Time in: 8:30 AM
I arrived at Robinsons Fuente this morning just before 8 AM to meet up with Phoebe so we could go to the community center together. Our team’s assembly time was 8:30 AM, so we would have enough time to arrive by then.
Except Phoebe and I departed from Fuente Osmeña just before half past eight, so that we got to the center in Sambag Dos a little before 9 AM. When we got there, we saw a few little boys standing around by the gate, peeking inside before taking note of our arrival and greeting us. One of them we’d already met before, but the others we just met. They all still took to us quite comfortably all the same. Upon seeing them idling by outside the center, we asked them what they were doing there. They replied by telling us they were waiting to get inside. We asked, “Why? What’s inside?” They responded, “There’s going to be a party.” (In Bisaya, of course.)
Phoebe and I looked at each other. It seems news of our little gathering had gotten around. What’s more, they took it to be a party. Phoebe asked them, “What’s going to be in the party?” “Manghatag og pagkaon,” they answered. (“They’re going to give out food.”) Talk about expectations.
We found when we went inside that we were the only ones to have arrived, and it was well past 8:30 by then. We greeted everyone, including Ms. Adi, whom during our welcome told us she was first informed by Ms. Shane that our call time was 7:30. This was not true in the slightest, and Ms. Adi told us she was relieved we were coming by 8 AM. So was I, even if there was no plan at all in the first place to meet at 7:30.
I waited with Phoebe for the others, who only started arriving at around 9 AM. When there were several of us already present, we started setting up the TV screen and sound system to be used during the program. It was supposed to start at 10 AM, but with a little delay in establishing a connection to the Internet for the video-viewing (most of the videos in the flash drive I brought refused to play). We were only late for several minutes or so, but when we were ready we began the event immediately, officially commencing at nearly 10:30.
We started with a few icebreakers, led by Ate Khyz, and an introductory session, where we introduced ourselves to the children and the kids to us. Twenty children were in attendance, as we requested to invite. Ate Janille hosted the program with Ate Khyz, and it soon came to the video showing. We had five videos to show from the folder I put together on our online drive. After every video, we conducted a little quiz to stimulate the kids’ learning. For each child who correctly answered, we gave them a corresponding prize as well.
It was around this time that the rest of our team arrived — those who were in charge of the food. They came in the middle of the video viewing. After we showed them the educational clips, we had a few more energizers before we had lunch. For this, we had the kids line up to get their packed lunches and drinks. They all dug in gleefully.
We interns had our lunch break, too. We invited Ms. Adi and the other workers in the center to join, as we had enough food for everyone.
Lunch break included a short time for rest, but not that the kids needed it. They were so energetic that after they finished and I assisted them in cleaning after the mess some of them left, some of the girls demonstrated gymnastics techniques they knew. It wasn’t anything complex, but they did a straight split, a hand stand (which I prefer to call a headstand for them, they practically stood upside down; it was dangerous), a cartwheel, and something close to a back walkover. Erika, whom you may remember from our first visit there, threatened to do a back flip even, which I flatly prohibited her to do.
Soon the program resumed from the luncheon break, and the next part began, which was the games. The kids played Bring Me, Statue Dance, Musical Chairs, and some more, in which they won prizes too. There was also a dance number from a group of the girls, which we didn’t expect, and a karaoke session for the children. In this, we had fun together with them, singing along, cheering them on, and applauding their performances. The games brought their own fun too, and allowed the children to socialize more with each other, especially with the age gap between some of them; to learn and enjoy themselves at the same time.
Karaoke with their requested favorite songs.
Musical chairs was a highlight in the afternoon activities.
After the games we gave them snacks – some sandwiches and jelly. It was around this time that the rain that came during the karaoke singing session returned. Still, we all enjoyed our snacks and talked to the kids about how the event has been for them. They definitely learned something, which they affirmed when I asked them. At first I thought that twenty was quite a good number to host, but when they were all gathered I realized I forgot how small many of them were, and we honestly could have taken maybe some ten more in. Still, the amount of them that came was significant enough, especially since we were seeing them all probably for the last time in a long time too.
The rain didn’t stop for a long time, so that all the kids decided to play in it. A lot us interns were jealous – when was the last time we purposely enjoyed ourselves in the rain after all? But we didn’t have the time or liberty for it – while the children had fun in the rain, we tidied the place and returned some furniture to their original places. We gave out the extra food we had left, and then watched the kids run around and even dance in the pouring rain.
Then one by one, they left. And so did we. We thanked everyone in the center, and said goodbye to the children – they probably didn’t know it would be our last visit in a long time. We left in two groups, and just around 3 PM, the end time for the program.
In many ways, I’m glad we held the event we did today. For probably the last time, I got to see some faces whose lives I was lucky to have learned the stories behind. I saw the the two girls whose story was the first we covered, and I even met Dona for the first time, a meeting which was long overdue. She wasn’t anything we expected – I personally had an impression from the stories her grandmother shared that she was somehow reserved, wasn’t good at asserting herself, and maybe a little quiet. But she wasn’t at all – she was sociable, attentive, and polite. She managed to win at least two prizes from the games, which says she knows well how to assert herself, and she was the best dressed in our group in attendance today – she wore a lovely pink dress that I would bet she usually wears for Sundays, and she walked and talked in it with a kind of dignity that wasn’t pompous but also not what you’re used to come from a child.
I’m glad to have seen they were doing fine, at least in the best way they could, and we’re looking well. Even in the little games we organized for them, the girls we knew about showed promising ability with an active disposition to participate and contribute. They could go far if supported well and right, as with the rest of the kids, and like all kids really.
We left the community center with the rain still pouring, and we were all quite exhausted, but the rain dampened not a single hope I have for those kids.
Time out: 3:15 PM
Number of hours: 6 hours and 45 minutes