Special Post: The Christmas Spirit in Mt. Makiling

Happiness multiplies when it is divided. This adage proved to be true. Adjectives wouldn’t sufficed to describe what we felt during our Christmas Outreach in Brgy. Bagong Silang, Los Banos, Laguna last December 19.

The rains that soaked the Philippines in the past days worried us. And so we prayed. Gray clouds enveloped the sky as we were driving towards Los Banos. Mt. Makiling was hidden from sight. But God heard our prayers.

When we arrived in Bay, Laguna, the sun’s rays peeked through the clouds. Light started to illuminate the sky. The van stopped at Brgy. Kabulusan, the starting point of our hike going to the remote barangay up in the mountain.

The barangay council of Bagong Silang assisted us in carrying our goodie bags. They brought a white horse which would help us with our things. At first, I pitied the horse but his master assured me that the horse can manage to bring our things.

And so, off we go to the village, walking along the narrow, rocky, and unpaved trail. Thank God! Everyone safely arrived at Purok Uno of Brgy. Bagong Silang.

When we arrived at the Bagong Silang Elementary School, we saw early birds in the school. They were excited. After coordinating the program with their teachers, we began the party. A total of 92 kids registered. We were only expecting 72 but the pre-schoolers joined the fun.

Each class showed their talents in singing Christmas Carols. After which, we facilitated the game, Pinoy Henyo. The parents and the teachers also joined the game that made the students laugh their hearts out.

The kids actively participated in the game, Longest Line. The boys won but the girls didn’t end up empty-handed. Everyone who participated had gifts.

We then distributed the goodie bags containing rubber slip-ons, first aid kit, two notebooks, and a pen.

Candies were handed out to the pre-schoolers. They were so disciplined that they lined up in receiving their gifts.

Of course, the most-awaited part of the party–eating–followed. We prepared spaghetti, hotdogs, puto and juice for them. Special thanks to Tita Luz Enriquez, Dyan’s mom, who cooked the spaghetti sauce and baked a bunch of puto for the kids. The spaghetti noodles and hotdogs were cooked on site. Thanks to the locals of Bagong Silang who assisted Liz, Angge, Janet and J in preparing the spaghetti and the hotdogs.

We were relieved that we fed all of the guests even if we prepared for only 72. Some of the kids loved the spaghetti that they returned for another serving.

Our success won’t be possible without the help of generous souls who contributed in kind (Our parents and our relatives who supported this activity) and in cash (donors who wanted to be anonymous) via paypal.

We’re glad to share that after buying the goodies, food, and paying for the transportation, something was still left in the budget. We decided that we donate the remaining fund to the survivors of Typhoon Sendong (Typhoon Washi).

We chose the Philippine Red Cross and the One for Iligan movement of the Iligan Bloggers Society, Inc. Here are the screenshots:

Words were not enough to describe how grateful we were. The smiles and their “thank yous” were priceless. Mission accomplished! It really felt great to share the blessings that we received. Indeed, it’s better to give than to receive. That is the true spirit of Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! May we all live up to the real meaning of the season. :)

Special Post: Boots for the barefoot

Hiking on uneven terrain and crossing a wooden bridge are considered to be leisure activities for outdoor enthusiasts. But what if these activities are part of your daily life?

In a village tucked in the forest of Mt. Makiling, the children hike everyday on their way to school in Brgy. Bagong Silang, Los Banos, Laguna. Some are lucky to have good slippers but others don’t.

With the rough terrain that they have, slippers can easily wear out. And when it rains, one can easily slip on the muddy soil. Wearing boots during the rainy days can be a great help to these kids. This was what we learned from Mrs. Treasure Millera, one of the four teachers in the elementary school, during our ocular visit for our Christmas outreach.

“Natutuwa naman ako dahil napili nyo itong barangay namin. Marami na rin namang pumupunta dito at tumutulong simula nung sinalanta kami ng Milenyo (I’m very happy that you chose our village for your outreach activity. Many people have been visiting us and extending a hand since Typhoon Milenyo in 2006),” said Brgy. Councilor Ronnie Javier.

“Pero karamihan ng mga pumupunta dito, lagi nalang sa mga bata, wala bang para sa mga matatanda? (But most of the time, people only hold outreach for the kids. I hope there’s also an outreach for us adults.),” He jokingly asked.

“Pwede naman din po kayong sumali sa games (You can also join the games),” I answered.

If you want to share your blessings, then you can either donate in cash (through Paypal. See donate button bellow) or in kind (toys, slippers, boots for the rain). For donations in kind, kindly email author for details: hello [at] tripadora [dot] com.

Barangay Profile:

  • Population: 146 families
  • Livelihood: Agriculture (Copra, Bananas)
  • 1 Elementary school for Purok 1-3 / 4 teachers (Only 1 of the 4 lives in the same barangay. The others live far from the school)
  • School Children (age 7-12): 72
  • No clinic in the barangay
  • No electricity
  • 3 sari-sari stores
  • Lacks good roads
  • Bridge is made of bamboo. Old bridge was destroyed during the typhoon in 2006. It was not repaired since then.
  • Mode of travel: On foot from brgy. Kabulusan/ Ride a small horse (locals use small horses to carry their crops)

These were the information that we got during our meeting with the teacher and the official of the village. My friends and I planned to hold our outreach activity this coming December 15 (tentative date) in this remote village.

We’re not an organization but just a group of friends who wanted to give back to the community through this activity. This is our way of saying “Thank you Lord for all the blessings that you have showered us.”

You don’t need to be extremely rich just to extend a hand to the needy. You can make a difference and make kids happy this Christmas season.

Travel Notes:
How to get to Bagong Silang:

1. From the public market of Bay, Laguna, ride a jeepney with the route of Bitin. Fare is Php 20.00

2. Alight at Brgy. Kabulusan. You know you’re there when you see the Geothermal Powerplant sign. / Travel time from market to Kabulusan: 30 minutes.

3. Hike for about 35 minutes on rough road. Don’t forget to breathe fresh air from the mountain.

Here are other photos of Brgy. Bagong Silang:


Special Thanks to Ms. Darlene Pagaduan for the assistance and for Kuya Jonas Llamas for being our guide in going to Brgy. Bagong Silang.

Visita Iglesia in Laguna

Visita Iglesia has been a tradition in the family every Holy Week. We used to visit 14 churches: One station per church. But this year, we visited only seven churches in Laguna together with the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals-Calamba, the religious organization of my parents.

First stop was the Immaculate Concepcion Parish in Brgy. Timugan in Los Banos, Laguna. It is near the Municipal Hall of Los Banos. Los Banos is about three hours away from Manila. At around 8:00 am in the morning, the church was still half empty.

From Los Banos, we proceeded to the St. Augustine Church in
Bay, Laguna, Church of San Antonio de Padua in Pila, Church of
Sta. Cruz, Church of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe in Pagsanjan,
Church of St. Gregory in Majayjay, and the Saint John the Baptist
Parish of Liliw.

Travel time from one church to another took about 30 to 45 minutes except for the church in Majayjay. It was a long drive from Pagsanjan to Majayjay as the church is situated amidst the lush green forests of Laguna.
It took us about an hour and a half.

Baroque architecture can be observed from the facade of the churches.
They have that “old look”. But when you get inside these churches, you would notice how the interiors were renovated.

Liliw Church

Among the churches, the red brick church of Liliw was the most visited.

Vehicle owners had a hard time looking for a parking space. Liliw became famous because of its “tsinelas” (slipper/flipflops) industry and its cool river resorts. Maybe, these were the other reasons why the town was jampacked with vehicles in its narrow roads.

For Roman Catholics, the Holy Week is supposed to be a time to reflect how
life is lived. It is a time for God. But others use this for vacations.

If you’re planning to visit churches, it is advisable to bring your own vehicle. Wear light clothes. Bring packed food and water so you won’t have to stop and buy. Thus, you save time and effort. In our case, we ate our packed food at Japanese Garden near Lake Caliraya in Caliraya, Laguna. Entrance fee for adults is Php 10 while the fee for children is half the price.

If you happen to forget the New Way of the Cross booklet, you can buy them from vendors outside the church.

Visita Iglesia created different meanings for every individual. For church goers like us, it’s a tradition. For vendors, it means business.

You can view more photos here: