Organizational Communication Society (OrComSoc) is an organization in the University of the Philippines – Manila for BA Organizational Communication majors. I was included in the organization’s Social Engagement Committee (SocEng) where we would reach out in the community to become involved in its situation and do what we can to help and be aware. This year, we were given the heads-up that we would do a Christmas outreach program in Kanlungan sa Ermita-Malate Ministry Inc., a non-profit organization that manages as a child-caring agency. The heads said that we would do it on December 11, 2015.
My friend Janessa is also a member of SocEng, but no matter what I tried to persuade her to join the outreach, she would not budge. My other blockmates that are also members of the committee would not go, so it was just me alone. I was not used in attending certain activities, let alone outreach programs without somebody to accompany me. What I did was an unusual thing to do, considering my personality. I was not friends with the other freshmen on Block 8, the other block of OrCom. However, because I was free that day and I also like reaching out to help others, I felt the urge to join the outreach even though I know that I would feel alone.
Ate Ally, the head of SocEng, asked us to be at the Department of Arts and Communication (DAC) at 7:00 a.m. When I arrived there, there was no one there, and I already felt that this was going to be a not-so-good day after all. I texted her and she said the others were downstairs. Oh, no. I did not chose to go down because I know that I would not find any acquaintance there. Wow, I sound like a very introverted person that is afraid of people, but no, thank the heavens for that. Somehow, I can manage to engage in a conversation with other people, thank you very much. I just do not like being the center of attention, that is all. What I did was wait there until someone went up to collect the donations, and I was soon relieved and proceeded with them downstairs. I was greeted by the old members composed of Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors, and I gladly greeted back.
I would like to drone on about me being like an outcast because I was the only representative of Block 9, but it was all right because I soon find other people to chit-chat with. They were all right after all, and if there would be another activities, I would still go because of this experience. Anyway, my seemingly-reserved character is still not the main topic of this article, so let me start on my narration and reflection of what happened in the outreach program.
We arrived there at about 8:15 a.m., and the place was obviously small but full of bibo kids. When the gate was opened, kids started to surround us and especially our gifts. They asked, “kanino ‘yan? Kanino ‘yan?” to every person that holds a gift. The woman-in-charge said to be upstairs on their rooftop for the venue. When we arrived there, it was an all-right site, just enough to accommodate 22 children and us 32 members of the committee.
The place was in the inner part of Manila, and I thought that was just fine because they cater to street children and it was better if they were located in a partly-remote, partly-peaceful side of the metro. Some kids were running around and boasting their cartwheeling skills, but when they were getting so annoying, they were led out of the place by some members. Then we (actually they, because I just wander around the place taking pictures because the only thing needed to do was to hang the “Merry Christmas” design and of course, the upperclassmen did it already) proceeded to set-up the place.
As I roamed around the small place, I proceeded to take pictures of stuff that were posted on the wall. I was in awe because they have dreams that I take for granted, for example the Manila paper that wrote “GUSTONG PUNTAHAN” (Places I wanna visit). These children were deprived of the chance to have a normal life with their immediate family, and because of that, I was soon fired with resolve on what am I doing here — to make their Christmas a little bit happier.
The children were also engaged in art and their artworks were proudly on display. One had the words, “When I grow up, I want to be a flight attendant.” Seeing these children full of dreams gave me light. I was mushy with things like these, and I want every child to have a dream that he would strive to work hard for.
We were given name tags for ourselves and for our assigned children (let’s call my assigned child Vinz) plus some candies to give them. When we were finally ready, kids flocked the place and my assigned child was nowhere to be found. The other children claimed that he was downstairs because he had no slippers. I was like “WHAT?” and “UGH, REALLY” and “OH SAD”.
We played games as much to the children’s delight. After some time, Vinz came upstairs and I took care of him. He just wanted a lollipop all the time. I brought him a toy car gift but he said “BAKIT HINDI PAGKAIN?” (WHY NOT FOODS?). I laughed at that together with Kuya Jan Rae whom he considered his true foster father because he was always clingy with him. Sweet! When I was talking with Vinz, he asked “Babalik ba kayo dito bukas?” (Will you go again here tomorrow?) I just laughed and shifted to other topics because I did not know what to answer to that. I just knew that my heart ached because here is a child that is longing for attention. I also asked who are his friends and he said none because all of the kids there has a strong personality. They were always hurting each other, as I have observed.
The Christmas Party went well, and I was glad with that. I also like the SocEng members, though I just met a few acquaintances. After receiving their gifts, the children boasted to each other about who’s got what which is not cool. Anyway, that cannot be evaded at their age. All in all, I was happy that I attended this party. I was teary-eyed when they presented their dance number and they hugged us one by one. I can feel their love and their gratefulness for that day. Thank you, children of Kanlungan sa Er-Ma, for an eye-opening experience with you. As much as I would like to post pictures, the children needs to have their privacy. I hoped that we made your Christmas brighter. Always dream on and find happiness in the little things! I know that being alone is hard, because I have so many experiences with that. But you, all of you children have a strong spirit, because I know you felt alone and questioned why. Those challenges, I know you can overcome those. Take care always and be the best of whatever you are!