“We are blessed so we can be a blessing to others.”
I remember our pastor saying those words and ever since then the fire to serve others has kept on burning. Louie and I have been participating in regular outreach activities and have been conducting ALS in Brgy. Puray in Rodriguez, Rizal. We’ve also brought our colleagues from IBM in Puray as well to bring smile to people’s faces and give gifts to the little kids last holiday season.
This time, we we’re very fortunate to be invited by PASSION Project to join them in an outreach activity in Mayaoyao, Ifugao.
At around 3:00 A.M. we left Manila and started our long journey to Mayoyao. We were a big group so we had to bring 3 cars with us to accommodate all the volunteers and all the stuff we brought with us such as food, school supplies, computer sets and toys.
Our first pit stop was in Nueva Viscaya where we are able to try fresh carabao’s milk and Tilapia ice cream. Yep, you heard me right! Ice cream with tilapia bits in it. I thought it was gonna taste fishy but I was wrong. I couldn’t taste the tilapia at all though you can definitely feel with your tongue the bits of tilapia meat. I wasn’t a big fan of this.
The road to Mayoyao was smooth however the last leg was not paved yet. The rain did not make it any easier for our driver either. I was asleep most of the time but kept waking up due to the bumps and deep puddles. Finally after more or less 18 hours of travel time, we finally reached Mayoyao at around 10 p.m. Our host mommy Lourdes was very hospitable and accommodating. Dinner was already on the table when we arrived. We set up camp soon after to get ready for the seminar the following day.
We woke up early the following day had a bountiful breakfast prepped by Mommy Lourdes and her nieces. I finished my breakfast earlier than the others so I had enough time to see what Mayoyao looks like just after sun rise. It was so peaceful and serene and the sound of vehicles honking through the rush our traffic were unheard of. Rural lifestyle at it’s finest.
We drove over to Assumption Academy as soon as everyone was ready. The school was not too far from mommy Lourdes’ house but the road was quite narrow with ups and downs but still, we got there in no time.
The students were already there scattered in school grounds when we arrived. While some of us took care of the student registration, the other’s did an ocular of the school to look for the best place to hold the seminar. We settled for the chapel to avoid being roasted in the sun.
The seminar was a success. We were able to talk to the student about life, how they should let go of the past, focus on the present and plan for the future. There was also a career talk wherein we informed the students about the different courses they can take in college and what kind of jobs they can apply for after graduating. Looking at the faces of the student, I can see that they are now more confident to take on the future.
Day 2 was focused on the little kids of Chaya Primary School which is under the tutelage of mommy Lourdes. Going there was no easy task especially with all the stuff we had to carry as the school was situated on a mountain top. I was soaked in sweat when I reached the school despite the cold weather but the view from the school was just amazing. The Mayayo rice terraces were visible with little mushroom like houses dotting the landscape.
The first half of the day was used to install the computer sets donated by Globe Telecom and fashion a “Play Corner” where the children can enjoy the assortment of toys from the donors. We also sorted out the school supplies and wrapped the presents for the children. We also prepared the snacks that will be given to them later in the afternoon.
The outreach program started at 2:00 p.m. To our surprise, the kids prepared a little presentation where they showcased the traditional Ifugao dance called Dinnuy-a. They even asked us to join the dance which for me was very touching as it symbolizes that they are accepting as in their community.
After the dance presentation, ice breakers were held to make the kids feel more comfortable. We played games and shared stories about an owl who sleeps during class time. Can’t help but smile as the story reminded me of myself when I was still at school 😀 Of course a bit of Q&A was held to see if the kids were listening. We were glad they were able to get the moral of the story.
We finished the outreach program by giving gifts and snacks to the children. It’s really nice to see the smiles on the kids and their parents faces. Knowing we were able to give them joy is priceless. When the kids left, the team together with the other youth volunteers played a game of volleyball.
On the way back to Manila, we took the scenic route and stopped over at Banaue to enjoy the grand Banaue Rice Terraces.
Our trip to Mayoyao was definitely worth it despite the fact that we were on the road for 18 hours and you know what, I am looking forward to going back
Watch our Ifugao Travel Vlog below!