Giving and Bending Yapak Travelers 5th Community Outreach

In the Philippines February is known as the month of love – the time for valentine's day and remembering and emphasizing the importance of love in our lives.

Team Yapak - Yapak Travelers have also chosen the month of February to exhibit their love to the Dumagat Remontado community of Sitio Magata, Laiban, in Tanay, Rizal as they celebrate their 2nd anniversary through their 5th outreach program.

The theme of the outreach program is "Giving and Bending" - Reaching out with a calm and healthy soul of kindness". Which aims not just to share love though typical gift giving and feeding program to the local community but also to introduce a physical, mental and spiritual discipline or practice to the members known as Yoga.

On February 16, 2019 at 11:00 PM Team Yapak started to gather in a fastfood chain in a Cubao. You will definitely won’t get lost as they were all wearing their legacy shirt with a clearly “Team Yapak” printed in their backs. By 12:15 am we started walking going to Aurora boulevard carrying bags loaded of gift, toys and supplies for Dumagats. You can see in the faces of everyone that though some of them were tired from work or from the preparation, they are full of energy and excitement while throwing jokes at each other.

We went on commute using “Patok” jeepney from Aurora boulevard going to Cogeo, Rizal where our service is going to pick us up. “Patok” jeepneys are jeepneys playing loud music while plying their routes. Typically the travel time from Cubao to Cogeo takes roughly 45 mins but since it was early in the morning and there’s no traffic it only took us roughly 30 mins of travel time going to out pick up point.

Since we early some of us had coffee and snack at Mcdonald while waiting for the rest and to the Monster jeeps that will bring us to jump-off point. Monster jeeps, unlike the ordinary jeeps that we ride on well-paved roads, are supposed to withstand the uninviting route to Barangay Laiban which includes a series of rough roads that we will pass along the way. Another thing that you can try on a monster jeep is Top loading. It is one of the ways in riding a jeep. Instead of getting inside of the vehicle, you will go up to the roof the jeepney with no comfortable chair.

It was a long 5 hour challenging ride I must say going to Barangay Laiban because of the rough roads and the cold breeze of the wind. It was still dark when we get to the jump off and the whole place was covered with fog. Team Yapak doesn’t seems to dire the cold weather and fatigue as their energy and liveliness overflows.

When the sun started to rise around 6:00 am, some of the locals fetch us to help us in bringing the goods and gifts to the school where we will conduct the program. There’s a small unfinished bridge but we are unable to use it that time, so some of us have to take a boat to bring the supplies while some have to cross the knee deep river just to get to the other side. As the sun lightens up the whole place, it slowly revealed the beauty of -the nature hiding from the thick fog of the dawn. The long journey was all worth it as we were welcomed by the cool clear water from the river and the green forest.
It was roughly 15 mins treck from the jump-off going to the school. We rested for a few minutes and the team started to change for their Yoga outfits.Then we went down again to the river side where the Yoga class was held. The white noise from the humming of birds and flowing water from the river is just so soothing to our ears. The whole place will definitely help you relax, unwind and recharged your soul.

We were welcomed by Ms. Lea Arnosa, our Yoga teacher, who led the yoga class. Everyone was asked to remove their sandals and slippers as we will be doing the yoga bare footed over the fine sand near the river. The roughly an hour of Yoga class was a perfect way to start the day and conditioned the volunteers for a whole day of work as we serve the Dumagat Remontado tribe of Sitio Magata.

Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. It uses breathing techniques, exercise and meditation that helps to improve health and happiness. It is believed that the relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis and headaches. It can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia. Aside from physical benefits, it also helps a person manage stress.

After the relaxing Yoga class we went back to the school to start preparing for the program. The food committee started preparing for our breakfast while the rest were actively involved in setting up the venue and the props that we will be using for the games and for the whole program. It nice to see that everyone in enjoying what they were doing. The place started to get warm but you will never miss a single smile in the faces of the volunteers. It was an environment filled with joy and overflowing happiness.

Before the program proper have started we enjoyed the creamy macaroni chicken soup together with locals that the food committee have prepared. After everyone was able to rest, the program started at 9:45 am. Jojo, the leader of the group gave a quick introduction about who Team Yapak is, and introduced its officers to the locals. Ms. Lea was also given a chance to deliver her opening remarks as she is the key on how Team Yapak found about the Dumagat Remontado tribe of Sitio Magata.

The ancestral origin of Dumagat is traced from Negrito's which is one of the earliest inhabitants in the Philippines. Dumagat can be found in the hillsides and mountains of Quezon, Bulacan, Rizal and Laguna provinces. The term "Dumagat " was believed to be derived from the word "rumakat", "lumakat" or "lumakad" which signifies the migration of early Negritos in Philippines by walking in land and not by the sea. They used to be nomadic people, who stays in one place for awhile then move to another place once their resources depleted. Dumagat Remontados are shy people but they have a lot stories to tell when they get comfortable with you.

The Dumagat kids and parents enjoyed from different games such as “pabitin”, “basagan ng palayok”, “hanapan ng itlog”, longest line and tag of war. The young talented Dumagat kids also showcased their talents through a small dance contest. Under the heat of the sun the whole venue was filled of warm laughters and smiles as the locals and the volunteers enjoyed each activities together.

The lunch was served to the locals at noon while the gift giving activity continued. It was a heart-melting moment seeing the smiles on the children’s faces as they cheerfully and gratefully received the gifts. The 64 families and 56 children were the beneficiaries of the outreach program who received grocery items, toys, candies and different items from the generous sponsors and volunteers of Team Yapak. It was already past noon and the gift giving activity is not yet over. You can easily noticed in the volunteers faces that their energy have sapped a bit but the passion and smile continue to lingers in everyone's faces. It was a beautiful thing to witness—the kids receiving their gifts and their faces lighting up as they opened their presents. We are happy that in our own little way, we were able to bring joy to the Dumagat Remontados community.

Team Yapak wrap up the the activity with a boodle fight lunch. The unremitting laughters and throwing of jokes made our lunch more enjoyable. There was never a dull moment since everyone are so cooperative and concerted. After the great lunch we went for a short trek to visit a small falls near the area then went swimming and enjoyed the cool flowing water from the river. It was the time for photo ops, more bonding time and time to rest before going back to busy lives.

The feeding program and gift-giving activity are Team Yapak’s way of letting the indigent rural communities feel that there are people who cares and love them. Activities such as this are a great way to bring people together, to serve and share blessings, and to give hope. Through feeding programs and gifts, we know that, in our own little way, we are providing hope and new opportunities for our less-fortunate communities.

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