My five cents’ worth
CHRISTMAS is here and so allow me to meander not on sports but on the true meaning of Christmas as I have learned it to be.
I remember those days when I was a kid and every time Christmas season approaches, my thoughts would be on the gifts and how many I would get, with no thought as yet of me giving Christmas gifts in turn.
But then as I grew older, realizations and new insights dawned and I have accepted that Christmas is the best time ever for people to share their blessings with those who have less in life.
My kids were still small when we used to pack the car with small gifts and drive around Roxas Boulevard in Manila and handing out these gifts to street kids in the area.
But it was 12 years ago when I made it as an official event during Christmas that I would have a small gift giving and party for indigent kids in Mt. Banahaw, my favorite mountain that has played a major role in changing my way of thinking in life.
My family and I pooled resources and had 30 kids invited for that very first outreach in Banahaw. More than 40 showed up, and every year, even as I was increasing the number of kids as recipients, the number of kids who would show up still kept on exceeding my preparation, what was good was that through the years, I had more and more people lending me support for this project that I made as part of my Y-JAM activities then, primarily to help my high school campus journalists learn the meaning of sharing.
Mayor Benhur Abalos through Y-JAM, Jean Henri Lhuillier through the PJL Foundation, later on the Cebuana Lhuillier Foundation, my high school batch mates from Paco Catholic School , other kind -hearted friends from everywhere including former PBA players and other athletes, they were all there and it was their help through the years that has sustained me in doing this program, now an expanded one.
Six years ago, I also started donating school bags with school supplies to Banahaw kids, tapping the same people.
This year, there was even more, with what I received, I have scheduled four activities plus one where I would just donate adult diapers to a shelter for the elderly in Bataan, a project of a former staff of mine , Imelda Sapitan in my previous job way back.
We have joined forces and are helping one another in each other’s out reach programs, the other one being the Tahanan ni Maria in Cabanatuan which I visited with my family last Dec.16.
We had young girls who are crime victims plus a group of poor kids who were being taught catechism and we had a simple party with them and we turned over items like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, alcohol, cotton, used clothes, diapers, and small gifts for the recipients.
The reward for me that night, I experienced eating puto bumbong and bibingka at the Lucero Town Plaza in Cabanatuan with the cold December air as our natural air condition, this was around 10 p.m.
But a week before that, it was the turn of my Banahaw kids to enjoy what my friends and supporters donated, together with my one former Y-JAM member Kim Lanto, I was joined by Cebuana Lhuillier staffers and scholars, and my high school batch mate, a regular Banahaw visitor Betchay Luces , and we hosted a party for 80 kids, feeding them and playing games with them, and believe me, the feeling of fulfillment doing this is simply unquantifiable.
I took pride in the fact that Kim, who is a working student, without my knowledge at first, gave P500 to a young girl who had an open wound in her leg with no money to to treat it, influencing people like Kim to give on their own again gives me that special feeling of fulfillment.
As a reward, for those Cebuana Lhuillier staffers who stayed overnight, I brought them to the lower slopes of the mountain and let them enjoy trekking, taking a bath in a batis or natural pool, and under mini waterfalls in Sta. Lucia, and the nice, clean mountain air, also our aircon at night, and as early as now, some of them have already signified their intention to help me next summer for our school supplies distribution in Banahaw.
On Christmas Day itself, my family will prepare a small family dinner pack for maybe 25 street families in Manila and let them enjoy roast chicken, bread, soft drinks, dessert, and toys for the kids, used clothes for both kids and adults.
My daughter Jemi has been repacking the used clothes since two weeks ago for this occasion again with some friends offering to help.
On Dec. 30, my former Y-Jam members, my core group most of whom are already working, will join me again in distributing family packs and toys to street kids and families along Roxas Boulevard with my students also donating from their own pockets, it warms my heart just watching them when they repack whatever items we are able to raise and collect.
For the record, for this year, I would like to thank my classmates Adie Santos, Boy Samsin, Oya Pido, Mila Garcia, Janet Resurreccion, Betchay Luces, and those who joined our class Christmas party which I used to raise funds, of course Jean Henri Lhuillier, Pebbles de Asis, Mike and Maya Advani, William Tan, Albert Almendralejo, Rudy Co, my family, and my former Y-JAM members for the support.
As I used to tell my students, they do not have to have money to be able to help other people and this is the other objective for me, to awaken among others that spirit of generosity within them and without any thought of returns, be willing to help others.
Merry Christmas to one and all.