What do YOU get up for?

24 August 2011

I spent last weekend making-do with some heavy-duty power-napping instead of getting the usual 4-5 hours of sleep because I needed to: support a friend in a contest he joined, see my friends from high school whom I haven't seen in months, and go out of town for a very worthy cause. Last Friday night I was only able to sleep for less than two hours before I needed to get up before the crack of dawn again to reach Ayala by 6AM.

Ana and I were invited by Mr. Ram Bucoy in behalf of Golden ABC (owner of leading fashion brands Penshoppe, Oxygen, Regatta, Memo, ForMe, Tyler and Red Logo) to go to Cavite and participate in Kariton Klasrum spearheaded by CNN Hero of the Year Efren PeƱaflorida. One mention of his name in the email and I was sold! Besides, this is my first out-of-town bloggers' event so you bet I was really excited!

Fresh-faced and wide awake at 7:30AM!
En route to our destination, Ms Pat of Golden ABC's Corporate Affairs Department briefed us on what we could expect and what were expected of us while we munched on a breakfast meal which consisted of Sausage McMuffins and Hash Browns from McDonald's. We were also given Penshoppe towels and I Am Pinoy shirts to change into. The trip took less than an hour; before we knew it we were already in front of the infamous KarBil (short for Kariton Building. Kariton means cart in English).

They modeled the exteriors to make it look like a cart.
For those who are not familiar to his story, Kuya Ef started a youth group called Dynamic Teen Company which aimed to fight violence among the youth and promote education and literacy. They pioneered the idea of a "pushcart classroom" loaded with books, toys, and other school materials, going around the town and setting up at different locations to reach out to kids and teach them basic writing, reading, arithmetic, hygiene, and good values. Mind you, these efforts are done without any of them expecting anything in return. The funds on building and maintaining KarBil came from donations and Kuya Efren's grant as CNN Hero of the Year 2009. I firmly believe that him being hailed as a hero is very well-deserved. When he won, his dreams of building a library for the poor kids have come true and I feel honored to have been able to witness him touch the lives of these kids.

There are four carts in all. When we got to the market, they were already being set up and the kids divided based on age. Ana and I went to the group with the youngest children.

The session for the day included singing, dancing, transferring grains from one container to the other, coloring, playing with toys, and giving them refreshments. It was fun seeing them participate in the discussions :)

Meet this little munchkin. Her name is Angelita.
She's so cute, listening intently to the teachers and raising her hand to volunteer every single time :)
You can really feel how appreciative they are of these lessons and it certainly gave me a warm, glowing feeling inside. At the same time though, I felt sad to witness the plight of some of our countrymen. Deep inside, I thought these kids should be in school, enjoying their childhood. They shouldn't be exposed to life's hardships like this. I was particularly touched by Danica's story. Danica is eleven years old, yet looks about eight. She told me of how her father is dead already, how her mother ran away with another men and left her and her four siblings with their grandmother. She said all these nonchalantly, like it's the most normal thing in the world. I was struck and wiped a few tears when she wasn't looking. How I wish I have loads of money so I can provide more for them. It certainly puts things into perspective, doesn't it? I mean here I am, complaining about having busted computers and phone bills, when this child half my age is already enduring more than I have endured in my 25 years here on Earth. Sad, bitter realities of life.

But then again, meeting people like Kuya Efren and Jake gives me hope.

Meet Efren PeƱaflorida :)
Jake is only 15 years old. Instead of wasting his weekends being idle, he spends it with DTC, volunteering and offering time and effort for these kids.
After the day's session, we walked back to KarBil. It was hot as it was almost 12NN, but after seeing what the children are going through I guess we weren't in any position to complain.

When we reached KarBil, we were treated to a McDonald's brunch while Ms Pat showed us video clips of when Kuya Ef won the CNN Hero of the Year award as well as Golden ABC's video clip for their CSR initiative which is called Get Up.

A term commonly used as an alternate word for "outfit", Get Up very aptly describes Golden ABC's advocacy to make us wake up, get up, and help out. They have recognized the difference Kuya Efren has made in these kids' lives and now aim to help more. Golden ABC CEO and President Bernie Liu said, “While Efren himself has been a valuable resource person and inspiration, GABC continues to make a difference by promoting the values of passion, volunteerism and teamwork towards making a positive change.”

ARE YOU WILLING TO GET UP AND DO MORE? You can volunteer with Golden ABC and DTC and join the Kariton Klasrum every Saturday! Get Up's website goes live tomorrow so you can bookmark and visit it to see more details. THERE'S MORE! For every P1,000 you spend on Golden ABC stores (Penshoppe, Oxygen, Regatta, Memo, ForMe, Tyler and Red Logo), P25 will be donated to Get Up's fund raising efforts. This is for the while month of September, isn't that awesome? Every little helps, and your money will certainly go a looong way for these kids! This might be the perfect time to get myself a pair of Oxygen's Reversible Jeans I've been eyeing for so long now...

What a worthwhile weekend! Thank you very much for this opportunity, Golden ABC and Mr. Ram! And of course, big thanks to Ana for another bonding experience!

To find out more about Golden ABC, click here. To find out how you can help and get more information about Dynamic Teen Company and Get Up, please click the links.

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