Cagayan de Oro city – One of the songs I learned in school and I still vividly remember is the ‘Rain, rain, go away…’ I observed that nowadays I don’t hear this being sung anymore by our children in the Calabrian Children’s Foundation. Probably forced by circumstance, their logic does not warrant them to sing, considering that almost two (2) months have gone since the last drop of rain touched the ground of our parched land – the effect of El Niño as they aptly called it. News would tell us that in March the summer season has already begun. Yet contrary to common sense experience, it came earlier and even hotter under the guise of El Niño. Without discussing the nature of this phenomenon which I leave others to explore, this did not hamper our earnest intent to celebrate this year our annual Summer Camp to be held at Lumbia Novitiate House, San Isidro, Cagayan de Oro city on April 4-13, 2016.
In order to settle things before venturing to the aforementioned, a meeting was set up at CCF Kauswagan last March 18, 2016 as it was convoked by Fr. Ronald Eborde and participated by the religious of the communities in Cagayan de Oro city. A planning of activities, to put it succinctly, they formulated the objectives of the Summer Camp and established committees for sports, worship, formation and logistics to facilitate the flow of the activities. When the meeting was adjourned, all were expected to execute the plan as designated by the committee until the days of Summer Camp.
1st day: April 4, 2016 (Monday)
The sun shone so brightly as in the previous days. All things were prepared. The baggage of the children alone in CCF Bayabas had already filled a single car, notwithstanding the enthusiastic children who had enough energy in their arsenal to participate in this Summer Camp. When everything seemed to be in place, an orientation of the house rules was given to the children. They were introduced to their dormitories where they could spend their restful night and they were told to use the lavatories properly. To formally inaugurate the CCF Summer Camp 2016, a celebration around the Table of the Lord was presided over by Rev. Fr. Ronaldo Eborde with Fr. Joseph Pasini as concelebrant and with the assistance of Rev. Melchizedek de Lara at 10:30 AM. After nourishing themselves by the precious Body and Blood of the Lord and His Word, all proceeded to the covered court for lunch.
After their rejuvenating siesta in the afternoon, all were convoked at 3:00 for another orientation but this time about a general overview of what is a Summer Camp and its objectives. Then, they were divided by teams, each named after a soon to be proclaimed “Saints” by Pope Francis: Blessed Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary, Blessed José Gabriel del Rosario and Blessed José Luis Sánchez del Río. Without further ado, they played Laro ng Lahi. Preliminary, those who excelled were from the team of Stanislaus. They garnered the majority of wins in sack race, water conservation and etc. Unrelented by back-to-back wins or loses, they washed themselves up, and allowed their transient joy to water down momentarily as they prepared themselves for prayer.
Meeting the Lord in a silent meditative prayer, serenity invaded the atmosphere, reminding each that the Lord is to be found in everything. After half an hour of silence and prayer, a sumptuous dinner was served and all got their fill. Before heading to their next activity, again the participants gathered around the grotto of the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray the holy Rosary. This reminded them of her motherly presence and in whose intercession we entrusted the fruitfulness of this ten-day activity.
Bidding Mary a temporary adieu, the covered court became a cinema to the participants as they watched an inspiring movie, “All about her” – a mother and child story. As the campers glued their sight to the movie screen, they did not notice that time flew so swiftly. Darkness had conquered the night as the moonbeams enlightened the warped way. It’s time to sleep. The participants had to give their mortal bodies a restful sleep to gain energy for tomorrow’s activities. LIGHTS OFF!
2nd day: April 05, 2016 (Tuesday)
The bells rang profusely at 6:00 in the morning. Everyone knew it was time to get up from sleep and start to work. Having known their designated areas for work as posted on the wall, each kid with the supervision of their house parents began their household chore until 7:00 for soon follows is their Morning Prayer. If yesterday they did a silent gospel Meditation, this morning they had a vocal prayer.
At 9:00, Ms. Yolanda Templa, CCF social worker, gave a formation about Table Manners. She taught the children how to behave at table in different occasions e.g., birthday party. She also demonstrated to them how to do napkin folding.
In the afternoon, at 3:00, they did their first basketball game, categorized in three divisions: mosquito division (small boys), girls division, and big boys division. All three matches were set up between Blessed Luis and Blessed Gabriel. In two of these meetings, Blessed Luis won except in the girls’ division.
In the evening, after the rosary, the Sports committee organized a Bingo game for all until 10:30.
3rd day: April 06, 2016 (Wednesday)
The chirping of birds among the trees added an awakening sound to the bell generously rang by the timekeeper. Subsequently, lively songs were played so as to enliven the children’s dormant spirits. Same as yesterday, they headed to work and then to prayer. Bringing a little of playfulness while at prayer, the facilitators who at this time introduced to them “mantras” – one of the techniques of the Eastern Religions in prayer especially that of Buddhism, had to remind them from time to time of silence and seriousness.
During the formation session, Atty. Kay Calingin, a member of the consultative body of the CCF, came to speak of the rights of the children viewed in law’s parlance and human trafficking as one of the heinous crimes nowadays. To reinforce what they had learned, they were convoked as a team and they were asked to make a collage out of the theme: “Karapatan ng bawat bata ang magkaroon ng magandang kinabukasan.” As part of the competition, they were given some criteria for judging in which relevance to the theme was pivotal.
Ball games continued in the afternoon but this time it will be volleyball and basketball game between Blessed Gabriel and Stanislaus. In both of these games, Blessed Gabriel emerged victorious. Perhaps, they tried hard to make up for the losses they suffered yesterday on the hands of Blessed Luis.
Before calling it a day, instead of an evening rosary, the children were convened according to teams for a different kind of prayer activity, a faith-sharing. Depending on the facilitator assigned, each child was asked to say something about how God works in his or her life. Again, this showed that summer camp was not only about games; above all, it ias nourishing one’s relationship with God.
4th day: April 07, 2016 (Thursday)
CCF had been blessed to have this day two important persons: Kuya Nash and Ate Grace who shared something about Substance dependency (formerly known as drug addiction). Both working in rehabilitating substance dependent patients, they encouraged the children to make use of the opportunity while still living in the foundation and urged them not to end up using forbidden substances which may only lead them behind bars, in the hospitals and even to death.
A slight change had been made in the afternoon. Information had been handed on to the staff that the facilitator of Theatre Arts, Ms. Leah Remolado, will not be able to make it this afternoon due to an illness. Hoping to convalesce, she promised to make this happen on Sunday. Because of this abrupt schedule alteration, participants were asked to wake up at 2:00 in the afternoon, indeed a little bit earlier, for at 2:30 they will continue the collage that they did not finish yesterday. At 3:30, ball games followed between Blessed Gabriel and Stanislaus.
In the evening, an activity called “Circle of Love” was facilitated to the children. A sort of a constructive speech about a certain kid addressed before a group, this helped establish camaraderie, trust and openness among children.
5th day: April 08, 2016 (Friday)
Neither was it plan nor was it previously conceived that part of the Summer Camp would be a friendly game among selected children and religious brothers. Ushered by fate or hatched by circumstance, in the absence of Tree planting because of the season, the sports committee organized this morning a match between Team Wak-wak and Team Aswang. As the players of each team were called, they were met by cheers and applause by the children and as the game clock started to tick and the ball was tossed, a mixture of euphoria and zest was observed as children expressed their allegiance to their chosen team.
Sweating and gasping, players benefitted to the time-out called by each team because breaking the usual game which lasted only for about 30 minutes, this game took more than an hour since it was agreed upon that there will be 4 quarters in the game unlike the usual 2 quarters. At the final beat of the buzzer, Team Aswang emerged victorious: 100-88.
Again in the absence of the Theatre Arts trainer, a basketball game in mosquito division and a volleyball game among girls were set up in the afternoon. Unabashed by a defeat or cherished by a victory, children savored a sweet porridge sponsored by MASSA Foundation. After dishwashing in the evening, for the second time, a BINGO was organized. Determined to win a prize for each pattern, children glued their sight to their cards hoping to complete them and share the prize with their team mates. When the final pattern was completed, all were asked to be silent for an announcement was made which thrilled everyone: “Tomorrow there will be an outing!” To have an ample rest during the night, the children were asked to sleep directly and not to spend time chatting.
6th day: April 09, 2016 (Saturday)
Before the waking up time, it seemed that majority of the children were already awake, alert and enthusiastic. Until the bell rang… all were expected to be there in the chapel. The Holy Eucharist was ought to be celebrated first before heading to the outing. It was told that the participants will plunge into a Spring Resort at Kahulugan, Jasaan, Misamis Oriental. Unfamiliar of the place and stunned by curiosity, children can’t help but imagine how to enjoy the moment.
Since the community’s vehicle cannot suffice the large volume of passengers, a jeepney was rented to bring some participants to the venue. As they went, children exchanged smiles and laughter – some narrating hilarious stories and others making funny gestures. When they arrived, all seemed unaffected by nearly an hour travel. However, they had to wait till everyone arrived since, upon entering, an officer had to count them one by one to be sure of the right entrance fees to be paid. As soon as they entered, they put things in order first, and then some already went for a splash.
Returning after a day of refreshment, some undoubtedly looked tired and exhausted. In order not to make them lull easily to sleep during the night, they were given an option to watch Maala-ala Mo Kaya or go to bed. Since majority were regular viewers of this TV show, many preferred to stay awake and be moved by a touching “true to life story.”
7th day: April 10, 2016 (Sunday)
While the entire country was holding its breath as the 3rd and decisive bout between the national icon, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and the “desert storm”, Timothy Bradley was approaching, our Christian duty to keep holy the Sabbath day cannot simply be dismissed. In response to God’s command, the entire Summer Camp community participated to the Eucharistic celebration at Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Parish, Lumbia, CDO, presided over by Fr. Jun Balsamo at 9:30 AM. Nearly a kilometer walk, the scorching heat of the sun did not hamper them to take some strides from Lumbia House to the parish. A safety precaution was told beforehand that children should keep guard against over speedy vehicles. To prevent any road mishap, children were urged to walk slowly and take the left side of the road which ran straight to the Parish church.
When they went home after the mass, they were met by the Eagles Group who granted to the children new slippers and school bags. An hour before 12 noon, they also conducted a short program to the children and distributed to them some snacks.
In the afternoon, Ms. Leah D. Remolado, the theatre arts trainer who was ill earlier started her sessions to the children. Filled with expectations, children were exuberant as they introduced themselves one by one with their corresponding showcase of talent in singing, dancing, and etc. Without further ado, Ms. Leah opened to them the world of acting and singing. She introduced to them the basics in breathing exercise and how to hit the high notes in singing.
Unable to manage at first, they later realized that singing undoubtedly also demanded discipline and consistent practice.
The school just recently ended, yet it did not suggest the end of learning. People used to say that learning must go on as long as one lives. However, when the bell rang, children knew that they will be tested this night on how far they had learned in school. Rightly called as “Quiz bee” competition, each team was asked to choose three players for the following categories: General information, Mathematics, History, Bible and etc. As they progressed, the more questions got harder and tougher. At the end, the over-all winner was the team of Blessed Luis. Hopefully, the unanswered questions did not haunt them or cause them sleepless nights.
8th day: April 11, 2016 (Monday)
Two days before the culmination of the Summer Camp, the hype for this day’s events were still in its peak season. Some children had expressed their desire for refreshment; however, aside from the summer heat which touched deeply one’s skin, the championship basketball game between Blessed Gabriel and Blessed Luis added heat to the summer season. Sweat mellifluously flowed as players from both teams tried as hard as they could to emerge victorious and withstand the defense of each team and deliver successive points. In the first half of the game, points from both teams were not apart but as the second half dawned, Blessed Gabriel made a 12-0 ran which set them miles apart until the final buzzer. Obviously, Blessed Gabriel brought home the basketball crown.
Practices continued in the afternoon. Ms. Leah intensified more her theatre and voice lessons. She grouped the children into five and asked them to reenact various scenes from the Sacred Scriptures and daily life. Later on, during the night after the holy rosary, they were asked to choose Christian songs and master them for tomorrow’s performance before the group. As darkness thoroughly covered the night, each moved peacefully to their room and laid to rest.
9th day: April 12, 2016 (Tuesday)
Feeling dormant, the children had to be invigorated as house parents from each room tried to wake them up one by one. The sun had already shone brightly. The summer breeze still blew gently. With a little drizzle yesterday, it was not enough to give life to the thirsty plants which turned yellowish and to the parched land which became solid and hard as stone. Some boys had to endure the blistering heat of the sun as they were told to cut grasses and bushes near the basketball court as their morning work. While others were sweeping the floor or cleaning the ground, house parents had to check them from time-to-time to see if children faithfully observed the time table, recalling that it’s one day to go before the end of the Summer Camp. But it seemed that their insurmountable spirit had not been surpassed; they still had sufficient energy in their arsenal till the finish line.
That energy was shown brilliantly during the championship volleyball game. Teams: Luis and Stanislaus, competed for the crown. Nobody expected that Team Stanislaus will make it to the finals, considering that majority of them had short stature. Time and again, size is not an assurance. We may allude to the story of the duel between David and Goliath where the former crushed the latter using his slingshot. However, this showed how cooperation and team work can be a vehicle to victory while the absence or scarcity of such was only a road to defeat. In other words, team Stanislaus flew with flying colors this day.
Lest everyone be carried away by their ephemeral emotions during the game, they were asked in the afternoon by Ms. Leah to be more focus to their presentation tomorrow evening. She brought to a higher level their session as she envisaged each team to discern how to portray more effectively the gospel stories they were told to enliven. Unable to catch instructions, she gave them more tips and directions in view of the imminent variety show.
Instead of a film viewing, each team was asked in the evening to practice and improve their dramatization of the gospel stories. To assist them, they were entrusted to the guidance of the religious brothers who accordingly were motivated to do some revisions if necessary. Before calling it a day, again an announcement was made that tomorrow’s Eucharistic celebration will be moved to 6:30 AM to give ample time for practices during the day.
10th day: April 13, 2016 (Wednesday)
The day began with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The usual morning work was canceled and breakfast was served after the mass. As groups began to convene, a convoy of vehicles arrived. Later on, men and women came out one by one and huge boxes appeared. The group belonged to the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity. They came to share their blessing to the children. Indeed, this was how providence worked. The community needed more chicken meat for tonight’s celebration. However, the group did not stay for long. After introducing themselves to the children gathered in the basketball court, flashes from the camera shone rapidly. They had group picture taking. After a while, they bid adieu. Then, the children convened as groups and began to rehearse for tonight’s variety show.
Family members of the children were invited for tonight’s program. As they excitingly longed to see their children on stage, they were first convoked at CCF Kauswagan for a recollection and formation as facilitated by Ms. Yolanda Templa, CCF social worker. Only in the afternoon, they will go to Lumbia and meet their children.
Children seriously rehearsed under the instruction of Ms. Leah. She knew it will be their final rehearsal. So, she was determined to correct things as much as she could and turned things right as she wished. However, not honed to perfection, she remained hopeful that children will showcase the best performance that they could before a large crowd since visitors and benefactors were expected to come.
True enough, there were more people than expected. Many came. Family members of the children and guests came. In addition, Mr. Giovanni Fabris, a lay collaborator from Italy, with the local council witnessed the variety show of the children. It was indeed a momentous night, a never-before-seen act on stage. Children showcased their skills in singing, acting and dancing. CCF staff also presented a dance number which greatly amazed the audience. Towards the end of the show, Ms. Leah was requested to distribute the certificate of attendance to the children in the voice and acting workshops. She also declared the result of the summer camp competition: Blessed Stanislaus (champion), Blessed Gabriel (1st Runner up) and Blessed Luis (2nd Runner up). To close the program, Fr. Ronald delivered the closing remarks and gave the final blessing.
11th day: April 14, 2016 (Thursday)
Home Sweet Home!
The summer Camp was finally over. Thanks to the benefactors, the speakers, the participants, the CCF Staff and others who in many ways contributed to make this event fruitful and successful. There was no other way to lift our thanksgiving to God than to celebrate around the Table of the Lord. After the Eucharistic celebration, all proceeded to the covered court for breakfast. When all was prepared, each bid adieu to one another. Mixed emotions showed up as some went, joking around while others shed tears, knowing this was their last camp and hoping to meet each other again somewhere in time, hopefully in another Summer Camp.