Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Joys of Voluntourism: M.A.F.I.A.’s Outreach Project at Mt. Timbak, Atok, Benguet

VOLUNTOURISM. Going to places not only to delight one’s senses, but to share happiness with others. I am proud that once in a while, I could travel and at the same time, volunteer and be of help to others. It's like hitting two birds with one stone. 

Last November 28-29, 2015, together with my friends from Mars and Friends In Action (M.A.F.I.A.), I was able to visit Mt. Timbak and volunteered as a storyteller for Mt. Timbak kids. M.A.F.I.A. has been doing this project for the fourth time this year. In the past, I just gave donations to the group, but this year, I decided to become an “active participant” of this year's initiative, titled Project Gitara.

Voluntourism
Mars and Friends In Action (MAFIA)


What made this trip memorable?

It had my share of first times.
·         From Baguio going to Atok, it took us around three to four hours. In between, we’re able to ride atop the jeepney that we hired, while enjoying the view of mountain ranges.

Voluntourism
Atop the jeepney going to Atok, Benguet. (C) Mars Mercado


·         We slept at Ate Josie’s house. The temperature was freezing that despite the jacket, socks, and bonnet that I was wearing, I had to cover myself with my bath towel!

Drinking coffee to keep myself warm.


I met wonderful people.
·         I was very fortunate to be with 16 fun-loving, selfless individuals who chose to devote time and share their blessing to the mountaintop community of Timbak.

These people collected from several sources the school supplies, books, guitars, raincoats, umbrellas, chocolates, and cookies, among others that we would donate to the kids.

Voluntourism
School supplies for kids


The MAFIA packing the gifts for the kids


·         I got to share stories with lovely kids who were very participative. I read the story “Ang Alamat ng Matsing” to them, with the support of other story tellers, Ms. Reg who acted as the “diwata” (fairy) and Mars who acted as the “matsing” (monkey).

Storytelling Voluntourism
Ms. Reg (in fairy costume), me (storyteller with green cape),
and Mars (wearing monkey hat/mask)
Voluntourism
Guitar sessions with Nay Azee at Tay Juan.
We donated the guitars to the community.

Voluntourism
Art session with the kids led by Poveda teachers

To see and hear them laughing and enjoying my performance made this experience really worth it.

I visited new places worth blogging about.
·         We visited the Mummy Cave. However, we did not take photos of the “cave” itself because it was prohibited, as a sign of respect to the cultural integrity of the place.

Voluntourism


·         I had my fourth summit and got to see the breathtaking view of the sea of clouds at Mt. Timbak. No doubt, people would mistake it for Mt. Pulag!

Voluntourism

·          Finally, I was able to dine at Café by the Ruins, the restaurant featured in several magazines, and even in the movie “That Thing Called Tadhana”. I ordered their version of Pumpkin Soup (Kalabasa) and Suman at Tsokolate.

Voluntourism
Viewed from the top (c) Mars Mercado

Voluntourism
Suman at Tsokolate

Voluntourism
"Pumpkin Soup" (Kalabasa)


The joys of voluntourism. We will definitely back in MT. Timbak. I hope that other people would also follow and share their blessings with our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

Thank you, Mt. Timbak kids! See you again!

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