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.