Travel Bloggers Give Back: Celebrating the Philippine Spirit Via Nonprofits

“What else could we do to help make the world a better place this holiday season?” – Bret Love, co-founder of Green Global Travel

Thus began “Travel Bloggers Give Back” in 2011—a unified movement of bloggers giving back by sharing stories and creating awareness about their favorite charity and nonprofit organizations.

A photo that brings back memories of a recent trip to Tagaytay. Lake Taal is the deepest lake in the Philippines and surrounds Taal Volcano in Tagaytay, a two-hour drive from Manila.

Bits of Nostalgia

Some of my fondest memories go back to my childhood years in the Philippines—that archipelago of 7,000+ islands in Southeast Asia. And of these recollections, the ones that always bring a smile to my face are the traditions that made the Christmas season there extra special and exciting. With the recent events that took place in the country during this past holiday season, it’s hard not to recollect.

As a little girl, I remember staring up at our plastic Christmas tree decorated with native ornaments made from Capiz shells, as the familiar strum of guitars signaled young carolers to begin their medley of songs in Tagalog (pronounced Tah-gah-log) and English for cash donations of any amount. Rounds of carolers would go from house to house, regaling residents with holiday cheer during the evenings. Hanging outside homes or indoor retail venues were the Capiz shell lanterns or parols (pronounced pah-rawls) with blinking lights, or those made with strips of the ever-pliable bamboo, shaped into stars and covered in colored sheets of see-through plastic and tissue paper—their tails swaying gracefully under the breeze.

And the food and gatherings are unforgettable. Well-regarded for their hospitable nature, Filipinos celebrate with a variety of fare to enjoy with their guests, whether there are only a few present or a room full of people. There were suckling pigs, eggrolls, noodles, leche flan, buko pie (coconut pie) and so many other mouth-watering dishes.

On occasion, my family would stand by one of the street vendors after the daily predawn masses as the sweet scent of their ware—steamed rice cakes, floated through the air, offering tantalizing hints of the treat that awaited for purchase at the head of the line. Our minutes waiting were always worth it—each bite into the cake brought a bit of warmth against the cool air.

Indeed, my Christmases there were memorable. Like so many of you with similar scenes captured in your past, isn’t it heartwarming to reminisce every so often?

Today, my familial roots sprawl deep through Manhattan’s vast concrete wilderness—a location that offers many opportunities to explore and engage with our local community.

And while Christmas 2011 (and those of my youth) have come and gone (…sigh)—the spirit of camaraderie, kinship and compassion are alive and well—our constant companions in this new year and beyond. Thus, Editorial Creatives dedicates this post to two nonprofit organizations in the Philippines, and the generous volunteers who tirelessly help their fellow Filipinos cope and recover during calamities and difficult times. Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat (Many thanks to all of you).

Vital Nonprofits in the Philippines:

ABS CBN Foundation International has several ongoing programs, including Sagip Kapamilya, which translates to “rescue family members” or “help families”. One of their more recent initiatives is the Typhoon Sendong Campaign, which offers long-term rehabilitation to affected communities.

While typhoons and tropical storms are common to the Philippines, Typhoon Sendong (“Washi”) brought a rainfall level equal to a month’s worth of rain in just 12 hours, causing flooding and landslides in Cagayan De Oro and Iligan city in the island of Mindanao, which is located in the southern part of the Philippines.

Hundreds are still missing and more than 1,000 passed away, many during the dead of night on Friday, December 16. About 750,000 were affected, with 80,000 homeless and approximately 40,000 staying at evacuation centers.

If you’d like to donate online, please visit their website. The foundation disburses monetary donations within 24 hours upon receipt. In comparison, depending on many variables, in-kind donations could take on average 45 days to reach the Philippines.

Other ABS CBN Projects:

  • Bantay Kalikasan or Nature Watch has a mission of creating a “sustainable natural environment for the Filipino children”. About 82 tree species native to the area have been replanted via one of their initiatives—Save the La Mesa Watershed Project.

    Click here to learn more about and donate to this sustainable project. Part of the reason many people perished because of Typhoon Sendong is illegal deforestation, as reported on the YouTube video below.

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) – a nonprofit organization established in 1917 operates via donor funds and volunteer efforts. According to the website, its mission is to “bring timely, effective and compassionate humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable without consideration of nationality, race, creed, gender, social status or political belief.”

Concurrent Philippine Senator Richard Gordon utilizes his 40+ years of public service in his role as PRC Chairman and CEO. The Red Cross courses through his veins, so to speak, as his mother was the recipient of the Gold Humanitarian Cross and Pearl S. Buck award—the highest PRC award, and his spouse and children have been, or are still actively involved in the PRC.

Samples of PRC Programs:

  • National Blood Service – covers blood testing, recruiting donors, collecting and storing blood, processing and providing supplies to hospitals.
  • Red Cross Youth – educates the youth via training and leadership opportunities, familiarizing them with ways they can be of service to their global communities.
  • Disaster Management Services – provides relief and assistance during human-induced and natural disasters, ranging from wars, earthquakes, typhoons, etc.
  • Click on this link for highlights on the work PRC has undertaken thus far for victims of Typhoon Sendong, including providing shelter for 1,000 families, passing out 10,000 New Year’s Eve gifts and offering medical care via stations set up in the evacuation centers.

Many individuals continue to benefit from the relief efforts and services provided by nonprofit organizations, such as ABS CBN Foundation and the Philippine Red Cross and their army of hard-working volunteers. Their collaborative efforts, coupled with the monies raised through public donations are a celebration of the meaning of international citizenry, and capture the essence of the Philippine spirit. Salamat (Thank you)!

If you have a blog and want to get involved, check here for details. Join us on Facebook, and help spread the word by sharing this post on your Facebook wall or your Twitter feed #TBGB. Thank you for your support.


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2 thoughts on “Travel Bloggers Give Back: Celebrating the Philippine Spirit Via Nonprofits

  1. Another great TBGB post, Cristina! It’s funny, I occasionally freelance for Cebu Pacific Air’s in-flight mag, SMILE, and my father spent time in the Philippines when he was in the military back in the late ’60s. But until now, I knew nothing about the holiday traditions there. Thanks for sharing your memories, and drawing attention to the organizations helping people recover from the recent natural disaster.

    • Thanks for the comments, Bret. Ah yes, there are a number of holiday traditions in the Philippines. I’m happy that I was able to introduce you to a few via the post.

      We left the Philippines when I had just turned 8 yrs old, but some memories just stay with you, I guess. Plus, I’ve gone back a few other times, most recently during the 2010 holiday season. When Typhoon Sendong hit during this past Christmas season, my memories of the Philippines came rushing back, and I had this desire to share some of them, and detail two nonprofits via TBGB.

      By the way, that’s wonderful that you’ve been freelancing for SMILE. More power to you.

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