with sweet and sour sauce on assorted kind of fish, small fried fish, and a mix of veggies of corn, peas and carrot direct from the USA. It was a very welcomed lunch prepared by the principal and the teacher, we traded some jokes and laughs and tentatively set the inauguration on Jan 19, 2011, weather permitting.
After lunch, we turned over a set of encyclopedias, a bag of toys, and a box of colored paper they can use in art class. We said our goodbyes and head back to the crossing, dreading the trip back, but we must,  to get home.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Agoncillo, Batangas

CFO driver Angie and PMO Staff Erwin and Tobi picked up Pablito in Hillsborough Village at 8:00 AM for the site visit to the FtH classrooms in Brgy Bangin, Agoncillo, Batangas, the AURELIA CAROLINO SOLIS LEARNING CENTER. I noticed that Angie skipped the faster, shorter Southern Luzon Expressway (SLEX) in favor of the busy, traffic-clogged route of Bacoor,  Dasmarinas, Tagaytay most probably to avoid the high toll fees. We stopped for breakfast in a Jollibee restaurant in Tagaytay for about 15 minutes and proceeded to our destination to Agoncillo, arriving at the school at around 11:00 AM.
Today, the teacher from DSWD decided to combine the 2 sections into one and dismissed the class by 10:00 AM and the students were all gone when we got there, but she stayed behind and waited for us. Usually there are 2 sessions in the morning, from 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM and the second session from 10AM-12:00 Noon. The classrooms were very clean, the ceramic floor tiles very shinny. Only one of the 2 classrooms was being used for the kids ages 3-5 years old as a day care. Later, the Mayor explained that the other classroom will also be busy when some kids from another Barangay will be transferred to the FtH Classrooms by January 2011. It appears that some parents are resisting the transfer due to the additional cost of commuting of the students with the parent in chaperon.
The DSWD teacher accompanied us to the office of the Mayor, Glorioso Martinez, whom we have met when we first made the courtesy call during the initial stages of the classroom project, some 2 years ago, how time flies when you are enjoying your work. The Mayor explained that the survey of the school grounds, as required in the MOA, has been done already but could not be released until paid for, and the voucher is almost ready. After the survey, the title will be registered, the fence will be built, a marker will be posted at the gate to the school, some playground equipments will be installed, all scheduled to be completed by 2011. The Mayor also expected that the 2 classrooms will be fully utilized when other day care center in other Barangays will be transferred to this Center.
We left Agoncillo by about 1PM, had lunch in Tagaytay in one of those native restaurant with a grand view of Taal lake and I was home in Hillsborough by 4PM tired but happy that we were able to clarify some issues about the school.
Dec 16, 2010.