In January I joined a fabulous group of professional speakers and authors who are part of Together We Can Change the World- twcctw.org I joined my friends Rebecca Morgan and Paul Larsen and got to meet and work with such a wonderful group of people. We all raised money prior to the trip to donate to women and children’s programs in the Philippines.
This was the first trip to the Philippines by TWCCTW proved an enormous success. Five days of training, five project visits, one wedding, and a few days of rest and relaxation made this volun-tour a truly remarkable event.
The Journey Begins:
Manila, our first port of call comprised spending the first two days (January 26-27th) conducting a Learning Buffet for the Discovery Leisure Group. From motivation, inspiration, creativity, to marketing, relationship building and leadership, our team of experts (Scott Friedman, Titus Yong, Susan Friedmann, Rebecca Morgan, Debra Fine, and Paul Larsen) shared practical tools, strategies, tips and techniques to help the Discover hotel management aspire to new heights of service delivery.
The Discovery Leisure Group hosted us in three of their fabulous hotels. We had the experience of “fantastic customer experience.” We are so grateful. It was great to be working with a group of people who were so eager to learn!
Mano Amiga and Children’s Hour
Mano Amiga under the auspices of Children’s Hour was the first project we visited. Children’s Hour supports projects on education, health & nutrition, and child welfare & development for disadvantaged Filipino children. Mano Amiga provides high quality education to underprivileged Filipino families through a sustainable low-cost private school model based on global and local standards of excellence. They employ a personalized learning approach tailored to the specific needs of their students, families and surrounding communities.
Titus Yong conducted a creativity session with a classroom of 9-year olds asking them to draw a vision of what they see themselves becoming. From pilots, to architects, from fishermen to dress designers, the children had fun designing and then sharing their visions with the class.
Their “Teacher Ann” was inspiring to us. The class was so appreciative and connected with us easily because of Teacher Ann. What a role model she is! Her next goal is to be a Life Coach. She grew up in Manila.
Global Leadership Boot Camp
Our major training event on January 28th was the Global Leadership Boot Camp—a one-day workshop organized by the award-winning HRD company, ITD World Manila, in partnership with Together We Can Change the World Foundation. The “sell out” event held at the Discover Primea, attracted more than 130 executives from the country’s leading corporate organizations. Read more about the successful event in the Asian Journal front page article.
Business, leadership and company culture is the same need all over the world! It was great to share our thoughts and connect with the wonderful business people in Manila.
All of the participants got to present to this group. It was a great global learning experience!
An hour flight from Manila and we arrived in Cebu City, on the island of Cebu. This is one of the most developed provinces in the Philippines, which in the last decade has transformed into a global hub for furniture-making, tourism, business processing services, and heavy industry.
Pandoo Foundation was our project of choice in Cebu. It engages and empowers underprivileged kids by implementing kid-centered, interactive and creative educational programs that foster positive values and life-long skills. This is a community center where the kids gather after school.
Run by a young, high-powered, technologically minded North American team, this project has multiple opportunities for our future involvement.
After all the children put on a wonderful dance and singing program for us, we spent time interacting with the kids, watching a video of a project they executing during the past holiday season. All the children in the program made cards and gifts for poor families, and then distributed them. They learned the importance and beauty of giving to others even though they themselves felt poor and deserving.
Once the kids left for the day we were treated to a family style banquet at a small local restaurant. It was a great way for us to get to know the Pandoo team, and an opportunity to better understand their visions for the future.
Their program was amazing for us on many levels. They are creating technology so the kids of Pandoo Nation can communicate with kids around the world in times of crisis via an app. The staff were so tech savvy. They also are helping the children and adolescents learn about how to start businesses—and socially responsible businesses.
Batang Pinangga (Beloved Child) Foundation
Batang Pinangga located in Danao City, a two hour drive from Cebu City, cares for abused, abandoned and neglected children.
We provided a chicken and burger lunch from a Jolibee’s (similar to McDonald’s), which the children ate under a big netted dining area to keep out the bugs. We spent a couple of hours, learning about the facility, and enjoying the children, many of whom we wanted to adopt on the spot. They put on a show for us—which was wonderful. The children live at this facility. One of the heart breaking thoughts was –where do they go from here when they turn 18. So many issues to solve.
An unusual trip highlight was being invited to Aljean’s wedding. Aljean had been a volunteer on a previous tour, and over the years had kept in touch with Scott. Not only did she invite us to the wedding, she bestowed the honor of being wedding sponsors (we’re still unsure of what that actually means). We discovered this distinction on arrival at the church, and found that our first duty included being part of the wedding party, preceding the bride, walking down the aisle, and then sitting in reserved seats at the front of the church.
Unfortunately, many of our team contracted a stomach bug, and one by one started dropping out of the celebrations, so only a small core group was able to enjoy the party. Thank goodness we had Dr. Steve Tillis, our favorite periodontist with us who had to go to a few drug stores to get those of us who were ill—strong antibiotics.
SOS Children’s Village
Back to Cebu City and to our next project, SOS Children’s Village, a family-based care program. They provide a home for children who have lost their parents or who cannot be raised in their own family.
Over fifty kids from 19-months to 17-years old welcomed us with multiple dance routines, and then invited us to join in and learn. We in turn offered our customary TWCCTW act which includes the hokey pokey, and the chicken dance. The kids loved it, and especially when we showered them with stickers, squeaky toys and giant bubble wands.
Walking around the property we visited a few of the small homes, which house up to twelve children and a couple of housemothers. The purpose is to give the children as much of a caring family environment as possible.
A 90-minute flight from Cebu, a bus, a boat, another bus and we finally arrived at our magnificent five-star luxury accommodation at the Discovery Shores property.
Set on a pristine white sandy beach, this was our home for three days of rest and relaxation.
Paul Larsen conducted a half-day training program for the hotel management, which allowed us the privilege of this luxurious venue. (Thanks so much Paul!)
On our last night we enjoyed a special cultural treat with the hotel management – a boodle fight. Staff escorted us to a long table decorated with lanterns set up on the beachfront. The food arrived on long wooden platters, rice, meats and fish on top of banana leaves. This is traditionally a military style of eating using your bare hands. Before the “eating combat” there was a ceremony of washing hands with water and lemon, and then the boodle fight began. We laughed, sang, and thoroughly enjoyed our unexpected and different experience! A fantastic team building experience. It was an honor to spend the evening with the GM and top hotel staff.
On our day off, a few of the women on our tour enrolled in “Mermaid Academy.” Photos on the beach and then focused Mermaid Swimming lessons gave us all a potential new identity as Mermaids!
Back to Manila where Jana Stanfield was the keynote speaker at a Catholic Feast. Over 300 people attended this revival-like event, which featured a rock band, hi-tech lighting, and projection. Jana was our rock star. Since the Philippines is the mecca of “selfies,” we requested a small donation from anyone wanting a photo with Jana. A nice way to raise a few hundred dollars.
She made such an impact and we met some of our friends who had been at the Leadership Boot Camp. Many warm and loving people trying to make a difference in Manila.
The last couple of days of our tour included a sight-seeing bike tour (on bamboo bikes) of the Intramuros, or the Walled City, the oldest district and historic core of Manila, and a visit to a Good Shepherd Sister’s project.
Good Shepherd Sisters Project
The Good Shepherd Sisters have projects all over Asia. They take in children who have been sexually exploited or have been victims of sex trafficking. The children shared their singing and dancing talents with us—and we—shared our talents of leading “The Chicken Dance” and the “Hokey Pokey.” Our fearless and funny leader Scott—never fails to amaze and entertain.
The sisters also sponsor an elementary school which was hosting a fair. Many of us got to purchase locally made goods to support the women on Manila.
The highlight of our brief visit to this project was Dr. Steven Tillis, our resident tour periodontist, assisted by Debra Fine his charming wife. He administered fluoride to 50 children’s teeth.
I am honored to have been part of this adventure and will be joining TWCCTW on future trips to Asia.