We went a-traveling last month and made the most of the service week that is devoted to activities under the umbrella of Community Service.
On August 21, a national holiday (Ninoy Aquino Day), Pres. Fred Pascual led a group of Rotarians and Anns on a trip to Porac, Pampanga to kick-start the “I Am Super” outreach program, a joint undertaking of RC Makati, the Yes Pinoy Foundation (YPF), and RC Makati Business District. It was a well-attended out-of-town trip, with 10 other Rotarians and five Anns signing up: PP David & Mache Ackerman, Dir. Louie & Tess Aseoche, IPP Jun Jun & Cecille Dayrit, Chris Ferareza, Ai-Ai Galvez, Ira & Julie Kiener, Don Lino, PN Peter & Pam Manzano, Dir. Philip Soliven, and Dir. Bom Villatuya.
The activity aimed to raise awareness of the dangers of natural disasters among students, train them in disaster preparedness, and equip them with the means—material and mental—to save themselves and perhaps others.
The program, which took place at the Villa Maria Integrated School, started with a welcome message by Porac Mayor Condralito de la Cruz. The 64 sixth-grader beneficiaries fanned out to the classrooms for a workshop on disaster preparedness where they were oriented on the purpose, contents and care of the GoBags that they would later receive. The lectures focused on the life-saving uses of the GoBags in times of natural calamities such as floods, earthquakes, and landslides. Porac and the rest of Pampanga are vulnerable to such natural calamities as floods, landslides and, because of its proximity to Pinatubo, volcanic eruptions and pyroclastic flows as well.
The GoBags are actually hooded backpacks that contain learners’ materials and emergency kits with flashlight, whistle, medicines kits, water and some snacks, each item proven to be a handy tool to have in a tight situation.
The students had inspiring words to bring home. There was Norman King, inspiration personified. An Aeta, Norman worked his way through school, all to way to a degree in Behavioral Science from the University of the Philippines, no less. Drawing from experience, he advised the kids to do as they’re told by their parents and teachers, to study hard and not give up. He also told them to keep in mind the how-to lessons in disaster preparedness they had learned in the workshop and to take good care of their life-saver GoBags.
Pres. Fred introduced the kids to RC Makati and its service programs, explaining that the reason for its partnership with Yes Pinoy Foundation is that their goals and mission are well aligned: to serve communities. PP David explained the connection between the Club and YPF, and noted how there were more volunteers than students—64 vs.80—a happenstance that he said bodes well for the project. He also echoed Norman’s counsel to take care of the bags. For his part, Dingdong Dantes told the kids that Norman was his idol and should be theirs too, a role model they should emulate. He advised them to dream and work hard to turn it into reality and promised that they would be back for Phase 2.
The project also has a livelihood component under which the community will undergo training in the manufacture of the GoBags that are central to the IamSuper program. The Club has earmarked P800K for the project, which is chaired by PP David Ackerman, project proponent. He is working with Dingdong Dantes of the Yes Pinoy Foundation and RCMBD. The project covers three of Rotary’s six areas of focus: Basic Education & Literacy, Peace and Conflict Prevention & Resolution, and Economic & Community Development. PP David is planning to apply for a global grant for the project.
The day ended in Subic with lunch hosted by Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda for all the volunteers.