Day 12 – Part II – Build day 5 (Closing Ceremonies)

Today is January 7, 2014.  We finished building for the day, ran some intense b-ball,  and played with the kids.  As it is getting  dark we know that our time in the AKC site is soon coming to an end 😦

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Before playing with kids one last time we have our last dinner together as we say grace
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In the afternoon, we had the kids sign our shirts. Now they want us to sign there’s.
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After 6pm, kids who have school during the second shift return home. That’s why we waited until now to have our last games and gift giving session.
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We break up into 4 teams
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We have all the kids sit in a circle
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As the night gets older, the circles gets bigger and bigger
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We play Stella one last time
16 - Stella
Those who get eliminated sit in the middle of the circle and watch
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After Stella, we bring out the toys
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When your number is called, you can pick any toy you want
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Each kid also gets a toothbrush with their toy
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The kids love their toys
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It’s amazing how the smallest things make these kids smile from ear to ear
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We learned from these kids every day.
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They really taught us how to be genuinely happy
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There’s so many people there. This pic doesn’t even do it justice
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Eventually we start to clear out the intersection where the 3 streets connect for that will be our stage for the closing ceremonies
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This is the right side of the “stage”
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This is the left side
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This is the middle section
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And because we run out of space, people gather at the back. Basically, we’re surrounded by people
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The closing ceremonies begins with a word from a community leader
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Brother Romir, our foreman, also says a few words, thanking us for our hard work and effort
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The crowd gets even bigger
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Tita Ethel from ANCOP sends her appreciation
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Michael talks about the differences and similarities between Canada and the Philippines. In CA we have taxis, in PH you have (crowd responds), “Jeepneys”.  In CA we speak English and French.  In PH, you speak English and (crowd responds), “Tagalog”
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“In CA, we also don’t have the same type of loving tight community as you have here in PH. Thank you for teaching us the value of taking care of your family, friends, and neighbours.”
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God is good, (crowd responds), “All the time.” Bernie Consul talks about how we learn more from them than they do from us.
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Danielle with a musical interlude: Amazing Grace
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A dance performance from the kids of the community with their matching orange, “Be like Jesus” shirts
17 - dance
What an amazing performance, complete with solos.
17 - Sharing 1
Shaelyn, Joe, Jeff, and Erica all share a little bit of their experience
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Before Erica hands off the mic, she sings a song
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Best seat in the house – the growing crowd loves it
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The teenagers have their own dance performance
18 - Teen Dance
We are thoroughly impressed and the crowd goes wild
21 - Sharing
Now it’s Nicole, Katrina, Britishawna, and Jairuz’s turn to share their experiences
22 - Singing
Before Jairuz turns over the mic, he ask the crowd if they want another song. Joe, Jeff, and Lindsay join him for a musical performance with Erica on the yuke
23 - Dance
The kids have another dance number and the highlight of the performance was this grand finale
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The crowd is loving the performances
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Even though Lindsay switch spots from one side of the stage to the other, kids flock to be around her
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Vida from ANCOP gives her words of appreciation
20 - Sharing
The last set of leaders share, Marc, Alanna, Kyla-anne, and Melissa
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Before Melissa comes off, she ask the crowd again if they want another song. This time the entire team comes up to sing Count on Me (Bruno Mars)
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Nicole sings the first verse
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Everyone puts their arms around each other as we all sing the chorus together
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Melissa sings the second verse as everybody snaps along
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Erica who’s been playing the yuke the whole time sings the bridge
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Now it turns into an open mic session as different people from the community sing a song
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Joel can build, play ball, and sing!
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The crowd gets even bigger
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There’s definitely no one at home tonight
24 - teachers
Time for the teachers to share some thoughts about their experience. Danielle and Lindsay both find it hard to contain the tears.
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We present thank you gifts to some key people that made this experience possible. First, Ethel from ANCOP.
25 - Boys Gifts
We present the construction workers who helped teach us how to build with gifts – reusable water bottles for those long hot days)
26 - Tita gifts
Next we present gifts (manicure sets and nail polish) for all the titas that help prepare our food, wash our shirts/towels, and cleaned up after us each day.
27 - Vida
We present Vida from ANCOP a hardhat with all our signatures on it as well as a bottle of wine for escorting us each day, arrange our meals, and all the little details that are necessary for making our experience possible
28 - Ramir
We present brother Ramir (aka Tatay) with a hard hat as well with all our signatures on it along with a reuseable water bottle. Ramir made sure we had construction work everyday and provided as well as taught us each tasks.
29 - tools
Next, we present the community with a toolbox full of tools (hammer, various snips and pliers, trowel, screwdrivers, square, and level) to be used to help with the build after we depart
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The last gift we present for the whole community to share is this luggage full of clothes, toothpaste and toothbrushes. Thanks to Mother Teresa Elementary School (DCDSB) for collecting these items. Danielle is the vice principal there. Thank you also to Collegiate-Palmolive for their donation.
30 - I got a feelin
To close of the celebration, we perform the “I got a feeling” dance we taught the kids yesterday
31 - Follow da leader
We keep the party going with “Follow da Leader” and “Palance” as our closing ceremony turns into an all out street party!
32 - Street party
Street party on a Tuesday night – It’s more fun in the Philippines
33 - Mike
Before we leave, we make sure to take as many group shots as possible to remember our new friends.
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Katrina finally decides who to give her name tag too
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So does Shaelyn

Congratulations to all the participants of the Philippines Service and Leadership Trip 2013-14!

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Kyla-anne Ewart – Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School
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Katrina Lorenzo – Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School
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Nicole Baret – Blessed Pope John Paul II Catholic Secondary School
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Jairuz Junio – Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School
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Erica Cinco – Francis Libermann Catholic Secondary School
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Joseph Fantauzzi – Bishop Allen Academy Catholic Secondary School
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Alanna Marchese – St. Joseph’s College Catholic Secondary School
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Shaelyn Talusan – St. Joseph’s College Catholic Secondary School
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Melissa Ayisi – Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School
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Jeffery Shen – Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School
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Marc Balano – Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School
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Britishawna Petgrave – Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School
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Alyssa Cabataje – Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School
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Teachers Lindsay Curtis (Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School – TCDSB) and Danielle Hyles-Rainford (Mother Teresa Catholic Elementary School – DCDSB)
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Bernie Consul – Volunteer – Michael’s Dad 🙂
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Michael Consul (Trip Leader) Student Leadership / Staff Development – Toronto Catholic District School Board
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We eventually make our way back to our home base, but the kids continue to wait for us outside the door as we gather our personal belongings for the last time
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Hi fives never stop until as we make it to our bus
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We want to make sure we say bye to everybody
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These people make us feel special
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“Salamat Po”
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Final Good byes!
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The high-fives lead us to more high-fives
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When we finally get to our bus, this is what we see…….more people! WOW!
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We love the attention but at the same time we are saddened that this will be the last time 😦
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Joe and Erica finally make it through the crowd and board the bus
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As Katrina and Bernie make their way through the onslaught of high-fives
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This shot is taken from inside the bus, as Alyssa and Lindsay are still stuck in the mob
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Still a sea of people wishing us good bye as far as the eye can see
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Danielle finally makes it on the bus and shows a gift that she received from Joshua’s family
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We all make it back on the bus but we can’t stop saying goodbye
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On the count of 3 we yell, “WE LOVE YOU!”
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We will never forget our time in the Philippines and our new friends in the ANCOP Kapatid Community

Tomorrow our flight leaves at 5:10 am in the morning so we have to be at the airport by 2:10 am.  By the time we get back to the hotel, we’ll only have a couple of hours to pack before we leave.

Thanks for following our travels.  Posts for this amazing experience don’t stop here.  More photos and stories to come.

Please write us your comments below.

13 thoughts on “Day 12 – Part II – Build day 5 (Closing Ceremonies)

  1. The evening was happy and sad altogether! I was happy to see that everyone got gifts they liked and some tooth brushes! I received two gimp bracelets from Cristina and Paul- i was soo honored! The program the community put together was more than amazing. They worked so hard to impress us! The dancing was on point- the contemporary dance (thousand years) , the hiphop dance( dont drop that thun thun thun) and the tribal dance were my faves! All the kids hit their moves so precisely! When it was my turn to say a speech I was soo emotional I let out some tears at the end! I hope they took what I said and believed it! The singing at the end by our team was great-good job everyone. The singing by people in the community had me laughing smiling clapping etc etc. The men there could be on filipino idol lolol. It was fun dancing with the kids for the last time to some soca, ymca, etc. At the end I gave some gifts to the children who really stuck to me like glue. Edrich got my filipino basketball team shorts-i hope he likes them! #ballislife, i gave Cristina some pesos for snacks when it gets hot (maybe she’ll by taho or icecream),bobby pins and chocolate, and Ivan got some $$ too for snacks! I gave JR my vans as well cause he was my fave construction worker!! All in all it was a very emotional moment leaving the kids, I really didnt want to say goodbye!

    Every since weve gotten back all my dreams are about them! seriously! the first night i was talking to them in my head saying “guys get off me for once sec i have to pee” and tbh the weight of my covers felts like it was them- of course i was half asleep though.

    Miss them soooooooo much xoxoxox

  2. It’s amazing to see how close we’ve gotten with this community in the short time that we’ve been in AKC. During our second shirt signing period, I saw George coming back from school and the first thing he did was come up to me and having me sign his shirt and vice versa. George was the first kid I talked to and we made our own handshake on the first day. I was so happy to see the kids come back from school to celebrate the fiesta with us.

    Even though I didn’t have my glasses and couldn’t see well in the dark, I planned to make this one of the best nights of my life. We started everything that night with games with the children. I sat beside a few kids who I’ve grown really attached to. I remember giving them my phone to play with when they got out in Stella, and having it returned with no battery left :).

    The gift giving was one of the best moments of the early night. All the kids were eager to have their number called and pointing at the toys or plush animals they wanted.

    When the ceremony started, the streets were packed with people. It’s something that we never have in Canada. The communities here are so interactive with each other and they know each other. In Canada, we’re all separated in our communities, so this experience was great.

    Seeing everyone so happy and cheering on the performances made me really happy, and when we got up to perform, I wanted to go all out. During our “Count on me” song, I took Joel from the crowd and got him to sing with us and that was so much fun. He and I had so much fun joking around with his friends and it was really a night to remember.

    When it was time to leave, I didn’t even think about being sad. I wanted to enjoy every last second with AKC and I did. I gave away my bracelet, my build day shoes, and Facebook so that I will always be in contact with the kids at AKC. I couldn’t express how much I would miss them when we left on the bus.

    In conclusion, I’ll miss AKC, the Philippines and this group. This experience taught me to be more grateful, more loving, more social, and really changed me for the better. I love you guys all soooooo much, the group, AKC and this country. I want to visit again someday soon and do it all over again!

    As much love as I have in me <3!

    1. Jeff: Mom and dad are so proude of you and your team. Great job! “Because you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40). Welcome home!

  3. Even though I was sad that this trip had come to its end and I was going to miss everyone, it still ended up being one of the best highlights of the trip.

    The love and gratitude that we received (and are still receiving through Facebook!) from the people of AKC was so uplifting. The amount of hugs, “thank you’s” and “I will miss you’s, cards and tokens given to us by literally every single person there was enough to make me never want to leave. It was very sad for me to leave little Jeth-Jeth and his mom as I bonded with them during our 5 days there. I think I probably said goodbye to them 5 times because I didn’t want to leave them just yet.. and I’m not gonna lie, I did shed a few tears.

    Not only was I sad about leaving the community, but also the PH family I came to know over our 12 days together… I don’t think we’ve ever been closer than during our performance of Count on Me and our final I Gotta Feeling!

    I miss everyone in AKC and the team too! Hope all is well with each and every one 🙂

  4. The night was full of mixed emotions by the group and the locals; sadness and joy. It’s so sad that it’ll be our last night in the site, our last goodbye to them and we will no longer say “see you tomorrow”. It’s so sad to think that we will not see their faces tomorrow morning and greet us with “Hi and Goodmorning”. Also, we won’t hear them yell our names as we get off the bus and asking us if we could play. Lastly, it’s so touching that one kid named George cried at the end of the party as he says “goodbye kuya Jairuz, I will miss you”. AKC will be forever in my heart!

  5. The relationship we built during the 5 days we spent with all of them is very special; it was difficult leaving AKC on our last day. I’ll definitely miss working with the kids both on the build site and when we play games with them. I loved dancing with them as well, dancing is one of the things I always look forward to when we visited the communities.

    Ryzza, Jasen, and Georgy stood out to me the most. Ryzza, Kuya JR’s daughter, kept clinging onto me since the day we met. She always asked for piggyback rides and she kept calling us leaders beautiful and kind. I’ll never forget her because of her beautiful eyelashes and bubbly personality. Jasen is Joe’s number one fan lol she kept telling me that she likes Joe and every time Joe passed by she’ll always be like, “oh my gosh Ate Alyssa it’s Kuya Joe!!! Can you ask him to give me a hug please??” Haha but every time Joe gives her a hug she always runs away! She also gave me a thank you card on our last day with a very sweet message written inside. Georgy also gave me a thank you card. He’s one of the kids that came up to me first and started a conversation with me. He was amazed because I can speak Tagalog to him fluently so he was so happy. After our first conversation, it’s like we’ve been friends for the longest time. Not only these kids are special to me, but everyone in AKC.

    The construction workers are very funny, too! Since I can understand Tagalog, I know what they’re saying behind people’s back. (Don’t worry, it’s nothing mean but I’m not gonna say it lol). I love when they blast music while we work because when they sing along, the song is 10x funnier. I really loved working with them.

    The food that the titos and titas of AKC served was soooo good! It was probably better than what we ate at fancy restaurants. The Pandesal was amazing, especially when dipped in coffee! I wish we can take some home! The Palabok was really good too, and especially the lollipop chicken. It was gone after 5 minutes!

    When we were signing tshirts, handkerchiefs and skins, I thought, I’m really glad I went on this trip. I’m thankful for all the people I met in the past 12 days. I’m thankful for this opportunity and experience that was given to us, and I really hope we get to do this again; give gifts, play with kids, and visit these communities again. I also hope that we all still keep in touch, whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter, or in person… In any way possible. I’ll really miss being welcomed by the kids when the bus pulls over, and when they run after the bus when we leave.

    I already miss everyone! Stay safe and god bless 🙂 xoxo

  6. LAST DAY OF BEING WITH AKC! Oh man.. Time honestly FLEW by so quickly. I felt like there wasn’t enough time that we got to spend with this group. In other words; it was 5 days too little. Having dinner there was so exciting for me. It’s like AKC became my third home! Mainly because we would only be at AKC for lunch and merienda. So staying there passed dinner was a step up for me in regards to my relationships with AKC, how much time I spend with them and how much more they can handle us canadians before they get tired of us. 😛

    That night, it was honestly amazing. In toronto, I’m pretty sure if we hosted a community get together there wouldn’t be as many people. They wouldn’t stay because the community would have complained about so many things like; where’s the food; since they couldn’t see because they were at the back, they are going to leave; to many people are shoving, I am want to go home; I have better things to do. In toronto, people would have made excuses as to why they shouldn’t stay for a gathering. But in the Philippines the sense of community and togetherness is so strong. It’s completely different in comparison to Canada. I not only saw it in AKC but also in the Avanai community! Although there were people pushing each other to the point where people were getting stepped on or being pushed to the ground, they still stayed and they could have done anything else in there homes but they decided to go to the event in a corner of the community where there was NO SPACE AT ALL and have the time of their lives! I loved the vibe that each and every person sent out. It was amazing and I feel so blessed to have met everyone!!!!!

    The SORIANO family, I feel like I connected with them the most. They were such an AMAZING and KIND family! They are and will always be in my heart. At first, I wasn’t sure whether I would even connect with a certain person or family. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to because I was afraid that I would get too attached and I wouldn’t be able to handle leaving but then I met Ryzza, and she became my best friend. She stuck by me the whole time! It hurt a lot when I left the Avanai community because I was leaving behind my best friend. But I knew that I should not feel sad.. I told myself to not feel sad. And then when we went to the AKC community, Tita Marjorie refused to let me work until she braided my hair because she was worried about me and she didn’t want me to kill myself in the heat. After she braided my hair she spoke to me with other older ladies and then I replied back to her in tagalog and by then, she knew I could only speak a little bit of tagalog so she looked a little shocked at first and then she looked pleased and said, “oh! She spoke to me in tagalog! I have now officially bonded for the first time with you.” I felt so much joy to here that because I felt so much love and acceptance in such a short time. Towards the end, I felt really sad because I knew that we would not be seeing them again… Or at least for a while.

    To all of you who are soooo sad that you can’t even post on the last few days! Don’t feel sad! I learned that a few nights before we left for Canada. Instead of feeling sad, do EXACTLY what Mike says and do whatever you have to do after the trip because it doesn’t end when you reach Canada! Instead of feeling sadness because you are leaving, feel excitement and hope because you get to go back to Canada and tell other people about your experience! You get to raise awareness for the Philippines and get more people to make a difference as well. 17 people can’t help 40 million people in poverty but if you raise awareness and tell other people that you can help and go on a service trip similar to this, you get to make a difference in the lives of the people that you met at AKC, Avanai, El dorado or San Mateo and you can help a whole lot more. So don’t be sad be excited to get more people to give a brighter hope to the Philippines!!! ❤

    I miss everyone so much! But I know I will see everyone again in the future! I love each and everyone of you at AKC, Avanai, San Mateo, El Dorado and even the guy in the car that almost hit us when we were crossing the road. God bless! xoxo

    Erica Brooke Cinco. ❤

  7. We all knew it was coming… Our final day at the build site. Mike warned us that we would grow a close bond with the community, and he was right. It was too hard to say goodbye to everyone. Goodbyes surely aren’t my favourite thing.

    The titas and lolas who prepared our food for the five days touched my heart at the pinoy fiesta. They were all sweet, and I hated to see them cry when they were called up. I definitely will miss all the kids. From day 1 to day 5, they made us feel like loved celebrities. During our first day building, I met this little man named Ivan. During our break, Mike brought Britishawna and I to these kids playing basketball with a toy net in one of the streets of the community. They seemed happy that we were joining. When we first started play, Ivan was so friendly by already calling me ate and always telling our other teammate to pass me the ball. Ever since then, he was always asking to be on my team when we would play a real game of basketball after our work. I also grew a close connection to my twin, Trina. Although we didn’t look so much alike, we would always call each other twins because our names were off by just a few letters. Ever since we met, we were like glue when we were playing games with the kids. Trina would always hang onto my arm and join our circle when playing. She was always so cute and sweet to me, I had to give her my name card during the pinoy fiesta. I waited the entire day while she was at school just to give it to her. I hope these kids won’t forget me because I know I will never forget them.

    How can I ever forget my ball and build buddies? It was during my first task of mixing cement when I met JR. He first asked me if I knew how to speak Tagalog, and from then we were cool since. Mike was talking to the workers about playing basketball after work, and brought up that I play. Because girls in the Philippines do not take interest in the sport, they were surprised and interested to see me play. When they finally did, they were all so kinds about it. Everyone said Melissa and I play well despite our gender. For the following build days, I got to know the other workers more and joke around with them. Every build day we would work then play. The workers were a big part of making this experience memorable.

    When the pinoy fiesta came around, I knew tears will be shed. The speeches are what stood out the most for me. The community’s thank yous were heartfelt and their performances were beautiful. The pinoy fiesta was just icing on the cake to our service trip. Our friendships, laughs and memories over-compensated for our work. As much as we were helping them by building houses, they helped me so much more. This experience made me grow as a person and a leader. I can honestly say I will take what I have learned in the Philippines and apply it to my own life. Because of this, I would like to thank AKC for their great hospitality and love. They have made a significant mark in my life and they will never be forgtotten. Mahal ko kayo ng lahat. God bless.

  8. When I first arrived in the Philippines I knew I was about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. I expected to see some of the communities in poor condition, going to help clean up those communities and play with the children. However, what I did not expect was to build such strong relationships with all the people I met whether it was the titos and titas, the kids, and even the bus driver.

    On my first day of building I was nervous as to see how the kids would accept me but without a doubt I received a very warm welcome. The kids loved us! Every time we got off the bus they were there waiting for us and every time we were leaving they were there to say bye. I will miss building with the workers and miss singing with my buddy. Even though we did not finish building, I know that the houses are in good hands because these men are hard workers. I’m going to miss playing basketball at the end of each day. What I won’t miss though is Team Canada losing to Team Philippines.. LOL

    I connected with each and every kid but had a special bond for three in particular: Ivann, Ams, and Christina. On the first build day I played basketball with Ivan and a couple of his friends, ever since that time, everyday when I come to the build site he would run to me and say hi ate British. For almost every game that we play Ams was my partner! She was so cute and bubbly, it was so hard saying goodbye to her. Christina was so outspoken and friendly. She made me a card and gave me a bracelet which I will treasure forever. What made me the most happy was to see how they appreciate the little things in life. At the end of the night I gave Christina my name tag and my sunglasses and she started to scream like how I would if Trey Songz touched me… I think you get the point! I don’t like to pick favourites but Christina and Ams are my fav!

    I loved their performances at the end of the night. It was unique and well prepared. When I went up to say my speech to the AKC community, I felt a little teary eyed because usually at the end of each day we would say see you tomorrow but I realized that there will be no tomorrow. I also felt joy to see that even though the community does not have a lot in terms of material what they have is a big heart! It was cool to see that everyone could come together and participate in such a farewell.

    I can’t believe its over, I swear it just began! Lastly, LEADERS thank you for making this such a wonderful experience. This trip would not be the same and I’m proud of all of you! Keep up the good work, we have lots in store for us. Never goodbye, see you soon.

  9. It’s been 12 days already?! How is that even possible? My experience in AKC is difficult to put into words because there are too many words to describe it. I went into the community thinking we would be teaching the kids but it turns out they’ve taught me. The things in life that I thought mattered, don’t matter at all. It’s all about the people you surround yourself with and the positive journey of life. The huge smiles on their faces and the energy they always had transferred over to us. We never complained we were tired because we wanted to play with the kids. I will always remember the kids running towards our bus and banging on the windows just so they could say hi to us……BEYONCE MOMENT! The kids were truly incredible and it still makes my heart melt when they call us “ate” and “kuya”. I didn’t expect to form such close bonds with people but in the end I think we all shed a few tears. I’m definitely going to miss my gang of boys who were always calling me a loser and a cheater even though I clearly won the game. If I were to name all the kids I would miss this post would be too long. I love them so much and I pray we will one day reunite with them.

    The dances the kids put on were adorable and their dance to “1000 Years” had some of us tearing up. It was so nice of them to have a community get together just for us. It was amazing to see so many people out of their homes to say goodbye to us. From the first day we arrived, we felt the love and hospitality. Being surrounded by everyone made me feel so good inside and I didn’t want to ever leave. Everyone was in such great spirits and I think we got a standing ovations when we sang.

    Thank you to everyone in the community who helped us along the way. The construction workers were such a big help and even though they made some jokes about us we will miss them. The titas and titos who cooked our food and washed our clothes deserve a round of applause. Everyday the food was delicious.

    LEADERS! I can’t believe how close we’ve all gotten. It seems like yesterday we were all awkwardly standing in a circle playing the straw game. I wouldn’t wish to go on this trip with a different group of people. All of our inside jokes will always be remembered and I’m beyond proud of what we did. It takes a special group of people to do this. I’m sad this is the end but I know we will have future adventures together (perhaps Ottawa or the Aquarium where Joe can reunite with the jellyfish). I’ve grown to love you guys like a family and I know we will all keep in touch. MAHAL KITA AND MABUHAY!

  10. I can’t believe this is our last few hours with the amazing AKC community! Those 5 days surely didn’t feel like 5 days, it felt more like a few hours! It was great to be able to spend a full day at AKC as we usually only spend the day time, we never got to stay during night time. The amount of relationships I’ve formed in such a short amount of time is crazy and saying goodbye definitely wasn’t easy. I held back on writing this last comment because it made me feel like we were leaving again and kind of made me sad but it was great being able to think about our experience of this night.

    Since day 1, the whole AKC community welcomed us with open arms and made us feel right at home and for this, I could not be more grateful. I am so thankful for what they did for us while we were there. They welcomed us into their homes and even prepared meals for us! They food was amazing! I’m pretty sure I would be able to survive on the chicken lollipops we had the last day.

    Upon arrival at AKC and seeing the kind of work we would be doing made me really happy. I was hoping to be putting up houses rather than finishing them off. This way, we were truly able to see the progress made each day. It was in working where many great relationships were formed. My very first memory of building at AKC was observing and learning how to mix the cement from J.R. After watching for a couple minutes, I grabbed a shovel and got right into it. During that time of working, J.R. and I started to talk, mainly small talk, but every relationship starts somewhere. He asked me if I played basketball and I told him that I like to play but I am not very good. He continued by saying it’s okay and that we would play basketball together after work. From then on, we grew closer and closer everyday and I can say that out of all the adults in the AKC community, it was J.R. that I have the strongest relationship with. I’m really happy I gave him my hardhat.

    Seeing these pictures of all the kids smiling during this night was really uplifting. We all grew close with the kids and I’m glad we were able to give them gifts and play with them as one of our last things we did before leaving the Philippines. The excitement when we put out the presents could be seen on there faces from a few houses away! The kids really made this whole experience special. The kids at AKC bonded with us within the first few minutes we got there. Some of the kids I really had a strong relationship with were Ivann, George and Ryzza. Ivann would always want to play during our break time and was always smiling and looked like he was always having a great time. He would come up to me inviting me to play with him and the rest of the kids. He is also the boy to whom I gave my name tag. I think George bonded with everyone!! He was so friendly and really fun to be around. He would always try to make us laugh and he brought good spirit to our work days! Ryzza may be the girl with the most energy ever, it was great! She loves talking to people and playing games. She always wants a piggy back and would jump on my back randomly throughout the day. During the last night, I found out she was J.R.’s daughter and that’s when I knew it was true, awesomeness most run in the family! I will cherish the memories of the children at AKC forever.

    I could not ask for a better way to spend our last night in the Philippines. The fiesta the AKC community prepared for us was amazing. All the performances were outstanding and it was great to see a lot of people getting involved. It was fun to perform for them as well. I think the song we sung, Count on me by Bruno Mars, was probably the best suited song for our whole experience there. Everyone was able to count on each other whenever they needed a helping hand. Leaving was really hard, both physically and emotionally. Crowds of people made it really hard to get to the bus and made us feel even more like celebrities and brought smiles to all of our faces. Saying goodbye one last time was really hard for me emotionally because I didn’t want to leave there knowing we wouldn’t be back tomorrow. But by the end of the night, we all said our goodbyes to the AKC community one last time and were on our way.

    Thank you so much to the AKC community for everything, I love you all and you will have a special place in my heart forever!

  11. Two weeks ago, 13 student leaders from the TCDSB embark on a service trip to the Philippines. Upon arriving to the Philippines, we as a PH family were ready to begin this life changing experience together. Everything we did together on our first 7 days; El Dorado, St. Martin De Porres Orphanage, Avanai and San Mateo led up to 5 days ago, our first day here at AKC.

    5 days ago, we all got off the bus and we were all warmly welcomed with open arms by this wonderful community. Everyday was a routine, we’d help build these houses with such caring kuyas and titos, I honestly felt a sense of brotherhood between myself and the builders. Then we’d spend time with these amazing kids, dancing and playing games. They would always put a smile on my face. Then we’d have amazing food prepared by the titas from the community, and who could forget that delicious pandesal. Just before leaving every night, we’d play basketball. Basketball really brought the community together every night, I mean the whole community comes and watches. Before leaving everyday, the kids would ask “what games are we playing tomorrow?” or “Can I get a piggy back tomorrow?” and I would always say, “I’ll see you tomorrow!” Sadly, there’s no tomorrow and it was tough telling the kids that. I remember Mike telling us all that we were going to build relationships with the people in the community but I didn’t think i’d get that close and so attached with the titos, titas and especially the kids.

    During the fiesta, we all got into our groups one last time, played games with the kids and finally gave them gifts which they all deserved. After the gift giving, each of us leaders and the teachers went up one by one for a speech. We then moved on to the entertainment portion of the fiesta. The community had some very amazing, young dancers filled with talent. They also had some wonderful singers that blew us away. Now it was our turn, we sung and danced are hearts outs one last time. After the entertainment, we gave the community the rest of our luggages filled with supplies and toys. Before we knew it, it was time to say our good byes and this was the hardest part. Kids everywhere wanting a hug, picture, wanting to sign my shirt, wanting a signature on their clothing or even on their bodies, I felt like a celebrity. I remember saying my goodbyes to the boys I was most attached with, these boys were shedding tears and wouldn’t let go of me. I miss these guys already! When we all finally got into the van, the kids all chased after us until we were out of reach.

    During this life changing experience I learned that being happy is not owning the fastest cars or owning million dollar mansions because in the end, can fast cars give you love? Can it give you true friends? Can it give you family? This trip taught me to stop counting the things I don’t have but start counting the blessings I do have, the things that matter the most; friends, family and God.

    To the PH fam, we’ve all grown so close to each other and what a change from the first meeting to now, we’re like one big family. Mike told us that it doesn’t stop here so I’ll still be seeing you all around! I will never forget the many hearts that have touched me, you guys have opened my eyes and have made me a better person. You guys will always be in my heart. Keep in touch, I miss you all! Farewell for now…

  12. It’s been a month since the student leaders and teachers left the Philippines and it’s only today that I was able to complete the viewing of all the daily postings and comments.

    To the student leaders: you’ve been so blessed to be given the opportunity to travel half across the globe to see the face of our Lord Jesus Christ among the poor. Let your experience of this trip and the images you saw be an inspiration to excel in your studies and chosen careers so that one day when you are done with school, you can share your blessings with the poor and less fortunate in our society. You guys are a great bunch to be with. I will miss you all.

    To the Volunteer teachers (Lindsay and Danielle): thank you for being there for Mike and helping him on this trip. You have selflessly shared your time and talent and the poor people in the PH ‘am sure are very greatful for your love for them and the joy you have brought to this trip. Our good Lord will surely reward you for your generosity a hundred-fold. I will miss you both.

    To Mike: I like what I am seeing in you; keep up the legacy you have started; keep up the good work…….all for the His glory.

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