January 2016 Together We Can Change The World Volun-Tour
Our very first trip to the Philippines proved an enormous success. Our 12-day volun-tour consisted of five days of training, seven project visits, one wedding, and a few days of rest and relaxation making this historic trip a truly remarkable event.
The Journey Begins:
Manila, our first stop, comprised of spending the first two days (January 26-27) conducting a Learning Buffet for the Discovery Leisure Group. From motivation, inspiration, creativity, to marketing, relationship building and leadership, our team of experts (Scott Friedman, Titus Yong, Susan Friedmann, Rebecca Morgan, Debra Fine, and Paul Larsen) shared practical tools, strategies, tips and techniques to help the Discovery hotel management aspire to new heights of service delivery.
The Discovery Leisure Group hosted us in three of their fabulous hotels. We had the a fantastic customer experience. We are so grateful. It was great working with a group of people who were so eager to learn!
Mano Amiga, Children’s Hour and Operation Compassion
Mano Amiga, under the auspices of Children’s Hour, was the first project we visited. Children’s Hour supports projects for education, health and nutrition, and child welfare and development for disadvantaged Filipino children. Mano Amiga provides high-quality education to underprivileged Filipino families through a sustainable low-cost private school model based on global and local standards of excellence. They employ a personalized learning approach tailored to the specific needs of their students, families and surrounding communities.
Titus Yong conducted a creativity session with a classroom of 9-year olds asking them to draw a vision of what they see themselves becoming. From pilots, to architects, from fishermen to dress designers, the children had fun designing and then sharing their visions with the class.
Their “Teacher Ann” was inspiring to us. The class was so appreciative and connected with us easily because of her. What a role model she is! Her next goal is to be a life coach. She grew up in Manila.
We met with Susan Cucio, EXEC Director of Operation Compassion to give her a donation and support. Operation Compassion is an international and domestic humanitarian organization. OC’s strategic relief work delivers critical aid assisting 25 million people every year. Each pound of product delivered represents: a meal, for the hungry; a surgical pack, giving medical aid; a textbook, educating the future; a pair of shoes, for bare feet; clothes, for those in need. Since their beginning, they have helped start hundreds of nonprofit charities and trained tens of thousands of volunteers for humanitarian work and involved them in serving the poor.
Global Leadership Boot Camp
Our major training event on January 28 was the Global Leadership Boot Camp—a one-day workshop organized by the award-winning HRD company, ITD World Manila, in partnership with Together We Can Change the World. The sell out event held at the Discovery Primea, attracted more than 130 executives and press from the country’s leading corporate organizations. Read more about the successful event in the Asian Journal front-page article.
Developing business, leadership and company culture is the same need all over the world. It was great for our team of speakers to share our thoughts and connect with the wonderful business people in Manila. It was a great global learning experience for all.
After an hour flight from Manila we arrived in Cebu City on the island of Cebu. This is one of the most developed provinces in the Philippines, which in the last decade has transformed into a global hub for furniture-making, tourism, business processing services, and heavy industry.
Pandoo Foundation was our first project visited in Cebu. It engages and empowers underprivileged kids by implementing kid-centered, interactive and creative educational programs that foster positive values and life-long skills. They have a community center where the kids gather after school.
Run by a young, high-powered, technologically minded North American and Australian team, this project has multiple opportunities for our future involvement.
After all the children put on a wonderful dance and singing program for us, we spent time interacting with the kids, watching a video of a project they executed during the past holiday season. All the children in the program made cards and gifts for poor families, and then distributed them. They learned the importance and beauty of giving to others even though they themselves came from poor families.
Afterward, we dined with the Pandoo team in a family style banquet at a small local restaurant. It was a great way for us to better understand their visions for the future.
Their program was amazing for us on many levels. They are creating technology so the kids of Pandoo Nation can communicate with kids around the world in times of crisis via an app. The staff are stech savvy. They also are helping the children and adolescents learn about how to start socially responsible businesses.
Batang Pinangga (Beloved Child) Foundation
Batang Pinangga, a two-hour drive from Cebu City in Danao City,cares for abused, abandoned and neglected children. The children live at this facility.
We provided a chicken and burger lunch for the kids and staff. We spent several hours learning about the facility, and enjoying the children, many of whom we wanted to adopt on the spot. They put on a wonderful singing and dancing show for us. One of the heart breaking thoughts was –- where do they go from here when they turn 18? So many issues to solve.
An unusual trip highlight was being invited to Aljean’s Mata and Brandon Powell’s wedding. Aljean had been part of a previous tour, and over the years kept in touch with Scott. Because of her respect and relationship with Scott, she not only invited all of us to the wedding, she bestowed the honor of being wedding sponsors (we’re still unsure of what that actually means). We discovered this distinction on arrival at the church, where we found our names in the program were part of the wedding party where we preceded the bride walking down the aisle, and then sitting in reserved seats at the front of the church.
Unfortunately, many of our team contracted a stomach bug, and one by one started dropping out of the celebrations, so only a small core group was able to enjoy the party.
SOS Children’s Village
Our next project in Cebu City, SOS Children’s Village, is a family-based care program. They provide a home for children who have lost their parents or who cannot be raised in their own family.
Over fifty kids from 19-months to 17-years old welcomed us with multiple dance routines, then they invited us to join in. We offered our customary TWCCTW activities which includes the hokey pokey, and the chicken dance. The kids loved it, and especially when we showered them with stickers, squeaky toys and giant bubble wands.
We visited a few of the small homes on the property, which house up to twelve children and two housemothers. The purpose is to give the children as much of a caring family environment as possible.
A 90-minute flight from Cebu, a shuttle, a boat, another shuttle and we finally arrived at our magnificent five-star luxury accommodation at the Discovery Shores.
Set on a pristine white sandy beach, this was our home for three days of rest and relaxation.
Scott Friedman, Rebecca Morgan and Paul Larsen conducted a three 1-hour trainings for the hotel staff, which allowed us the privilege of this luxurious venue.
On our last night we enjoyed a special cultural treat with the hotel management — a “Boodle Fight.” Staff escorted us to a long table decorated with lanterns set on the beach. The food arrived on long wooden platters, rice, meats and fish on top of banana leaves. This is traditionally a military style of eating using your bare hands. Before the “eating combat” there was a ceremony of washing hands with water and lemon, and then the boodle fight began. We laughed, sang, and thoroughly enjoyed our unexpected and different experience! It was an honor to spend the evening with the GM and top hotel managers.
On our day off, a four of our team’s women enrolled in “Mermaid Academy.” Photos on the beach and then focused mermaid swimming lessons gave us all a potential new identity as mermaids!
Back to Manila where Jana Stanfield was the keynote speaker at a Catholic Feast. Over 300 people attended this revival-like event, which featured a rock band, hi-tech lighting, and projection. Jana was our rock star. Since the Philippines is the global center of selfies, we requested a small donation from anyone wanting a photo with Jana. It was a nice way to raise a few hundred dollars.
Paul Larsen conducted a half-day workshop for the mangers of the F1 Hotel, who sponsored our rooms there.
The last days of our tour included a sight-seeing bike tour (on bamboo bikes) of the Intramuros, or the Walled City, the oldest district and historic core of Manila, and a visit to a Good Shepherd Sister’s project.
Good Shepherd Sisters Project
The Good Shepherd Sisters have projects all over Asia. They take in children who have been sexually exploited and abused. The children at this GSS home shared their singing and dancing talents with us—and we shared our talents of leading “The Chicken Dance” and the “Hokey Pokey.” Our fearless and funny leader Scott never fails to amaze and entertain.
The sisters also sponsor an adjacent elementary school that was hosting a fair. Many of us got to purchase locally made goods to support the women on Manila.
As an added offering, our tour participant and Debra Fine’s husband, Steven Tillis, DDS, administered fluoride to about 50 girls’ teeth, helping them have better oral health.