Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Just Be

"If you have the ability to imagine it, or even think about it, this Universe has the ability and the resources to deliver it fully unto you" 

-- Esther and Jerry Hicks (from the book Ask and It Is Given)

I've seen the movie Inception a couple of times and it still amazes me how much the plot was made intricately. I needed that "couple of times" rewatching and I was able to conclude that the entire movie was based on one basic premise.. "EVERYTHING STARTS OFF AS AN IDEA...". 

I could vividly remember the day we decided to do another birthday project this 2012. My good friend Kathleen Madula sent me a text message early September 2012 asking me "Coe, sabay ka ba ng birthday project?" Then that one little question started it all. We've subsequently spent weeks of brainstorming, choosing an instituion, soliciting, campaigning for sponsors and looking for willing people who would sign our petitions. Whew! And finally, on the 20th of October 2012, we again held together our 2nd Birthday Project (The 1st one was held on the 29th of October 2011 at Grace To Be Born Shelter, Pasig City.. see my blog entry about our Grace to Be Born Birthday Project 2011 and Kathleen's entry A Day in Grace to Be Born Shelter).

One day before the event, we spent the entire day preparing and we are very blessed with so many people who are willing to support us like Michael Andrew Abalos, Michelle Abalos, Apple Abalos Sister Carmen of the Salesian Sisters, Bryle Ian Bolong and Ryan Sta Teresa. I'm also grateful for the delicious meals care of the Abalos Siblings! ^_^

Then October 20, 2012 finally arrived! We reached Don Bosco Manila past lunchtime and was surprised to learn that the venue was moved from the Hall to the School Canteen. Which was actually way better since we have more privacy, there were drinking fountains plus it was well lit and ventilated. 
The Venue: Don Bosco Manila Canteen

We subsequently rushed in preparing the venue for the activity. We unloaded our cars of all the loot bags and paraphernalias that we are going to use. Some of the benches were moved to the corner for us to have a big floor space (we expected the children would run around ^_^). We also helped Ton of Fun to setup their Pop Corn and Cotton Candy carts (Yes, we have them due to our generous sponsors! ^_^). It was a nice surprise that we have a Shooting Game that comes free with these carts. <3
The venue prepping required a little more time than we expected! ^_^

After the long preparation, we opted to bless and start the entire activity with a prayer which was led by Ian. At around 3:30 pm, we opened our doors to our little angels. We started letting the VERY MUCH excited children into the campus and immediately escorted them into the school canteen. Kathleen kept on saying "SANDALI!" just to control the very antsy horde of kids. ^_^ Amazingly, we were able to group them into 4 teams wherein each team was handled by 2-3 volunteers which they called Mama Goose or Papa Goose. After the final headcount, we concluded that we have 42 streetchildren attendees. We expected to have 50 kids but we couldn't wait for more due to time constraint.
Opening our doors and welcoming the streetkids

The next quarter of an hour was spent on giving name tags on the children and building rapport with them. It was nice to know that their assigned Papa/Mama Goose were very much equipped in handling their charges despite the commotion.

Rapport Building with the kids

The 4 Teams with their Papa/Mama Goose

After the kids had settled down, to formally start the day's program, Kathleen and I introduced ourselves. We were surprised when the kids shouted "Happy Birthday Ate Coe and Ate Kath" in chorus! This definitely had set the cheerful and energy-filled mood during the entire day! ^_^ Afterwhich, we had them fall in line per teams and asked them to introduce themselves in front of the entire group. These "bibo" kids didn't shy away from the microphone and courageously announced their names, their age and their grade school level.
Introductions ^_^

Of course, what would the food carts be for if the kids don't get enjoy them?? After introducing themselves, we allow each child to run to the carts and choose whether they like pop corn or cotton candy. They also get to play shooting games as much as they like! <3

Everybody enjoyed the food carts from TON of FUN
Once everybody got their fill of pop corn and pink cotton candy, the kids got their chance of making their own party hats. After demonstrating how to make one,  each child was given strips of pink cartolina paper and a box of 24-piece crayon (again care of our beloved sponsors ^_^). They were asked to be as imaginative and as creative as they can be. Oh boy, were they competitive! During the activity, there were lots of giggling and laughter as each kid tried to outdo each other. Some kids didn't need assistance while the smaller children required more guidance. And of course, in such a "school-like" setting, some even tried copying one another! ^_^

Party Hat-Making activity of the kids ^_^

To further encourage the kids to make the best party they could make, we added a little "incentive" that whoever makes the best hat would get a special prize. Out of 42 kids, we picked out the best 3 party hat and asked the rest of the children to vote for their favorite. I guess popularity and fame do get you to places since Brenalyn, one of the older kids and known to be a good singer unquestionably won the competition. She singlehandedly ousted sisters Jhoannanel and Yuananel because of sheer popularity among the group. We got to hear her golden voice when she sang "Hulog ng Langit" in a capella and all I can say was "wow!" The kid got talent! I will definitely pray that she gets the opportunity to hone that innate talent.

Top 3 in the Party Hat Making and Brenalyn (middle) singing "Hulog ng Langit"

After the hat-making, the next activity was designed to have the kids pump up their energy because Kuya Ian will have them following his orders. The next activity was called "Arrange Yourselves" and the kids competed with their teams. We prepared 5 categories (Name in Alphabetical order, Height, Shoe Size, Birthday and Number of Siblings) but the teams were so competitive that we had multiple ties! We added another category (Grade Level) wherein Team 4 won!

"Arrange Yourselves" game and the Team 4 as winners in the middle

While the game was about to conclude, we welcomed the chefs and team of CCA Manila as they arrived in the venue. For a brief introduction, CCA Manila is actually the first Philippine Culinary Institution and was in operation since June 1997. The institution aims to visualize one's culinary dreams  and to provide excellent culinary education along with inculcating social & leadership values among CCA Communities. Aside from culinary and baking techniques (which we got to try pleasantly ^_^), the program also develops entrepreneural and management skills vital in the operation of an institutional kitchen.

And that was just the tip of the iceberg since CCA Manila, owing to their advocacy of stewardship and prudence, agreed to sponsor the food for 75people in celebration of our Birthday Project 2012! All they asked was 500 people to petition with us and sign up for our cause. Amazingly, with combined efforts we reached more than our target and CCA Manila was more than willing to share their talents and gifts with us! <3 <3 <3
CCA Manila Team: Ms. Lovely, Chef Jel, Chef Regina, Chef Marge, Chef Jenny and Chef Camille

While CCA Manila  was preparing the food and mini loot bags, we decided to kill time with our back-up game "Bring Me" (the favorite game in any Filipino Children's Party ^_^). We asked random items from the kids and their Papa/Mama Goose were more than willing to help them out. With our "average" height, it was hard to distinguish Kathleen and Me in the pictures when the kids literally "mobbed" us in desperate effort to win the prizes we have prepared for them! Ahahaha! :-D

Bring Me activity where the kids "mobbed" us

Once everything was prepared and we got tired of dodging running children (ahehe :-D), we asked everyone to settle down. Thanksgiving prayers were led by Sister Carmen of the Salesian Sisters. But before the kids lined up for food, they sang a Birthday Song for us (slow and fast version!) led by Brenalyn. ^_^ Then, the kids lined up one by one in the food queue and got to enjoy their packed meals (Spaghetti, Chicken Fingers with Gravy and a Choco Revel slice for dessert.. they also got a mini loot bag filled with chocolates, lollipops and more sweets!). The kids enjoyed their food and they were quiet for a while. ^_^ Interestingly enough, some kids didn't eat their food... when asked about it, they said they were saving it so they could bring it home to their family. Kids can really teach you so many things in their little ways of showing compassion and love!! <3
The kids enjoying the food prepared by CCA Manila

While enjoying the food, a very kindhearted and inspiring person dropped by and graced us with her presence. KCat Yarza arrived and blessed us with more goodies and loot bags to be given to the kids.

Thank you so much KCat for being a wonderful blessing! <3

After eating, we spent sometime bonding more with kids and playing with them. They also got another go with the Pop Corn and Cotton Candy carts adding to the sugar rush. Hence, there were more screaming, running and exhibitions that happened! ^_^ Just imagine, 42 sugar-rushed kids paired with 15 of us... we were definitely outnumbered! Lovely chaos!!! :D

Fooling around with the kids ^_^

Pumped with sugary treats and with their energetic nature, it was very very VERY hard to calm all 42 kids and have them settle down to prepare for the next game. Sure enough, it took us almost 30 minutes just calling out to them and asking them to quiet down. ^_^ Plus it was very hard to explain to a bunch of kids the mechanics of the next game Human Bingo.. especially to the small ones. Still we are blessed since the older children assisted their younger counterparts and everyone helped each other out. Soon, the game was on a roll. Everyone was running, calling out to each other and asking one another about certain details about themselves. The first 10 who correctly completed the papers won and were given prizes which are lunch boxes sponsored by Nuffnang Team ^_^.

Everyone playing Human Bingo and Us having a difficult time
reviewing the entries ^_^ Ahaha Karma!

The next and last game was "Form the Longest Line" in which we lacked decent pictures. We do have a movie clip showing pure chaos with children screaming and jumping all around. The clip was rather hard to watch, I can only assume that Ian was bumped more than a couple of times by jumping and running kids. Ahaha! :-D At this game, Team 1 won and they were more than pleased to have receive their hard-won prizes.

After the wonderful day with kids, it was sad that everything must come to an end. Before we ended the entire program, we extended our gratitude to the kids and those who volunteered and sponsored us. The kids, with their loving nature and endless source of energy, again rendered their version of the "Birthday Song" to Kathleen and I. ^_^ Their "Happy Birthday Ate Coe and Ate Kath" and "Thank You Ate Coe and Ate Kath" made all the effort and time spent very much worth it.

And of course, as all children's party, we happily sent the kids home with their loot bags. We are proud to say that each loot bag was filled with love. We had numerous sponsors and contributors which overwhelmed both of us. Just to enumerate, each loot bag was filled with:
  • Canned goods from Apple Abalos and Baby Ozato
  • Noodles from Michelle Abalos
  • Pansit Canton from Rheena Sison-Panser
  • 1 kilo of Rice from Celia Abalos
  • Pastel Buns from Dr. Viel Vincent Jose 
  • Toothpaste from NuffNang Team
  • Ballpens from Bryle Ian Bolong
  • Small bag from Ralph Alcantara
  • Candies and Sweets from KCat Yarza and Valeri Ann Chua
We also added from the sponsored fund:
  • Biscuits and Cream Sandwiches 
  • 1 Toothbrush
  • 1 Bar of Soap
  • 1 box of 24-piece crayon

The loot bags ^_^

I've learned from our previous birthday project, giving kindness and love is such a wonderful thing do because most of the time, when you're lucky enough, it is mirrored back to you. I would have settled for the smiles and joy in those children's eyes. They did more than that. All of the kids extended their greetings of gratitude, some of them wrote heart-warming messages and a few hugged us tightly. Yes, it was most definitely worth it. 

The Birthday Project concludes in a loving and joyful spirit ^_^

As in the beginning, I would again like to quote Esther and Jerry Hicks as they said "If you have the ability to imagine it, or even think about it, this Universe has the ability and the resources to deliver it fully unto you". 

Indeed, the entire project was a success not for our own sole efforts. We initiated the idea and then we are blessed with so many giving people who graced us with their efforts, God-given gifts, time and resources so we could witness the realization of what we can only imagine by ourselves alone. We are very grateful of all our sponsors, of all those who donated and all of those who volunteered. We are also thankful for the Don Bosco Manila Community and the Salesian Sisters especially Sister Carmen and Sister Ailyn Cayanan for wholeheartedly opening your doors to us. We cannot thank you all enough!

Also, we would like to give thanks to everyone who signed and petitioned with us!!! Thank you Ma'am Maricor Macabenta, Garry Marvin Tolosa, Mary Grace Nunag, Bryle Ian Bolong and Apoll Bolong for helping us surpass our petition target! ^_^ We only targeted 500 names, and there were 800+ who supported our cause! Thank you everyone!!! ^_^

We are very grateful of you guys for volunteering and gracing us with your presence during the activity! Thank you very much Mitch, Apple, Ryan, Marian, Michelle, Jhoie, Joey, Jhoanna, Isha, Aileen, Kathleen Anne, Ma'am Recsi and Elyse for just being there! Also, we cannot emphasize enough our gratitude to Nico Orillano for being a talented photographer and our official graphic artist! The banners and cards were awesome!!! <3 <3 <3

Thank you for these two people for the inspiration
and for being the best runners, cameraman and "personal driver/assistants"  <3
CCA MANILA sponsored the meal for the entire activity
Dr. Viel Vincent Jose donated 10 dozens of Pastel Buns
NuffNang Team donated 15 Lunchboxes and a bagful of Toothpaste
and there were numerous contributors for the Loot Bags as mentioned above <3 <3 <3

Due to unavailability, some of our sponsors were unavailable to volunteer and be present during the entire program but they extended their support by giving Cash Donations. I would like to thank the following for your generosity!!! (I would refrain from mentioning 3 generous persons because they wish to remain anonymous ^_^)

  • Daven Arcega
  • Marian Encinas
  • Jim Duldulao
  • Catherine Lynn Tolosa
  • Patria Tolosa-Lee
  • Vic Calag
  • Xtian Fernando
  • Ralph Sacdalan
  • Fr. Filemon Dela Cruz
  • Radimir Relator
  • Gian Carlo Trinidad
  • Marissa Volante
  • Judith Clemente
  • Ginn Tolosa
  • Anna Katrina Dayo
  • Kilven John Tolosa
  • Aileen Magparangalan
  • Franco Telado
  • Josefina Prado
  • Jhoanna Anag
  • Bin Edres
  • Cha Roque
  • Orlando Claveria
  • Chris Valencia
  • Joyce Estanislao
  • Elyse Go

In terms of Cash Donations, we are able to solicit a total of P26800!!! Again, I cannot stress our gratitude enough! ^_^ As to the expenses of the whole activity, we were only able to spend P11,700. It was a combined decision that we will donate the extra cash we have solicited to charitable institutions. We donated P12, 100 to UNICEF (6050 under Kathleen's name and 6050 under yours truly) and P3000 to World Vision (P1500 under Kathleen's Name and P1500 under yours truly).

The success of an endeavor magnifies its greatness by how many lives you've affected and how many people you've touched. Thank you very much for the support and love... Kathleen and I are deeply loved and blessed.

Early this year, while on a relief mission in CDO during the flood calamity, I asked a friend of mine, "How can you make a difference? How can you be a blessing?"... He answered me, "Just love".

And I knew he was right.... you just give. Just love. Just be. <3

****You may also click the link to check Kathleen's Blog entry on our Birthday Project 2012 Preparations

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Birthday Project 2012

"Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity and responsibility to give something back by becoming more."  
-Anthony Robbins-

Sure enough, its the "BER" months again... and I'm soon adding another year into my personal calendar :-) . Same time last year, I was blessed to have the opportunity to share my blessings to less fortunate people. Me and my friend Kathleen held our very first joint Birthday Project for the benefit of Grace To Be Born Foundation (please click link for my previous blog and you may read Kathleen's Grace to Be Born Blog entry as well.. it's more informative ahaha). That year, it was made possible together with our family and friends whose generosity showered both of us with love and overwhelming support.

As we our about to turn "ehem" this year, we wish to hold another Birthday Project for the year 2012. Our beneficiary would be the street children of Don Bosco School (DBS) where Kathleen finished her primary and secondary education, hence this year, our birthday project is more personal and close to our hearts. <3

The foundation is run by FMA Sisters and they hold their weekly oratory every Sunday. After the early morning (7am) mass, the street children are welcomed inside the campus and weekly cathechism is held and occasionally, feeding programs are done. Both Kathleen and me are at the early stages of planning and coordinating the entire activity together with DBS. We plan to hold this humble activity on October 20th which is roughly halfway between our birthdates since Kathleen is turning "ehem" this upcoming September ^_^.

Basically, we plan to celebrate a modified birthday party with the kids. The entire activity would be sort of a fusion of a "mini recollection" that we usually do during our UST Center for Campus Ministry days pumped up with a "mini birthday party" with the kids. A few more brainstorming and planning regarding the details and specifics are needed so we can hold the activity as planned.

As of the moment, we implore and request our reader's generosity to support our Birthday Project 2012. We accept donations and support in any forms like cash, personal support and even items for loot bags... Please see DONATION and SUPPORT for details on how you can support our project. 

And to everyone, we are very grateful for the love and support. <3 <3 <3

*** Please be advised that updates regarding the activity and project will be uploaded through this blog entry. ^_^ ***

Check out Kathleen's Birthday Project 2012 for further information.
To know more about the Salesian Sisters and FMA, check this link: FMA Philippines 
To know more about Don Bosco School, check this link: Don Bosco School Manila

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Empty Spaces

 I wrote this last February 15, 2012... one day after Valentine's day. I actually dont intend to publish this because I wrote it for personal reading but I find this funny and I have the need to actually share. Hail to singles out there! ;-)


This day has been all about gratitude. I didn't plan anything special today. I did multiple personal errands, "attempted" to study at a coffee shop and chatted with a friend about a business venture. It took me almost the whole day to get through most of my tasks. My last errand entails a 1-hour drive to MOA to pick a bank draft. So at around 4pm in the afternoon, afraid to  miss out on open office hours, I speedily drove through the highway to catch up on lost time...only to find out I was in the wrong office and that I forgot the draft receipt! Haha! I didn't really care that it was all waste of time, effort and gas. All I can think of is, "what am I gonna do now?!" It's roughly an hour-drive back home and it's rush hour already so I decided to pick some groceries for my furry pet and got some dog food.. but then I was done in 15 minutes! I also tried to buy some books from National Bookstore but "Boy Meets Girl" and "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" were both out of stock. At that moment, I surrendered. Nothing worked out at that point anyway.

I then decided, Im going out on a date... with myself. It's post-Valentine's day and I can see a lot of couples and here I am alone--by myself! Who the hell cares, I said. So I decided I'm going to watch a movie and went out to buy a movie ticket and the line is aaawfully long. I got sandwiched between couples holding hands and kissing on all directions. Some with flowers and fancy gift bags in tow. I can't stop smiling. I like it actually because I stand out like a sore thumb! Ahaha!

Inside the movie theater, there were more hugging, holding hands, kissing and smiles all over the place. Which made me wonder, how come a fiction movie about a young orphan boy could inspire so much romance.. and there I was, with two empty seats on both sides.  But I survived. Obviously. :-)

Further on through the night, since Im on a "date", I also went out and dined with myself at one of my comfort fastfood chain and sat at the farthest corner where I can observe everyone and everything. Sitting there myself have given me the best conversation with myself.. (disclaimer: the conversation happened only through my head though :-b). Pondering over the day's events, I cant help smiling. I was actually contented and I felt happier than I ever. Being alone, I was at ease and there were no pressure. Yes, the occasion made the fact that Im single more prominent but i wasnt lonely. I was happy. And looking at the empty seat before me.. I know I dont want it any other way. I was glad it was empty because it made me realize that I was actually fine by myself. I didn't realize when it happened, but I knew it then. I want that empty space.

I began thinking of other "empty spaces" in my life. And  I actually smiled because I was glad that I have those empty spaces because it means that it can be filled! That empty space gives me hope that it can be filled by something better and that I have another chance to make better choices.

Thank you for empty spaces. :-)