Mahalo is a non-profit organization composed of mostly independent youths with passion and mission of giving honor, glory, and praise to God through helping children.
Weekend – the only time of the week when most are enjoying their days-off (including me) after a week full of workloads from various kinds of industries, but this weekend is a whole lot different. This time I chose service over sleep and this is probably one of the best decisions I ever made.
Friday prior to that weekend, I decided not to go home anymore. My shift ends at 10 PM and the call time is at 2AM; my friend Nile (who is also attending the event) and I decided to spend the time at Book Latte (which is operating 24/7) at Megaworld. Guilty as I may be, my regular Fridays mean a bottle of beer and a plate of Nachos at Central Park. But this time, as the clock hit 10PM, with my backpack, tent (thank you Ruby), and sleeping bag (thank you Mary), I hurriedly clocked out and head to Festive Walk with Festive Nights during that time. While at the cafe, we ordered drinks, desserts and fries as we join the couple of students studying. I was able to grab an hour nap before freshening up and ready ourselves to head to the terminal. On our way out, I met my supervisor (Ms. Drei) who is also going to the terminal. She lent me her power bank (which saves my phone from dying and document everything) and paid a big share at the cab.
Old and New Faces at the Rendezvous
As we get off the taxi, I saw two familiar faces – best friends Shawn and Alen who were my colleagues and also millennial who like to go on outreach programs. We were also together last time in our Alapasco trip. Moments later, a new face by the name of Marty came and we became instant acquaintances. Minutes later, another familiar face Jonats, came by. It was only 2 AM in the morning when the half the world is sleeping and we are already up on our toes for a mission that could change a lifetime.
After several minutes, heads of Mahalo started to arrive. Lester handed out the ID-name tags and we excitedly wrote our names on it. More and more people came – nurses, doctors, bank employees – most may be having days off too – but probably just like me, they want to be in service too – in their simplest way.
When the Dawn Breaks
After everything is settled and the team is completed, we get to the vans that will take us to the port of Concepcion. All I can see was darkness. I am not even familiar with my seatmate. All I could do that moment is to trust – the driver to take us safely and the Divine to hold our van and keep us away from danger. I whispered a little prayer, slowly closed my eyes and take a little sleep as we travel the roads to the northern part of the province in approximately 2 hours.
When we arrived, the sun is already on the rise, smiling as if it is welcoming us to a mission ahead of us. We filled in the manifesto, head to the motor banca, and finally travel the waters of Concepcion.
Special sunrise of the day: Concepcion, Iloilo
— Sheila Mae Gomez (@shemaegomez) May 18, 2018
It was a challenging trip (always for me with severe motion sickness). I find it very hard to stop myself from vomiting. It was a long boat ride and I have to survive.
The Arrival to the Island
Balaguian Island is now labelled by the local as miracle island because although the island was hit by the super typhoon Yolanda, zero casualty was recorded. It is a virtually flat island with a light house in it to help ship navigation. The community is already established and its beach is inviting.
There was no sweeter smile than Baliguian gave the team the moment we set our foot in the fine white sands of its beach. Kagawad, with the rest of his squad, eagerly led the team to their newly-built multipurpose hall. I overheard few Mahalo leaders happily discussing that the barangay officials found a way to finish the construction of the hall and the restroom before the set date of the outreach. I felt happy too.
Tutang then requested everyone to gather. She gave a quick introduction of Mahalo for new-comers and welcome everyone with gratitude. We started a prayer thanking the Divine as Madz led us. After that, Tutang roll called each of our names, handing us our mission for the day.
I was assigned to Grade 1, together with Nile, Cris and a new found friend, Edz. All roads then lead to public plaza where the program will happen.
The Medical Mission
Just at the back of their public plaza, the medical team is also on their feet with their own missions. That day, a number of lives are about the change.
Happening outside is the general checkup and medicine prescriptions to the natives who are experiencing different kinds of ‘ailments’. Medicines are also given to everyone depending on the doctor’s prescription.
On the other side of the health center, a group of young boys are in queue as they wait for their turn to take a step closer to their future – their circumcision day.
Some of them try to peek at the window and observe what is happening inside while some are busy chatting with their friends. Mixture of nervousness and excitement enveloped their eyes as after that day, a big part in them will change.
Everybody had a group assignment – from kindergarten to our senior citizens – all with one mission and that is to share how big the love of God is. Our task to share the story of Jonah, the prophet sent by God to Nineveh but dares to escape the mission.
Edz did a good job. She used the analogy of the kids to their parents – by obeying them.
A quick snack was also served to the kids. Thank you so much for the ones assigned to snacks for the sweet juice and fresh bread.
Dance to Praise
To conclude the first part of the program, all the kids were gathered at the center stage. With Madz leading them, everybody grooved with the tune of the Lord. Madz’s energy is just so admirable.
Best dancers were also given a little token and the team distributed candies for the rest.
Feeding the Soul, Feeding the Body
After feeding the soul, the time has come to feed the body. Lunch was served to the kids. With their plates and bowls, they lined up to have their lunch. Sounds of happy utensils followed.
Gift is More Than Something Material
For the children who are excited for the opening of the academic year next month, there is no better feeling than having new stuff for school. For everyone who helped in the completion of the school supplies, these stuff suddenly become their anchor as they face the ups and downs of school life.
Full Hearts, Full Stomach
We headed back to the multipurpose hall with full hearts. Just in time for the sumptuous lunch served by the locals. I am not trying to make you crave but we had Bisaya chicken adobo, tinola nga lison, adobado nga scallops and fried lumpia shanghai.
Simple Donations Can Be Extraordinary
Here at Mahalo, there is no such thing as small help. Anything that you have in extra is appreciated and valued. From cash, pack of biscuits or candies and even used clothes. For donations and love, kindly drop a message in the official Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/mahaloteam/
We are Extraordinary
Behind my computer is a different world. Behind your computer, workstation, office is a different world. It is only a thin wall that is separating them and at the end of the day we are the only ones who can cross it. We do not have to wait to earn millions to extend our richness to others. What I learned that day is the fact that we don’t have to be superhuman, we just have to be human.