The day the flood water rush Jing Ureta

Sept. 10 at around 9 p.m.  It was raining very hard that evening and most people were probably in their home   sleeping comfortably in their beds or staying late working on their computers or watching television.  Everyone thought it was just a simple harmless rain .  Little did we all  know that upper Acub in San Isidro had a landslide and people were crying for help and assistance.  The flood water in Carpenter hill was   slowly rising and making the road impossible to pass . Motorist were stranded and had to be diverted to Tampakan for them to reach Marbel.   I take my hats off to both the  Provincial and City Government for a quick response thus averting a more disastrous situation.

Last Sunday, Sept. 19, 2010,  the students (GIA Working Students and LEPS students)  ,  together with Alumni who are at the same time HAKBANG volunteers distributed relief goods to the affected families now number 81 at Bacongco Elementary school.    Our heartfelt thanks to  Alumni of Batch 74  Sol Mangisel- Schmeckel  from Germany  who sent us 4 sacks of rice so we can distribute these among 81 affected families.  thank you Sol for sharing your resources to the residents of Sito Acub.   We turned over the relief packs to DSWD workers who were  detailed in the elementary school.  Susan Garcia-Restauro  also of Batch 74  donated  cookies which we handed over to the children.  Our Batchmates Boy Boldios and Felipe Laguna joined us in the distribution of the relief goods.

We  conducted interview with the Purok officials  and some residents where they shared their harrowing experience.  One person who was out drinking with his friends could not believed that his home was gone and his wife and 10 month old baby were carried by the flood.  they died instantly.  They remembered just hearing a rambling sound and a loud thud.  they knew something was wrong but could not really see what was happening since upper Acub does not have electricity.

The Alumni  accompanied the students  to do ocular inspection of  the flood site.  it was a bumpy road up ahead and we were forced to leave our vehicles when  we were nearing the landslide area.  Alumni Roger Doronio’s elf  got stuck in the road and had to be pulled out by a Government vehicle.   With nothing else that we could do,  It meant ,  hiking for a few kilometers more.

Remia, Jo and myself   were just  thankful that rain did not come that day or else  we would be buried in the mud since we were awfully slow and could hardly catch up with the students.     Husband and wife tandem Nonoy and Liza Aliligay,  Ralphy Palencia were walking so fast that they were the only adults who can catch up with the younger  ones.  Alumni Dan Fresco was left behind to help Roger fix his Elf.   What we saw upon reaching the place really shocked us.  We saw how  mother nature unleashed its fury.  The road suddenly turn into a river bed where rocks and solders just block off the entire road.   The place was  quiet , no sound of children that usually greet us whenever we come to visit their place.   The school building remains intact and our paint cans are still there.

Why did this happen?  I can only think  that perhaps one reason  is the slash and burn(Kaingin) practice of the residents.     The source of income for them is to sell uling (charcoal).  I don’t really know if the trees they  cut are even replaced.  At any rate,   I hope this experience has taught us a valuable lesson in taking care of our environment  as this is  God’s gift to humanity.

God bless us all!


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Painting Walls ..making colors in the lives of children

Hakbang started a library project in Lutayan  Sultan Kudarat.  Since then,  more schools started writing and asking for help in setting up their library.  One particular school is Enkong Elementary School located in Upper  Acub, San Isidro Koronadal City.  The school has only 4 teachers who takes care of  110 pupils, majority of which are B’laan children.  The school does not even have an electricity!

The designated library area in Enkong  is dull and dim.  I told the Principal ,Mrs.  Senyorita Tony,   that for us to add more books we need to see a library that is conducive for research and reading.  She told me that even though she wanted a painting done for  her library, the parents could not afford it since they are so poor.    I told her not to worry and ask a batchmate in  high school if he would like to  donate.  Rey Mondana from Riyadh immediately responded to our request of cement and paint.

Last August 15, 2010 volunteers Janet Gargantiel and myself  went to Enkong to deliver the bags of cement.  Last August 28, 2010 another visit took place to inspect the finishing of the walls  of the library.  It was also a time to talk to parents who were at the school for their PTA meeting.  The Principal told me the parents were asked to come to discuss absences and tardiness of their children.  One of the incentives they did for parents to come down from the hilly part of Acub was to prepare a simple lunch for them.

Sept. 5, 2010 is the  painting day of the library.  Hakbang volunteers together with Batch 74 , the group were ready to do their task.  Batchmates Engr. Boy Boldios gave the instruction for us to put the neutralizer in a pail of water first.   Hmm no sweat everyone claim!  Funny how we forgot to bring sand paper and another batchmate Felipe Laguna teased us saying we better find a kind of grass that  that can be use for rubbing the wall.  Everyone took turn in painting the room and enjoying this to the max.  volunteers,  Husband and wife Nonoy and Liza Aliligay, Doray Tuburan and my husband thought it was going to be easy.  However, our first try using the rollers ended up like a zig zag road.  Later,  we were able to master the art of painting.

The parents and teachers prepared our merienda of  fresh buko, broiled banana and bread.  Hmmmmm it was so good i think we drank more buko than what we could imagine.

We were also able to look into the  bead making of young bilaan children.  They were  taught to make beads which is a known industry among B’laans .  The teacher told me that the Income Generating Project (IGP) is part of the curriculum of the Indigenous People (IP) .   Volunteer Remia took time to ask the children how the beads are put together to make a good bracelet.  Giggling, they  showed her how this could be done.

Our job is far from over  we still have to make sure that the painting is finish and books are properly put in the shelves, catalog and given accession.  At any rate It was a sunday worth remembering!

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Reaching out through valleys and plain…

Serving the community is a tireless effort.  You never get paid for extra time you spent visiting schools and worst you use your sunday and rest days to visit schools. Yet the fulfillment comes from knowing that the time spent travelling to far flung schools traversing  rugged roads and terrain , bearing the extreme heat is the opportunity to make a difference in the life of children.  

Barangay Miasong for example sits in the foot of Mt. Matutum .  We visited Miasong Elementary school last May 31, 2009  bringing with us 3 Balikbayan boxes of children’s books.  We were  excited to be in a new place and the thought of going up to the mountain thrilled us more.

Travelling to Miasong took  us nearly 2 hours from Marbel to get there.   Some of the volunteers had to sit in the back of the pick up track and bear the rough  and dusty road up ahead.   As soon as we got to our destination the Principal and her teachers were excited to have us around.  The books were endorsed to them and one of our volunteer gave a simple training on how books should be accessed and catalogue .  Just like in our previous school visit, children were always asked to browsed through the whole collection of books.  You can hear them  laugh as one volunteer would read some stories to them

One good thing about this trip was the chance to enjoy the beauty of the place and be mesmerized with God’s gift to men.  We love the cold mountain temperature as we simply snooze off in the classroom benches.  yes an afternoon nap is all we need to re-energize our selves.

Before we left  our host took us to a  family owned pineapple farm and like children we just  enjoyed picking up ripe fruits.  Not only that we also feasted on fresh vegetables that were being harvested by farmers.  They gave us a sackful of  cabbage, tomatoes, carrots and bananas.  We promised to go back and finish what we have started.  it is a long long way from home but we knew we have shared what we have to the children of Miasong Elementary school.

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When the young takes the Jing Ureta

100_00062(Jing with Mathew-r and Christian-L)

Christmas 2007  brought an american family to mindanao for their first taste of christmas in the Philippines.  Christian Bowden, a young high school student came with his  family to simply enjoy places, events, food and our hospitality.  However, what created  a great impact on him was  how the books his parents were sending us has affected so many lives especially those of children.  He learned that  books and  technology that an average american kids would normally enjoy  are things that the poor do not have.

When he came back from his christmas holidays he knew he had to do more for other people and with his parents support he applied for an Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project.  He chose   to conduct a  book drive for public schools that HAKBANG  has identified.   His leadership as a boy scout  of troop 241 in Orange county USA has spark  an interest of their family, classmates and friends who  supported  him with his project.      With the help of his family he was able to  collect 23 balikabayan boxes and send them over for Hakbang to distribute to its school beneficiaries.

books-and-books1 The books arrived before the holy week and Hakbang volunteers started to sort , classify, stamp the books and packed them up for delivery.   Christian, young as he is has made an effort to help others even in his own small ways.  It is so heartwarming to watch the young people as they grow up to become better citizens by volunteering and  by caring for others.

I watched a young child browsed through the books ..”naiintindihan mo yung binabasa mo?    (do you understand what you are reading?”  He shakes his head and  smiled shyly..”gamay lang  pero gusto ko lantaw litrato daw naintindihan ko man ..” (very little but i like to view the pictures so i can understand).

There  are so many school children that does not have the luxury of owning a book.  Much more have the access to read books.  As Hakbang  visit  schools we discovered that libraries are not even a priority.  We took it upon ourselves  to adopt one and make sure that the schools respond to our request of a library space and book shelves. 

copy-of-kusan-library ( Kusan library that needs a facelift)

dsc089361 (the new E. Asion Library)dsc07820(the new Manili Elementary library)

The challenge for young people like Christian is to never stop believing of making the world a better place to live in.  The book project is just one step but one step that can change the hearts of many.

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One Sunday at Tanting ….by Jing Ureta


Last November 30, 2008 was a sunday far from an  ordinary day.  I was going with friends to Tanting , Tantangan, a muslim cummunity  to check out the place for our next  project.  We brought some school supplies and some books from our collections.  We took the Barangay Multi cab drove by a young Kagawad, who just graduated from the University with a degree in Engineering.  In Tantangan we were met with the Central school Principal and teachers who rode with us going up to the hilly portion of Tantangan.

The road was bad and we all felt a little nauseated with the bumpy terrain.  Reaching the place you can hear the voices of children screaming that we have finally arrive in our destination.  A teacher told us that the children were in the school as early as 7:00 a.m.  waiting for us to come.

children praying (Praying to Allah) dsc08405 (Lugaw! Rice Porridge .  The teachers contributed to prepare Lugaw with just plain rice and chicken broth cubes  for these children.)

The place was very panoramic since it looks upon Gods gift to us.  Tanting elementary school has  140 students, all  Muslim children.  We saw only 2 new school building for the grades 1 to 2.  However the kinder students and Grades 3 to 4 have to stay in a very delapidated classrooms.  classroomskinder classroom dsc08409 (Can you dare have your kids study in this classrooms?)

The Central Elem School Principal informed us that DECS could have earmarked a budget for the school building however there is always a problem with the land issue.  The PTA President said that soon the problem on land will be resolved and hopefully once this will be turn over to DECS 2 new buildings will arise and this will be in 2010.


I spoke with the Barangay chairman and the Teachers telling them to allocate a space for library.  The books will not be a problem but we need to see a space where children can go and read.  We offer also free training for their teacher on accession and cataloguing.  This will assure us that  all donated books will be recorded properly.

We have seen from previous community service how the books can create a huge impact on pupils ability to learn.  In Manili, Lutayan  for example as soon as the Library was put up , children would crowd in the library to read and learn.   Meanwhile there is a need to pull resources together.  the classrooms need repairs and a library to make their learning fun.

tree planting dsc08419 (with Hakbang volunteers, Barangay Captain, PTA President and Barangay Kagawad)

Before we left for the poblacion, we planted 2 seedlings symbolic of our mission in Tanting.   We promised them that we will return and continue what we have started.  We need to bring in more people and groups to help in community building.  The school needs to repair their classrooms and build a library.  We hope and pray that we will be able to give these children the opportunity they needed.

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Books and more books! by Jing Ureta

dsc06924.jpgdsc06923.jpg ( E. Asion elem. School Library before our book project)

TODAY as the library is slowly being transformed into a functional library:


Simsiman Elementary school, Norala:


Despite our busy schedule, Hakbang volunteers committed a sunday off to bring the last delivery of 4 boxes of books to two different schools.  Come to think of it, most of us have to attend to sunday activities with our families, or attend PTA meetings on a sunday but we decided that we have  to take a time off to deliver the books to its destination.   What makes every Hakbang activity exciting is the fact that most volunteers  simply do it for the love of  reaching out to others.  Last March 9, 2008 we rented out a jeepney to take us to E. Asion Elementary School in Cabuling.  You should see the transformation!  from an office space that  houses the library, clinic and guidance office..we were awed to see that the office space now looks like a LIBRARY!   The teachers and Principal treated us for a somptous lunch in grateful appreciation of our commitment to make a difference.  We told them our work has just started.  We will definetely come and visit again  to check the accession of books and possbily add more books  to its collection.  Our next stop is another hour of travel to Simsiman, Norala.  Ernie, one of our volunteer told us we need to stop at his place in Poblacion Norala for a second round of LUNCH!  His mother prepared a meal for us since it was Norala’s town fiesta at the same time.  Well, we did stop and ate some more.  Oh this is the fun part of being a HAKBANG  volunteer.  hahahahaha.  After our second lunch we were on our way to SIMSIMAN Elementary school .  It was a bumpy ride all the way to Simsiman from Norala.  We  drop off two more boxes of books and ask the Teacher-in-charged to see Fe and Doray two of our Librarians and HAKBANG  volunteers  for library training this summer.  The Simsiman Elem school has a population of 450 students while E. Asion has 250 students.

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making rugs with a heart Jing

dsc06887.jpgdsc06885.jpgdsc06883.jpgdsc06879.jpgdsc06882.jpgdsc06874.jpgHakbang volunteers are professionals like:  librarians, teachers, researcher, secretaries, HRs, Engineers, Agriculturists etc.  Our  common passion is  to reach out to people by doing trainings and  sharing our expertise .    One of our service commitment is Livelihood training and Assistance.  We have  trained one family to do rug making at Purok Vergara and this has helped them earn extra income.  To appreciate what they does for a living, HAKBANG volunteers came together last February 17, 2008 at my place to be trained by Susan (our first livelihood training recipient) .  It was fun to watch everyone struggling hard to make one rug in an hours time.  Our male volunteers Arvin and Nonoy did not spend wasteful energy by just watching us but they really were hands on to what we were all doing.  At the end of the day, with wooden frames in tow, the volunteers left with a promised to make beautifully crafted rugs and train women in their own community. 

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