By: Maymay Balatayo
The love month is finally here! And with all that is happening in our country and in the world, we need a good reminding of what love is, what love feels like, what love looks like. And what better way to be reminded but back to where we first learned to love and to feel loved: in our homes, in our families.
This year, one of Pandoo Foundation’s primary missions is to connect and get to know the communities where our kids live, together with their families. We believe that we can better engage and empower our kids, their dreams and their life journey if we know where they come from and get to know the people that raised them. So for this year’s Valentine’s campaign, we decided to put all of that in one event: our Family is Love Campaign.
On February 11, 2017, as a pre-Valentine’s Day celebration, we spent half a day in Barangay Luz Hall, Cebu City. The main highlight of the event was taking photos of the families. It was a fun and creative way for us to get to know them and for them to get to know us and our programs. We had love-filled activities lined up for them: roulette, book browsing, love-is freedom wall, photo gallery, team building activities, and even live music to serenade our special guests.
My favorite part was the Make Up Station and the Photobooth Station. The Nanays were hesitant and shy at first whenever we asked them to be made up for the photos. When our teachers and volunteers turned hair-and-make-up artists worked their magic with lots of encouragement, the Nanays (Mothers) started to feel comfortable even with all the eyes looking at them. Even giggling and smiling when another Nanay or the kids told them, “Uy, kagwapa na uy!” It was different for the little girls and the little boys. For the girls, we were just supposed to put powder on their faces and fix their hair, but they wanted to have their share of rosy cheeks and red lips as well. So yes, we submitted to our princesses’ special requests. The boys loved their hair touched and fixed with gel by the Ates and Teachers. The Make Up station was just exuding with pure joy and genuine love! And when it’s their turn to have their photos taken, they all feel confident and beautiful, glowing and smiling. We can’t help but share in their joy and pride. It was a touching sight to witness the volunteers, the staff, the parents and the kids compliment each other on how “gwapa” and “gwapo” they looked. Everyone was so kind toward each other.
As a team, we had a few glitches here and there, and things we wish we could’ve done better. But that’s what makes firsts special (this was our first Family Campaign). We learned a lot from them and it’s harder to forget. Overall, it was great to be able to work and learn alongside each other as one team, as one Pandoo Foundation family.
At 3 PM on February 15, a few days later after the event, we distributed the photos at the Barangay Hall. A timely Valentine’s Day gift for the families. Their cheek-to-cheek smiles and eyes brimming with excitement? Aaahh, just precious. Also, we had sign ups for our different programs in the Pandoo Club: music, arts and crafts, literacy, sports and leadership. We invited the mothers to join us in our upcoming livelihood activities which they eagerly signed up for!
These photos will now hang on the walls of the homes of these 48 families who joined us last Saturday. They’ll get to see it everyday and they’ll smile looking at it, hopefully. Photos that represents a happy memory of a very special day for them and most especially for us. These photos will be our constant reminder in our lives that there is hope. Because we choose to see the good and the beauty through the struggles and imperfections. We can create a kinder, safer and a better world for our kids, together. If we constantly choose to love, we will always find love right where we are.