The German Philosopher, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “A joy shared is a joy doubled”. Joy is never full until you share it with somebody. Anchoring on this principle we, the PNULHS Batch 1998 decided to make the Annual Alumni Homecoming truly a joyful celebration.
Being the host for the 2013 reunion, we wanted everyone to have a great time. Our planning started 3 years before. We brainstormed on themes, activities, and ideas on how we were going to finance it. By December 2012, we came up with a theme that would be fun at the same time meaningful to us: “NEONINETY8: Light Up the Night!” We prepared a video teaser for everyone to get excited for the reunion. Indeed, excitement took over!
A series of meetings started Batch 98’s year. We were getting ready to turn up the hype. By November, we would be covering the city with tarps and whatnots inviting every one for the reunion. The event planner we consulted already scheduled a site visit.
And then, Yolanda came.
The tarps never got to the printers. The site visit never happened. Excitement was replaced with an overcoming desire to address the urgent: Hunger, homelessness and worst, hopelessness.
Batch 98 pulled together the resources that were available. In cooperation with Bangon Cadiznon, whose founder by the way is Chris Ryan Montaño our classmate, we distributed food packs, old clothes, and even school supplies. We also helped our Alma Mater, PNU, by reconstructing the fence that was damaged by the typhoon. We took every opportunity to be of help. Each was trying to get help either from a friend or a company just to be able to fill a need that was pressing that time. We also rounded up other batches who gladly extended their help too. I wrote an article at Cadiz-city.com about one of our operations. Collectively, it was the PNULHS Alumni that was at work. And if I am not mistaken, it was the first time that we worked together representing the Alumni (which is up to now, not an institutionalized group).
Charity is not new to our batch. By the grace of God, we have been reaching out to kids for the last 5 years. Every December, when we get pledges for the annual gathering, we make sure that a big portion of that goes to our Gift-giving activity. We give out toys, school supplies and let the kids enjoy a Christmas party. Every year, more than our fellowship, this is what most of us look forward to.
In the aftermath of Yolanda, our impulse was to change plans. A high percentage of the city’s population was affected. There was no electricity for weeks. The whole country was mourning. Companies and groups of people cancelled their parties and donated the funds to the victims instead. We knew spending a lot of money for the NEONINETY8 party we planned for was very impractical…and insensitive.
And so, we opted for a grand gift-giving activity and just a simple Thanksgiving Celebration with the teachers. Thus, renaming the activity “Light Up a Life”. When we presented this plan to the administration of PNU, they couldn’t agree more. It was exactly what the school wanted to embody – an attitude of helpfulness.
I am tempted to write down all the criticisms we received because of this decision. But, I will skip that. Instead, let me paraphrase what Winston Churchill said; if you have enemies, it means that you have stood up for something in your life. We were glad to have stood up for a cause that was beyond us.
The gift-giving was fulfilling. Other batches came to join us, too. Some brought gift packs, tubs of ice cream and even hygiene kits. It was a joy to see the kids (and the adults, too) have fun and enjoy the food. They all received gifts wrapped in Christmas paper. To many of them, that was the only gift they would ever receive that Christmas.
I am posting the photos below to share with you the joy that we had experienced. Had we pushed through with the party, the only thing we would have gained would be a bad hangover. But this, it has doubled our joy knowing we have made an imprint in the lives of these kids. Hopefully, they will cherish the memory they had on that day and when an opportunity like this comes to them where they would be on the giving end, they would share their joy too.
Acts 20:35 "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
|Our Class. PNULHS Class of 1998. (Some were absent though)|
|Enjoying good food. Spaghetti, sandwich, and hotdogs!|
|Paul, my classmate scooping the ice cream for the kids.|
|The smiles that made our day!|
|These are bosses in their companies. But here, they were tasked to hang the balloons. haaaa!|
|A mother and Child. Happy!|
|Representatives from other batches who helped us. Thanks guys!|
|I drink juice like a boss! hahaha!|
|Even the mothers enjoyed the bounty!|
|The smiles after receiving their gifts.|
|No bad day that ice cream can not cure. :)|
|Future Chess Champion!|
|Us with two of our High school Teachers.|
|Fely Grace and I leading the singing|
|With our teachers during the Thanksgiving Lunch|
Photo Credits: Eugene Lacuesta, my favorite photographer (who happens to be my clasmate too )