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Operation Walang Iwanan: Paraisong Pambata

Thanks to our partners and the individuals who gave, Team GK was able to bring the hope and spirit of Christmas to over 3,000 children (3-12 years old) and a little over 2,000 adults in Compostela, Compostela Valley and Cateel, Davao Oriental last December 28, 2012, through Operation Walang Iwanan: Paraisong Pambata.

>> The work is far from over. Learn more about how you can help here!

Despite the tragedy brought by Typhoon Pablo, we ended 2012 with hope, love and solidarity in action amongst partners, volunteers and survivors. Below is an account of one of the GK volunteers who as part of experience Paraisong Pambata in Cateel:

A Thousand Smiles and More
by Arianne Rodriguez


What makes you smile, a flashing view of a brand new gadget on your hands, a dashing designer cocktail dress, an expensive pair of sneakers…or a buffet of scrumptious food perhaps?

Lovely sight that is, for sure.  For you, they’re worth the world on a spur of that moment when you discovered it’s all yours to have.


For the thousands of kids in Cateel, Davao Oriental, it’s different.

Bright smiles light up the faces of the children

Give them each an ice cream on stick or a pair of practical rubber slippers and the most genuine of smiles glow suddenly in their faces — the kind of smile that washes away all the pain that exists in the world at the moment and the very same one that can make you feel the bliss of life. It’s unadulterated. It’s infectious. It’s happiness at its finest.


On December 28, 2012, Gawad Kalinga saw thousands of those smiles during Operation Walang Iwanan Paraisong Pambata: A Christmas Party for Kids. Loaded with rice meals, brand new toys and slippers, boxes of milk, ice cream, candies and a lot more, the GK convoy conquered rain and thick fog late in the night of the 27th to reach the typhoon-struck land of Cateel and bring Christmas joy to the many kids who experienced the terror of Pablo and who might not have experienced Christmas as it should be.

Typhoon Pablo survivors gather at the St. James church in Cateel

When the program and logistics were set, the kids were gathered inside the St. James church for the event opening. Cosplayers hyped them up with their dance numbers. Even Jollibee was there to dance and play with them. Oh how happy the kids were! You can only imagine their faces — emotions mixed with joy and amazement. Some of them have never even seen Jollibee or Cosplayers all their lives until then.


One kid said, “Masaya po ako kasi ngayon lang po ako nakakita ng mga ganyan.” (I’m very happy because this is my first time to see things like this!)


After the program came the food and gift giving. Amidst the heat of the noontime air, the little ones patiently waited for their turn. It’s definitely worth it, they say, because they don’t always receive gifts and most of them spent Christmas in makeshift shelters without food. What we brought would only suffice them temporarily, but the real message we wanted to share is the thought that “Christmas lives” even in times like this. Through it all, real friends will always be around — “Walang Iwanan”.



Our Little Friends

Kids line up happily to receive their Christmas gifts

As all the kids were lining up, there was this one kid who was pulling a little wooden cart he actually made himself. He lined up happily and after receiving his food and gifts, he placed them in the cart and covered them secure with his old shirt. Shortly, he joined the other kids who have also received their gifts. We talked to him and found out that the 9-year old boy-with-the-cart’s name was Christian. His parents already died years ago. His younger sibling died during the typhoon. He usually stays around the plaza and the town’s people, out of concern, look after him every day. At the early age of nine, he had already experienced much of life’s difficulties. Yet at that moment, we didn’t see any trace of sadness in his face. He was happy that he received gifts, that he had milk and that he had seen us. If it was you in his place, would you feel the same?


In the middle of our chats, another boy was sitting on a pillar behind us, eating. I noticed he didn’t finish his chicken meal so I asked him why. He said he’s saving it for later. He said the food was really delicious and he’s so happy he was able to eat such kind of food. Then I asked him if he can give me his leftover food instead because I haven’t eaten my lunch yet. It was a joke you know but guess what… He offered me the chicken meal he carefully saved up for the next time he becomes hungry!


Of course I refused it and told him that he could keep it. I was very much inspired I could almost cry! He wanted the food so much, even divided it carefully so he can still eat it again soon after. But because I said I was hungry and asked if I could have it, without any second thought, he offered it to me. How generous!


Yes, we brought them entertainment, food and gifts. But they gave us happiness and inspiration in return, such priceless presents.




Team GK brings hope to Compostela Valley

It was one big party event for the children. As it happened in Cateel, the same program was simultaneously running in ComVal. When all's said and done, Gawad Kalinga was able to make roughly 3,000 kids (and 2,000 adults) feel the spirit of Christmas.


Thanks to YOU who supported this delightful event for our dear children. Without you, this wouldn’t be realized. Big or small, your contribution has become the children’s joy. You know who you are. :)


Until now, I believe it's not what you have lost that matters the most, it's what you STILL HAVE...that's the miracle. :)

A thousand smiles and more! :)

May God bless GK more. May God bless us all!

OPERATION WALANG IWANAN is ongoing, and we need YOUR help. Let us transform this disaster into an opportunity to bring hope to the families affected by Typhoon Pablo. Walang Iwanan!


1) Give online: Click 
2) Give via bank deposit:
* Gawad Kalinga Philippine Peso Current Account: # 3101 0977 56 BPI EDSA Greenhills
* Gawad Kalinga US$ Savings Account: # 3104 0162 34 BPI EDSA Greenhills (Swift code: BOPIPHMM)

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