It’s the first week of the schoolyear! This had been the time of the year when I would be so excited to go to school especially on the first day. I have been one who is inspired to write when I have a new notebook, pen, pencil or notepad. I was one of those blessed with parents who had always looked for ways to provide for education. Maybe because they were both teachers. Maybe because they believe that education will give us, their children, a bright future. I thank God for my parents.

On May 21-22, 2016, I joined a group in an outreach activity that highlighted the importance of education especially to children. Unlike our outreach last Christmas in a nearby Sitio wherein we walked on foot for 4 hours, 4×4 jeepneys were available to  bring us to Sitio Pula, Brgy. Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac, Philippines.

We arrived at the place at around 3 p.m. and took advantage of the sunlight in preparing the loot bags since there was no electricity in the place. There were stations for school supplies, sanitary items and sweets where at least 80 packs should be prepared for 80 children.

School Supplies Station:
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Sanitary Kit Station:

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We were greeted by a cold, foggy morning when we woke up at 5:30 a.m. Ahh…natural aircon!

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It was time to prepare breakfast and get ready for the activities for the kids.

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Breakfast dishes were salted egg salad (salted egg, canned tuna, green mango, tomato), local pako (fern vegatable) salad, sausage and fried smoked fish. I find these kinds of food scrumptious especially in the mountains. Maybe because food had to be budgeted and we had to wait until the scheduled time to eat when almost everyone is hungry from hiking and other activities. 😀

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Yummy breakfast

We prepared food together with the locals who were Aetas.

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hotdog with marshmallow station
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hotdogs and marshmallows

Bath soap, toothbrush and toothpaste were among the things included in the sanitary kits that were given to the kids. So they were taught proper hand washing.

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Volunteers were called up front to demonstrate proper hand washing. They were given prizes for that. 🙂

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The kids were also taught how to brush their teeth properly. Some children needed to be assisted on how to hold a toothbrush.

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Volunteers were were made to demonstrate proper brushing of teeth in front of the rest. Guess what? We actually saw instant results (yellowish to white).

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Educational games were facilitated instead of the usual parlor games to stick with the outreach theme, which is Balik Eskwela (Back to School).

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I noticed that many kids still did not know how to read because they identified the picture in the cards by the local term they call it, and not actually reading the word.

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The school supplies were ready for distribution. One plastic envelope contained 6 notebooks, 2 pencils, ballpoint pen, eraser, sharpener, coloring book, box of crayons, ruler and sanitary kit.

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The kids with their school supplies

Excess school supplies kits were distributed to another Sitio that we passed by on our way back.

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The next photo below, taken using my Samsung phone without flash, was a picture of a dimly lit hut where a few locals gathered for a small drink during the night. There is no electricity in the area. Last Christmas of 2015, this same group distributed solar panels to 14 of 15 families. We were glad to see they were still using it after 5 months.

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I took a picture of the head of the family who was not given a solar panel last Christmas of 2015. I wanted to ensure he and his family would be given one this time as promised. It was his wife  who received it. Six other families were given solar panels. They were oriented on the proper installation, use and maintenance.

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Solar-powered light 101

Bihon guisado is a popular food in the Philippines. It has been a “tradition” for our group to prepare this dish for the community every time we go for outreach activity.

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Christmas is 6 months away. But it was now that I was able to actually realize the essence of the saying “It is better to give than to receive.” The joy of sharing one’s blessings is like no other.

In behalf of this group of friends who initiated this outreach, I thank all the sponsors who kindly shared their blessings. To God be the glory.

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