Day 5 – Manila Tour & Avanai

On December 30, 2014 we went sightseeing in Manila to soak up some culture and learn about the country’s history.

We start the day off in prayer


First stop: Fort Santigao
First stop: Fort Santiago. Today is also Jose Rizal Day (National hero of the Philippines)
Tito Bernie (Mike’s dad) gives us a Philippine history lesson


Mary Ward represent!


Great contrast from the streets of Tondo
Great contrast from the streets of Tondo
C3 - Smiling Behind Cutouts
What a cute little kid with a beard 🙂
You know you’re in a tropical country when there are palm trees


C4 - Statues
Father forgive me for I have sinned
C6 - Sweeter Mans Pic
PH Boyband


Can you guess who’s at the very back?
C8 - Entering into the dungeon
Many prisoners of war were held in these dungeons
The fort was like a maze of underground staircases



Mmmmuuuuah! Jose Rizal, it’s your day!
We found a perfect place to practice our games for later this afternoon
The girls are posing in front of bamboo
What are you doing with all those flowers, Chloe?
Awwww, we see “Brave” turns into “Tangled.”


Libby is taller than this pigmy horse

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Before we leave for our next stop, we give thanks and prayer for our amazing experience and our safety.
C8 B - Praying in the Church
Praise and thanks, as we aspire to attain an attitude of gratitude.

Right after lunch at Chow King, we travel to the AVANAI community where the PH Team in 2012 did their building and community work.


We were greeted with such a warm welcome
C9 - Signs At Avanai
Philippine hospitality at its finest


There were so many smiling kids
We were treated like royalty


Community leaders give us a formal AVANAI Welcome
There are kids EVERYWHERE!
Why sit by yourself when you can sit with a beautiful smiling kid
Kaisha was drawn to this little angel
The kids look on as we play some fun games organized by the community
C11 - Fashion Show
Game 1: Dress up relay


C11 - Fashion Show 2
Our leaders look so pretty!
C15 - Dancing 2
Game 2: Paper Dance. Paper gets folded after each stoppage. Goal: Stay on the paper.
C14 - Dancing
As the paper gets smaller, the strategy turns into carrying your partner
C16 - Standing on paper Game
As paper gets smaller, strategy becomes carrying your partner


C18- Sitting on ballons
Game 3: Pop the balloon relay!
Before the next item on the agenda, a dance party breaks out. After we settle down, we all introduce ourselves (name, age, origin or our parents)


My name is Emily, I am 17 years old, and my parents are from the Philippines
My name is Leah, I am 17 years old, and my parents are from the Philippines
My name is Tina, I am 17 years old, and my parents are from Jamaica and India
My name is Chloe, I am 17 years old, and my parents are from Canada
My name is Kaisha, I am 16 years old, and my parents are from Africa and Canada
My name is Faith, I am 17 years old, and my parents are from the Philippines
My name is Jermin, I am 15 years old, and my parents are from Canada
My name is Julie, I am 41 years old, and my parents are from Italy
My name is Marc, I am 18 years old, and my parents are from the Philippines
My name is John, I am 17 years old, and my parents are from the Philippines
My name is Melissa, I am 17 years old, and my parents are from France
My name is Jillian, I am 17 years old, and my parents are from the Philippines
My name is Mitch, I am 17 years old, and my are parents from India
My name is Dana, I am 17 years old, and my parents are from the Philippines
My name is Libby, I am 17 years old, and my parents are from Columbia and Canada
My name is Dyan, I am 17 years old, and my parents are from the Philippines
My name is Axile, I am 18 years old, and my parents are from the Philippines
My name is Geerthan, I am 17 years old, and my parents are from Sri Lanka
My name is Nicole, I am 17 years old, and my parents are from India
My name is Mimi, I am 17 years old, and my parents are from Vietnam
My name is Adrian, I am 17 years old, and my mom is from the Philippines
C19 - Adrian and Mimi Singing
Adrian and Mimi sing “Anything” by Hedley
C20 - Dana and Mark Singing
Marc and Dana sing “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran
C21 - Mimi's Dance
Mimi then performs a dance to “Problems”
C22 - Girls Dancing
The girls from AVANAI blow us away with their dancing performance
C23 - Axile Dancing
Axile also performs a solo hip hop dance
C32-- avanai teen dance crew 2
The AVANAI youth show off their sick dance skills
The crowd goes crazy with every performance



C26-- teaching the kids the dance 2
Next we teach the kids our “Shake It Off” dance
C27-- teaching the kids the dance
The kids learned the choreography extremely fast
C28-- dancing for the kids
We perform the dance for everyone
C29-- dancing driving the car move
After performing the dance, we all dance the song together
C33-- avanai teen dance crew
AVANAI Youth dancers come back for an encore performance
C30-- dancing with kids conga line
The dance party continues with “Follow Da Leader”
C31-- dancing with kids shake it off
Guess what dance we’re doing here? Write your answer by leaving a comment at the end of this post.
Michael re-connects with Tito Morry whom he met 2 years ago
We take our gifts and move to the basketball court for more space to play some games
We move into teams of 15
There are way more kids here than in the orphanage
And this time, many of us had a group to ourselves and had to find a way to communicate without knowing how to speak Tagalog
Hi Ryzza!
All these kids are sooooo cute
The 3 musketeers stay together (of course)
Geerthan and Dyan also stay together (of course)
We take over the basketball court
C34-- stella ella ola in avanai
Can’t go wrong with Stella Ella Ola


This is what 15 games of simultaneous Duck, Duck, Goose looks like
C35-- playing games in avanai
Who’s going to win (the money is on the local kid)


Next it’s time to spread some Christmas joy
DSC03623 - C36
So many toys to choose from
Community leaders watch over our stuff and extra toys while we play
Our original circle of 15 students gets bigger and bigger once the gifts came out


C36-- Gift giving in avanai
It feels good to share some Christmas love
Erica (student leader from last year), Ryzza is my favourite too!

Look at all these beautiful kids with their new Christmas gifts.

DSC03624 DSC03625 DSC03626
DSC03629 DSC03631 DSC03635 DSC03636

C39-- families of avanai
Angel and her family give teacher Merle Gonsalvez a special thank you for her continued sponsorship

We are sad because it’s time to board the bus.  The kids follow us because they don’t want us to go either.

DSC03651 DSC03655 DSC03658


It was heartbreaking to leave such beautiful children. There were many tears on the bus. We can see why last year’s group and especially the team from 2012 became so attached to them.


C40-- singing waiter logo
Our next stop is dinner at Singing Waiters and Cooks
C41- pump it
As the restaurant name suggests, the cooks and waiters actually perform and sing!
C42- Party group 2
A dance party breaks out even though we’re supposed to be eating
C43 - Party group
We’re all dancing to Gangnam Style
C44 - congo line 2
A Soul Train breaks out around the whole restaurant
C45 - Pink hair
They were amazing performers and entertainers.
C47 - fail shake it off 2
Before we leave, we decide to perform our “Shake it off” dance for everyone in the restaurant.
C48 - Coconut
They perform one last dance for us, the “coconut” dance.


Mitch poses with her new facebook friend and wishes her happy birthday (which is tomorrow)
What an amazing day we will never forget.

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve!

Thanks for following our travels.

Please leave a comment for us below.

24 thoughts on “Day 5 – Manila Tour & Avanai

Add yours

  1. Time to brush up on my Philippine history skills! Fort Santiago has been one place I’ve always wanted to visit as it holds so much importance in Philippine history. That was extremely fun for me. Meeting the kids at AVANAI was so heartwarming! The kids reminded me of how much I miss being a kid. So carefree! The kids reminded me never to lose that magic that I had when I was a kid. That hope and conviction in kids that everything will turn out just fine. The important thing is we are having fun. That mentality is truly key. Life is meant to be fun too! Love the kids at AVANAI! So much good energy and vibes! 🙂

  2. Visiting one of the old build sites that was worked on during pervious trips over the years showed to me how much our help here is making a difference in these kids lives and their families. I am very excited to start the building portion of our trip in order to give a home to many needy families!! 🙂

  3. Looking forward to hearing about your New Year’s Eve. We are really enjoying the log and keeping track of all of you and learning about this country. Love the delightful faces of the children. Happy New Year to all of you.

  4. You sure do pack a lot into one day! The photo’s are fantastic ~ smiles all around. This trip is having an effect on me some 13 000 km away, I can only imagine how your hearts are all being changed up close and personal. Can’t wait to see you all finally do some ‘work’ !!!! Happy New Year to all of you. I hear many of you are/have been sick so we’re specifically praying for good health and quick healing for all of you. Blessings!!

  5. This day was truly amazing, it was so nice to see some more of Manila in the morning. Going to Avanai was beautiful but it was so hard for me to leave wish we had more time everywhere we go, the people are just so amazing.

  6. Looking back on the days, this day might be my favourite. We were able to see the full effect that ANCOP has on these communities and their children. The children are always so welcoming and friendly. Playing games with them and seeing their happiness makes me so happy. I feel like apart of their community. Everytime I visit sites, I wish I can stay longer because of these kids. Maybe it’s because we’re all kids just being kids. Love you guys!

  7. I AM LITERALLLY IN TEARS!!!!!! I HONESTLY MISS PHILIPPINES SOOO MUCH! I wish I could go there again and see all their beautiful faces! (SPECIALLY RYZZA’S) I HOPE YOU GUYS ARE HAVING A BLAST! Be sure to cherish every single second you get, and have fun! Miss you Ryzza! :'(( ❤

  8. AVANAI was such a great community! Their vibe was just amazing, they’re all so welcoming and joyful, its amazing. Sooooo many kids were there and it was so much fun, I had a really good time and I kind of wished we had more time playing with the kids. This day was just full of joy and happiness. It’s amazing how our projects are creating huge impacts on these families lives and i’m glad to be a part of such influential team. I love this community, so optimistic and happy.

  9. Going to different communities was probably the highlight of the trip for me especially meeting the kids and spending some time with them. It just amazes me how the kids can be so happy and optimistic that it also makes you able to smile through everything as well. Also, you could truly see the difference our efforts with ANCOP are making with building these houses in comparison to the other neighbourhoods. It defined to me how great a thing we are doing for the community and the Philippines.

  10. AVANAI was one of the best experiences for me. I finally was able to come out of my shell and make relationships with the kids. I can’t deal with kids very well but the excitement and the welcoming feeling this community gave off helped me get over my difficulties. For our dance “shake it off” i partnered up with a little girl about three or four years old. She didn’t quite know what was going on but she seemed to be having a great time dancing. Later that evening her older sister and one of her friends came over to me and gave me a blue and silver bracelet. It was a small token but it was one of the most meaningful gifts i have ever received. Im so happy i had the opportunity to meet them.

  11. Visiting Avanai was one of my favourite moments even though we only stayed for a while.Eveyone in this amazing community made me feel super welcomed and really made us feel like we already part of this community. I really connected with one girl named Debra who sticked with me from the very start to the very end. Almost felt like a little sister I never had! No matter where I’d go she would either hold my hand, sit on my lap, and smile at me. I enjoyed how it started off with fun games, then a huge dance party, then more games later! I REALLLY wished we could’ve stayed longer or visited another day in Avanai, because everyone was just amazing.

  12. Avanai was undoubtedly one of my favourite communities to visit! There’s something about their incredibly welcoming nature which makes you feel like you’re home. It was really great seeing one of the old build sites, too. Think it got us all excited for our own build days!

  13. AVANAI was one of the most welcoming communities, for sure one of my favorites!!! Wish I could have stayed longer. I connected more to these kids, they are not afraid to come up to you. Seeing this build site made me feel more positive thoughts about our build days.

  14. The little girl I carried on my back is named Yasmine! What I found beautiful was that, while sitting in the gigantic circle with everyone, I had looked across from me and smiled at her. Then, when a spot had become free beside me, she came right away to sit beside me and never left my side! Her mom gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek, and I just felt so much love. Even as we walked away from the village, Yasmine held my hand. I only knew how to say “I love you,” in Tagalog (Mahal kita), and she said it back to me.

    I loved dancing with all of the kids. I found that the smaller, shyer kids gravitated towards me, so it was fun watching them get loose on the dance floor! Haha. They sure can dance.

    This place was filled with so much genuine love and community, and I felt so blessed to be here.

  15. Avanai was definitely one of my favourite villages as well 🙂 they welcomed us all so warmly with performances, filipino party games and food 😀 it really felt like I was at one of those traditional filipino parties which was really fun! Not to mention the kids waving at you and following you around at every turn. I got really close to Noynoy (the little boy in the picture whom I brought up with me to the mic when I introduced myself to the village), who was an amazing newspaper game partner because he was so easy to carry aha 🙂 I was most sad to leave this village because of how close I had gotten to the kids and the community itself was just so friendly and welcoming. Such a fun day, overall!

  16. Avanai was a happy community, everyone is so loving and nice. The children there were amazing. The children who danced for us, had such great talent. Playing games with the children was fun. Giving them their christmas present gave a warmth in my heart seeing how happy the children were. I wish we could have gave more, but to them that one gift is let a big gift that we would take for granted but they would tressure. Felt warmth in this community and a lot of love.

  17. The community that we went to today was so warm and welcoming. Dancing and playing games with the kids was so enjoyable. Especially because we got to bond with some kids because we were put into groups for the activities. i saw how last years group impacted this community, ans i wanted to do the same for the community that we were going to be working at for the four days of building.

  18. This day we went to a really beautiful Park after Church and saw a cute horse and cat.! There was also a really lovely fountain. We also went to AVANAI! My favorite place! With such a loving welcome from everyone! I felt so honored to be able to be their. The kids were so sweet and I found my mini me, this little black girl who was just the cutest thing! I cant even begin to explain how amazing this day was. It taught me so much about my self and the kids living in 3rd world countries and how important it is for people to really go out and get their hands dirty and actually obtain some first hand real life experience in these countries with these kids. Honestly kids in Canada tend to be such brats because there parent give them everything they want but these kids don’t have everything the kids in Canada and have the best and purest hearts so I really think it goes to show that the less you have the more grateful you are. That being said I wish I could give these kids everything in the world because they are so sweet and loving! D:

  19. AVANAI !
    I had such an emotional time there. When we got to AVANAI, everyone was happy, and we all danced and played games with the children. I played the Newspaper game with this 10 year old girl named Angel. She touched my heart. At first she was super shy with me, but afterwards, she got more comfortable, and she always sat on my lap, and asked if she could take my phone to record all the dance performances. From there, I learned, she was very loud and energetic haha. When all the children got to pick a toy in our group’s pile in the middle, Angel chose this Bunny. I asked her, “What’s her name?” and she said “Faith”. It was so hard saying good bye to her, as I spent most of my time in AVANAI being with her. Right before I left, I told her I would come back, and that we’re both going to see each other soon. I miss her so much, and I hope she’s doing okay.

  20. This was such a good day!
    I had so much fun during the manilla tour and at Avanai! I met the shyest sweetest siblings, they stuck with me the whole day and I can’t believe I lost their contact information. I want to go back and see them again!
    The singing restaurant was a lot of fun! Despite the fact that I lost my voice at Avanai and burnt myself on some strange cow shaped serving dish… 😀 moooooooo

  21. I had the best meal ever this day. Not only was there quality food and service, the workers would all sing and dance. I also got a Filipino girlfriend that day lol

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