Spending Christmas with Yolanda Survivors for ‘Pasko ni Juan sa Tacloban!’

December 25, 2013 Tacloban City

Once in a while, we have to make important decisions. While everyone is celebrating Christmas with their loved ones, I decided to join as a volunteer for Pasko ni Juan sa Tacloban – a Christmas Party for Yolanda survivors spearheaded by Cebu Pacific.

Its Rainy Christmas in Tacloban
Its Rainy Christmas in Tacloban

When I received an invitation to volunteer and spend Christmas in Tacloban with the typhoon Yolanda Survivors, I didnt even think twice and instantly confirmed my participation. It may not be a popular choice since we Filipinos loves to spend Christmas with our Family but for me this is a rare opportunity to give back.

Early Morning Mass with Typhoon Yolanda Survivors
Early Morning Mass with Typhoon Yolanda Survivors

Our Prayer
Our Prayer

It was early Christmas morning when the team left Manila for our 4:50am flight to Tacloban. Due to poor visibility in Tacloban our flight 5J 2869 from Manila to Tacloban was diverted to Mactan Cebu International Airport where we waited for almost an hour to wait for advice if we can still go to Tacloban or we will head back to Manila. Finally at around 9am, we were able to fly again and reach Tacloban Airport before 10am.

Pasko ni Juan sa Tacloban
Pasko ni Juan sa Tacloban

Candice Iyog distributing food to the Yolanda Victims
Candice Iyog distributing food to the Yolanda Victims

Christmas Lunch in Tacloban
Christmas Lunch in Tacloban

Its been over a month after typhoon Haiyan and some of the residents are now slowly recovering. Up to now, It’s still painful to see the devastated areas but if you see how the locals and volunteers continuously help each other, it will give you enough strength and courage to do more and help more.

We Can make every Juan Smile
We Can make every Juan Smile

Seing every juan in Tacloban smile is truly priceless!
Seing every Juan Smile in Tacloban is truly priceless!

Upon arriving in Tacloban, We headed to Eastern Visayas State University open court to meet the locals. The event started with a mass then followed by lunch. Distributing food and bottled juice is not that easy specially when you have almost a thousand people waiting for their turn. Im glad everything was organized from start to finish.

A poi artist (fire dancer) begins his routine
A poi artist (fire dancer) begins his routine

While everyone is having lunch, kids and the rest of the participants enjoyed performances from jugglers, magicians and other performers who are also volunteers from Manila. Some of Cebu Pacific’s Cabin Crew also performed by singing upbeat Christmas songs in front of the people of Tacloban.

A stunning magic show by some of the talented volunteers!
A stunning magic show by some of the talented volunteers!

At first I thought I will break down in tears after seeing the people of Tacloban and the devastated areas but I survived the day with no tears. I guess seeing how strong they are might have prevented my tears to fall. I can never forget how they smile and say “Thank You” each time we hand over food. I know this is not their happiest Christmas but Im happy we were able to spend and share few hours of happy moments with them. I love seeing the people of Tacloban smiling with hope and I believe thats what we call “The Filipino Spirit”.

Every Juan is enjoying while wathing her fire hoop skills
Every Juan is enjoying while wathing her fire hoop skills

After distributing food, we were supposed to distribute Noche Buena package as well but the packages are still in transit due to the bad weather. We headed back to the airport for our 2pm flight. Upon arrival in Manila, we were informed that the local volunteers in Tacloban was able to distribute the Noche Buena package from URC to the registered participants.

A group shot of our event CEB staff and volunteers who dedicated their Christmas to the people of Tacloban!
A group shot of our event CEB staff and volunteers who dedicated their Christmas to the people of Tacloban!

I realized that the choice I initially made may not be a popular choice but It was certainly the right one. Thanks a lot Cebu Pacific Air for letting me volunteer in this truly memorable event.

Let us continue making the right choices…

*Some photos courtesy of Cebu Pacific Fanpage

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