The Outreach Program

The Panuluyan was a real eye-opener for me. It made me become aware of the things, which I have normally taken for granted. It was so surprising to see how much little they have, yet at the same time they cherish each little blessing they receive and they never cease to be grateful for what is given to them. It made me see that it was easier to please those who have less, because they expect less.

The trip to Camarin also made me realize how much different we are, yet very much the same. We have different concerns, different views, and different standard of happiness. But at the same time all of us have the same basic needs, has his own dreams, needs to be loved, longs to be free from struggle and pain, and desires to be happy. We are two planes on the same ground.

One thing that struck me was the warmth and hospitality they have shown and given us. They welcome us to their home ad treat us like guests. They serve us food and drinks alongside with their profuse apology "pasensya na ho kayo, ito lang ang kaya namin", although they might not have enough for themselves. They are very thankful for the help our school has given to their children, which might be one reason why they wanted us to be as comfortable as possible . On the house our group was assigned to, we noticed that sandals and slippers were removed before entering the house. We asked the owner if it was necessary for us to remove our shoes since the path leading to their house was muddy, but she hastily replied "ay wag na po! ‘wag na!" So we just wiped our shoes and entered the house with it. It was only when we entered the house, not more than the size of my room, did we realize that the same place we stood was also where they slept! And we trampled it with our muddy shoes.

Despite their situation, I noticed that the people in Camarin are generally happy. Everyone in the barangay knows everyone, the neighbors help each other out; families back each other up and are always there for each other. Even their goals are selfless. The woman we talked to only wishes for her children to finish school and hopefully have a ‘better’ life in the near future. We also talked to her son, who has all praises for his kuya whom he whole-heartedly boasted for being ‘artistically talented’. Love was very visible. That spells out another difference. They cherish what is important because they have nothing to hold on to, while we are sometimes distracted by ‘things’ which make us forget what is essential.

The Panuluyan made me ask numerous questions. Among them is "What next?". I saw the situation there, I was able to experience how it is to live in a world different from mine."What now?" Now that I am back home, sitting in my air-conditioned room, I know that it would be impossible to let Camarin or the whole Panuluyan experience to remain in the outskirts of my reality, just something I read about in the newspaper and donate to every Christmas. I think the purpose of Panuluyan is to teach that those who have more are expected more. And I also learned that there are so much more I can give besides material needs. Simply being with them and giving part of my time and myself will live far longer than any food, money or clothing donations in their hearts.

It might be hard walking a couple of miles from the parish to their houses and the sun might have fried my skin, but if I am given a chance to go back, I’m definitely going.