A non-government organization (NGO) leader has vowed to institutionalize an annual Christmas gift-giving party for the poorest of the poor children, following his life-changing sharing experience with the poor and homeless families in the Philippines.
Revor J. Lasay, National Chairman of the Sectoral Anti-Poverty Movement Philippines, Inc.(SAP), told Digital Journal he could not forget his Christmas gift-giving experience with the poorest of the the poor children of Quezon City.
Lasay, together with SAP President Pong Abasula, gathered some of the poorest of the poor children of Quezon City last Dec. 23 to a hurriedly-organized Christmas party at the city park, to share the food and gift items they collected from friends who responded to their call to give anything that would make the children happy as they celebrate Christmas with their families.
More than 300 children and their parents trooped to the Quezon Memorial Circle, a huge public park in Quezon City, to receive their gifts as they enjoyed the food and the entertainment program prepared for them by Lasay and his friends.
According to Lasay, a strange encounter with a dirty and smelly young girl one evening inside the city park, triggered the holding of his unforgettable Christmas party with the poor and homeless children of the city.
"A very dirty and smelly little girl crossed my path while I was strolling aimlessly inside the park in late November, barely a month before Christmas," Lasay said. The girl asked me in a very soft and respectful voice: “Kuya, pwede ikaw ang maging pasko ko?” (Brother, will you be my Christmas?)
Anti-poverty advocates Revor Lasay and Pong Abasula
Lasay said he was a bit curious about the girl's request as she was not asking for money or anything from him. She was simply asking "if I could be her Christmas."
"To satisfy my curiosity, I stopped walking and faced the little girl as we sat on a concrete park bench along the pathway inside the public park, Lasay told Digital Journal.
"I asked her why she was alone and still out on the streets late in the night. It was already about 9 p.m. as i glanced at the set time on my mobile phone," he added.
Lasay said his first question led to another and a series of probing questions followed until he discovered that the girl has no place she can call home. She is actually living in a push cart (Kariton in local dialect) along with the rest of her family.
"So I asked her if she can bring me to the place she calls "home" and she nodded," Lasay said.
"It was almost 9 p.m. that time and I was struck by the community of underprivileged who were lined-up along the street. So many children were sleeping along the sidewalk. Push carts were lined-up as if there were a subdivision of push-cart houses"
"As I approached them, they were hurrying-excitedly expecting something from me. “Kuya, pagkain lang po...Pamasko nyo sa amin!” (Brother, please give us food as our Christmas gift).
My heart was broken into pieces like a glass."
"As I looked at them, specially the children, I can see them like a valuable glass that was broken into pieces. But, as I was staring at them I’ve realized that their being broken into pieces have brought so much rays and radiance of different colors. They have their own reflections....beautifully though broken into pieces," he narrated.
Stunned by the nearly inhuman conditions the girl and the rest of the families in the "Kariton" community, Lasay mingled with the kids in the community and in about an hour he left without giving them anything.
"The truth was, I had nothing in my pocket at that time to give to each one of them," Lasay said.
As I moved away from the crowded Kariton community, I gathered them together and asked: “What do you want this Christmas?”. “We just want to be happy, they responded in unison, Lasay said.
Tired and drained over the sights and sounds from his journey to the Kariton community, Lasay settled down in his small office inside his house in a more decent community not far from what the little girl called "home" to her family.
Poor street children of the Philippines attending a Christmas party
He switched on his PC and posted a message to his Facebook friends. “Friends, can I invite you as godparents?” was his first message.
"Most of my friends were surprised because they thought I was inviting them for my child’s christening. I told them its not my child...but my children," Lasay said.
Lasay explained to them he was planning to hold a Christmas party and gift-giving for the marginalized children and he was inviting them as godparents to shoulder the expenses for food, gifts, reading materials, slippers, and grocery items for Noche Buena .
"I also told them that I was planning to have a magic show, clowns, games, and other games for the children," he said.
According to Lasay In less than an hour, he got 30 individuals who pledged to support and in less than four weeks his house and backyard became a temporary warehouse of goodies that his friends donated for the children's party.
Revor Lasay and Pong Abasula with party organizers
Needless to say, the Christmas party was a huge success and the children got their Christmas wishes from people who care about the welfare of the marginalized and vulnerable sector of society.
Lasay, along with his closest friend Pong Abasula, who is one of the prime movers of their anti-poverty campaign, praised everyone in the group for their support in bringing God's blessings to the poorest children and their families
Inspired by the enthusiastic response from his inner circle of friends and former schoolmates on his experimental Christmas party for the poorest of the poor children in the Philippines, Lasay and friends are now planning to institutionalize the annual Christmas party for the poor children of the city in collaboration with the Philippine National Police.
Starting next year, these children can look forward to a happy and meaningful Christmas as they will have members of the police community as their godparents on their next Christmas party, Lasay said.
I asked Lasay if he can give me details of his plan to institutionalize gift-giving to the poor children of the city in close collaboration of the police community and he said he will gladly discuss the plan with me in the next few days.