EXCURSION EXECUTED

Our week-long excursion at the GK Brookside village finally comes to an end. No more painting. No more sore asses from bumpy tricycle rides. No more creepy stares. No more scorching sunbathing. No more manual labor.

But our stay with the families we helped taught us a lot. Every bump is worth the trip. Each sunburn is worth the scorch. Every drip of paint is a life changed. Every stare transformed to a thankful glance. The manual labor may have stopped but the labor of love will forever leave a mark.

Whoever said that beauty is only skin deep should come visit a GK site, because for people living in these communities beauty is never only skin deep. Beauty reaches into the deepest crevices of their souls. For every sign of beauty they see, they find beauty in their lives.

I would like to think that we somehow made a difference in the lives of the residents of that small community. Because they made a difference in my life. In the five days we helped them I was able to see change not only in the way their houses looked but also in the way they live their lives. Children who ran around naked started wearing neat clothes. Mothers who greeted us with harsh stares during the first day were greeting us with warm smiles. They again found beauty around them, and so again found reason to continue living beautiful lives.

During our week long stay we were able to generate funds amounting to Php 4025.00! The money was used to buy plants which were used for a community garden at a dead end along St. Mary of the Passion Street. We also bought gallons of paint and paintbrushes which were used to repaint some of the houses, the wall of the multipurpose hall, the doors of some houses, the GK marker along the main street, and the plant cans found along St. Hermine Street. We were also able to finish the mural we planned on an unused wall along St. Hermine (thanks a bunch to Rhyzl for taking care of it…it was a masterpiece…truly a work of art!).

The projects we did may not be much for most people, but for the residents it made a lot of difference. Thanks a lot to the members of my group who all exerted effort to create a better community for the residents of Brookside. Thanks to Camille aka Abbey who is gracious enough to document our group in action. Thanks to Alexis for being my right hand man (or woman) during the past two weeks. Thanks to Bianca for following Habit 1 since day one, and stepping up to take charge when Alexis and I were both absent. Thanks to Marvin, who despite not being part of our group, continuously helps us and spends time to get to know the kids. Thanks to Aling Maly, along with the other residents, for receiving us graciously everyday for the past two weeks, and for helping us help themselves.

It was a wonderful two weeks. It was a bit expensive, and more laborious than our Sitio Pajo experience, but we were all happy nonetheless. I just hope that the projects we started would continue well after our stay…

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MAY 1 MADNESS

I know this is a little late…but still …

While everyone was busy rallying at Mendiola, Quiapo, or any other place in the country last May 1, we were doing something different. While laborers scream for an increase in their wages, and some took advantage of the holiday to spend time with their family, we were taking part in a much grander event. While spending time with our adopted families we were also screaming for funds. While everybody else was celebrating Labor Day, we were celebrating a labor of love (naks naman!).

As you might know by now, last week was the start of our Gawad Kalinga project at Brookside, QC. Last May 1 was the official launch of the GK Brookside Designer’s Challenge. The Designer’s Challenge is an event participated by our summer UP CMC CWTS class, to help bring back the beauty and sense of community in the Brookside village. The four teams of our CWTS class were assigned different streets. Our team, which is named Team Masigla and given the official color of orange, handled the St. Hermine and St. Mary of the Passion streets with Manang Mely as our coordinator.

The launch was pretty bleak, since the organizers (the team composed of seniors, who are also in charge of documenting the whole GK experience, but are so far doing nothing but bitch and pseudo-documentation…) were not able to organize the program at all. We started late, but at least the launch pushed through. None of their ideas pushed through (all talk and no action…*sigh) for the program though, since they didn’t coordinate well with the GK people as well as the residents themselves. Whatever! Talk about lack of coordination.

Well at least one of their ideas pushed through, and that was the cheering competition. The four groups must prepare an original cheer which would involve the residents of their assigned streets. The winner of the contest would receive 500 pesos courtesy of the GK personnel. Guess who won?! Yup, our group did!! If it wasn’t for my *ahem *ahem uber great leadership we would not have won…okay maybe not…haha! But thanks a bunch to Jihad, Audrey and Bianca for their uber great cheering ideas and crazy craziness that morning. If it wasn’t for Jihad’s and Audrey’s crazy antics that morning and uber high energy level we wouldn’t have won at all! It also helped that our team had the highest number of participation from the residents! We were also the only team wearing our team color that day! Talk about cooperation and participation! Great job Team Masigla! Having won the 500 pesos, we at least have funds to start our projects with already. It was a great day and I can’t be prouder! Yeah!

Team Masigla ay narito na, Team Masigla ay dumating na! Humanda ka na ha ha! Humanda ka na ha ha!”

GOING KRAZY AT GK

The reason why I wasn’t able to write any entries for one whole week was because of my CWTS class. For our CWTS, our instructor threw us to Gawad Kalinga (GK) having ran out of ideas for “fruitful” activities we could do for our summer CWTS class. At first I was apprehensive to do GK work. It’s not because I don’t want to help other people or because I’m “matapobre”, but because it is summer and the heat can get to you if you stay out in the sun for too long (as I know we would be since I had a previous GK experience during my high school years). Doing GK work is sooooooooooooo tiring! But the first week wasn’t bad at all. Actually it was a great experience, and I would rather return to our first site than do what we have to do this week (stay tuned for the whole story why I’m so pissed with my CWTS class this week…).

Part 1 (Pinagsama Village)

Monday – we went to the “showcase” village of Gawad Kalinga. The commute to the site from UP was an adventure in itself! It was somewhere in Taguig. It was so hard to find despite the fact that it was just minutes away from Market! Market! My group mates and I had to meet at the Guadalupe MRT station so we could go to the site together. Some people were naïve enough not to go with us, and so they got lost. Thankfully we were all able to reach the site safely and enjoy the two hour tour of the Pinagsama Village (which was actually quite beautiful, it’s a shame the building sites are not contained in one location and that the creek stank…big time).

Part 2 (Sitio Pajo)

Tuesday – our first day of actual manual labor was at Sitio Pajo. It was easier to get to the second site, just a jeepney from SM North and a tricycle ride. During the first day we were welcomed by Mabuhay Ladies who were also gracious enough to provide us with free transportation to the site that day. Our work involved carrying hollow blocks to the houses which were supposed to be constructed, unfortunately (or fortunately…hehehe…) it rained so we had to stop. When the rain stopped our time schedule for the site was also near the end so we just went home.

Wednesday – the second day was filled with more grueling physical labor. I sifted cement and cleared a pile of rubble using a pick and spade. It was really exhausting, especially since the sun was sizzling hot that day.

Thursday – we graduated from uber manual labor today…we shifted to painting the exterior of the finished houses. It was kind of fun, especially when you suddenly see specks of paint in different parts of your body, other than your arms. Woah! How did that get there? Check out my pics and look for that tinsy speck of paint near my eyes…I also learned new words today…ASAGI (courtesy of Audrey, ang diyosa ng Sitio Pajo) and GARBAGE (pronounced as /gar-baj/, courtesy of Rhyzl)…It rained again so we weren’t able to do much work…but still…we were somehow productive…especially during our la camputa moments…

Friday – finally our last day at Sitio Pajo! For the last day we continued on painting the exterior of houses (we were able to finish five houses), as well as help in the placement of the foundations of the new houses which would be built. We poured cement in and in between the hollow blocks. It was a great experience! The carpenters were great, always ready to teach us the correct way of doing stuff, the foreman was very sensitive to our needs (haha! whatever that may mean…), but the Mabuhay Ladies were a pain in the ass (despite their perpetual criticisms and comparisons to Ateneo…we forgive them…because we love our enemies…hahaha!)

Being part of the GK experience was one hell of an adventure!! Plus I get to meet new people and learn new stuff!

*thanks to Camille aka Abby for the uber great SLR pics (our la camputa moments during the third day…)

*thanks to my wonderful and crazy group mates who made each day a freaking fun fest! Audrey, Camille, Jihad, Alexis, Anne, Ela, Rona, Rachel, Niki, Queenie, Micah, Mafi, Rhyzl, Pat, Bianca, and Mark (our adopted group mate…)