I was born in the Philippines but I moved to the United States when I was 4 years old. Despite living in the US, I grew up in a typical Filipino household. My mother Helen was from Batangas and I would always see her buying all sorts of things and packing balikbayan box after balikbayan box and sending them to the Philippines. I remember as a child, I would wonder and oftentimes get annoyed at her for sending things to people I didn’t know or I felt didn’t even needed or deserved it. Help people, what does that mean? Maybe I didn’t get that skateboard, Walkman, Atari or some other toy I wanted but I knew someone else was. We were not exactly rich but we weren’t exactly poor either but to watch her, in my eyes, throw money away gave me a sick feeling about the people in the Philippines. She would send a variety of items to sell, items to give her relatives and money and gifts to an orphanage called Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
A friend introduced her to the orphanage during one of her many trips back home. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Children’s Home is an orphanage in Labac, Taal, Batangas. It’s a small orphanage that houses around 20-30 girls ages 3-12. The orphanage is run by the Sisters Oblates of the Holy Spirit who take care of the girls. It’s not your typical orphanage that allows you to adopt the children, it’s an orphanage that accepts children of low-income families and provides them with the love, care and education that the parents cannot provide for them at that time. Once they are ready, old enough or the families are ready to provide and care for them, they are sent back to be with them. This is the orphanage that became such a big part of my mom’s life.
She would buy food, clothes, school supplies and hold fundraisers for the children while she was here in the States and then she would visit them on her annual trips to the Philippines. She would bring gifts, food and make it a party for everyone. She made a day of it and made it a fun one at that. All she would get in return was a thank you and maybe a photo. She would tell us how they would dance for her and how they made her so happy. At that point, I already had a pretty good sense of self and thought I had decent understanding of life but I honestly did not understand her love for the orphanage. The only thing that was still going through my head was “Yeah, so what?”
Then, four years ago, my mother passed away of uterine cancer. She was 66 years old. My mother was a total character. She had so many friends and was so outgoing and happy. She was always the life of the party. She was kind, she was loving and she gave unconditionally.
When she passed, I knew what I had to do. I had to continue her legacy.
I went to the Philippines, visited the orphanage and finally witnessed and felt what it was all about. After seeing it with my own two eyes, I can see why she got involved.
It started off as a selfish need to keep her legacy alive but soon, it evolved into something more. I had a better understanding of myself and my self-worth. Caring for and visiting the children became an act of love that cannot be described. It is unconditional, the way love should be. You may not know each child individually but once you meet them, they become family. And I realized that knowing you are helping someone is the greatest pleasure in the world.
I am blessed to be part of this orphanage in Batangas. I know whatever I do is not enough but knowing I’m making at least one person happy is priceless. And now I understand why helping the orphanage meant so much to my mother.
How to help
You can find Our Lady of Perpetual Help Children’s Home in Labac, Taal, Batangas. Call (043)4211114.
You can make a lot of kids happy this Christmas (and after). Contact an orphanage near you and ask what the children there need. You may bring food, gifts, their basic needs. And remember that your time is as precious as the material gifts you can bring. Spend time with them, play games, throw a party, read to them, watch them sing and dance.