PAG Bus Tour 2009

CPSanti, one of the volunteers of the Pens of Hope in Davao outreach program sent this email to me. If you're in Japan and interested to join, please don't hesitate to call any of the contact numbers.

The Philippine Assistance Group (PAG) is inviting everyone to join the PAG Bus Tour 2009. This year, PAG will be going to Yunessun, a large spa resort in Hakone ( At Yunessun, they have 25 themed areas, the most popular of which are God's Aegean Sea, a pseudo-Turkish Hamam, a Japanese Sake Spa, a Green tea spa, a Coffee spa, a Wine spa, and the Ancient Roman Baths. Guests are free to roam around between spas during their stay.

Please note that unlike the usual sento, you get to keep your clothes on in this resort. Girls have to wear swimsuits and guys have to don trunks. Swim gear can also be rented for 600-1,000 yen.
  • When: 20 September 2009
  • Meet at: 7AM, HARAJUKU Station (In front of YOYOGI KOEN KAIKAN) - Yamanote Line
  • Departure: 7:30 AM
  • Tickets: 7,000yen (by bank transfer after reservation has been confirmed; to be remitted before the end of August)

  • Bus fare to and from the resort.
  • Admission to the resort
  • All -you-can-eat in a buffet style restaurant located at Yunessun Resort
  • Use of bath towel, face towel and a Yunessun robe
  • Use of more than 25 kinds of Spa related services and fun water recreational activities

Inquiries/ Reservations:
Reservations will be accepted until the end of August. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis. NO LAST MINUTE CANCELLATION. Confirmed reservations/No Show on the day itself are still to be charged in full.

For more information on the resort, please visit

The First Big Day

After three months of advocating the Pens of Hope in Davao outreach program, we finally had the distribution of writing materials at our community beneficiary in Gaisano Relocation, Matina Pangi, Davao City last August 9, 2009.

The available Batch 29 alumni SICO (Social Involvement Coordinating Office) volunteers and the photographer behind the program logo met earlier to prepare everything for the most-awaited activity. Mailah, Shugar and I recounted the packs of pens and pencils, Jaypee and Rohel arranged the snacks and Daryl took some snaps. At about 1:30 p.m., we assembled at AdDU (Ateneo de Davao University) Roxas gate with 12 of the existing Batch 39 volunteers.

SICO Volunteers: Batches 29 and 39

When everything was in place, we didn't go straight to the community beneficiary. As a courtesy call, we stopped at "Pahiyum Store" where Engr. Noel Justiniani and Kuya Aying, our contact persons at Kabantan-onan Nga Aktibo ug Responsableng Dabawenyo Andam Moalagad sa Syodad (KARDAMS), were waiting for us. As the said NGO has been helping the community for quite some time, they have significantly assisted us in coordinating with the community leaders and in reaching out to the residents.

KARDAMS Staff with Sir Ian and Kikit

When we arrived at the community, Sir Ian Parcon, the SICO Director, and other KARDAMS staff warmly welcomed us. The children also were already prepared, behavedly sitting at the benches provided at the outdoor basketball court, where community activities are usually held. I could sense they were waiting with excitement, wondering what would happen that afternoon.

The beneficiaries at the basketball court

With Mailah and Kuya Aying as the emcees, the short program started with a prayer led by Jaypee. It was then followed by exciting games facilitated by the existing volunteers. When they played "Stop Dance", almost all the children enthusiastically (and seductively!!!) grooved as if they were televised, showcasing their hidden talents. The five best dancers that were chosen had the privilege to join the popular "Hep, Hep, Hooray". Finally, we played "Musical Chairs" and since the volunteers served as posts (in lieu of chairs), the interaction between the volunteers and children made it more memorable.

Batch 39 volunteers playing with the beneficiaries For children to realize that expression is one of the reasons why they should value writing materials, we had a wish list activity. With the guidance of volunteers and some parents, children wrote what their hearts say. Some want only basic things like milk, clothes and toys. Some wrote they'd simply like to eat at McDonalds or Jollibee and go to People's Park. Some are interested to finish their education to be able to help their families. Some shared their dreams and ambitions. (All children's wishes will be summarized in the next entry.)

Later, pens and pencils were distributed and as what Nortehanon experienced, we saw vibrant smiles from kids. They even felt happier when snacks were served. To end the program, we listened to a speech from one of the mothers in the community. Seeing how happy the children were, she was truly grateful for everything we have done for them. Engr. Noel also said that this activity has somehow inspired the beneficiaries to study hard and follow the volunteers.

Happy smiles

While waiting for the van service, I saw a couple of volunteers doing a dance showdown with the kids. Their laughter echoed to my ears with a realization that this program didn't only make many less-fortunate children happy. It also brought a sense of fulfillment to us, that it feels great to share a little of what we have for others to have more. And I hope that nice feeling will continue to motivate us to be aware, to listen and to respond.

Curious glances

I'd like to end this entry with a note of acknowledgement to all those who supported this project. To Batch 29 SICO volunteers (especially to Jenny A, Lorna, Alfie, Mailah, Mabelle, Shugar, Jaypee, Rohel, Sherlo, Max, Liyah) for planning, organizing, advocating, collecting and sending pens and pencils. I remember we once dreamt of establishing a foundation way back in college. Seven years after our graduation, we've finally taken the first step.
  • To Nortehanon for letting us adopt this project. You stirred us to do something for our community.
  • To SICO (Sir Ian, Ate Tess, Ate Bimbay and Ate Beth) for being supportive to this project. You awakened our social consciousness when we were still innocent students and if not because of that, we couldn't have initiated this activity.
  • To KARDAMS for helping us coordinate with the community. You made things a lot easier for us.
  • To other volunteers who contributed in their own ways: Ana K for blogging this project and for making the poster, Daryl for being our official photographer and even driver during the distribution, Becky for helping us pack the writing materials, Sham, Ate Shal and Ate Jiji for volunteering to collect pens and pencils at their own community.
  • To Batch 39 SICO volunteers for also helping us pack the writing materials and for facilitating games during the distribution. Ten years ago, we were in your shoes. Ten years from now, I hope you'll be in ours.
  • To all our donors for being generous enough to donate pens and pencils to our beneficiaries. With your kindness, you made so many children smile and you proved that despite the sad realities of life, no one is so poor that he couldn't give anything.
  • To God for making all these things possible.
It's great to be involved indeed! To view more pictures, click here. Since we had collected about 4,000 pencils, we're going to have another distribution on August 17, 2009, Monday at Langub Elementary School.

Together We Packed

On August 5 in the afternoon, while most of the Filipinos were watching the burial of the late Cory Aquino, the SICO alumni and current volunteers gathered together to pack pens and pencils for the distribution on August 9.

Thanks to all our donors!

Each student will get a pack of 4 pens or pencils. Markers and nice writing materials were reserved as prizes for the games. Some pencils and the used bags and pencil cases will be sent to Apu Palamguwan Cultural Education Center, a small school in Bendum, Malaybalay, Bukidnon through Cecil, a Jesuit volunteer alumna of the said school.

Here are some more pictures we took:

Working hands. Don't you think we lacked organization? :)

The Batch 29 alumni volunteers: Kikit in yellow shirt, Mabelle in stripes, Mailah in lavander and JP in orange polo shirt.

The man with a backpack is Sir Ian, the SICO director. The beautiful lady standing is Becky, JP's colleague at SGV. She was kind enough to spend a few hours with us.

Later in the afternoon, Batch 39 volunteers helped us.
Yeah, ten years ago, we were in their shoes.

Here's another picture with the Batch 39 volunteers. We couldn't have finished the task on time without their help.

Here's another one. They will also attend the distribution on August 9 to facilitate games.

Distribution Day

On July 31, Mailah and I visited the Social Involvement Coordinating Office of Ateneo de Davao University. We talked with Mr Parcon and agreed to distribute the pens and pencils on August 9, Sunday at our community beneficiary in Matina Pangi, Davao City. We came up with a short program for the children.

Writing materials from different collection centers have already arrived at the office and we will pack them on August 5. It's a perfect chance for the volunteers to meet again as that day was declared as non-special holiday.