16th Big Day - Another Successful Gift-Giving

We, 15 adults and 4 kids, left Davao City downtown area to Brgy Panalum at 6:30 a.m. We were thrilled to see our community partner and share some blessings we received from different sponsors. Many of the volunteers were first-timers, which made the trip more exciting.

We arrived at the area at around 9:00 a.m. After the courtesy call with the barangay captain, we climbed the small hill to the community. The kids and their parents were already ready to meet us.

Since we wanted to allot more time for the haircutting session, we decided to have a straightforward gift-giving. We introduced ourselves to the children and then our volunteer kids - Nicole, Jedric, Chikai and Gerard - sang a Christmas song for them. We then distributed the following school supplies - writing materials, paper, crayon, eraser, sharpener and sticker.

We prepared 169 kits, but not all kids were able to join the activity because they live kilometers away from the community. We left the extra kits to Kuya Lando, one of our contact persons in the area. 

After the school supplies distribution, we told the kids that 6 people from our team will give them free haircuts. We went to a shady and open area for the operation gupit. We thought of bringing hairdressers this year because we figured out getting a haircut may be a luxury instead of a hygienic necessity for them. 

While waiting for their turn, some kids watch videos on Sarah's laptop. The volunteers did different things - a few assisted the hairdressers, a few played with the kids and the rest interviewed the local residents about their source of water. The residents have to walk far to fetch water and we wanted to know if there's any way we can help them. (Once we have all the accurate information, we will finalize the video and share it with you.)

A video posted by @dagways on

We left the area at around 1:00 p.m and arrived in the downtown area before 4:00 p.m. 

* * * 

We would like to thank everyone for your wholehearted support to our succesful outreach. Special shoutout to the following: 
  • Integreon KPO firm, Davao Arts and Ate Nancy for the school supplies
  • Jen and Miss KNT for the financial assistance
  • Liyah for packing the goods with us, Miss KNT for the packing venue
  • Ley, Shugar and Sara's father for the transportation
  • Miss Ano and Ate Fortunata for the breakfast and lunch of the volunteers
  • Volunteers: Sarah, Sharone, Jezyrel, Celine, Dan, Kikit, Mabelle, Lorna, Ate Mayette, Ate Grace, Awing, Bo, Jun, Kuya Sergio, Kuya Driver, Nicole, Jedric, Gerard and Chikai
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Operation Gupit on December 13 2013

Pens of Hope in Davao will be going back to Brgy Panalum, Paquibato District on December 13. Last year we conducted an art workshop, but this time we are bringing a couple of hairdressers to give free haircuts for the kids.

We will be bringing gifts from Davao Arts, Integreon KPO firm and other kind souls. Please come back for updates of our event this coming weekend.

Gift-Giving at Panlabuhan Floating Village, Agusan Marsh

Pens of Hope had a mini gift-giving activity at Panlabuhan floating village, an ancestral domain of Manobo indigenous people in the heart of Agusan Marsh on July 5, 2014. Agusan Marsh is popular for being the natural home of Philippine crocodiles. It’s where Lolong, the world’s largest croc in captivity used to live.

School Profile

The floating Sikat Panlabuhan Primary School

The distribution was conducted at Sikat Panlabuhan Primary School, one of the main buildings in the community. Like the other buildings—church, lodge and houses—the school is a floating structure that is tied to a bangkal tree. It has two classrooms: one is used for instruction, and the other as a book storage and teacher bunk house.

Library / Teacher's bunkhouse

The school has 38 students from daycare to Grade 3, following multi-grade teaching system (one teacher handling different grade levels in a classroom). Students go to school through wooden dugout canoes. They come from families whose main sources of living are fishing and weaving bags and baskets from dried water hyacinths in the marsh. Marites Babanto, the local tour guide, said that each family earns about 100 to 300 pesos per day, depending on the quantity of fish caught.

Kid paddling a wooden canoe

Upon finishing the 3rd grade, students study in Loreto municipality, the nearest town in mainland Mindanao. Loreto is about one-hour away from the village by outrigger-less boat. Students stay in the bunkhouse and visit home only during weekends. For additional information about the community, please read this blog post.

Gift-giving Activity

The gift-giving was integrated with the trip of travel bloggers from the cities of Davao, General Santos and Koronadal. Most of them have been active volunteers/supporters of the POHD program.

Grateful kids

Unfortunately not all students were present during the distribution as it was held on a Saturday and it was a bit inconvenient for them to go to the venue. Further, a few students went home because the distribution was delayed due to other tourism-related activities. However, we left the writing materials to the teacher and we requested her to give them to the rest of the students the following weekday.

Teacher Ann (the woman in orange shirt) leading an action song

The distribution was pretty straightforward. We simply gathered the kids in the classroom along with their parents. We explained what Pens of Hope program is and where the donations came from. Then Teacher Anna Lou Teves led a simple action song to make the kids more comfortable.

Leah sharing pencils and pens with the kids

Leah, one of the volunteers/travel bloggers, handed the writing materials to the kids. Since we can’t give each child a coloring set due to limited supplies, we left the crayons, colored pens, colored pencils, and paper pads in the teacher’s care. She said the students will use them during art activities.

Special Shout-out

We would like to thank the following for this successful gift-giving:

  • Integreon KPO firm
  • Anonymous angel from the UK
  • Ping from the UAE
  • Mindanao Tourism Council, Tourism Office of Agusan del Sur and Loreto Municipality for organizing the trip

Thank you, thank you. Your kindness will always be remembered.

More pics here.

Blessings, Blessings!

Pens of Hope in Davao would like to thank our supporters for sending us blessings.

1. Integreon KPO firm based in Barbican, London held a stationary drive to support our campaign. They sent us writing and coloring materials with an inspiring postcard.

2. We received another pack from an anonymous angel still in the UK. The pack contains writing materials and paper pads.

3. Our dear volunteer in Dubai gathered a big shoe box of colorful pencils and erasers for our community partners. Ping, you're the man!

We came up with 80 packs of writing materials from these donations. Some of them were given to the kids in Panlabuhan floating community and the rest are kept for future gift-giving activities. 

Thank you, everyone. May kindness rule the world. 

The 15th Big Day

June 7, 2014 was a hot but good day. 

Pens of Hope in Davao went back to Brgy Panalum to share some school supplies to students from Daycare to Grade 6. For our 15th distribution, we also included the students from the adjacent community, Brgy Kibalatong, as we have received enough pledges from our program supporters.

Before we gave the school supplies, Nicole, the youngest volunteer of the group, taught the kids how to sing "If I were a butterfly." Three other kids from the community shared their singing talent to the crowd as well.

This is the summary of what the students received:

Daycare (18 students): 2 big pencils, drawing book, 16-piece box of crayons, eraser, sharpener, and plastic folder.

Preschool (17 students): 2 regular pencils, drawing book, 16-piece box of crayons, eraser, sharpener, paper, and plastic folder.

Grade 1 (33 students): 3 regular pencils, 3 notebooks, 8-piece box of crayons, eraser, sharpener, paper, and plastic folder.

Grade 2 (18 students): 2 regular pencils, 1 pen, 4 notebooks, 8-piece box of crayons, eraser, sharpener, paper, and plastic folder.

Grade 3 (38 students): 1 regular pencil, 3 pens, 4 notebooks, paper, and plastic folder.

Grade 4 (25 students): 1 regular pencil, 3 pens, 4 notebooks, paper, and plastic folder.

Grade 5 (7 students): 1 regular pencil, 3 pens, 4 notebooks, intermediate paper, and plastic folder.

Grade 6 (13 students): 1 regular pencil, 3 pens, 4 notebooks, intermediate paper, and plastic folder.

Please take note that some students were not in the picture due to unforeseen circumstances. Their mothers received their pack for them, but we made sure the child's name is in the master list.


Thank you Jun dela Cruz, Shugar Almasa, Lorna Fajardo, Mai Cavero, Liyah Rivera, Daryl Caingles, Ms. Sexy, Ms Butterfly Wings, and Mr Anonymous for your cash donation.

Thank you Dr Ophelia Casel, Bryan Hao, Maryvic Alvarez and Olan Emboscado for the cupcakes and muffins, Keir Ashley Lim for the juice, and Kelzie Nicole Elizar for the candies and biscuits.

Special shout out to Marco, Iren and Badan for facilitating our transportation to and from the area, the staff of D B-Jag Marketing for packing the school supplies, and Sarah Elizar for her superb coordinating skills.

To Dan, Sarah, Nicole, Shugar and Kit for enduring the hot weather.

Thank you, everyone. With you around, life is sweet!