SOP Day 3

This was another one of those days wherein there seemed to be so much in just so few. Our arrival at Boys Town was relatively delayed due to traffic on our way. Just before 9:00 am, we finally arrived. After a quick walk with my partners Jerome and Oliver, they played Monopoly alongside some of the other boys, while I facilitated the game. Although it took some time for them to get the hang of the game, the best parts of it came right when it was already around time for our merienda. It was right after this where the highlight of the day came.

Our group held a singing/dancing/rapping program, where our mentoring group and the boys were given the chance to show their hidden talents. Although there seemed to be no problem with our performances, what was even better was the moment when around 7-10 boys began singing in unison some common hits such as “What Makes You Beautiful”, “I’m Yours”, “Lord Patawad”, etc. All in tune to the acoustic tune with the kind of enthusiasm brought about by fans. Such was this enthusiasm that one of my groupmates was highly impressed by them, as evidenced by a very big grin to his face. All throughout at least one song.

In the middle of all these, Oliver also joined in the singing. If he seems to be just like the other boys whom I do not entirely remember their names, then think that this IS my partner after all, and I have high hopes on that part.

Considering the relative poverty of our kasamas, it is welcome relief that what they lack in material wealth, they are abundant in ability. All while the sing-along happened, I began imagining what it would feel like if there were people who were so astounded by their voices that they began tracking them and give them the opportunity to showcase their talents on a bigger stage. With that in mind, there is hope then that in the future they would be able to use their God-given talents to good use and for the better.


SOP Day 2

Note: Apologies for the late post. I had other requirements which I had to take care of. Anyways, here it is: Day 2 of my SOP.

This second visit last Saturday was one of two extremes: One of seriousness, yet at the same time it seemed as if this was headed to be the most fun visit yet to Boys Town. For today’s visit our mentoring group simply planned to dedicate the entire time to play with our partners. However when me and my partners Oliver and Jerome tried to play with the other bigger groups, it was very crowded and so decided to play ‘Catch’ with me only, while walking. While we were at that, we also chatted as we went around the football field and to and fro the cottage.

Once again, this experience highlighted their happiness with their lives despite living with lesser means than us Xaverians. Not only were they really happy once they greeted me towards the cottage and during all the times we played together, nothing beats a bag of chips for them, which I made libre for the chips (which I suppose is not allowed). As I took the time with my partners playing ball, it felt like being a small kid once again, the feeling of being outside and simply enjoying one that seems to be in short supply among most people around us nowadays, including me.

The more serious side of the visit, however, came while we were personally conversing just outside our cottage. While they were enjoying the bag of chips I made libre, Jerome began telling me of his dream to become an air force pilot. He became influenced by some of the movies he watched where he was amazed by the sight of pilots ready to engage in battle. He also recalled the time he was taken care of the nuns (whom his mother sent him to at a young age) where he saw soldiers doing service in his area and was inspired by them.

Which brings to mind one question: If most people are saying that we should be happy with our possessions, does that mean that that is all it is? Is it just about that? Or is it just being in control of our wants and needs, especially in the long-term?

Because then again, having ambitions and dreams are just as important. And even the less-privileged have those. Except society tends to favor those with more money, a better appearance, possessions, etc, while at the same time, depriving those with the complete opposite of these. ‘Exterior’ wealth, which can be measured from the outside, is definitely not an indicator whether one is truly living out a Xaverian life or someone that would eventually go on to become successful.

My ambitions and dreams……

H2 Saturday Outreach Program 1/4

As I began writing this blog post I began wondering, How many times have I heard the maxim, theres more than meets the eye? That came to mind again as i underwent the first of four visits to Boys Town Complex in Marikina for my SOP. As I first arrived there, our mentoring group, along with a couple of others from other sections, were given a brief orientation on the place as a host for orphaned boys and those living in the streets. Afterwards, our group was assigned to one of the cottages where the boys stayed, which surprisingly had around 27 children, from around 8 years old to 16.

When they introduced themselves, from their names to their favorite subjects, what caught my attention was when it was common to hear 11 year olds still in grade 4, or 8 year olds just entering Grade 1. Although it may be understandable considering their situation, it was still surprising nevertheless. They were then given the freedom to choose their kuyas (how we were called by the boys). most of us got two, but there were some who just had one. My partners were named Jerold and Oliver, both of whom liked math. Early on, Oliver decided to play basketball for the meantime and I was left with Jerold. Which led me to some interesting observations.

  • Even the less fortunate (can) know what is going on.

As a young child, Jerold had to live in the streets of Manila. He generally lived across a large house most probably owned by the Chinese. Maybe he knows that the Chinese are rich. Surprising. In fact, he even recognized that I looked Chinese.

  • Things can get really though.

As a child, Jerold lived in the streets with 6 other siblings. Two of them died, with Jerold having no idea what happened to them. When he was six, he was brought to the sisters, who eventually moved him to Boys Town Complex. One of his siblings was also there but Jerold recalls that he just suddenly escaped, without much of an explanation why.

Although, despite these seemingly dark realizations, there was still time for some light-hearted talk, from when I gave Jerold and Oliver my rice crackers, which they surprisingly really liked, to when we briefly played volleyball with Jerold.

Best part of all, this getting-to-know-each-other was supposedly to last for only a while, but instead we took a walk around the entire compound just to talk. It felt great getting lost in time, to take time to really interact with these under-privileged boys in order to really understand them and the situation for the rest of them.

Although three hours felt short, there are still three more Saturdays left. Hope to meeting them again!

H2 SOP Blog Posts

Starting today, until February 8, every Saturday, I will be posting about my experiences at Boys Town Manila for the Saturday Outreach Program, how I felt, and what I learned from them. Stay tuned.


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Design Cycle Keynote

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I Am

“Everybody is different.”

It’s such a simple phrase, yet it carries a powerful meaning. Many times I often do not realize this. Sometimes I get envious because others get better scores, play better in the field, or hang out more often with friends. Eventually though, I realized that maybe I’m not being awesome simply because I don’t value my uniqueness. I mean, sure my friends and I like the same things, but my traits, my skills, my goals, that’s what separates me from the rest.

Speaking of traits, I am quite inquisitive- in the same way that I’m excited to learn new things, things that are going on elsewhere in this wide, wide world. After all, my world is not only limited to myself. Here’s me curiously looking right a a snowball for the first time in my life:

But then, I don’t just stop and learn. Even with all the discipline needed to discover, I think that a little fun would spice the learning experience. Learning doesn’t have to be a dull affair. Sometimes, you can’t stop yourself from having fun from what you learn, like this:

It’s not just about your own individual traits; part of being an individual is being skilled at something. There are a lot of skills I am a bit experienced. Eating certainly counts. I was influenced by my dad because he would cook up interesting concoctions of normal recipes. As a result, I’m quite good at chomping on whatever edible stuff we stumble upon. It’s easy for me to get hooked to common foods. And nothing looks better than me salivating over a hotdog.

Eating keeps me running, but this “sport” doesn’t count that much, unless it’s accompanied by a real sport. Speaking of which, I am also active in some of them such as football. I can be a decent player, especially as a defender. However, there’s still a lot for me to improve on.

All of these may be interesting, but none of them are more important than my goals in life. I strongly believe that with friends, anything is possible. In the next few years, maybe I’ll be able to grow this group of friends, to stand proud as a Xaverian,  to know more about this world, and to do this all in style.

Hello world!

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