Category Archives: Volunteer Projects

The Heart at Play Foundation: Healing Through Dance

Repost from my Philippine Daily Inquirer Article:

“It takes a special kind of heart takes a special kind of heart, a renewed sense of purpose and hope, our innovative spirit and strong affirmation that no child should be left behind.”

Volunteering at THP is about becoming part of a family

Volunteering at THP is about becoming part of a family

It was three years ago when Dance specialist Ana Rivera, along with her daughters Therese and Patricia, founded The Heart at Play (THP) Foundation, which provides Dance Movement Therapy to special needs children and adults.

Ana obtained a degree in Special education and pioneered the unique Dance Movement Therapy program, which uses a scientific and very systematic step-by-step approach to helping these children. While Therese and Patricia have been dancing all throughout their life, and have even competed in international dance competitions.

With a desire to share the extreme feeling of joy they experience from dancing, Therese and Patricia have been encouraging their peers, fellow dancers and friends to volunteer and help out at THP, quickly turning THP into a youth movement. Students from ICA, Xavier, Ateneo and other high schools and universities have come to volunteer and be part of the THP family.

“As Filipino dancers we know in our hearts that every moment we spend on that stage, under the limelight and in front of a crowd, we lift it all up to Him. What better way of paying it forward than by sharing what we love the most, which is dance,” stated Therese in her Facebook post, inviting her dancer friends to volunteer at THP. Continue reading


Ilaw Ng Paglinaw – Lighting Up Lives

This article was taken from the Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Ilaw Ng Paglinaw Team

The Ilaw Ng Paglinaw Team

In line with the celebration of Peace One Day Sept. 21, the “Ilaw ng Paglinaw” (Light of Enlightenment) team, composed of five high-school students from Xavier School, went to Payatas to bring light to impoverished homes.

The team’s vision is to help eradicate darkness in the homes of Filipinos who have access to only minimal source of light and as a result, only have the daytime to function. The Ilaw ng Paglinaw initiative was formed with this vision.

By providing rechargeable, cost-efficient and environment-friendly LED lights to families, the project will help people be productive even at night.

The Ilaw ng Paglinaw project started out a year ago when the team won the Indie Engineering Competition of the University of the Philippines-Diliman on April 8. As a result, it secured funding from the Ninoy and Cory Aquino and Tanging Yaman Foundations as part of its prize.

With a strong desire to give back to the community and help out in our own simple way, the team decided to carry out its first major operation by visiting Payatas and lighting up their homes.  Continue reading

Fleeting Moments, Eternal Memories – A Summer to Remember :)

Looking back, Summer 2013 was such a surreal and amazing journey in itself. It was the best summer I ever had and definitely one of the most memorable 3 months in my life.

It a was a summer full of first times and new experiences. It was a summer full of smiles, laughter and tears. It was a summer that brought out the best in me. I truly learned so much about myself and all the high and low experiences I went through this past summer helped me see life in so many different perspectives.

Summer 2013 number 2

These are just a few of the many experiences I had this summer but these were definitely the highlights that stood out. These are moments that I will never want to forget. These are moments if I had an opportunity, I’d like to experience once more. These are moments that changed my life in so many different ways.

My summer just wouldn’t have been as surreal and as phantasmagorical if it weren’t for these moments. Moments that I want to eternalize, and moments I’ll forever look back to when summer 2013 is mentioned. So without further ado, here are the 8 highlights of my summer.

1. Anvaya Bonding withthe Backyardigans – March 10-11

There’s nothing like going with your friends to a beautiful resort to relax, have fun, try out new things, and off-course enjoy each other’s company!


2. Europe Trip – March 24 – April 8 

Every country has its own unique culture and exploring these countries and immersing yourself in these cultures is simply a breathtaking experience. When in another country, don’t be afraid to explore, to try out new things, to take pictures, to buy souvenirs, to eat exotic food and off-course to enjoy the culture!


3. HKUST campus visit – April 10

This was honestly the first time I visited a University and really explored it and man, I was amazed and blown away. HKUST had such a beautiful campus that I actually wanted to stay right there and start studying. No joke, the atmosphere was just that fervent and inspiring. I honestly can’t wait for college!


4.  Ateneo Chem Camp – April 15 – May 3

This was arguably the most memorable experience of this summer. I learned so many new things not only about Chemistry but about life. Chem Camp made me realize that learning can be fun and that knowledge truly is power. The importance of learning, curiosity, perspective and the way we see things are things that I will forever carry with me for the rest of my life.


I also met so many amazing, vibrant and talented individuals that in a span of 3 weeks became friends that made Chem Camp such a surreal and unbelievable experience. They were friends I shared so many smiles, laughter, joy, and in the end, tears with. Chem campers whom I will never ever forget for the memories we shared will always be one of the most transcending and surreal moments of my life! Once a Chem Camper, always a Chem Camper!

5. Xavier Basketball Summer Varsity Training – April 15 – May 8

My senior year stint with the team may have been a short lived but without a doubt, Xavier Basketball will always have a special place in my heart. All the grueling practices, bonding moments, tough losses and fulfilling wins are things that I will forever remember.

I’m really thankful that I got to be part of the team one last time and it was really one hell of a journey. It was also such a honor and blessing to be part of a team of such amazing individuals who strived each day for one goal. My basketball career not have turned out the way I expected but the values I learned, the memories I gained and the bonds I formed will be things that I will treasure for the rest of my life.


6. Tearing my ACL – May 8 

One of the lowest and at the same time highest moments of my life. Tearing my ACL was really an eye opening experience that truly changed my perspective in life. At first I was really devastated, but then I realized that things could be worse and that I am still very lucky. I really learned how to appreciate the little things and be thankful for my blessings.

Everything happens for a reason and tearing my ACL may just have been and blessing in disguise from God and a chance to start a new and try out new things.

7. Hands On Manila Orientation and Kindness Revolution 

Joining Hands On Manila was definitely one of the best choices I’ve made this summer. Hands On Manila opened the door for me in so many ways and is an outlet for me to share my blessings with the less fortunate through volunteerism. I also realized that we are all gifted individuals and the best way to use these gifts and talents of ours is to pass it on by volunteering.


8. Reviewing and taking the SAT – April – June 1 

Reviewing for the SAT was a completely different journey in itself. I’ll admit it, reviewing for the SAT was a really arduous and tedious process but looking back, it was definitely a memorable experience. It truly was a test of hard work, perseverance, critical thinking and discipline. It was the hardest I ever studied for a test and I really dedicated a lot of my time and effort in preparing myself.

Towards the end, I was actually enjoying reviewing and answering practice tests and seeing my score improve each time. Reviewing for the SAT at one point became a habit of mine. You’d see me bring around my vocabulary notebook everywhere I went. Those truly were fun times and no matter what score I got in that test, the build up to the testing day and all those hardcore review sessions will always be fond memories of mine.


My summer just wouldn’t have been the same if it weren’t for these 8 highlights. As summer 2013 comes to a close, I’m glad to say that I made the most out of this summer. It truly has been a summer filled with fleeting moments turned into eternal memories, a summer to remember indeed!


Lessons I Learned from the “Kindness Revolution” (A Celebration of Volunteerism)

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Last saturday, I attended Hands On Manila’s Kindness Revolution where VOLUNTEERISM was celebrated. Several volunteer organizations and charity groups were present in the event but more importantly 5 zealous change makers delivered impassioned talks that really moved the crowd. From their speeches, I was able to take away several quotes, lessons, insights and realizations that I would like to convey with the rest of the world through this concise but meaningful blog post.

943042_10151485783559482_1751295322_nFrom the first speaker, Shaina Tantuico, the co-founder and executive director of JeepNeed:

1. Reflection makes a difference. It’s during reflection that you learn the most!

2. You learn more about yourself when serving others!

3. Embrace your fears ; being comfortable is no longer safe!

970959_10151485784994482_1789024731_nFrom the second speaker, Ana Kristina Arce, a deaf advocate who stands for the cause of believing in the ability of a person, instead of focusing on the person’s disability:

1. Appreciate who you are!

2. Always find ways to communicate.

3. Think outside the box!

4. Don’t just volunteer, volunteer with HEART! ❤

248196_10151485789269482_119676394_nFrom the third speaker, Rendy Eligio who is currently heading the community pillar of ADP Philippines’ CSR initiative called “CIRCLES”:

1. You can’t blame others for saying NO.

2. You will face challenges and people will give excuses but don’t give up!

3. Lead by EXAMPLE!

4. Do what you think is right, somebody else might just be waiting for you to do it before they do.

5. It has to start SOMEWHERE by SOMEONE.

972337_10151485791074482_496955118_nFrom the fourth speaker, Ica Fernandez who currently works for the Office of the President and is part of PAGASA (Peoples Assembly for Genuine Alternatives to Social Apathy):

1. Relationships are both means and ends of transformation.

2. I am because WE are.

3. EVERYONE matters!

4. Find a way to CONTRIBUTE!

432036_10151485786524482_584154722_nFrom the final speaker, Jose “Quest” Villanueva III, a Filipino singer and songwriter, known for his song “Sige Lang” in 2012. Quest is a hip-hop and R&B singer wherein he won ‘Best Urban Music Video for 2010’ at the MYX Awards Philippines

1. Wherever you go, wherever you are, there’s a need, there’s a problem.

2. VISION: Have a vision in your life; Begin with an end in your mind.

3. PASSION: Do what you LOVE, LOVE what you do.

4. FAITH: It takes faith to embody your VISION and fuel your PASSION!

It truly was a lesson filled and inspirational event. I truly hope that everyone is able to embody and apply these lessons and values that these Change Makers highlighted in their talks. What matters  most is that you don’t only take these lessons to heart, but that you also take ACTION! Like Rendy said, “It has to start SOMEWHERE by SOMEONE,” and why can’t that someone be YOU?



Blessings in Disguise – When One Door Closes, Another Opens!

“How did you find out about this?”

That was question that I was asked yesterday during the Hands On Manila Volunteer Orientation that I attended. I didn’t want to explain the whole story so I simply said that I googled it out of curiosity during my free time. To be honest, this answer was very vague and superficial, and does not fully explain how I really ended up finding out about Hands On Manila and the orientation.

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That lackluster answer is actually half true and half false. There are times where the vapid answer is the safer answer especially when you just met the person who’s asking you the question but her follow up question really struck me, “Why did you search for something like Hands On Manila?”

9780874478525_p0_v2_s260x420Obviously, my friend and I were the only high school students there so they must have been really shocked and at the same time intrigued as to why we were there. The first answer that popped out of my mouth was because I had some free time that I didn’t know how to kill but the truth is, I’m actually really busy right now reviewing for SAT, answering practice tests, writing blog posts, planning projects for my committees and clubs and other things, but I nonetheless decided to go.

comfort-zone To be honest, I wasn’t really planning to attend because of all the aforementioned things I have on my plate and to add to that, I’m still recuperating from the knee injury I suffered and I can’t really walk properly yet but there was just this little voice inside me saying why not, it might be an opportunity of a lifetime. Aside from that, I recently wrote a blogpost about “stepping out your comfort zone, taking the initiative, being the change and volunteering” and I wanted to walk the talk especially since I wrote that blog post in support for the organization that was hosting the orientation.

Looking at it from a different perspective, if I had not tore my ACL, I probably would have been coming home from practice at the time of the orientation and I probably wouldn’t have gone to the orientation. Actually, I probably wouldn’t have even searched for volunteer organizations, let alone find Hands On Manila. But because I did tear my ACL, I realized how unpredictable life is and how anything can happen in an instant.

tumblr_lbf0c1DYVk1qahvtyo1_5001At the same time, I learned how to accept my situation, appreciate what I have and count my blessings. It occurred to me that there are a lot more people out there in a worse situation. Because of these realizations, I wanted to make the most out of my injury, find a way to make a difference in the society and share my blessings.

Because of a bit more free time I have for I can’t go to practice, I ended up finding the Facebook page of Hands On Manila, participating in the Bloggers for Social Change Project and going to the Volunteer orientation.

The orientation really opened my eyes and introduced me to the different philanthropic organizations out there. I also got to meet several convivial and amiable people who were very easy to approach and talk to. I really learned so much last night and I’m really happy that I decided to join the orientation.


So far, the fulfillment and genuine happiness I’ve gained from doing the aforementioned has really been priceless. However, for now, I’ll have to focus first on reviewing for the SAT since I have two weeks left before one of the biggest tests in my life! Nevertheless, I’m really pumped up to share my blessings and talents and I really can’t wait to start volunteering in the different projects!

Attending the orientation is definitely a step forward to my goal of making the most out of this year by losing myself in the service of others and really making a difference in the lives of the less fortunate! 🙂



Step Out of your Comfort Zone, Take the Initiative, Be the Change and Volunteer TODAY!


The harsh reality is that it’s human nature for us to choose the easier and more comfortable path. At the same time, it is also human nature for us to do things that bring us happiness but the things we do and spend our time on, more often than not, rewards us only with partial and transient happiness. How then does one attain genuine fulfillment and happiness? Well, the formula for authentic happiness isn’t that perplexing, it’s quite simple actually.

what-everyone-wants-from-life-is-continuous-and-genuine-happiness-sayings-quotesIt all starts with a simple ideal called “Volunteerism.” One doesn’t need to be exuding with altruism or benevolence to volunteer, all it takes is one simple step and the rest will fall into place. This crucial and vital stride is more commonly known as, “Stepping out of your comfort zone.” 

comfort-zoneTo a lot of us, stepping out of our comfort zone is not the simplest or most facile of tasks. It takes a lot of willpower, potency, self-esteem but most importantly, a lot of heart. Volunteering entails that you leave all your superciliousness and ego outside as you enter a whole new environment.

8It’s about putting everything aside, becoming more aware of your surroundings and simply caring more. Once you are able to do the aforementioned, you are well on your way to attaining that unparalleled genuine happiness that everyone desires. 

Today, we need more people who are willing to step out of their comfort zone and make a difference in the world. It’s not just about personal fulfillment anymore, it’s about being humane, and simply caring more about life and our society.

Be-The-Change-2 A lot of people complain about how imperfect and flawed our society is but they don’t even ponder upon the possibility that their complacency may be the root cause for the flawed society they live in. The key to solving this is to have the INITIATIVE. The initiative to be the CHANGE you want to see.

So what are you waiting for? Volunteer TODAY! It doesn’t have to be so grand or colossal, even simple acts like volunteering to cook for your family, participating in your local charity program, starting a Green initiative or just the simple act of volunteering to teach your siblings or classmates who are having a hard time can make a big difference.

Volunteerism Rome wasn’t built in one day. These simple acts you voluntarily do will build up and a ripple effect will start, and before you know it, what didn’t seem like anything then was the start of something new. Aside from that, volunteering is about building the habit. The habit of caring more about the “You/Them” and less about the “Me.”

484543_4074475639492_1032367188_nAside from the surreal feeling one gets after volunteering for a just cause, volunteering goes a long way. For instance, when you volunteer in a Youth Organization, a Christmas Charity Program, a Peer Counselors Club or maybe even a Teach to Read program, you get to meet new people, broaden your horizons, experience new things, all while making a difference in the lives of others.

We won’t live forever but volunteering and taking the initiative to make something happen can change the lives of many. Isn’t this what life is about? Life is about finding that purpose that will bring you fulfillment and enable you to sincerely say that you made the most out of your life. What better way to leave a legacy then by VOLUNTEERING!

The-best-way-to-find-yourself-is-to-lose-yourself-in-the-service-of-others.-Gandhi-quoteYou’ll be amazed how much YOU can make a difference as long as you have the will to. There are so many outlets out there for you to and find your niche and share your talent and passion to others. You have no excuses for information is so easily accessible now a days, from announcements in Social Media sites to just simply going to Google and searching for local organizations.

Think about the smiles, joys and happiness that you won’t only attain but you’ll also be able to bring to others as well; that alone is reason enough to start volunteering. Don’t wait until it is too late, make a difference TODAY!



PS. For local Filipinos out there who are interested in volunteering and making a difference, I’ve done the research for you and I’ve found a list of volunteer orgs you can join:

Just in time for the season, one of the organizations that will be having a back to school project is Hands On Manila. Please do check out their Facebook page for details on how you can make a difference TODAY: