Dear sponsors and friends,
“Maligayang Pasko!” (Merry Christmas!) to all of you! After the “storms” that we have encountered in our lives in the past months, this festive greeting suggests that we set aside everything, specially our problems. Enjoy and celebrate the advent, the birth, and the epiphany that encompasses the merry-making season. Moreover, the Christmas greeting suggests also that we prepare the best gift we can offer to the Baby on the crib by setting aside many things so that we can better prepare gift of selfless love to Him. There are many ways to do this.
SELF FOR OTHERS
JR Calicdan, Pao.Pangan, and Noel de Jesus, all members of the Focolare Movement in Manila, felt that they MUST give a gift to someone. They thought about the children of Pag-asa..The birthdays of the three were nearing, and partying with friends was just usual. Instead, they celebrated together with 80 children whose birthdays fall on the month of September and October. The celebrants were certain that this would make a difference to the kids. The kids were so excited, and they appreciated the generosity of their “elder brothers” with overflowing gratitude! In the end, not only did JR, Pao and Noel—make themselves and the children happy, they also locked-in wonderful memories with these little ones– memories that will surely last a lifetime!
OFFICE WORK FOR FIELD WORK
Rita Kotzur, the responsible for the SAD program in Asia left her office desk and visited the projects here in the Philippines including Pag-asa to address common issues and problems that projects in the Philippines are encountering. Her arrival followed the recent visit of Andrea Turatti (AFN President), who had been so impressed after confirming for himself how true that Pag-asa is indeed progressive and organized as claimed. Her 7 days stay with us has been very fruitful. She answered all our questions, gave intelligent suggestions, and taught us techniques on how to simplify work with letters and databases.
COMFORT FOR CARPENTRY WORK
Coming just at the right time, members of SPES-Associazione, left the comforts of their homes in Rome, Italy, to continue assisting and supporting people in need — this time in the Philippines. For ten days, they helped member families of Pag-asa by assisting in the repair and rebuilding of houses which were destroyed during Typhoon Glenda.
REST DAY FOR MEDICAL-DENTAL MISSION
From the University of Sto. Tomas in Manila, 40 medical and dental doctors and their staff went out of their routine by giving up one Sunday (their rest day) to be able to give free check-ups and procedures to 500 patients of both Pag-asa and Bukas Palad Social Centers.
However, if we are having difficulty ignoring the negativity around us, let us just try to see it in a different perspective. Let us all gaze on the positive instead.
As we have written you, typhoon Glenda (international name, Typhoon Rammasun) was a powerful tropical cyclone that had destructive impacts across the Philippines and the neighboring countries on July 13. It was the first typhoon to directly impact the Philippines in over eight months after typhoon Haiyan.
All throughout the Philippines, it caused maritime seaports to close resulting to thousands of passengers stranded along with many rolling cargoes throughout the country. A big number of flights were cancelled and over 100 thousand families were evacuated as the typhoon neared landfall.
In the evening, Rammasun’s eye passed directly over the province of Cavite (where Tagaytay City belongs) while the storm was at peak intensity. It brought down electric posts and communication lines during that time. Most towns were completely shut down for many days and some, even weeks.
Although deaths and injuries caused are very minimal compared to Haiyan, this typhoon hit greatly our agriculture.
The aftermath of the typhoon caused a change in the weather of Tagaytay, too. Now that many trees were uprooted, we are more exposed to the sun’s heat. Villages hidden by big trees are now more visible 360 degrees. Even our distant multi-purpose building Sala Leo can now be seen from Pag-asa.
There are 90 Pag-asa families whose roofs were flown away. 24 houses among them were taken down totally to nothing. The total damage costs are 3.390 euro (Pag-asa building), 14.310 euro (Favola building), and 31.578 euro (90 households of Pag-asa family members).Aside from the food relief, we have started to help rebuild and repair the damages both of the Pagasa building and of its family members’ households.
Repairs and restoration go on a priority basis depending on the damage wrought as well as on the availability of funds from donations collected and being collected. So far, we have totally restored most of the houses and also the damages in the Pag-asa building. We greatly appreciate your immediate and generous support to our center and we wish to thank you, especially the Rotary Club from Papenburg and Pekela (Netherlands) as well as many friends of the Focolare Movement in Germany, for always being beside us, especially after calamities like this one.
In connection with that typhoon, many establishments temporarily closed and even the work in the construction business are held off, adversely affecting our parent members’ day-to-day resources. Thanks to our multi-purpose cooperative, we were able to at least, give temporary jobs for some of them. Not only that, they can get their basic necessities from our grocery store on a “buy now, pay later” system, allowing them to save and profit from their purchases.
EARLIER THIS YEAR
We have blessed and inaugurated SALA LEO, our Youth and Development Center dedicated to the memory of Leo Ganaden, a Focolarino who died three years ago. Having been one of the firsts to build the Tagaytay.Focolare Compound (where also our Pag-asa Center is located) as an engineer, he dreamt of building a gym in that particular area donated by Ted Santos, a philanthropist. Now it has been realized. To all those who built, helped and prayed for this project, we are forever grateful to you!
Dear friends, we wish you the most wonderful Christmas of all because you rightfully deserve it! And when you open the Christmas letters of “your” children and see the greetings “Maligayang.Pasko!”… you would know what they mean.
Your Pag-asa Family
Next issue: We will tell you about the visit of the YPB (Young People’s Business) to Pag-asa and Favola and how, together, they exchanged business ideas and strategies on entrepreneurship.