By May Valencia, IV Accountancy, UST
Looking at the pictures of our Bataan outreach, I was very happy. Our goal? To beautify Mt. View Elementary School inside and out! That is, to teach the kids and paint the school from April 2-9, 2013.
It was an enjoyable experience for all 9 volunteers to teach the eager students of the Mt. View Elementary School every morning. We focused on reading comprehension, virtues and cultural enrichment like arts and crafts, singing, dancing, games and Tae Kwon Do.
At noon, we would go back to the Papas’ Family Garden Resort, where we were housed by Capt. Rudy and Mrs. Rose Papas, to take the tasty lunch that Pareng, the cook, prepared for us. Soon after eating, we would prepare to battle the heat of the afternoon summer sun as we were going to beautify the walls of school. We armed ourselves with umbrellas or hats while others lathered sun block lotions, wore sunglasses and even arm bands to protect the skin.
By 2pm we were ready to begin our manual work. Kuya Francis, the trusted school’s caretaker, patiently demonstrated to us how to paint the stone wall fences of the school. Using steel brushes, we intensely scrubbed off the dust and algae of the walls before painting it carefully with thalo green paint. Once we finished our target of 8 walls daily, we would excitedly go back to the resort to take our refreshing snacks.
At 6pm, we would find ourselves hearing Mass in St. Gemma Galgani, a church which is just a few minutes away from our place. Before supper, we would listen to Miss Gemma's interesting talks on the camp's theme: Looking Good Inside and Out. We listened intently to many new things about dressing fashionably according to our personality, body types and color but still taking into account the virtue of modesty. Most importantly, it was emphasized to us that it is the virtues (like fortitude, temperance and justice) that makes a person really beautiful. After a yummy dinner we would gather around the garden’s pretty grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes to pray the rosary.
Because of too much vitamin D we absorbed from the sun, we never ran out of energy to participate in the evening activities. These were memorable moments that forged friendships: volleyball, swimming, movie, games, karaoke or simply being at the gazebo to talk and joke with each other.
We were lucky to see some beautiful sites of Bataan: the historic Mt. Samat, the cool waters of Dunsulan Falls, and the enchanting sunset at the Port Area of Mariveles. The Marian pilgrimage to the beautiful Church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Orani, Bataan was a good occasion for us to pray for our students.
For our last day at the school, we made creative handmade key chains decorated with colorful butterflies for our students which were given during the culminating activity. This event was a success because the kids enjoyed playing and participating in the games and were amused with our “well-practiced” singing and dance performances. They were also touched by the personalized souvenir key chains we made. Some of them even cried after hearing the farewell speech of Miss Gemma.
It was certainly a very fulfilling way to spend the start of summer: teaching and being with the less fortunate ones. I can’t help but recall what Cardinal Gomez told Pope Francis during the conclave: “Don’t forget the poor.” We definitely won’t! And so we made up our minds to go back there for the next outreach.