PSHF

Philippine Self-Help Foundation

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This page features the written accounts of PSHF team members, sponsors, friends and volunteers who come to visit us in the Philippines.

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Suen's PSHF experience

Posted on January 3, 2015 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (1)

Dear Richard, and all of the PSHF team,

 

First of all, happy new year!

 

It has been a pleasure spending time with you all in the Philippines for the past 3 weeks. I had a wonderful time, an eye-opening experience in fact. Not to mention that I'm very fortunate to have gracious hosts Ireen and Hazel - thank you ladies for taking good care of me during my stay. I've learned a lot these 3 weeks, and have met many beautiful people along the way. I'm glad that I was able to help with the Cebu Relief Audit, and also have the opportunity to go out to the field to speak to the applicants. Thank you Analyn, Bernie and Sherry for letting me tag along to the field trips.

 

Visiting each office has provided me with unique experiences - I will never forget the happy kids' faces at Ireen's barangay in Tagbilaran City, the motorbike experience for a sunset swim in Panglau Island (coming back with a puppy and a flat tyre), the local street basketball match between barangays, the unique tricycle styles of each city, the slippery hike to Isaiya's banana farm in Bayawan, meeting Angelica's family and writing a report on it, the 8.5-hour bus ride to Bacolod, the end-of-year field trip in Bacolod visiting the slums, experiencing Christmas in the Philippines with Hazel and her relatives, learning about the history of Negros Occidental at the various museums I visited, and not to mention yummy chicken Inasal that served as my favourite 'go-to' lunch fares.

 

 

Most important of all, thank you Richard for offering me with this opportunity to volunteer at PSHF, taking back unforgettable memories, experiences and new forging friendships. I hope to see all of you again when I drop by the Philippines in the future.

 

 

Sorry to hear about typhoon Seniang, I hope the situation has gotten much better since. I was also very thankful to be home safe, amidst the two typhoons (Hagupit and Seniang) and the bad weather in the region that caused the recent Air Asia flight crash.

 

 

Do keep in touch and drop me a line or two with an email, I'd love to hear from you all together with any recent developments at PSHF. The Sunset Villa sounded like a great alternative to the Darunday Manor, you can never go wrong with a lap pool and views of the mangroves and sea!

 

 

I will share photos soon once I've got them all sorted out.

 

 

Missing all of you,

 

Suen



"With Richard and the rescued pup after a swim at Panglao Island, Bohol"




With Ireen and Hazel going down the hill from Isaya's Banana Farm



Angelica and her family




A Bittersweet Story

Posted on April 12, 2014 at 4:10 AM Comments comments (0)

"I was lucky enough to volunteer with PSHF during my Chinese New Year break at the school I teach at in Shanghai, China. Richard is a childhood friend of my Mum & Uncle and he was gracious enough to allow me to volunteer with his organization.

 

I volunteered with Marlene, a girl I'd met through a friend while she was visiting Shanghai in November of 2013. She was going to be in the Philippines for about two months and I put her in contact with Richard who graciously invited her to volunteer as well.

 

I was met at the airport by Ireen who runs the Bohol office of PSHF. She's a happy, energetic lady who made me feel welcome & at home right away.

 

The first day I was in Bohol, Ireen & I went to Catigbian to visit some families and hand out clothes to the children. Now I'd heard about the earthquake that occurred on October 15th, 2013, but I can't tell you how different it is seeing it in person verses on television. The destruction is heartbreaking: families's homes are gone, some have absolutely nothing left. We take so much for granted back home in Canada, America, wherever we may be from, and here are these families with nothing anymore. Yet the most amazing thing is to see their energy and outlook: they aren't hiding out crying about what's been lost, they are happy they're alive; they are happy they have each other; they are happy to see us as we are a sign of hope - they have not been forgotten.

 

One family that stood out to me was one we met on my last field day in Bohol. They'd lost their 14-year-old daughter who had gone to her school on her day off to give in some paperwork to her teacher. This girl was a smart, kind girl who was adored by all in her neighbourhood. On the morning of the earthquake, she had awoken her family, telling them to eat the breakfast she'd made and that she was going to her school - she woke up her whole family. A few hours later the earthquake occurred and sadly she was caught in the destruction and didn't make it out of the school. What is the most touching thing about this story is that she saved her family: the fact that she woke them up before she left saved them as their bedrooms were destroyed in the earthquake. Had she not, her Mother would still be alive but would have lost her three children and husband - I find this heart wrenching and it is such a bittersweet story.

 

Meeting all the families I did and hearing their stories straight from them touches you like no news story can. It makes you think, reflect and appreciate so much more about your own life. PSHF is a great organization that is personable and wants to help as many people as they can. I only hope I can visit & volunteer again one day."


Natasha Aird

2 April 2014

Meeting Nora

Posted on April 2, 2014 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

I volunteered for a week in Bohol along with a friend, Natasha Arid, who I met in Shanghai prior to coming to the Philippines. I met the Cebu Relief Coordinator, Jo-Ann and a teacher from the Light House Learning Center School in Cebu, Genevive. I was warmly welcomed by the Bohol Relief Coordinator, Ireen, who set up my accommodation in the Bohol office. I was extremely thrilled to be working with all three women, who were dedicated to their life’s work of helping others, truly inspirational. I had a pleasure of meeting a woman, Leonor Mogol, or as she’s most commonly called, Nora.


I was informed that she and her three small children were temporarily given a home at the office when she broke up with her live-in partner, Joseph. She was not only caring for her own children, but supporting Joseph financially and waiting on him hand and foot. Nora earned her money by doing other people’s laundry. She would ask Joseph to watch her kids during the day, but instead he would be playing games at the internet cafes, gambling, or having drinking sessions with his friends. Nora’s youngest son Elmer, four years old, almost drowned in an open hole because Joseph neglected to care for him. In fact, had he not been given first aid on the spot, he could have died. This led to Nora and Joseph fighting, and ended with Nora and her children being kicked out on the streets with no home. Thankfully, PSHF gave her housing assistance. She continued to do laundry during the day, saving up little by little. During my stay, I was able to witness a woman who came from an abusive relationship to PSHF helping her raise her spirits – it was certainly an amazing sight to see. She invited me along with Ireen, Jo-Ann and Genevive to visit her newly built house. She kindly offered us breakfast, the puto maya paired with sikwate, chocolate drink and ripe mangos. It seems to me that Nora and her children are very happy in their new haven, I only wish the best for her and her family.


Marlene Mosley

31 March 2014

"Paradise Lost"

Posted on November 17, 2013 at 12:00 PM Comments comments (0)


We - Lanie De Leon (PSHF Bacolod coordinator), Ana Marie Alba (our previous coordinator for southern Negros Occidental), Rhiza Ciudad (PSHF trustee) had the chance to visit Concepcion in northern Panay eight days after typhoon Yolanda devastated the town. We had come to bring relief supplies to the home community of Ana’s friend Arlyn in whose home we stayed. She lives with her partner Rado and their two children.

 

Rado related to us his experience during the typhoon:

 

“It was announced on the radio that Yolanda would strike around 12 noon on Friday, 8th November. We were ready, and waited for it to come; we were thinking that this would be like many typhoons in the past.

 

As early as 10 o’clock in the morning, a powerful wind began battering our small community, like we’d never seen before on TV. Our small but solid house started to shake and everybody began to get scared. At 12 noon, I was in the bedroom, sweeping the floor as water was pouring in through the window frame; it gushed in like it was coming out of a faucet. Then I noticed that the window frame was moving and I tried to push it back, at the same time shouting for help because I couldn’t handle it alone. Outside I saw coconuts and other trees being cut in half by the wind, the sound of which I never heard before. Then Arlyn shouted “Get out of there Rado, the window might fall on you!” So I let go, and while walking out of the bedroom, it was then that I noticed our air con was lying in the middle of our bedroom, pushed out of its place by the wind.

 

Photo shows the family's ruined porch, behind

which is their roofless master bedroom.


Then I suddenly felt pain in my toes, with blood oozing from it. It must be the shards from the broken glass window, I realised. My more immediate concern however was how to get out of the bedroom because the door refused to budge! It finally opened a few minutes later. “Come here Rado!”, my wife shouted from somewhere. I looked for her and saw her and several others crouching under a table. Then we decided to go inside the bathroom. “It’s safer there.”, Arlyn’s father said.

The all-concrete structure on the left hand side of the

house is the sturdy bathroom where the family and

their neighbours stayed during the typhoon.


We huddled inside the bathroom for an hour or so. I was given the privilege of sitting down because of my foot injury; all the others were unhurt and had to stand. Finally around 2 o’clock, it started to become quiet outside, with only the rain falling. The typhoon had lasted for about 4 hours, beginning at 10 o’clock and reaching its strongest at 12 noon. When Arlyn opened the door, we could not believe what we both saw: the once beautiful little ‘forest’ which surrounded our house had gone, and everything now looked desolate. The house of Arlyn’s aunt - Marlyn, was the only home which remained standing; her parents’ and her brother’s house had both crumbled to the ground. The devastation that I have seen in films is nothing compared to what I have experienced here.”



 Rado and Arlyn with their children, Greg and Lulia.


Bernadette Gampay-Togado

17 November 2013


PSHF delivers relief supplies to Concepcion

Posted on November 16, 2013 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

 


A PSHF team visits Concepcion, a town in the province of Iloilo, badly damaged by typhoon Yolanda. 

Lanie de Leon describes a weekend of delivering relief supplies to an affected community.

 

We arrived in Concepcion in the early evening of November 16. Ana's friend, Arlyn had asked her brother, Jing-Jing to come and be our guide on his motorcycle. He then asked three other motorcyclists to bring us to their place. One carried just the bags and supplies, Ms. Rhiza and Ms. Bernie rode on the second, I rode on the third and Ana went with Jing-Jing. Half way to Arlyn's place, Rhiza and Bernie’s motorcycle unfortunately got a flat tire so Ms. Bernie rode with Ana and Ms. Rhiza rode with me.

 

The motorcycle that carried our bags and the supplies.


We were dropped off at the foot of the hill where Arlyn lived and we hiked our way up. It was dark, because there was no electricity so we made use of a couple of the flash lights we had brought with us to give away. It was a moonlit night too so we had no trouble negotiating our way over the fallen trees to reach Arlyn's house on top of the hill. Arlyn was waiting for us at the door and greeted us warmly.

While some of us prepared supper, others talked to Rado, Arlyn's Romanian partner. Our hosts shared their experiences during the typhoon - like they were inside the bathroom standing until the typhoon calmed down. Their house lost almost half its tin roof sheets and some of these have just been returned by Arlyn's father. The moonlight was streaming in where there was no roof.

The moon through a space in the family's roof.


After dinner we decided to start packing the relief goods in the room which had been the master bedroom; it had a ceiling but the roof had been blown away. Arlyn and her 4 year old daughter Lulia, helped us. Arlyn was very efficient in organizing and instead of just 12 relief packs, we had enough for 15; we just lacked a few items which could be bought in the town market.

 

Our relief goods included candles and matches,

a pair of rubber sandals, dried fish with some rice, eggs,

miswa or locally made noodles, a piece of clothing,

pencils and even origami paper!


We had only just finished packing a few plastic bags when it started raining and it came with strong winds too. Water started dripping into the room and almost everything was getting wet. We all grabbed the goods and our stuff and transferred to the kitchen which was dry. The mattress that had been prepared for us to sleep on was also moved to the kitchen. Ana slept with Arlyn's family in the other room while Ms. Bern, Ms. Rhiza and I slept in the kitchen. We were all awakened at around 4am when the winds picked up again causing the tin roofing to make a loud creaking noise. 

The damaged roofing that made a creaking noise.


It was like we were having a first hand experience of what it had been like to be there in the typhoon. It was scary but we survived and it made our stay more meaningful.

A ten second video of how the wind sounded that morning

and the scene outside their kitchen window.


We were up early to finalise the packs and check what was lacking. Ana and I then left with Toto (Arlene's younger brother) to buy some items in the market while Ms. Bern and Ms. Rhiza went down to the shore with Arlyn's mother, Helen, to view the damage on the beach front. 


In the early afternoon, Helen and Ann-Ann, Arlyn’s younger sister led us to the 15 poor households who live behind their hill to distribute our relief supplies.

 

The team carrying the relief supplies with Arlyn's mother, Helen as the lead guide.


The people are most grateful for our help and encouragement. Most of their homes were badly damaged or even flattened to the ground. They have built temporary dwellings with wood from fallen trees and any tin roof sheeting they can find.

  

  

  

We bid farewell to our hosts at 5pm, promising we would return to help more. Rado and Arlyn’s only source of income is their internet shop which was flooded in the typhoon, so perhaps we could help them with a loan to replace lost equipment. There are others too in the community who have lost their livelihoods, so I hope we might be able to help them too.

 

Lanie M. De Leon

18 November 2013


Philippine Christmas by Dan Brandsma

Posted on January 18, 2012 at 1:10 AM Comments comments (0)

The Christmas season is a special time of year, and for our family having the opportunity to be together again made it especially so. Ruth and I are currently American ex-pats living and working in Tokyo, Japan, with our high school daughter Liz. Our three sons (in their 20’s) are living in the US. As we started our vacation planning we were looking for some place where we could enjoy time together as a family, some place warm and accessible to swimming, and also someplace where God could use us.


(Our family from L-R: Ruth, Kieth, Dan (me), David, Liz and John)


The Philippines quickly became a top choice. In addition to checking out what resorts were available, we contacted Richard Foster whom we had become acquainted with at Tokyo Union Church. We realized quickly that our vision for a combination of “vacation + mission-type experience” was not so different than what he had suggested in one of his PSHF flyers. Although this all sounds smooth and easy, to be honest I had many questions about how it would all work out. Frankly I was fixated on what kind of vacation experience I could give our children, and whether it would be good enough. Ruth helped me to stop focusing on what I could give, but instead start trusting that God had something to give to us. Hopefully the next few paragraphs will help to provide a glimpse into that gift.


After meeting our boys in Manila, we flew together to Bacolod, in Negros Occidental, to join up with Richard and Glitter. We were wide-eyed as we travelled from the airport to the hotel, and spending the afternoon swimming helped in dealing with the change in time zones. The next day we got to see the PSHF office, meet more of the staff, and then go into the city to see some of the people PSHF is partnering with. We saw the reality of poverty, and realized anew that poverty has individual faces and names. We met with PSHF clients in the hospital, marketplace, and in their homes. I feel that we were able to bring some encouragement to the people we met with, and we were encouraged as well.


We were also blessed to be part of a reunion, as Richard was able to re-connect with members of the first family he had helped. It was a privilege to see the love that this family had for Richard, and how his love for them has impacted many generations. Being part of this reunion helped to reinforce that fact that God isn’t asking me to eliminate poverty, but instead is calling me to take a small step in faith to change one life, and trust that he will multiply the blessing.



(Richard with the Ambong family, the first PSHF project.)


We concluded our visit to Bacolod with a dinner at “The Ruins”. This was a not only a culinary delight, but the location had an incredible ambiance. During our leisurely dinner, we had time to reflect on what we had seen and experienced in Bacolod. There is an awkwardness with being an average “1st world wealthy” and encountering “majority world need”. In my own spiritual journey, God continues to call me to embrace this awkwardness, rather than turn away, so that his blessing can flow to and through me.


(With Richard and Glitter in The Ruins.)


One of God’s gifts to me throughout this vacation was the blessing of new relationships. This is especially true with respect to getting to know Richard’s staff. Glitter and Bernie made our visit and Bacolod interesting and smooth. We got to know Glitter during our time spent with her and her family in Cauayan. We enjoyed worshipping with Glitter and her family at her father’s church. It was a very special Christmas service, and Hazel’s singing (Glitter's sister) was so meaningful that it brought tears to our eyes.


For Christmas we were able to stay in a house on the beach in Cauayan. This gave us the opportunity to have a white Christmas made of sand instead of snow. The boys were also able to play basketball with Glitter’s brother and some of the local guys. There was a lot of nervousness among all the players, but in the end everyone had a great time. For us the experience was made even better by enjoying fresh coconut as a post-game treat, and by fresh I mean watching a 70-year old man climb and cut the coconuts from the tree.


(Ruth an I in our rented house by the beach in Lina-on, Cauayan)



(After the basketball game with the locals in Caliling, Cauayan.)


(The post-game coconut treat in Glitter's residence.)


After an emotion-filled goodbye to Glitter we travelled to Santa Catalina and met up with Leklek. Leklek’s family live in a small fishing village right on the beach, and Leklek’s father gave us a ride in his fishing boat. Our kids were able to spend some time with the children of the village, and taught them tic-tac-toe in the sand and “Marco Polo” in the water. I heard the distant echo of “Marco...Polo” as we left the village the next day.


Ruth and I were also able to do a one-night homestay at Leklek’s home. What a loving and gracious family! We enjoyed the time we could spend there. We were also treated to singing by some of the children. What a testimony to the simple, pure love of Christ that exists there. Before heading to our next location, we had the opportunity to see a couple of the micro-loan clients PSHF is working with in the countryside near Santa Catalina. This included the 6 of us riding on the back of motorcycles through some breathtaking areas to see sugar cane farming.


(With Leklek and her family in Guba, Negros Oriental.)


Tagbilaran, on the island of Bohol, was our last PSHF stop. There we got to meet Ireen, Phady, Anabelle, and Analyn who work in the PSHF Bohol office. During our trip into the field we saw a seaweed cultivation project in action. The staff also distributed a couple new loans for small business endeavors while we were there. In the evenings we ate with the PSHF staff at an organic restaurant in the mall. It shouldn’t be surprising that these times of sitting, eating and talking together (our family and the staff of PSHF) were especially enjoyable.


(Visiting the PSHF seaweed project in Maribojoc, Bohol with the PSHF Team.)


(With Richard and PSHF Bohol - Ireen, Phady, Analyn, Anabelle - at The Buzz.)


Our trip concluded with a few days in a nipa hut type bungalow near the beach. This time together as a family was valuable because it gave us time to reflect on the many experiences in the previous days. We had been on planes, boats, jeepneys, taxis, motorcycles, and motorcycle sidecars. We had seen poverty, been offered friendship unconditionally, and been given an opportunity to encourage others. The awkwardness of being different, although it never disappeared, was replaced by a feeling of love and acceptance. God’s gift to me this Christmas was one of relationship, and encouragement. I am thankful that our family was able to share this rich experience together.


(In the jeepney to visit projects in Maribojoc, Bohol.)



Dan Brandsma

January 2012





Coming Home for Fritzy by Glitter H. Moreno

Posted on April 19, 2011 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Fritzy Cañete was only nine when she passed away on the morning of October 30 last year, after losing a ten-month battle with cancer. She had acute Myolegenous Leukaemia (AML), a malignant disease of the bone marrow. We first met her in June 2010 when her mother Maribel came to us for help. We responded by funding all the costs of Fritzy’s blood transfusions and prescriptions, but her illness was too severe, and she died four months later.

 

Fritzy spent the last months of her life in the isolation ward of the paediatrics section of the Bacolod Regional Hospital. I constantly visited her there and I witnessed how her illness destroyed her body and distorted her physical appearance day by day. Weeks before she died, a big portion of her face was literally rotting. On the other hand, I also witnessed that cancer was not able to destroy her courageous spirit, sense of humor, wisdom, delightful kind of brattishness, and faith in God.

 

On her most critical days, she would still have the strength to ‘get even’ by pinching her attending nurse secretly, while the nurse was injecting her something. She was young but mature in her response to her illness, telling her parents many times that all people die in their appointed time. When she wanted to go home to be with her siblings, even the doctors could not stop her. And in the midst of intolerable pain, she turned to her faith and believed that Jesus loved her.

 

On one of my visits to Fritzy in September 2010, she invited me to come to her house in E.B. Magalona the following month to attend her birthday party. “Don’t forget to bring my dress and sandals, Tita Glitter.” I did not forget to bring the presents, with colors tailored to her specific preferences, but I brought the presents to the hospital not to her home. Her birthday was on the 6th of October and although she was able to go home a few days before that, she had to be rushed back to the hospital after two nights in E.B. Magalona as she was bleeding terribly. Fritzy was very critical on her birthday but the atmosphere in the ward was at least happy. She briefly talked with me and I promised her that I would visit her home one day to meet her playmates. (To know more about Fritzy's story please click here.)

That 'one day' happened on April 7th, two weeks ago. Richard and I came home to E.B. Magalona for Fritzy.


=======================


The Cañete family, composed of Francisco (36), Maribel (34) and their two remaining daughters Frincess (3) and Frecious (1) live in a small native house in the farming village of Alacaegan in the town of E. B. Magalona. To get there, various modes of transportation are required. First you need to take a bus from Bacolod to Silay city (40 minutes), then take a tricycle ride from Silay up to the town of E. B. Magalona (40 minutes), third is to cross a river (5 minutes) on a small raft, and finally, a walk or a ride on a carabao from the river bank to the village of Alacaegan (30 minutes).


With Maribel as our guide, Richard and I reach the river at half past eleven in the morning. To make our crossing, we take the only raft in the area, owned and operated by Bador and Amalia, a couple in their 70's. The fee per person is 5 pesos but if someone has a heavy load like a motorcycle, they need to pay an extra 10 pesos. On the other side of the river, Francisco and his carabao, the same carabao that Fritzy rode on her homecomings before, are waiting for us. Attached to the carabao is a cart and inside the cart is a narrow wooden bench for me and Richard to sit on. The ride is very bumpy however and is aggravating to my rather poor health that morning, so I get off and walk; Maribel joins me.


Everywhere you look there are sugarcane and sugarcane and sugarcane fields. Could the chemicals used on those sugarcane fields have been the cause of Fritzy's cancer? Our convoy is attracting attention from everyone who sees us. People stop in their tracks, look long and try to get a slight understanding. Richard standing tall in the cart and Maribel and I ceremoniously walking behind. "Hail to the king. People should have prepared palms outside their houses to welcome us." I jokingly tell Maribel.


We arrive at the Canete's home thirty minutes later. The house is very small but orderly. The bigger part which serves as the bedroom is on stilts, and the rest is dirt-floored. There is a hammock in the front yard, and there are bamboo benches right outside the doorway of the house. There, we meet Fritzy's playmates, sisters and grandparents. Richard and I tarry there for a long while and we greatly enjoy our time with them. Fritzy came up a number of times in our conversations, but remarkably enough, I personally feel that there is no longer heaviness in the air at the mention of Fritzy's name. Maribel and Francisco refer to happy and funny memories in the past without feeling hurt when answering some of our questions regarding Fritzy.


To get to know Fritzy's playmates/neighbors better we decide to go around and meet the children's families. We begin our tour in the house of Robello and Mercidita, Maribel's parents. Their house is smaller than Maribel's and is made up of very light materials; it must be difficult for the couple during heavy rains. We also meet Imang, one of the couple's dogs, which was named after Jenny's nickname. Jenny was one of the leukemia patients in the Isolation Ward and she died before Fritzy. Mercidita received the dog as a gift from a neighbour on the day Jenny died, hence the honors.


Our feet bring us next to the village square where most of Fritzy's friends live. There we meet Rommel Montero. He got sick in 1999 and his illness crippled both his feet. Now, he is the village barber. However we realize that his scissors are not even the proper kind for cutting hair so we promise to buy him a new pair. (Just this morning, April 20th, we sent Rommel the promised scissors, two barber combs and a big supply of baby powder through Maribel.)


From Rommel, we visit three more houses. The concerned families accept us warmly.


At a quarter past one, we say goodbye to everybody except for Maribel and Francisco who will see us off to the river. This time, we detach the cart from the carabao and do it the 'Fritzy way' -- carabao backriding. Richard takes the reins, and maybe we look silly because we draw so much laughter from the people in the square. "Just be the one to hold the rope!" one man shouts to Francisco, seeing that Richard is having difficulty with it. "Stay closer!" Maribel reprimands Francisco when the carabao is beginning to tense up. "Pssst sst sst" Richard commands the carabao after picking it up from Francisco. The carabao moves faster everytime he says that. "Stop psst ssst ssting" I gently say, greatly fearing for our life.


After a few meters, Richard gets down and Francisco takes over. We have two important stops before the river; to visit the twelve-year old boy Razel Villegas who has severe anemia and to drop by Frizy's school to take a photo. Word spread out in the village about Razel and that was how Maribel learned about his illness. Razel is looking very pale when we see him and we all think that it is best for him to see a doctor the following day. We ask his mother to bring him to the office the next day so we can give them funds for check up and blood transfusions.


Then finally the visit to Fritzy's school is a most fitting way to conclude our visit. Maribel points out Fritzy's classroom. The school is beautifully adorned by flowers and the playground is very clean. Fritzy was an honor student in this school.


Maribel and Francisco cross the river with us and walk us to the tricycle that will take us back to Silay. We thank them for their hospitality and bid them farewell. On the tricycle, I am feeling so much peace and closure. Perhaps it is the comprehensive glimpse of Fritzy's world before she got sick. I am suddenly assured that life had not been all pain to her. Indeed in her nine short years, she spent most of it chasing dragonflies on his grandparents' ricefields with her friends, enjoying school, riding carabaos, receiving unconditional love from the people who surrounded her. Knowing more about these happy care-free days in Fritzy's life is helping Richard and me to move on.

 

And before my thoughts wander to 'to eat or not to eat halo-halo' when I get back in Bacolod, I pray that my presence and Richard's on that particular time and day, will also bring about healing and comfort to Fritzy's friends and family.


To see our photos please click here.

 

Neither here nor there but the Philippines by Yuko

Posted on September 12, 2010 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (1)

 

‘The Philippines? Why?’




I visited the Philippines in March and stayed there for 14 days. When asked why I wanted to visit the Philippines, I didn’t know exactly what to say, except that I wanted to explore. Although even now, I’m still not sure what brought me to the Philippines, but what I do know is that all the experiences I had there made me ever more curious to unfold other various jack-in-the-boxes that are yet to be found. Joy, grief, irritation, astonishment, thrill and so many different emotions were condensed in my short-bullet-stay.


I came with Richard, the PSHF founder, to the Philippines on the 25th of March but after three days of being together in Cebu, we were on different itineraries. However even if I was just alone in visiting the PSHF offices, the PSHF family were always there to help me. I always felt as if I were at home.


26 March-CEBU 

Richard said ‘Cebu is a prospering city’. There is a posh mall right in front of the slums, exhaust fumes make my face literally grey, and there are many factories. After meeting up with the PSHF staff at the Lighthouse Learning Center (LLC), Apple and Genevive, Cebu field workers, take me to a so-called slum. There are no drainage pipes and children were looking for coins in the sludge. Adults were gambling. I am too astonished to take any photos. Knowing, is very different from experiencing. After that, I go to see Apple and Genevive’s ‘sari-sari’ store. They offer to host me for an overnight stay in their place. It is really generous of them and I promised to see them again before returning to Japan.

 

27 March

Today, I go to see a Philippine style pre-school graduation. “Nothing lasts forever”. There’s even a song entitled this. However, the LLC graduation seems to be an exception. Medal after medal are given to the children and parents for all kinds of accomplishments, most punctual, most well behaved, best in math... They sung and danced a lot too. It was a sweet and peculiar scene that I had never come across in Japan.


(with Richard, Ireen, Glitter and LLC staff in Cebu)


29 March-BOHOL


Now I’m in Bohol.:D


Anabelle and Leah, Bohol staff members, take me to see some PSHF projects (vending) and medical grant recipients. Nicanor, a middle-aged man, has a severe case of dermatitis and was scratching all over his body. Hazel, who is two years younger than me, has been tragically bedridden for many years after being afflicted with a kidney disease in late 2005. I couldn’t help myself from crying after coming back to the office from seeing her. Just having those illnesses is already bad enough, but their living conditions are also extremely depressing. I am sad to add that Hazel passed away on the 1st of August. May she be in peace now.

 

30 March

Today, the Bohol PSHF members and I went to Sagasa island. There is something really special about this island. Sagasa is part of Bohol but its environment is very different from the mainland. There are pine trees all around and all the houses are made up of nipa and bamboo. The well water is salty, therefore the shower is salty too. I wonder if I could sell the salt shower method to Japan for skin improvement. lol! There are about 300 families on the island, and the people here mainly earn a living from fishing and vending. I follow Phady and Leah around to see six projects. e.g. fishing, growing seaweed, sari-sari. One of the PSHF recipients kindly lets us stay in her house for the night. The people in Sagasa, and perhaps throughout the Philippines seem be nonchalant or ignorant (in a positive way) about ‘not having’. They smile beautifully with teeth missing. They run around wearing T-shirts with holes. It’s just nearly impossible to see those scenes in Japan. Seeing the local people’s lives and sharing the atmosphere by staying with them, is one of the most precious moments of my stay. Honestly, I am only able to do this because of the magnanimity and helpfulness of the PSHF family.


31 March 

We leave Sagasa and head off for a major sightseeing trip around Bohol. The part I personally liked best were the chocolate hills. The fog and the rain were melting with the hills as one picturesque scene! I was intrigued to hear that the number of hills were getting fewer. This is because the hills were originally coral reefs and therefore not designed to support trees. The chocolate hills are bulged coral reefs! After coming back to the PSHF Bohol office, Analyn and I go for a stroll. She’s very honest and doesn’t tell a lie apart from making excuses for skipping classes. lol!


(with Phady in Bohol)

 

4 April - GUBA 

It is not easy to say goodbye after being with warmhearted people in Bohol for four days. I take the ocean jet to Negros Oriental. Leklek, the PSHF field coordinator in Oriental, and her family are hosting me. She picked me up at the port and we took a van to Guba, her home village. She’s a really kindhearted person. Indeed, all of her family members have so much human warmth.


Leklek’s older brother kindly takes us on his motorcycle every time we go to the mountains to visit projects. Since I had seen many sari-sari stores and other vending projects by then, it was interesting to see projects that were unique to the mountains, namely, organic bananas and raising native chickens. The people living here are really generous. Although some visits were not planned, they offered us breakfast, bananas and vegetables to bring back to Leklek’s home. By the time we were leaving, the motorcycle was overloaded with delicacies:D


In the evening, Leklek and I chatted over a superb Philippine dinner prepared by her mother. One of the memorable things she said to me was that, “To change is to adjust”. I’ve never thought about “change” that way, but I felt there was some truth in it.


2 April 

The children here are great. We climb trees, swim in the sea, run, throw whatever we find, and run again. It is interesting to note that people here don’t panic when their fridge break down. It is because they eat what they catch that day, and if there’s some food left, they sell it, dry or give it to the animals. How economical and ecological!


3 April

Many people say that the drought this year is the worst in living memory. I saw dozens of dried out rivers. I had mixed feelings when a man said that one of the main causes of this drought was deforestation. I hope that people will figure out a balanced way of using natural resources.

 

4 April

 “Today is Easter Sunday” said Leklek’s mother. We go to the church, and it totally overthrows my image of church rituals. People in the church are not sitting and reading the bible but singing and dancing to live music. Thanks to Leklek and her family, I really enjoyed the stay in Guba. I shall never forget Leklek’s habit of saying, “Allow me”. :D


(Leklek in Guba)

 

5 April - CAUAYAN

Cauayan is a town north of Guba. Hazel and Glitter’s family host me for two nights. It is torrid in Cauayan. I am so grateful that this neat guest house is cool inside. 


Hazel, her brother Reumil and I, along with their numerous cousins go swimming in the sea. We pass by a salt field on the way. Hazel tells me that 1 sack of salt would cost 80 pesos. We are not sure how much profit that would be. Later on that day, we see some vending projects and a person making nipa roof thatch. Although I feel really sick for the first time here in my whole visit, I still have had a great time in Cauayan. Thank you.


(with Hazel in Cauayan)


6 April-BACOLOD

Bacolod city is located north of Cauayan. In Bacolod, Hazel and Warlita, a field worker, take me to see projects which are scattered throughout a depressed area. 


Here is an interesting anecdote. In one depressed area in Bacolod, I see a lady in a clean, yellow uniform coming out of a house which seems on the verge of collapsing. Then, I see her again at a fancy shopping mall, situated next to that depressed area and she is working as a sales lady.


(with the Bacolod staff)

 

8 April-BACK TO CEBU 

The trip is coming to an end. I head back back to Cebu on the morning flight. It is so nice of Sherry, another PSHF Bacolod staff member, Reumil and Hazel to send me off to Bacolod airport. Time has really zoomed by. Genevive is waiting for me at Cebu airport. Seeing a kite flying, I suggest we do the same thing. So later, at Apple’s house, I, Genevive and her cousins make kites from a plastic bag. The children remember me and call me “ate Yuko”:D We finish making the kites and head up the hill to fly them. Not being really lucky with the wind, we played tag etc instead. We had great fun, but I was very disappointed that the hill was covered with garbage especially plastic bags.


Genevive’s family treat me to a really tasty dinner. I love Philippine home cooking! After that, they take me to an Iglesia ni Christo mass which was really interesting as the priest was so emotional that he was crying at the end. This one night in Cebu was the end of my journey.


I’m not sure how to thank the people who have helped me along my trip. It is because of them that I could feel so comfortable and secure during my stay. I really felt safe. Here, I’d like to try to thank everyone who touched the circle of my journey.


Thank you.


I hope to come back again in few years. That will be exciting.:D

 

Education the Solution by Glitter H. Moreno

Posted on April 29, 2010 at 4:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Glitter Moreño, the Bacolod office co-ordinator, was invited to speak at the Lighthouse Learning Center's 14th Commencement Exercises last March 27, 2010. She shared her thoughts on the kind of education which could bring about a real and lasting solution.



27th March 2010

Education the Solution


" Firstly, I want to commend you parents for coming here today and looking all so wonderful to show your love for your children. The memory they will gather today will help them through in the toughest times of their lives in the future.


I was five when my parents enrolled me in a nearby preschool. We were financially challenged and I remember going to school with a plastic container as my bag and inside it was paper and a pencil. Every morning my father would walk me there, my hand in his, our dog Bogart with us. It was a wonderful memory and I will cherish it forever. Anyway a few days later, I realized I was the only one who did not have the complete school paraphernalia, you know crayons, pencil case, a decent bag etc...


One day my seat mate came to school with this rich possession - jumbo-sized crayons! And I said to myself, “Wow I do not even have regular crayons and he got super big crayons.” What I did next was horrible. I forcibly took one of the crayons from him because I wanted to use it. We played tug of war for a moment and I won and when I had the crayon I broke it into two. My parents were called in and I was disciplined.


I am just so thankful that my parents knew how to deal with each of their four children well. I have a very strong spirit, even as a child; and the way my parents molded me might have been a little hard to my other siblings, but that was what I exactly needed. My parents did not allow me to go back to school until they were sure that I understood contentment and that poverty never justifies stealing. My parents did not pressure me to understand it overnight and they knew I would learn it on my pace. I did not go back to that preschool, mostly because of shame and pride, but the education which I had learned from my parents that time became one pillar of my strong foundation today.


In a developing country like the Philippines, it is very common for education to be given too much emphasis. Our theme this year even says, “Education is the solution”. That makes sense of course as it is only through education that we get the chance to improve our way of living. But we need to ask ourselves, “Solution to what? Poverty?” If poverty is alleviated as a result of education, can we then really say that it is success? As a social scientist, and being quite radical, I worry, and I worry so much, and I worry every single day, that in the overemphasis of education as the solution, and I mean the systematic training we receive from schools in order to become professionals, we tend to compromise what for me is the ultimate solution-giving and lasting kind of education. That education which builds characters and does not die. And I mean values.


The global standard of measuring development is most often done through tangible indicators. How many bedrooms in your house? How many TV units? Do you have a car? How much did you pay in electricity last month? Have you traveled anywhere recently? How many kinds of viands do you have every meal? Questions like these determine if a family is poor, middle-class or rich.


And this is exactly why I worry. I believe we have come to the point where we realize that our country is not getting any better, and every poor family seem to want their children to take up nursing now so they could go abroad and earn big money; to build a big house with a lofty gate and barbed wire on top of it; to buy a luxury car and a round trip ticket to Europe or anywhere else...


We seem to define success as having more possessions and having more money.


I am not saying that these things are wrong. Of course not. It is our basic human right to improve our way of living. But I am saying that we must not allow our values to be compromised in order to get these things and we must not compromise our values when our circumstances tell us that we cannot really get these things. Parents you are absolutely in the best position to make a difference in the world through your children. They are in the position to be influenced by you. Train up your children in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it.


Tell them that they are not above the other children who attend the local day care centers because they cannot afford to go to LLC or any other private preschool.


Tell them to pursue a course in college which will help them make a difference in the world and not necessarily to help them make money.


Tell them that a teacher at the LLC if not more successful, is as successful as a Filipino nurse in America.


Tell them that success is about working in the BIR 20 years from now and not receiving any bribe to earn more money.


Tell them that cheating is wrong. That success means it is better to eat once a day from honest money than to eat three times a day from stolen money.


Tell them that not all education is good for them. Tell them that success is about choosing the right friends and not giving in to peer pressure. And when they make mistakes, no matter how devastating, tell them that real success is about taking responsibility for whatever wrong they have done and changing for the better.


Tell them that success is about loving this country. I plead with you parents tell your children that. We need to love this country. Tell them to support Pinoy products and pay their taxes.  


Tell them to stand up for what is right, to choose righteousness no matter how lonely no matter how difficult. And if indeed they will become rich in the future tell them to remember the street children and the beggars and the homeless in their country.


Tell them that when they die it is important to leave an honorable name than riches that will just decay.


Tell them that God loves them everyday. Trust me, it will make so much difference if they know that.


This education does more than feeding a hungry stomach. This is the Education that provides the real solution.


Finally to conclude, I would like to thank the LLC teachers, Jean, Rhea, Ana and Jonah for all your good work. You are very successful to be an important part of the lives of these children. I thank Tatay Amay for cleaning our classrooms, I thank Ireen Ingles our Cebu part-time coordinator for helping LLC in so many ways. And Mr Richard Foster, sir,we all thank you for your commitment to this country.


I congratulate you again children, may God keep you in His sight as you grow older, and I join you in your happiness parents. Let us enjoy the rest of the program. Good afternoon."

 

Reach by Glitter Moreno

Posted on December 17, 2009 at 12:47 AM Comments comments (0)

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=106174602727487&ref=mf


The PSHF is not only active in providing loan assistance but also in giving grants. These are mostly for unaffordable medical treatment and sometimes for housing, business revival, and organic farming training.

 

I made this video two years ago and I hope that it can REACH out to you profoundly, in whatever way.

 

*The soundtracks and non-pshf images are not mine*

__

When I joined the PSHF in December 2006 I was aware that part of my work was to facilitate medical grants. However, I never realized that it would be so heartbreaking a job, especially when a medical grant recipient dies. The year 2007 was especially challenging as we just lost so many on that year. We grieved and we asked questions why others did not make it, but we also got inspired to see courage in suffering and love and devotion of the concerned families to their sick loved ones. 


We still grieve and ask questions every time we remember and I am sure we will still grieve and ask questions if we experience another loss in the future. Sometimes is it easier and more practical not to get involved at all especially if the prognoses are bad. However, as Wally, one of our sponsors said, "we also try even if the chances are bad, and it is not right to not try." And I am sure that the grants we give, raise so much hope and provide comfort and peace to the concerned individuals and their family in their struggles; and that is important. In life it is not the outcome that matters, it is the journey to attempt to get an outcome that does. The journey fortifies family ties and strengthens hearts and produces better people. 


Indeed it is difficult to see God's heart in a child's leukemia or a young man's kidney failure or a mother's rheumatic heart disease. But then I have been meditating that I am not really called to understand. I am called to trust.  As Mother Teresa said, "I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no more hurt, but only more love." And I am so blessed to be working with people (PSHF staff and sponsors) who love until it hurts, and who try to trust more than understand. 


To know more about our Grant program please click here.


Glitter H. Moreño

17 December 2009




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