Monday, July 9, 2012

For Hopeful Children Project

On March 23-27 this year, I participated in the noble project of the Thailand SSEAYP Alumni Association and Fund for Friends. It is called For Hopeful Children Project (FHCP). This project was established in 1991 to cater for underprivileged children calling them hopeful children to basically create positive hopes in them to live in a competitive society by providing opportunity for physical and mental development. 

The said project was first implemented at the Phayathai Orphanage in Bangkok with 150 children. On its second year it was done in Rayong province to let the children experience the beach. This year, there were a thousand delegates who participated in this project with a million budget and it was held at the camp of Royal Thai Marine Corps in Sattahip in Chonburri. 

Being the country leader for the Philippines, I brought to Thailand the youth volunteers namely: Fatima Fae Tolentino, 16, Kristoffer Guerrero, 16, and Joebel Bautista, 11. We took a PAL flight and when we landed in Bangkok airport, we were fetched by Dr. Surasin, one of the staff of the project. She drove us through Sattahip and it was around four hours.

It was already late when we arrived at the military camp. The founder of the project Mr Visit Dejkumtorn was there to welcome us and we had dinner together. Then we proceeded for orientation at the other building. We were the first delegation who was introduced. There were delegates from Japan, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. I saw some old friends. 

On the next day, we welcomed all the participating hopeful children from all over Thailand. There were about a thousand children. I have seen wheelchair-borne kids, blind, kids with physical disabilities and orphans. After all were in, we directed them to the food fair where stalls of food and whatnot served to the children fromThai noodles, meals, sweets to even fried ice cream. 

After lunch, the kids were treated for a swim in the beach. The area was cordoned by military men to safeguard the children. Everyone enjoyed the water. They even played with sand and there were some games too. 

Early dinner was served late afternoon. A dog show and a sky diving were showcased to the children. After that we had an opening program with the chairman of the military wives. There was presentation of gifts from each country. I offered abel cloth as gift. Cultural performances were presented by different groups of children. There were groups of indigenous children of Thailand as well. 

On the following day, we did a round of enviroment clean up. This is to teach them to care for the mother earth. Another exciting event that these children enjoyed was cruise around the bay. Each of the delegates was brought inside the barge. I was able to talk to some of the children. We came back for lunch and there were some workshops and games. 

At night, there was another set of cultural presentation where Kristopher and Fatima performed Philippine folk and pop dances while Joebel did the narrative intro. 

We had a closing program where we received our certificates from the commandant himself VADM Pongsak Phureeroj and eventuallly bid goodbye to all of the participants. 

On a side trip we were taken at the Noongnoch Village inPattaya where we saw different animals. We had lunch and rest. Then we finally headed to Bangkok for overnight with Mr Visit. The Japanese delegates treated us for dinner then my friend Nery took us to Khaosan Road for the children’s shopping at the night market. 

On our last day in Thailand, we were sent off by Visit to the airport and bid him farewell and we expressed our gratitude for the great opportunity.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Second Time at Missionaries of Charity

It is very fulfulling to be sharing time with the less fortunate children. This is what I have experienced last year when I spent my birthday with them bringing some food to eat. I helped feed some of the children. These are children who may not have parents to look after them and some are even sick or with disabilities. 

After coming from Batangas I went to volunteer to the Missionaries of Charity Home of Joy in Tayuman Manila. It is a charitable institution founded by Mother Theresa and a lot of nuns take care of these children. They also have house parents who look after the children. They feed them, bath them and put them to sleep. 

I had the chance to meet again the child Maricris whom I met last year. She is a wheelchair borne girl who did not want to be fed by a woman volunteer but liked it to the man who celebrated his birthday with the kids. Everyone laughed. I experienced also this last year when she really chooses who to feed her. 

Other children whom I met and talked to were Eileen, Raiza, Eugene & Judy Rose. These are jolly kids who loved to be photographed. They really like to pose and enjoyed every photograph taken. 

I was not able to celebrate my birthday with them this year because I did not have the chance because of hectic schedules but I just donated some groceries for the children. I am hoping that I could come back next time and see again these adorable children.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Parada ng Lechon in Balayan

The town of Balayan in the province of Batangas annually hold the parade of roasted pigs (parada ng lechon) every 24th day of June. This is also the celebration of the feast of Saint John the Baptist where everyone splash water to anyone. 

Balayan is a first class municipality of Batangas and its name was derived from the Old Tagalog word balayan meaning to walk past the paddies from a basket to another. Another source would also be balayang meaning a wood. 

It was timely that I was in Manila, I took a bus in Kamuning in the wee hours of morning to Batangas. It took us around 3 hours to get to Balayan. Once you get close to the town, some people on the streets join the splashing of water. The bus barely stop at people because they really make everyone wet. Passengers of jeepneys are always the victims because they are on an open vehicle. 

We passed by one town and they were doing the parade but I have seen litsong manok arranged in a float. Every inch that gets close to the town was excitement for everyone in the bus. I even brought with me plastic bag where I will keep my camera. I have readied myself by taking off my shades, cap and even my socks. I alighted at the highway and walked through the parade. I saw some of the roasted pigs displayed on floats with costumes and some were wrapped on plastic sheets so as not to get wet. 

However people continue to splash water to each other. They got big pails, containers of water and hose firing water to the people on parade. Many sport toy guns too especially children. The lechons were not even spared with the splashing of water. I was so lucky that I did not get much wet since they know that Im taking photos. I walked up towards the church where the parade ended. I paid a visit and I saw at the church that there was a mass baptism for children. 

I met some people in front of the church who were still watching the parade. They told me that in the past, people would just hold the lechons and walked around one by one but today one can barely see the roasted pigs because it was held on floats and covered by people. Since I was on the rush I could not find where to take a sample of the lechon, one lady told me that each barangay prepares a lechon for their community to partake. So I tried some of the native delicacies available around especially the bibingka and buchi.