PBO And The Elderlies Of Kanlungan Ni Maria

Last Sunday I went to an event and was handed this rose. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the flower has started to wither; the tips of its petals have darkened, the red color, no longer as intense, the fragrance has grown faint. But the rose is still a rose, which may have lost some of its vibrancy, but still beautiful. I knew that the rose wouldn’t go for too long, but I haven’t a heart to just throw it away. And so it makes me wonder, if I couldn’t let go of something as simple as this flower, why are there some people who could go on living despite abandoning the old souls of Kanlungan ni Maria.

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Last February 2, Pinoy Bloggers Outreach (PBO) chose to celebrate its 1st-year anniversary at Kanlungan ni Maria, Home for the Aged in Antipolo City. Over 60 volunteers (bloggers and non-bloggers) joined the event, including some friends of PBOers. Meeting place was KFC at Starmall where the registration, distribution of the yellow PBO shirt, and brunch were held. There were so many of us, it looked like we rented the whole place.

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There are several reasons why this particular outreach is close to my heart. First, it was the first time that I’ve taken part in the preparation and planning. Second, I had to shed my snob tendency so that I could talk and confirm the attendance of the volunteers. Third, it’s the first time I’ve invited some guests to join me in this undertaking.

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To get to Antipolo, we rented three different vans. In about an hour, we finally reached the place. I still had Bahay ni Maria in my head so I was a bit surprised when I saw that Kanlungan is much smaller. It’s a two-story house, with a small front yard, and an area that seemed to have been meant as a garage but is being used as a dining place.

As soon as we arrived, volunteers started setting up the place by hanging the tarpaulin, balloons, and flags, and arranging the goodie bags and donations that we prepared for the elders. Two hours later, we were finally on. The program was hosted by Abbie and Edmar. After an opening prayer by MJ, the outreach’s chairman, Christian, took the floor for the opening remarks. The activity officially began via a serenade courtesy of these three young ladies, Kyle, Allyza, and Eloisa.Β While the girls were singing, volunteers were called in to meet and bring flowers to their assigned elder. Some of the elders are bedridden so the volunteers who were charged to them were ushered in the sleeping area.

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Suddenly the house was abuzz and the volunteers who were almost catatonic from waiting seemed to have been brought back to life. Each elder was designated with two volunteers. I went around and observed how the elders were taking it. If their smiles were any indication, it is safe to say that they basked in the attention.

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I am nowhere near the age of these elders, but I couldn’t help but wonder, how is it to stand in their shoes. If I have been abandoned by my family, spending what’s left of my days under the care of strangers, what is it that I would wish for?

Would I dream of finding a new acquaintance?

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To share my most precious memories with…

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To listen as I relive the old days…

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And share good laughs with…

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Would I wish for someone to stand close when my health turned for the worse?…

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Or wish for someone willing to just sit with me in silence…

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Or maybe I wouldn’t ask for much and find comfort if someone would just hold my hand.

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For now I can only guess and in truth I never want to know the answer. Though it’s a blessing to have an institution like Kanlungan ni Maria, I still believe that deep in their hearts, the elders would still prefer to share their last days with the people they love.

Though we still wanted to spend more time with the elders, the hour has come for us to say goodbye. As we said our farewells, took souvenir photos, and cleaned up after our mess, I sensed that the volunteers and the elders alike were both happy that this outreach has been possible and sad that it had to end.

I hope that somehow we were able to console their spirit and calm whatever discontent they may have been feeling. I also hope that more people would be motivated to visit Kanlungan ni Maria so that in some way, the elders would always feel that they are still loved.

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But more than this, my ultimate wish, is for people to never have the heart to abandon their families. Just as I couldn’t let go of the rose, even when it has shriveled.


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Comments (24)

  1. Gracie

    Ang gandang pagninilay nilay nito. Congratulations and Happy Anniversary PBO!

  2. rhoda

    sobrang nakaka-touch naman to ;( thank you sa pag-invite, sana mas madami pang matulungan ang PBO πŸ™‚

  3. June | Life and Spices
    June | Life and Spices

    Im happy to see old and new faces pero much happier to attend such org with good intentions.

  4. akoysi MEcoy
    akoysi MEcoy

    nagsisisi naman ako ng di nakasama huhuhu, but anyways dame namang attendees ee!
    galing mga marekoy and parekoy! keep it up!
    mejo na sasad talaga ko sa pictures ng matatanda lalo ung nakahiga naaalala ko ung lola ko huhu

  5. Pink Line
    Pink Line

    tagos na tagos.. lalo na yung mga one liner.. my favorite post about PBO outreach so far..

  6. Olivr

    ungang paragraph pa lang, kinurot na ang puso ko. parang ayaw ko na tumanda, pero darating din tyong lahat dun.

  7. Mar Verdan
    Mar Verdan

    heartfelt post! COngrats sa success ng PBO Anniversary Outreach

  8. Marjorie G
    Marjorie G

    Hello, mukha ba kong nagsusulat ng pinoy romance.

  9. Senyor Iskwater
    Senyor Iskwater

    mag-usap kayo na parehong nakaka-nosebleed! naks… Marge Albom… Pwede bang Marge Olvidado? hehehe

  10. glentot

    Marge! Muntikan nang matunaw ang puso ko.

  11. ZaiZai

    I was moved by how you started this post and about your insight on growing old. Indeed growing old is difficult enough, realizing that your life has passed by and all, but then being left to the care of strangers probably is the last thing thing any one would want.

    But I guess they are better off with strangers who show genuine care for them. So all is well. πŸ™‚

    Til next outreach! πŸ™‚

  12. eemi

    this post made me cry,sana may outreach kayo by april para makasama ako

  13. Edgar Portalan
    Edgar Portalan

    nice meeting you Marge … frankly speaking and no offense meant , like what you have said , medyo snob ka nga he he he … but then siguro sa mga baguhan lang naman like me … ganun din naman ako eh … pero pag at ease na , nakikipag–jamming na din minsan … it was an experience of a lifetime … til next event hopefully : )

  14. Too Young To Feel This Old
    Too Young To Feel This Old

    That's amazing. I miss doing volunteer work. I've done a few during highschool and college. Most I've done recently are fundraisers (easier to pay for charity). I'm thinking of volunteering to teach English as a second language through a non-profit that help immigrants and refugees here, sometime in the near future. Keep doing the good work.

  15. bagotilyoako

    Naks! gusto ko yung analogy nung rose. nakakatats! Astig m/

    Nice meeting you marge πŸ˜€


    Nakakatouch ang post mo marge πŸ™ promise napahinto ako bigla at napaisip din ako πŸ™‚ love it!

  17. Alchris Mendoza
    Alchris Mendoza

    This entry is perhaps, on a personal note, one of your most emotional posts. Marge Albom. If not the most. Being a lover of analogies, I love encapsulating context using one element. In your case, that rose. Magnificient job! The greatest you've ever done on this blog so far, but of course I'm just being biased of style preference.

    Thinking about those somehow-abandoned elders depresses me. I'll never do that to my mother. Never.

  18. Joy

    First, I just want say na saludo sa lahat ng effort the ginawa nyo. Talaga namang unforgettable.
    at least kahit pano napasaya sila. Hope I can visit them one day again.
    thanks for your ” made me think post”
    Until next time again:)

  19. michymichymoo

    It was an life-changing experience. Hope we can visit them again, noh?

  20. FiftyShadesOfQueer

    The first time I participated an outreach for such institution was way back in elementary and it left me scarred. Hearing personally how they were left scared me. As someone who might not have kids in the future for obvious reasons, I saw a bit of my posaoble future in a house full of caring strangers. I've steered clear from such institutions. I've been selfish. I should muster the courage to be able to give the love I have so much to give and they deserve.

  21. Jemaima Robles
    Jemaima Robles

    I love the intro. I had to stop reading for a while so I won't cry even before I finish the next paragraph. But what almost tore me are the one liners that you wrote after every photo. Indeed, it is a great experience to spend time with the elders. More successful events for PBO! πŸ˜€

  22. Senyor Iskwater
    Senyor Iskwater

    Awww… one of the most touching posts I've read from your blog…. Grabe… str8 ang tama sa heart!


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