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Tsinelas for Christmas
[Date Created: August 13, 2013]

by Liv Apela

Something to share, something purposeful, something for Christmas…

Giving gifts is something we’re all fond of doing, whether the gifts are expensive or not. Gawad Kalinga Antique together with the volunteers from St. Anthony’s College – Nursing Department, the Philippine Nurses Association – Antique Chapter, Alpha Company from 22nd Infantry Battalion, and Individual Advocates had a gift-giving activity in Barangay Osorio 1 and 2, San Remegio, Antique. Even if the place was an alarming area infested with insurgents, this did not deter us volunteers as we took these discomforts as part of our duties to society, to serve our fellow Antiquenos.

All packed up as early as seven in the morning, we were all pretty much excited for gift-giving without thinking that the weather could change at any moment. We prayed that the sunny weather would favor our day. Due to the numerous sacks filled with goods (clothes, toys for children and boxes of cakes), we disregarded the space that we occupied as we hopped onto the vehicle provided for us. What mattered most was the laughter we shared with every bump we got as we passed by the rocky road.

As the road narrowed, we knew that we were now entering our target area. The cold wind, the trees, the rocks, and the silence of the surroundings welcomed us. We paused for a moment and filled our eyes with the beautiful scenery. The mere fact that the place is situated kilometers away from the town made us think about how they survive their day to day living without easy access to their needs. After a few kilometers, we were glad to get off the truck and let our dusty mountain shoes touch the bare earth. Eager to see the children, we hurriedly got our things and settled into the mini stage. We noticed that the children are a bit shy and in order to ease them, we got the ball rolling. Some of the GK volunteers led the energizers, which the children enjoyed.

After some muscle-stretching energizers, we started the games. We were amazed at how competitive they were just for their respective groups to win. Prizes were given thereafter, and they were able to choose the toys they wanted from the boxes lined up and the simple “thank yous” never failed to tug our hearts.

As the activities continued, some GK volunteers along with the residents of Barangay Osorio 1 prepared the food. We weren’t bothered with how hot the temperature of the day was. It wasn’t even the thought that we counted after – it was the smile on their faces, the joy that they’ve shown and their countless thank yous.

After that, the group was divided in half. The first half remained in Osorio 1 and the other half were tasked to go to Osorio 2 to give slippers to the children. We headed off to Osorio 2 escorted by military men. We passed by the dusty road, where the burrs of various shrubs and plants were stuck into our pants. After 20 minutes of walking, we finally reached their plaza situated at the center of the barangay. With the list that was given to us, we distributed the slippers appropriate for their foot sizes.

We headed back at 3PM and when we arrived at Osorio 1, the things were packed up already and were ready to go home.

John Lubbock once said, “To do something, however small, to make others happier and better is the happiest ambition, the most elevating hope, which can inspire a human being.” Seeing their faces smile, hearing them giggle, sing and dance – they inspire us to continually serve them with no less than one-hundred-and-one percent.

The people of San Remegio are like a flock of birds. They are hardworking people who struggle to make their life better. They live with love and aspirations. They are motivated to work hard and live well in order to have a meaningful celebration with the abundance of life with joy, thanksgiving and contentment.

We’ve learned that being Filipino isn’t just a birthright. What embodies volunteerism is the striking fact that even with hardships, we are willing to go the extra mile to help our kababayans and participate in a good cause. In spite of all the risks and discomforts of volunteering, the will to do so will never be absent as we continue to work for the welfare of humanity. At the end of the day, we’re happy to have survived the day under pressure and that “WE DARED TO CARE.”

Gawad Kalinga is not a charity, rather, it's an organization that aims to end poverty by building sustainable communities. Volunteer activities continuously happen all around the country as a concrete response to ending poverty in the Philippines. Like these volunteers, you too can burn with the passion to serve our country and be part of our global army of nation-builders! Email to volunteer in the place nearest you!

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