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A Happy Day in Guba!

For more than 6 years now, we have been going around different schools in the province of Northern Samar, distributing whatever school supplies we can share with children who need them the most.

All these years we have braved the rains, floodwaters, and muddy roads, and crossed rivers and seas just so we could deliver the school supplies you, our dear donors, have trusted Pens of Hope with.

Last January, on the same day Pope Francis visited our neighboring province of Leyte, Pens of Hope headed to Guba Primary School in Barangay Guba, Catarman Northern Samar despite an impending typhoon.

Upon setting foot on the school premises, we noticed this ruin, which turned out to be what remained of a classroom destroyed in December by Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby), considered the second most intense typhoon in 2014.
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Before the typhoon, the school only had 2 classrooms serving the school’s population of 75 students. With this one being destroyed, the students would usually be cramped into the only classroom left. There, the teachers would hold multi-grade classes, with only two teachers handling different grade levels all at the same time.
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The road to Guba wasn’t smooth and easy, but the eager faces of children waiting for the volunteers made the trip so much more worth it.
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We wanted the children to have a fun-filled day so before we distributed the school supplies, we let the children play games that had them laughing, smiling, and shrieking with excitement.
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It was, however, sad to see most of the children not wearing shoes or even flip-flops. They attend classes barefoot.

Come distribution time, the children were surprised to receive a loot bag with their name on it. In the loot bags were some school supplies, storybooks, and some toys.
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It was indeed a great day. The rain did not pour despite a typhoon warning in the province. The children headed home happy.
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I would like to thank the awesome people from Integreon for sending boxes of school supplies all the way from the UK. We now have more than enough supplies of pens and pencils for another distribution! Special thanks to Miss Teresa for facilitating.

Salamat din sa iyo, Kikit, for the referral. Super big help ‘yun!

Also, big thanks to AC, a fellow blogger who has always supported Pens of Hope since its first year.

Thanks also to Dinah, another generous fellow blogger.

Maraming, maraming salamat sa inyong lahat for blessing the children of Northern Samar with your generosity all these years!
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We are preparing for another distribution come end of June or early July. We have about 150 recipients from an island barangay. We are in need of notebooks this time as we still have enough pens and pencils in stock. We are not accepting money, just notebooks. Please feel free to comment if you want to help. Muli, maraming salamat po!

Posted 2 years, 3 months ago at 1:03 pm.

6 comments

The Road to Guba

(This is first part of two posts on the distribution of Pens of Hope done on January 16, 2015. I am writing about the journey of the volunteers to the recipient school because their journey is in itself a story. Come and join them as they find their way to Guba Primary School.)

The volunteers’ journey started on this concrete narrow road. It was a morning when PAG-ASA announced the entry of Typhoon Amang and Northern Samar was Signal No.1.

On board two motorcycles, the volunteers went on their way. We couldn’t just cancel everything because we knew the kids were excitedly waiting. We just hoped the rain would not fall too soon.

Just a few minutes and they were threading on a dirt road,

which led to a tough road. Any motorcycle driver would have a hard time maneuvering on this kind of road.


So the volunteers had to dismount and proceed on foot,

until the road was good again for another ride.

But then they had to dismount for the second time,

and walk further—

much, much further—

until it was okay to ride again.

Then the ride had to end, because the motorcycles couldn’t wade in mud. The volunteers had to be on foot again and carry with their hands the boxes of school supplies for distribution.

Muds and paddies were everywhere. Going to the school, there is no other route than through this.

So after all the walking in the mud, the volunteers had tired and muddy but happy feet.

Then, they had to cross a river

where they washed their feet and changed from rain boots to slippers.

After crossing the river, they had to walk again on what seemed like an endless narrow road that goes up,

up,

down,

and further down.

Ocassionally, they would meet some people along the way, like this man who was carrying 80 kilos of copra.

And sometimes, they couldn’t help but ask “Are we there yet?” when the road still seemed endless.

They had to walk some more,

and more,

at times passing by houses like this that were almost destroyed by Typhoon Ruby. In these houses live the recipient children.

Then finally, the road ahead revealed the village of Guba.

Near the school, they saw this humble sign that reads “Paaralang Primarya ng Guba” (Primary School of Guba).

They have arrived, indeed.

As they entered the school premises, they were greeted by this Philippine flag, faded and tattered but flying steady and proud, a symbol of the school’s resilience to the challenges of our time.

Posted 2 years, 7 months ago at 7:09 pm.

13 comments

Pens of Hope Goes to Pambujan with Bayantel’s Help!

It all started with an email I received on July 17 from an employee of Bayantel, a telecommunications company in Manila.

“Dear Miss N,” goes the email, “I am looking for a charity work for my boss’s birthday….May I know how we could help?” It was such a very generous offer, I couldn’t keep my heart from jumping with excitement.

After a few exchanges of emails, everything was settled. Their group would sponsor goodies to be distributed to all school children of a barangay school in the town of Pambujan Northern Samar. They arrived in 8 big boxes. Each box contained eco-bags for each of the children. Each eco-bag contained things like a school bag, a pair of slippers, towels, toothbrush, toothpaste, notebooks, crayons, ball pens, and pencils.

TRANSPORTING THE GOODIES
The goodies were loaded unto a truck at the Pambujan town proper. There were 8 boxes and youth volunteers from Kabataan Para sa Kauswagan took charge of loading them. They also took care of all the leg works prior to the distribution (Thank you so much, guys!).

At one point during the trip to Canjumadal, the boxes had to be downloaded from the truck because it couldn’t cross this bridge which seemed to be hanging on to dear life.

From this point, the boxes had to be transported by habal-habals until they reach the recipient school.

Traveling from Pambujan town proper to Barangay Canjumadal isn’t an easy one, especially when it’s rainy season. The road can get too muddy. We went there on a sunny day but the wheels of the habal-habal we were riding on sank in the mud twice so we decided to just walk our way to the school.

THE RECIPIENT SCHOOL

This is Canjumadal Elementary School. It has a population of 182, from 1st to 6th grade. It has 4 teachers serving multigrade classes, meaning two grade levels are combined. There are only 4 classrooms serving the entire population of students. The classrooms are all humble ones. While three of the classrooms are made of concrete materials, the fourth one piqued my interest. Take a look at it.

It is actually a room with thatched nipa for its roof and lower part of its walls. The floor isn’t even made of concrete. It’s just hard soil.Except for the wooden grill, the room has no other enclosure. So the children are exposed to either heat or cold.

Going around the school, I have noticed only about 4 or 5 children wearing shoes, the rest were either wearing a pair of slippers or are barefoot. Some of the children have to walk for kilometers from their home to attend classes. The problem is that there are prevalent cases of schistosomiasis or snail fever in the area. Schistosomiasis is a chronic disease that can damage internal organs and affect the growth and cognitive development of affected children who may have acquired it from swimming or playing in infected waters.

THE DISTRIBUTION
Sept. 13, 2013. It was about noontime when we reached the school. We were greeted with eager, curious, young, and innocent faces. We started right away with the distribution.

Preschool and Grade 1 (63 children)

The children were surprised to see that their eco-bag has their name on it! Donors from Bayantel actually took time out to put names on each of the bags. Ain’t it cool to receive a personalized gift? 😉

It was disheartening to see this young boy go to school barefoot. He was very happy to see a pair of slippers inside his eco-bag!

Here are some more happy faces.




Grades 2 and 3 (60 children)







Grade 4 (19 children)



Grades 5 and 6 (41 children)




BIG HEARTS BEHIND THE DISTRIBUTION
My heartfelt gratitude goes to the following:

Ms. Julie Epia, whom I have constantly communicated with throughout the preparation process. Thank you for your patience, Ms. Julie.

• the birthday celebrator who spearheaded the collection of the goodies, Ms. Thelma de Leon, Vice President, Customer Care Service, Bayan Telecommunications, Inc. Maraming, maraming, maraming salamat po! Happy birthday, Ma’am! Indeed, there should be no stopping at 50! 😉

• the employees of Bayan Telecommunications, Inc who shared their blessings to the children of Canjumadal. A hundred and eighty two bags of goodies! You, guys, are awesome!

• the members of Kabataan Para sa Kauswagan. Thank you for showing me yet again the energy, enthusiasm, and dynamism of the Nortehanon youth, and the spirit of volunteerism.

Ginoong J. Kulisap, alam mo na po kung bakit 😉 Thank you for believing in the small ripples that Pens of Hope is making.

Each and every distribution Pens of Hope make is a different experience. But they’re all heartwarming and inspiring. It’s a priceless thing to see children happy to receive the things we sometimes take for granted: a pair of slippers, a pencil, a pen, a notebook, a piece of paper, a toothbrush, a towel. They’re worth a treasure to them.

Thank you so very much, everyone! Thank you for trusting Pens of Hope. Thank you for standing up for our children and for showing them that they are not forgotten. Until next distribution 🙂

Posted 4 years ago at 5:50 pm.

40 comments

Pens of Hope Makes Kids Smile in Gamay!

May 30, 2013. A heavy downpour greeted the morning. I feared the rain would not let up that day. But the trip had to push through. Everything was already set.

So we traveled all the way from Catarman to Rawis, Laoang on a jeepney. We crossed a river from Rawis to Palapag where the sun finally smiled on us.
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In Palapag, the boxes full of bags and school supplies were loaded on top of a jeepney. “We have no covering for this,” the jeepney driver told me. So I just prayed that it would not rain before we reach the town of Gamay. Otherwise, everything inside the boxes would be soaking wet. It didn’t rain.
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It was already late in the afternoon when we brought the boxes to two locations in the town of Gamay, a 4th-class municipality in Northern Samar. We went to Barangay Central first then to Barangay Burabod.

Most of the children were very shy. They would hide when they knew a camera was focused on them. But they eventually loosened up, and there was nothing like seeing them smile 🙂

So here, my dear friends, are the photos of children you made smile last May 30. Sorry if they’re dark. It was already very late in the afternoon and I had no dedicated flash.

Barangay Central Distribution
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Barangay Burabod Distribution
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Thank you everyone for continuously supporting this project. My heart truly swells with happiness and gratitude. Special thanks to the Villareal family of Mandaluyong City for the big, big help.

Hope you’ll again join me next time in making more children smile! God bless you all and mabuhay kayong lahat!

Posted 4 years, 3 months ago at 5:24 pm.

24 comments

Pens of Hope: The Awesome Lawaan Experience!

Pens of Hope is turning 4 this month! And what better way to celebrate it than distribute some goodies to another deserving school: the Lawaan Elementary School in the town of Laoang, Northern Samar.

Here are pictures of the goodies we distributed. The yellow bags contained loot bags with pencils and toys for each of the 141 kids. We previously got the number of boys and girls in each grade level. We used this as basis for buying toys for the kids. The toys in the three other frames are toys which we gave out as prizes for the games and the raffle. We had lots of toys this time kasi December naman eh. We wanted the distribution to become an advance Christmas gift to them.

From the main road where we alighted from the van that took us to Barangay Lawaan from the province’s capital, Catarman, the goodies were loaded into a habal-habal. The short ride on the narrow road in the middle of a ricefield kept me excited.

When we arrived, we saw these eager little kiddos na sobrang behave sa pila nila.

A loud and upbeat Christmas song was playing from the school’s sound system. Someone handed me a printed program of the event as soon as I entered the school grounds. I realized right there and then that the school had prepared for our visit.

After the flag ceremony, the school and barangay officials warmly welcomed us and gave inspiring messages to the kids.

I was in for a big surprise when the emcee announced that the kids prepared dance numbers! Super twang-tuwa talaga ako sa kanila! Here they are dancing to Boom Boxx’s “Hey Yo Cappuccino” and Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” Napasabay ako sa indak nila. Ang saya kasi eh hehehe.

After the dance numbers, we distributed the loot bags. In the loot bags were pencils and toys for each of the kids.

Then it was time to play games! It was super fun!

After the games, we raffled off lots of toys! Halos lahat din ng bata may naiuwing prize from the raffle.

For the kids’ snack, my nanay volunteered to bake some muffin for all the kids to enjoy. Unfortunately, there was blackout on the day she baked the muffins. Kaya mano-mano ang ginawa naming pag-mix. Sakit lang sa braso hehehe. But it was all worth it naman. We just bought some individually packed juice for their drink. Sorry, di na nakuhanan ng pics.

I was facilitating the activities so I asked an 11-year-old kid to take the pics for me. Mga 3 minutes lang ng orientation ng paggamit ng DSLR and he was good to go haha. Medyo kinabahan lang ako kasi I set everything to auto but he couldn’t keep himself from rotating the lens hahaha! But I guess okay pa naman ang motor ng lens ko 😉

I want to thank everyone who has supported Pens of Hope through the years—-giver man ng material goods o giver ng moral support. Maraming salamat sa inyo. Kay bilis talaga ng panahon. Four long years na pala!

To all the donors of this particular distribution, sana’y napasaya kayo ng mga litrato. How I wish you were able to personally witness and hear the children’s laughter and excited shrieks. Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat! Special shootout goes to Blogger D and to Chubby of Pavilion 4 (hehehe peace!). Pinasasalamatan ko rin si Ate ko who took time out to travel all the way from Manila at nagpuyat talaga to prepare the logistics (at nagluto na rin for my family hehehe).

Muli, maraming, maraming, maraming salamat sa inyo. You have made this event a very special one, hindi lang para sa mga bata kundi para na rin kay Miss N. I am truly, truly grateful. Blessings to you all.

Next distribution will be in May, in time for the opening of classes next year. I still have enough number of pencils for the next distribution. What I’ll be gathering are ballpens (for Grades 3-6) as well as erasers, sharpeners, and notebooks.

Posted 4 years, 9 months ago at 5:29 pm.

32 comments