On Volunteerism and Leaving with Fire

I was never the philanthropic type.

Or maybe, I could just be too self-deprecating to realize that I may have that helpful gene somewhere in me. But to put it on a slogan like Tony Stark {Playboy, genius, philanthropist}, would be a stretch.

I hadn't gone to an immersion program in a long, long time. In recent memory, I remember my friends and I going around the less affluent side of Alabang some years ago on Christmas eve distributing toys, food and gifts. That's as far as I have on my plate, aside from the regular donations us, corporate slaves dole out. I've lost hope when a child asked for Php 20 from me at a stoplight in Makati Ave. I've thought then that the poor are drenched in poverty because they refuse to do something about it.

At a recent company-driven event though, and as a way of showing support for a colleague who's been hard at work in doing philanthropic activities, I found myself inside a van in the middle of nowhere, about to spend a night in a room that sounded of crickets, frog croaks and water with doubtful clarity.

On Saturday morning, before the roosters even had the chance to wake me up, my colleagues came bounding by the doors at 5 AM and remembering my bedtime of the night prior of 1 AM, I stood up and decided that it was only once in a blue moon anyway. I had expected that the day would leave me feeling satisfied and happy, feeling that --- it didn't. The day ended up with me feeling and wanting more.

I want more.

C, my colleague who was spearheading the project had warned us --- our creature comforts will be nowhere in Calauan, Laguna andthat we needed to let our sense of adventure take reign.

At the end of the day, all I had was a sense of gratitude and a desire to do it all again.

Before the slew of activities began, photo first with my teammates.

Insecurity #1: I cannot speak conversational Filipino {which does not mean I speak English, rather a product of Taglish and Filipino slang} that I ended up saying harap sa likod during the morning exercises.

Playing with gagamba and laughing with the boys.

That day's morning exercises aka my epic display of mangled Tagalog.

Meeting a girl who likes to explore makeup in the future.

 Thank you, Enpina family, for welcoming me into your home.

 I didn't expect to discover my maternal instinct at Legacy of Light Village in Calauan, Laguna.

To be truly honest, I am at a loss for words on how to share this feelings I have for the entire experience without sounding like a horn-tooting person. When I listened to Dylan Wilk at TEDxKatips,

I knew I wanted to do something to help. I am not the richest person in the world but I knew I was lucky being where I am, not needing to wonder if I have something to eat the next day, not worrying about having a bed, clean water and a toilet that does not reek.

The Legacy of Light villagers may be rescued from the unhealthy life and future that they have, being former residents of Pasig River side but the changemaking doesn't stop. I found out that weekend how children needs more than just a person giving them food to eat, shelter to live in, toys and swings to play with. What I saw were children needing to be treated like children, not like nuisances that appeared out of nowhere. If we, adults, will not be giving children {ours or otherwise} the love, patience, understanding, listening and playtime that they need, can you imagine what kind of world would it be for them when they grow up? I hated to imagine it.

I left the activity and got home extremely tired. I had been up on my toes the whole day, chasing and running around with kids, feeling fulfilled but still wanting more. And maybe that's what I will do. More.