Two days to go until Christmas.
So please allow me to share something I have learned a long time ago, that Christmas is truly a day for sharing, for giving and not receiving, even beyond one’s family.
But I have to admit that before, I too was on the “it is better to receive than to give” mindset and as our quality of life improved, the thought remained the same.
I remember the time as a budding sportswriter in the late 1970s, I looked forward to Christmas, hoping to receive gifts from people I have interviewed before.
Until I set foot in Mt. Banahaw in the early 1990s for a management team-building with Victoria Court, the experience blew my mind away, opening it to a lot of positive insights and seeing the world differently in terms of relationships.
I fell in love with this powerful, mysterious, and mystical mountain, and I wanted to share the beauty of Mt. Banahaw with others and started bringing first my family members and personal friends.
Later on, when I was conducting leadership, values formation and environmental awareness workshops for high school students, I brought the members of the anti-drug abuse youth group of then Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos, the Young Journalists’ Association of Mandaluyong (YJAM) to this place.
And when I started doing adventure team-building, my being a sportswriter helped a lot and I was able to bring collegiate womens’ basketball teams from Lyceum, the University of the East and Centro Escolar University, plus Foton’s women’s volleyball squad, led by Jaja Santiago and sister Dindin Manabat .
It was from YJAM though where I formed my core group to help me when I started doing Christmas gift-giving to local kids and families, my way of saying thank you to this mountain. From being staffers, these same kids, now employed and having learned the value of sharing, are now donors, too, from their own pockets, not just during Christmas, but also during summers when we would raise funds and buy school bags and supplies for the Banahaw kids, same when we expanded to street kids and families during Christmas time.
It is my way of giving back to Banahaw for the things I learned there, and for the street kids and other charities or causes I got involved with, like this year’s Ayuda Sa Atleta.
Again my being a sportswriter helped a lot in raising funds from people involved in sports, too, Cebuana Lhuillier’s Jean Henri Lhuillier, ex-basketball players Fritz Gaston, Mike Advani, and Vito Orcullo, owners of Foton and F2 Logistics Rommel Sytin and Efren Uy, UE coach Ai Lebornio, sportsman businessman Alex Wang, triathlon head Tom Carrasco, race organizer Dilip Budhrani, former national archer Nino Sinco, basketball fan Michael Yulo, and others.
My high school batchmates from Paco Catholic School and personal friends and clients, helped too. They are too many to mention, but many thanks to them.
Last December 11, after a year’s absence due to the pandemic, I returned to Banahaw, together with my YJAMers Kim, Jeff, Esme, Melody, Joyce, and Regine, and distributed Christmas gifts and grocery packs to Banahaw families. The street kids are scheduled later this month.
More than 75 kids and close to 50 families came throughout the day to get their gifts and grocery packs, and again, it never changes, these local folks saying simple thank yous, the feeling is unquantifiable, and the spirit of Christmas do come alive for all of us there.
Please do not get me wrong, if I am given Christmas gifts, I will certainly accept them, but honestly, I give a lot more than I receive, and again, I do not give big gifts, no money for that, only small ones just to show my appreciation to other people.
Within my immediate family, especially, now that is a different thing.
A Sharing and Caring Christmas to all Manila Standard readers.