Day 1 and 2 – Departing for Manila

On December 27, 2013, student leaders from the Toronto Catholic District School Board embark on a life-changing journey to serve those less fortunate in the Philippines.

Student leaders and their families met at Toronto Pearson airport at 10:15 am.

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We jokingly take a picture of Britishawna and Jairuz (our Canadian “Permanent Residence” card holders) of the last time they set foot in Canada
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Student Leaders conserve their energy for the 15hr flight to Hong Kong by taking the “movator”

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We smoothly got through security despite Melissa’s brand new lotion bottle getting confiscated
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Spoke too fast…Jeff is asked to pass through the metal detectors a second time because he forgot to take off his belt (happened again in Hong Kong!)
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Anxiously awaiting to board the plane
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Participants take the “Vow of Pleasant Disposition” lead by Vice Principal Danielle Hyles-Rainford
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Before leaving, the group joins hands to say a prayer lead by volunteer Dr. Danielle Hyles-Rainford
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Time to board the plane
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15+ hours, 4 movies, and 2 meals later, the screen shows that we’re almost finally there!
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Ride gets a little rough during the landing so Michael holds Jairuz’ hand to make him feel more comfortable 😉
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We literally had 6 min to sit down before having to board our next plane. Like the Philippines, there’s also a 13hr time difference in Hong Kong
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One flight to go. Only 2+ hours to get to Manila!
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This trio of leaders have a special name…guess what it is?
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The literally translation of the Tagalog word “Mabuhay” is to “live and thrive” but it is often used as a warm greeting or toast
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The top of this poster says it all!
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Every year, participants of the Philippines service trip have taken this “now traditional” photograph in front of this painting of the Mayon Volcano – the most coned shaped mountain in the world
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Airport security guards clear the way for us as we leave the airport (there were so many people there)
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Finally, a familiar face – Bernie (Mike’s dad) greets us at the airport holding a TCDSB sign
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We have to weave through the parked cars and stand still traffic in the parking lot to get to our assigned vehicle
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We make it to our super van. Sound off to make sure everyone is here……who’s #5?!!!!
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A 10 min ride took over 30 min because it took forever to get out of the parking lot. We’re finally on the road and it’s now close to 1:30 am…….we’re starting to get hungry so we decide to stop off at…
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The biggest fast food chain in the Philippines (open 24 hours)
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Combos cost 90-130 pesos – that less than $4
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And of course they sell RICE!
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Team 1 – Jeff, Erica, Alanna, Britishawna (lead by Danielle) (Nicole is also part of team 2 but is waiting at the hotel)
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Team 2 – Joe, Jairuz, Kyla-Ann, and Melissa, lead by Lindsay
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Team 3 – Katrina, Alyssa, Shaelyn, lead by Bernie (Marc is also on team 3 but chose to sleep in the van)
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Britishawna asked for a picture to remember this…..(ahem) “day” for ever
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It’s now past 3am but because of the 13hr time difference and excitement about tomorrow’s excursion, student leaders can’t sleep

Meeting time is 6:30 am….a mere 2 hours away!

Tagaytay here we come!!

26 thoughts on “Day 1 and 2 – Departing for Manila

  1. You’ve packed so much into the first day. I can’t imagine what we’ll see posted for tomorrow. Be safe, have fun and I know thar’s a Guardian Angel on each of your shoulders.

    1. Thanks for following, Grandma! The trip has been amazing – so many emotions flowing each and every day. It has been incredibly inspirational and certainly eye-opening.

      1. Hope we see some pics of you and the students with some families. Do the families help with the projects. Be safe and much love from us. XOXO

  2. Aww how wonderful! Jollibee, the super-bus, the traffic, the airport with the picture of the volcano, the wifi spot; I’M SO EXCITED FOR YOU ALL!!
    Can’t wait to see more pictures (don’t strain yourself too much Mike! 🙂 ) and edit the blogs!

  3. I wish I was with the group when they flew to the Philippines! It looks like they had a lot of fun. After picking them up from the airport, it took forever just to leave the parking lot!! However, we did have a great time at Jollibee afterwards forming new bonds.

  4. After how many days we spent together you still cannot differentiate between Melissa and I… Thanks Mike! That plane ride was so long but the food was bless and they had some bumping albums. Currently running on half an hour naps #TeamDarkskin lol!

  5. Wow almost 18 hours of flying and thank goodness we all made it safely. It’s been months of planning and all our hard work has paid off. The Philippines isn’t ready for us!

  6. The flight felt like an eternity! So happy that we landed safely and that were finally here…it doesnt feel real at all. Everyones bonding and we all got close so quickly and its only day 2! Already have a handshake with jay and a trio with jay and british #teamlightskinbutsometimesdarkskin #needmorelightingwhentakingselfies. Cant wait for what God has in store for us!!

  7. Sounds like yet another incredible start of another incredible adventure.

    You are in my thoughts and in my prayers!

  8. God bless your good work. It will be transformational for both the people you serve and for yourselves as well.

    Gina Vincent
    Elementary Guidance Counsellor

    1. Thanks Gina. In our nightly debriefs, the students have commented how much they are getting back in terms of joy and happiness, not initially realizing that we would be getting and learning from them as much as they from us

  9. Thank you so very much for the continuing report of Toronto High Schools, and their leaders, on the Philippines trip. And all the gifts! You did such a good job collecting them. We can’t wait to see a child’s face when he/she receives a gift.
    All the students and leaders appear to be enjoying themselves enormously. Such big smiles in every photo. Are the fishes really nibbling at feet?
    This won’t be a trip you’ll ever forget.
    You are all in our prayers.
    Mollie & Roy Langdale (two of Lindsay Curtis’ grandparents).

  10. I remember hating the long flight, and that the last hours were the worst since there was nothing to do. However, it was totally worth it! The first night was awesome and it was my first time having Jollibee 😀

  11. I’m glad you all had a safe flight. I flew separate from the group on the 24th, but my flight was cancelled because some de-icing fluid leaked into the cockpit of the plane! I ended up flying on Christmas day and landed in the Philippines on the 26th. The group took so long to get to the hotel! I was waiting for 4 hours! They were kind enough to bring me Jollibee so I guess they’re forgiven :p

  12. I was told it was going to be a long plane ride and to be honest, I didn’t feel prepared to be on a plane for that long. But it turns out it wasn’t so bad. I think that being on a plane for that long with the group brought us all closer with each other; it was our first true bonding experience. Thank you Lord for two safe plane rides.

  13. MADE IT TO THE PHILIPPINES! I was so worried about the plane ride but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Getting to the Philippines airport was such a culture shock! Everyone was loud and it wasn’t as big and organized as TO’s airport. It also took 30 mins just to get out of a parking lot. I was so amazed by how much different it was in comparison to Canada. So excited to see other different things that await on this trip!

  14. man that plane ride took forever and i literally got no sleep. But once we got there and i found my bed i was so happy to just crash and go to sleep. 🙂

  15. The flight to Philippines was endless, I honestly felt like I was buckled down to that seat forever but we finally made it. Once we got off that plane, you could already hear the roaring traffic of Manila and feel the waving heat. While everyone went to Jollibee I stayed in the van and caught some sleep. I’m glad we all made it safe and sound!

  16. awww that’s cute! Mike had to hold Jairuz’ hand haha! I wish I flew with you guys! But thank God you all landed safe (: Katrina and I’s flight was a bit delayed too, (it was Philippine Airlines they were running on filipino time) LOL JK it was because of the ice storm and they needed to defrost some parts or whatever but yay we all made it!!

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