by Debbie Jane P. Baladad, JANUARY 2022
We can spread the Christmas spirit in other ways…
Christmas has always been something Filipinos look forward to. From the tradition of Christmas caroling, the rush of last-minute shopping, down to celebrating Noche Buena with family and friends, it’s a time to wrap up the year before moving forward to a new one.
But with 2021 still putting a halt on the usual celebrations and holidays, one may wonder, what’s Christmas going to be like during a pandemic?
Last December 2021, the Alagang Kapwa Oras-Oras (A.K.O) Year-Round Donation Drive of MPTSouth visited the Bahay-Kalinga located at Alapan II-B, Imus City, Cavite for a quiet and meaningful gift-giving program.
It is a shelter that provides a temporary home to children no older than 15 years old who were homeless, battered, found to be guilty of the laws, and with disabilities to be taken care of by “kind, happy and generous individuals.”
Before entering the shelter, we felt excited. My grandmother used to volunteer in a shelter when she was younger. She would tell me so many amazing stories from her visits and I felt very excited because I get to experience those at that time.
It was really sad that those kids experience the hardships of life at an early age, to grow up without their parents, to be sent for adoption. But we’re really happy that there’s a lot of people who are willing to help them, who are willing to sustain them. We also want to be part of those charities. Much more than being a helping hand, as much as possible, we would like to embrace them and let them know someone cares.
According to Ms. Sherlyn, caretaker at the Bahay-Kalinga, there are currently 16 children under their care. The stories of how the children ended up at the shelter tug at the heartstrings. A child being given up by a mother is difficult enough to comprehend but the circumstances of how those children were found – deserted in outdoor public places or streets with disabilities or neglected because they were found guilty of the laws – is unimaginable.
While at the home, the children’s documents are put to facilitate adoption and foster care. Much more than a shelter, they give these children hope for a better future and an unconditional love that they might otherwise not experience.
The A.K.O Donation Drive went to City Public Library and General Pantaleon Garcia Senior High School in Imus City, Cavite to refill the library with books and other educational supplies.
According to Ms. Rose V. Roman, head of the Imus City Public Library, they have either built or donated to various community libraries for the past few years, however, due to changes in the prioritization of the projects, some of those have already been neglected. Thus, the city planned to build a larger public library to cater to the needs of the children in education.
“Even if kids don’t go to school, they can still be productive citizens of the society. Otherwise, they will not be able to be successful in life. So this is why we think public libraries for out-of-school youth are very important,” Roman said.
With the massive need for children’s books, A.K.O Donation Drive donated various children’s books and other educational and activity books for the children to use.
The school library of the General Pantaleon Senior High, on the other hand, has received various academic books for their students to use from A.K.O as well.
The school expressed their heartfelt gratitude for the kindness shown. “Libraries become sanctuaries for children, especially in informal settlers’ areas where there is no public space. Whether a library is cheap or expensive, it gives power to children who want to read. And maybe someday, they can get out of poverty,” he shared.
About the writer:
Debbie Jane P. Baladad. A pure Manilena, she is a lover of milk teas, naps, and ballpoint pens. She also finds addiction to watching movies and land transfers. Currently finding the enthusiasm in writing articles.