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subTop missionTrips

To make it real

updated 15 Mar 2012

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7 MAR 2012

A second recce trip to The Philippines.

 

Imagine on 9th December 2012, 60 Singaporean missionary workers under the umbrella of Singapore ACTS, headed by the Family Life Ministry of The Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succor (OLPS) parish, celebrate the blessing of a multi-purpose hall and commission it with a plaque written with these words “A contribution from friends from Singapore”.

The events will highlight a mass wedding of 20 Aetas couples that were baptized last year. The couples will parade into the hall, set up as a Church to receive their Sacrament of Matrimony. A celebration will follow into the late evening. 

When it is dark, the lights decorated around the building, painted in blue and red (the cultural colors of the Aetas people) will light up with a bright blue Cross standing on the peak of the roof. As we wave good-bye to the happy people, we can still see the cross silhouette in blue from the foot of the hill.

LK Aetas kids  

A tree gives shade to the children who gather at the school assembly and playground.

SrsACTs  

The ACTS organizing team with Sr Sarah, Sr Mabel and Sr Beth.

The group of core members from the Family Life Ministry had made a second recce trip to The Philippines; spent two fruitful days of fact finding for lodging and logistics and a detailed discussion with the Don Bosco Sisters and their engineers to make the vision come true.

This project was initiated by the ACTS team that had visited the Aetas community in December 2011, after hearing about the Aetas community’s desire to have their own oratory in the form of a multi-purpose hall. We had experienced their need firsthand last December, having sat through a mass baptism in a tiny old chapel, overflowing with people.

BuiltSite  

Standing on the site where the multi-purpose hall will be built. A hand points at the roof of the school just in front of us.

The multi-purpose hall that the Aetas wish for, would be larger and comfortably accommodate many more. It  would be available for their Sunday oratory and other gatherings.

The Sunday oratories (activities for mothers and children) are currently held on borrowed ground – the school’s assembly area and playground. It is open and unshaded, uncemented and dusty. Therefore, unsuitable for them to hold their activities with the children and their Mothers club.

walkingUp  

Walking up the hill to the site where the multi-purpose hall will be built.

The site where the multi-purpose hall will be erected is on a hill top about 50 meters above the road level. The site is a piece 14 meters by 14 meters empty land offered by an Aeta lady. It is situated high above their elementary school and kindergarten.

Aetas children closeup  

Children received gifts of dolls, toothbrushes and chupa chups.

The Aetas are an indigenous people who live in scattered, isolated mountainous parts of the Philippines.

They are considered to be the earliest inhabitants of the Philippines. They are nomadic and build only temporary shelters made of sticks driven to the ground and covered with the palm of banana leaves. The well-situated and more modernized Aetas have since moved to villages and areas of cleared mountains. They live in houses made of bamboo and cogon grass. Because of the Mount Pinatubo eruption, some of them moved to resettlement areas in Pampanga. Pampanga lies on the northern shore of Manila Bay.

 

Aetas kids perform  

The open space, where the children and mothers gather every Sunday.

The community of Aeta that is going to received the multi purpose hall consists of about 150 families, a 500+ strong community. Some have yet to be Christianized. They live in Calumpang, Mabalacat, Pampanga.  To reach the settlement in Calumpang, we had to drive through the air base and over the Sacobia river bridge and another short drive of unpaved road.

The ACTS team spent one intensive day to revisit the Aeta village, finalized the activities with the nuns for the year end trip, from 5th to 9th December 2012. The revisit to the Aeta village was to touch base. The children welcomed us again with dances and songs. They danced and sang to us 'Go light the world' by Chris Rice. The song was so inspiring that the team has decided for it to be the theme song for the December's mission.

Listen to the song on Youtube >

Engineer drawings  

Engineer’s plans for a 10x14m hall with a storeroom and basic comfort rooms at the back.

Whilst there, the team also hammered out the construction costs with the engineer and the contractor of the project. Eventually, the proposal from the contractor, will be to engage the people from the community for the masonry works and contractor’s skilled labors will build the truss and the roof.

To keep the cost low, we are advised to start the project in summer, in order to beat the seasonal inflation cost of raw materials. Hence the funding is immediate and urgently needed before summer, which begins in the month of April. Work will have to complete before the rainy season starts in June.

     

We bore in mind that the participants will come to experience outreach works as families. The anticipation is that the adults will do the painting of the multi-purpose hall, running of electrical wiring and making the steps from the main road to the hilltop only if feasible and time permits. The mothers, teenagers and young ones will socialize with the Aetas children and youths in singing: exchange of dances, art and craft and packing of Christmas goodies. Other activities are up the sleeve.

The energy level was high and excitement on the project could hit the roof. The ACTS team could not stop bringing up new ideas and proposals. One member inspired to build a grotto; another proposed a 30 meter high cross standing on the hill top. Sr Sarah, the Mother Provincial without hesitation jumps on the ideas. But prudently, we would like to do one thing at a time. The grotto may be for another year. What we need to do now is to prepare, organize, and raise funds to realize the hope and the dream of the Aetas community and to make our imagination real.

 

 

Article contributed by Laurence Koh