It was unexpected. But then when the opportunity presented itself, I could no longer say no. It was a blessing of sorts. A mighty plan from above humanized in many ways.
The journey at first was hazy, unsure. But then the skies cleared and Divine Intervention won.
I was given a rare privilege to join my friend’s G.I.V.E. activity in the far-flung Isla Pag-Asa in Spratly Islands and met the adorable students of Pag-Asa Elementary School. G.I.V.E. stands for Give Intensely Victoriously Enthusiastically which I think sums up what these projects are really for. That is just to simply give. I recall a few months back when she excitedly told me that she might be doing a GIVE project in one of the most remote places in the country. I could not help but also get excited for her. Her eyes shone every time we talk about the possibility.
The few hours I had been there was longer than it actually was. A unique memory. Lasting a lifetime. One of a kind. At first, I was a bit worried if the gifts we brought for them were enough. Or if they will like it. Or if they will even need them. But then again, the doubts in my head disappeared altogether once I saw them sitting tightly together inside their classroom, their innocent faces eagerly awaiting for something that hopefully could bring lasting smiles on their faces.
And we feel complete as it is
You see, I do not have a younger sibling, much less my own child. But I thought of my cute nephew when I witnessed how eager they were to receive what we gave them. Some were so timid. Some so young they were oblivious what was really happening. Some were old enough to quietly mumble the grateful words ‘thank you’ to us as we hand them their notebooks, crayons, pencils and anything else they might be needing for the coming school year. I wished we could give more. Brought more. But I as looked at them clutching their new things as if it were the most precious elements on earth, I knew that to these kids, even a used bag seems to be heaven-sent.
The activity lasted just as little over two hours. We had our fun and the funniest moments with the kids, specially with the younger ones.
|Hazel with Minja Turtle Boy|
One active, little boy bravely approached my friend while she was distributing slippers and asked, ‘Meron po ba kayong Minja turtles?’ (Do you have Minja Turtles slippers?) With matching assertive voice and all. My friend was caught off guard as well as those who heard his query. All we can do was laugh heartily. Good thing that he was a sport for all we have were Spiderman slippers. Maybe next time Minja turtles will come along with us too. He actually was referring to Ninja Turtles.
|Me, Hazel and Capt. Cherryl Tindog with some kids of Pag-Asa Elementary School|
Until the last minute, we did not know if we can actually be there. But perhaps it was destined to be. You see, Pag-Asa Island is located in the contested Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea. It is imperative that there are frequent activities in the island. The government actually has official documentation of all the happenings, who goes there and what they do. Why? To show that the island is in deed thriving and living. That activities like this and visitors are a normal sight in the island. So that it can be shown to the world, and to that one particular realm, that these beautiful islands belong to the rightful country. And we all know which that is. Thank you. To all who have given and extended their help. Thank you too to Jollibee for the meals! You brought a different kind of jolly joy to these little faces. In deed, what made this activity extra special is it was held in Isla Pag-Asa. I guess that’s it. As I see it, there is hope. I found hope. And love. I saw it in their eyes. There. In Pag-Asa Island.