Last November 17, I was blessed with a chance to volunteer at Make-A-Wish foundation. I’ve always been wanting to volunteer for a foundation and when my mom told me about this, I immediately said yes! 
     Make-A-Wish is a foundation that grants wishes of kids 3-18 with life-threatening medical conditions. Their aim is to cheer up the kids and give them strength, happiness, and hope. 
     I really wanted to help because I want to give the kids hope and strength that they can win the battle against their condition. My cousin lost hers when she was 10 and I want to give these kids strength that they can win. I also wanted to see the joy in their eyes once they receive their granted wishes. 
     I was filled with extreme happiness when I found out that the kids and their parents arrived at the party. I was beyond excited to interact with the kids and make them enjoy the day.
     The theme of the wish grant was a graduation theme where we focused on the kids’ achievements of 2013. A few volunteers interviewed the parents and asked them what their kids’ achievements were while most of us stayed with the kids and entertained them. We had a coloring activity and some of the volunteers even performed for them! 
I grew very fond of Adrian because he was hyper and joyful!

   The graduation theme!

     The kids show off their amazing work! Great job, kids!

   I honestly got teary-eyed when they started saying the kids’ achievements during the “graduation ceremony”. I only got to hang out with these kids for a couple of hours, but I felt so proud of them. I will definitely remember them until I get older. I know them as the kids who always trust in God and have everlasting hope.
     This was an astonishing experience for me and I would really want to join the next event! 🙂

Villamor Volunteering

     Last November 8, a tragedy struck my home country, the Philippines. Super typhoon Yolanda ruined so much properties and traumatized numbers of people. Reports say that Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) was one of the strongest typhoons to hit the planet. It had winds at the speed of 315 kph. I actually felt its strong winds because on the night of November 8 or 9, the wind was howling and we lost power. It honestly was really frightening! 
     While lots of people were traumatized by what happened, I was perfectly safe and I was taking the basic needs of living for granted. I definitely felt down because while people were striving to live without clean water and food, I was ordering milkshakes and cookies. 
     In these kinds of situations, I look for relief operations to give back to those who need help. Luckily, I found one! Last November 20, I went with my family to Villamor Air Base to volunteer. I was in the clothing/toiletry department with my sister and I helped pack bags of toiletries for each survivor. My mom was in the clothiing section for babies until 1 year old and my dad was a marshal.  While I was helping out, I felt incredible because I was able to give back. 
     Even though I was really tired from what I had been doing from 1:30 PM to 9:30 PM, I actually enjoyed it. In the future, I would want to participate in more relief and packing operations. No matter how tired I would be and how difficult the job can be, I am still up for participating and helping! 🙂

Can You Be A Moses?

   Have you ever wondered how God reveals Himself through His Chosen People? Well, in Christian Living, I learned about that particular subject. The person I was most interested in was Moses. Why? Moses was chosen to lead the Israelites to Sinai, but there were obstacles and difficulties He had to go through. Moses did not give up even though the Israelites were about to. He just put His trust in God and did what God called Him to do. 

     The departure of the Israelites from Egypt under Moses’ leadership is known as the Exodus. Through the Exodus, God shows us that the suffering and pain we go through is a way of building up our spiritual strength. It also shows us that freedom is not easy to have. If you want to have freedom, you have to pass through obstacles and difficulties, but God is always there to help us. He has always been and He always will be.

    When we encounter an obstacle, we usually complain and grumble like the Israelites. We keep on criticizing the person who tries to do good to help us. We want everything to fall in place just the way we want it, but we don’t do anything to improve the situation. Sometimes, we break rules like crossing the street when the pedestrian light says “Stop”, walking on grass when there is a sign that says “Do not step on the grass”, and cutting lines. We also just relax while we let others do the work for us. If we want freedom, we shouldn’t be a burden to others. Let us try to not complain or become angry. Instead, let’s trust God and ask Him for help so we can also do our part.
    Speaking of not being a burden to others, I came up with an idea! Why not volunteer in community services or volunteer programs that could save or help  lives? I recently joined Angel Brigade, where I helped pack relief goods for flood victims. During the packing, I felt very generous. I’ve always wanted to donate or help in volunteer programs because I know that whatever I do or give will matter. 

     I would want to make my own volunteer program that would help animals because there are so many programs helping people that it feels like animals don’t get much attention. It’s just like animals are tiny pecks of dust. I would name my program, Help Animals For a Change (HAFC) and we would help stray or injured animals. Instead of just having this in one area of Manila, this would be a nationwide project involving children of different ages. Since I’ve always been interested in animals, I definitely think this would be fun! I can’t wait until the day when HAFC will happen! Then, I, together with other children, can be a Moses in modern times where we can all pave the way to the animals’ Exodus by leading them to good health and safety. 

Clean-up, Everybody Clean Up!

   Last September 8, 2012, my family and I drove to Planet Dive in Anilao, Batangas. It was a 2-hour drive from where we live, but it was all worth it. Why? First, we went snorkeling and saw all kinds of marine animals. Second, we cleaned up the beach! 

   We were informed by my mom’s friend, Tito Alfie, who works in Planet Dive, that 150 girls, 21 and below, and are from Assumption College, would be participating in the beach clean-up, but they would reach Planet Dive at 1pm. My family and I arrived there between 9-10am which gave me and my sister plenty of time to snorkel and be mermaids! When we were snorkeling, I saw all things that end in “fish” like blue starfish, parrot fish, angel fish, and clown fish! I also a giant clam that was about as wide as my whole arm! After a few minutes, I saw a sea urchin which made me panic and want to go back to the shore, but my sister sent me the hand signal of “ok” underwater. It made me feel better. Later on, we started to get tired and hungry, so we stopped to rest first. My mom screamed, “Are you hungry? Lunch time!” My sister and I ran from the sea towards our parents, got our towels, and went to the dining area. That was how hungry we were. 

   While we were eating lunch, it started to get cloudy and we saw one part of the island raining! We started to wonder if the beach clean-up will still continue, then the cloud of rain started to go further and further away from Anilao! After lunch, the AC (Assumption College) girls arrived. Once they arrived, they were taking pictures, screaming, and some were just enjoying the breeze. Right after they were done, they were formed into groups and my sister and I were in separate groups. 

   First, there was a briefing given to the different groups that cooperated in the beach clean-up. Secondly, we worked as teams and collected different kinds of trash in the different parts of the beach. We collected plastic, candy wrappers, styrofoam, coconut shells, glass, and rope. We put them in a sack afterwards. There wasn’t much trash to collect because there was a group of volunteers that cleaned up some parts of the beach the week before. But, this beach clean-up was more for awareness. I found a straw which marine animals might mistake it as food and eat it, which can harm its insides.

  Cooperation is working together and that’s exactly what we did here! We worked together to hunt for pieces of trash that could harm animals and the environment. Each group had a goal to collect as much trash as possible and to achieve that goal, we were given tasks on what to collect and what not. 

   This is related to my lesson in Civics, natural resources. By cleaning up the beach, we decreased the risk of harming our bodies of water and the marine animals that live in them. The natural resources related to cleaning up the beach are water and fishery resources. Natural resources are very important to Filipinos because they are the sources of livelihood for us. Farming, fishing, and mining are some of the jobs we do to earn money so that we may meet our needs. I always get angry at the people who use dynamite and cyanide to fish. They don’t realize that dynamite not only kills big fish, but it also kills small fish and corals! Dynamite and cyanide fishing is one way of destroying our natural resources and we  shouldn’t use them at all! From now on, I would want to participate in more clean-ups and volunteer programs. I also will take caution in what I do because I could be destroying natural resources myself! Maybe I could even make my own program. But, this program would be concentrating on rescuing animals. Hmm…this would be interesting to do. 🙂 

My sister and I 

Collecting snails!

The beach

The briefing

Me watching my teammate collect cigarette butts

Ate’s group mate ticking off the trash items they collected

My group

The trash we collected: rambutan peels, banana peels, plastic etc.

It’s Angel Brigade Not Angel Brag-aid

   Last Saturday, I volunteered in a program called Angel Brigade which helps victims of calamities here in the Philippines. Why are we suddenly volunteering? Well, the Philippines recently experienced a monsoon which is stronger than a typhoon. Almost all parts of the Philippines were flooded and it destroyed many infrastructures that cost millions of money. In some parts of the Philippines, the residents had to leave their homes to go to safer places like evacuation centers. Whenever a calamity strikes the Philippines, different groups or programs donate relief goods and people volunteer to help the victims. One of the organizations that help was Angel Brigade. In the volunteer program, I was one of the youngest.  I was one of the four kids among the volunteers; the rest were adults.  There were lots of people who actually sacrificed their time to help. I was surprised because there were more than I expected. 

   During the volunteer operations, we packed relief goods, rice, water, and medicine. I felt really generous when I was helping because I knew that everything I was doing to help will count. 

   I heard that some government officials donated cans of sardines with their faces and names printed on the labels.  I think they were doing it for media and public attention. Their intention was really not to help the victims but to get the attention they wanted from the public. It’s sad that in times of emergencies, people still manage to think of themselves and what they would gain out of helping.   

    Next time there is another calamity where we can help by donating, I hope more Filipinos would be generous enough to help volunteer to pack relief goods and to donate to the victims WITHOUT bragging about it. It’s better to think of OTHERS instead of ourselves. Besides, think about it.   What good will bragging do to others AND to ourselves? Nothing really. It makes you more selfish and proud. Bragging also makes you a show-off, which is a big turn-off. Let Jesus be our example when we help others. As it says in Matthew 6:3 – “But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it.”