“One can help by sharing one’s talents and skills to inspire others.”
Celebrity chef Jhelo Salva, owner of Salva’s Kitchen, actor and product endorser, realized this after participating in the Christmas gift giving for Tondo children.
Center for Developmental Art Manila Inc. held the traditional event on Dec. 16-17 at the San Agustin church complex in Intramuros, Manila.
The Missionaries of Charity gathered 600 children ages 5 to 12 from underserved communities in Tondo, Manila for the celebration, merriment and gift-giving.
The annual gift giving, now on its 32nd year, was started by the Filipino Chinese Catholic Youth of Binondo Chinese Parish in 1985 and continued by CDAM, a nongovernment organization actively advocating children’s rights and promoting world peace through arts since 1993.
The fun-filled activities for energetic and loving kids were patiently and skillfully managed by various volunteer groups from Philippine Cultural College (Main Campus), Miss Chinatown Foundation, Chinoy TV, San Roque Cathedral Charismatum Concordia, Voice of Binondo Catholic community and Kaisa Para Sa Kaunlaran.
The main program started with prayers followed by song and dance numbers by volunteers and beneficiaries. Fun games and prizes excited and entertained the children, after which they performed a touching Nativity play that concluded the program hosted by CDAM volunteer Camille Uy, Mr. and Miss Chinatown Foundation’s Martin Sy, Jacob Ngo and Kency Ongkeco and chef Salva.
The much anticipated huge bags filled with food items, gifts and toys were orderly distributed at the end of the program. It was a special experience for first-time volunteer Mark Jeffrey Tan, an officer of San Roque Cathedral Charismatum Concordia.
“Time spent with the recipients and experiencing their joy made me realize the true spirit of the season. I felt strongly that emulating Christ’s love for others is all we need to do, not only during this season, but in our everyday lives,” Tan shares.
Another volunteer, Irene Doll Gan, from the parent group of CDAM, expressed her happiness seeing the kids’ faces as they got their loot bags filled with items such as slippers, T-shirts and canned goods.
“We were able to help the less fortunate in our own little way by sharing our blessings,” she said.
The items were given by generous Tsinoys who still shy away from the actual giving process, preferring to remain anonymous. But, the volunteers from the millennial generation learn their social responsibility first hand if even just to mix with the less privileged and experience their joy in receiving small gifts that mean a lot for the poor recipients but which the Tsinoy volunteers often take for granted.
It all boils down to sharing of ourselves to others and embrace the diversity of humanity; we also get to see both sides of the picture, from the giver to the receiver. The annual event gathers both Pinoys and Tsinoys as one sharing love and giving hope to the children without barriers.
As founder of CDAM, I ended this annual tradition that continues to bring great fulfillment to the donors, the volunteers and the beneficiaries with words I fully believe in:
“It doesn’t really matter what kind of (material) gift we bring but rather the essence of this Christmas tradition is loving each other regardless of gender, race, social class. God is love and so each one from His creation shares this love.”