Sunday, December 21, 2008

Act N@W - my Concordia and San Juan Adventure

Since I'm pretending to be good this Christmas season, I decided to join some of the members of Newlyweds@Work (N@W) extend some help to Concordia Children's Services.

Concordia is a small orphanage that takes care of 22 kids and supports the education of 34 other urban poor children. Marj wrote about them in an email and a lot of N@wies picked up her plea for help. A few emails later, volunteer N@wies were already organizing a party for the urban poor kids. Many others volunteered to send donations. I was one of them.

Initially, I just pledged a little money. It was the easiest thing to do. But after attending several Christmas parties, indulging myself in food and alcohol and tremendously enjoying the company of friends, I felt like doing something different. So, I volunteered to take pictures at the Concordia party.

When I mentioned my plans to some officemates, they too got excited and offered to donate goods. Thinking that more people would be interested in helping out the kids, I sent out an email to almost everyone in my address books. The response was overwhelming. I could hardly pack all the donations that I was able to gather in our car!

Apparently, there were also tons of generous Nawies that we just had too much donations for 1 beneficiary. The organizers then decided to donate the overflow to St. Martin de Porres Charity Hospital.

A week before the party, I sent out an invite to the members of the Olyclub and the GSM PhotoClub to help me take pictures. I was happy when Mot, Honey, Oli and Rodge volunteered to cover the party with me.

The night before the party, I charged my batteries and prepared my memory cards. I was so excited that I didn't have enough sleep. I fell asleep at 2 AM but by 7:30 AM, I was ready to leave. I passed by Mot on my way to Concordia. Traffic was a bit heavy because of the hundreds of people who were going home to their provinces for the Christmas holidays. We arrived at Concordia 30 minutes before the start of the party.

Concordia was nestled in between Ligaya Lodge and Gardenia Terrace Motel. The entrance was a gate right beside a huge banner advertising taxi rooms for P599. We wondered if the babies in the orphanage were products of the activities in these motels.

As soon as we got there, we unloaded the donations from my car and started preparations for the party. I helped set up the table for the prizes, which was useless as more donations arrived after I set it up so they ended up fixing everything again. There were just so many donations!

The program started promptly and I was impressed by the host, Ate Ayie. She chose games that were appropriate for the kids and she even made animals out of balloons. 3 crew members of Jollibee were there to help her out. They were all great with the kids!

But the star of the show was Dani - she read a story to the children. She was able to capture the attention of all the kids with her story that they almost looked hypnotized! When it was time for the Q&A after the story, everyone knew the answers (except for me, hehe). I was really so amazed by her talent in story-telling. Tinalo niya talaga si Kuya Bodjie at si Ate Sienna.

The children also got excited when Jollibee performed. Jollibee was just so charming that even the adults (photographers included) wanted to have a picture taken with him. After watching him and taking pictures of him for 30 minutes, I was half in love with him!

I so enjoyed the program that I didn't notice the heat, the dozens of children running around and screaming and the fact that we were having the party at a parking lot. I was also having so much fun with the other N@wies that I ended up posing for a lot of pictures with them. We even had a picture taken with Jollibee! It surprised me how we all gelled and had fun together even if it was my first time to see most of them. I was also amazed at how everything was efficiently organized.

After the program, a handful of us went to St. Martin to turn over the donations. The administrator was visibly touched and she promised to make sure that the donations would benefit the patients and the staff. She also requested the head nurse to give us a tour of the hospital. At one point, someone asked if we were actresses (apparently because only actresses went around hospitals to give out free stuff). We wanted to answer that we were actresses but we weren't famous because: (a) we were never launched; or (b) our soap operas were televised at 3 AM and got axed after 1 airing.

Even after giving out slippers to the kids in St. Martin, we realized that we still had 2 full boxes of slippers with us. Wanting to ensure that the slippers were donated to less-fortunate children, we thought of institutions that would have children who may appreciate having new slippers. We decided to make an impromptu visit to the municipal hospital of San Juan. Right outside the hospital were 2 street kids. One of them was running around with bare feet but he still refused the slippers we were giving him! We were so desperate to give him the slippers that we were almost begging him to receive it. Hindi kami nagwagi.

The people in the hospital were a different story, they were so grateful for the slippers and showered us with thanks. One of the kids confined in the hospital was the sibling of the kid playing in front of the hospital. We left a pair of slippers for him. Ha!

Unfortunately, there were only a handful of kids at the hospital so we still had several dozens of slippers with us. Since we were on a mission to hand out those slippers, we discussed our next step. We thought about standing in a busy corner and give out the slippers to the kids who knocked on car windows to beg. We decided against it, natakot kaming pagkaguluhan (naks, feeling artista!) After a few minutes, we decided to distribute it at the nearest depressed area.

And so, we trekked to the nearest barangay hall and found ourselves talking to the people of Brgy. Balongbato (in English, Rockwell!) We told them that we had slippers to give out and that we would appreciate it if they invited children between ages 2-8 to get their slippers from us. After 5 minutes, at least 100 kids were swarming the place. We all felt like we hit the jackpot! We had the kids fall in line and gave out the rest of the slippers. we ran out of slippers halfway through the line. Once again, I was amazed at the efficiency of the Nawies - they not only gave out the slippers, they were also able to give the right size to the kids. Ang galing!

We finished at around 2 PM - I was tired and thirsty, my legs felt heavy after standing for hours and walking around with my gear (I really have to start working on becoming physically fit!) but I actually got a little sad when our adventure ended and said goodbye to my fellow N@wies. It would take some time before I see them again in person.

As I journeyed back to real life, I browsed through the pictures on my camera and smiled. I was pretending to be good but the fun and adventure that I had with the N@wies and my photographer friends were all real. Their smiles were saved on my memory cards. I just hope that my smile was saved on theirs - lalo na yung picture ko with Jollibee!!!

More pictures are posted at:

Monday, December 01, 2008

Call for Applicants to Philippine High School for the Arts Scholarships

The Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) is currently accepting applicants to the 2009 Annual Nationwide Search for Young Arts Scholars (ANSYAS).

PHSA is a government run secondary school for artistically gifted and talented children and youth located in Mt. Makiling, Laguna. It implements a special secondary education curriculum oriented to the arts while offering the Basic Education subjects prescribed by the Department of Education (DepEd). The specialized curriculum of the PHSA is focused on the disciplines of Creative Writing, Dance, Music, Theater, and the Visual Arts.

Applicants must be Filipino citizens with outstanding ability in any of the following disciplines—Music (instrument and voice), Dance (ballet and folk), Theater Arts, Visual Arts, and Creative Writing. Applicants must be graduating Grade VI or VII pupils for the school year 2008-2009; of above average intelligence, proficient in oral and written Filipino and English; without any debilitating illness; and willing to study in a residential high school.

Likewise, applicants must be determined to pursue a college degree in Architecture, Fine Arts, Music, Dance, Theater Arts, Journalism or any related courses upon graduation from the PHSA.

Successful applicants will receive free tuition, board and lodging, classes with master teachers, a monthly stipend plus the chance to represent the country and the school in international festivals, competitions and exchange programs. Application is also free.

Established in 1977, the PHSA has a distinguished roster of graduates that include singer Grace Nono (Theater), filmmaker Raymond Red (Visual Arts), painter and installation artist Gerry Leonardo (Visual Arts), stage and film actress Shamaine Buencamino (Theater), pianist Hiyas Hila (Music), stage and film actor Soliman Cruz (Theater), bass baritone Jonathan Zaens (Music), Biag Gaongen (Theater) and dancer Candice Adea (Ballet).

The PHSA boasts of an impressive faculty as well. PHSA teachers, according to PHSA Executive Director Fernando C. Josef, are among the best of the country’s artists, practitioners and educators. “PHSA is the only national arts institution that provides a four-year scholarship to exceptionally talented young Filipino artists. It offers these young artists a comprehensive and highly specialized training supported by excellent facilities and in the idyllic and beautiful setting of Mt. Makiling.”

Application forms and the list of requirements per art discipline may be downloaded from the PHSA website All documents and requirements must be sent directly to ANSYAS 2009, c/o Assistant Reynaldo O. Wong, PHSA, National Arts Center, Mt. Makiling, Los BaƱos 4030 Laguna.

For inquiries, please email or call telefax (+6349)5365971 to 73 and 536-2862.

*re-posted from