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Meaning of Christmas

  • Written by Lito Cinco
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 194

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.