By Vangie Estrella
The Pasig District of CFCFFL, with Tony and Dorie Liza at the helm, has decided to do away with extravagance and pomp this Christmas; instead spend time and resources to those with less in life as a way of concluding this ‘Year of the Poor’ with an exclamation mark. In response, the Pasig cluster under Efren and Bles Gabrillo deemed it wise to do outreach activities to the CRIBS Foundation in Marikina City and to Tahanang Walang Hagdan in Cainta, Rizal. Our chapter was commissioned to the New Beginnings Program of the CRIBS Foundation, one of the major programs that addresses the healing and recovery of sexually abused female minors aged 7 to 17 years old.
On Sunday, December 6, 2016, our chapter’s servant leaders assembled at the CRIBS compound as early as 12:20 in the afternoon for their 2:00 PM time block. Freddie and Cecille Nadres were the first ones as they bring in the still-hot pancit and other food stuff. Unit leaders Jules and Doris Salengua and family, together with household servants Roel Del Rosario and Martin Tan and their respective wives were part of the “early birds”. Manny and I were with Jojo and Reggie Aquino when we greeted other servant leaders as they arrived in droves: Lito and Lyn Abainza and family, Andy and Lau Altea, Manny & Cora Pagatpat, Gina Alcover, Jorge and Lani Torres and family, and Nonoy and Melba Trono. We were joined by Perry and Maligaya whose Singapore-based son Paolo delivered a big box full of assorted toys and a check for the CRIBS children. The Maligaya couple were part of our first household in Riverside Pasig way back in 1992. As the servants and members of the other chapter led by Danny and Nora Amul came in, together with our cluster leaders, Efren and Bless, the usual orientation for first-time volunteers was made by the CRIBS staff. And off we went to our respective assignments.
There were 26 children in the New Beginnings program and they were all smiles as they settled in for our “show”. Our 1 ½-hour interwoven activities centered on the story of Jonah and the Big Fish. Three daughters of our servant leaders led the paper-folding workshop or origami. Janel Torres demonstrated how to make a simple whale, Althea Abainza worked on a paper boat, and Sandy Salengua taught how to make a representation of a person. Even the Titos and Titas joined in the paper folding activities which they found enjoyable. We showed a cute video of a 7-year old kid enthusiastically telling the “Jonah and the Big Fish” story which I recapped with some interaction from the children. Then sis Reggie Aquino, also a former St. Paul preschool teacher, distributed clean bond papers, crayons and glues and instructed them to paste their origami output on the paper and draw other elements as they understood the story. She capped her workshop by asking volunteers up front and described their work of art. Many shared their insights on lessons learned.
After a hearty shared meal, the New Beginning girls asked us to stay as they did an energetic dance number which delighted everyone. They rendered a Christmas song that sent chills to our spines. For whatever reason, I can feel the pain from their eyes as they sang despite the smiles painted on their faces. Many of us held down our tears as the song ended. Finally, the New Beginnings girls gave a simple card of thanks which is reproduced and can be found in the photo section of this blog.
We realized, thus, that these teens who have less in life in terms of family relations, need caring people and attention. We know that our simple and casual visit has made inroads into their hearts. Before we left, we handed a sizeable amount to the Foundation as a token of our love. Now we know what sector we will help as we observe our next year’s theme “Rich in Mercy”.