Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sunday Morning at Kanlungan ni Maria

She's somebody's mother, boys, you know,
For all she's aged and poor and slow,
And I hope some fellow will lend a hand
To help my mother, you understand.

                                  -Mary Dow Brine, Somebody's Mother- 

I first learned about Kanlungan ni Maria from reading Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio's blog, Wanders & Wonders. Since joining Microsourcing's iVolunteer team last year, it has been one of my secret wishes to volunteer in an orphanage or in a home for the elderly. So when our CSR team had announced that this year's recipient of the fund-raising activity was this humble home, it was something I could not miss for the word.

Last Sunday's trip to the hills of Antipolo was also nostalgic. I spent a good four and a half years of my life fulfilling one of my dreams as a write for one of the offices located in this area -- it was also where I first got acquainted with the value of corporate social responsibility. So despite nursing a cold, I still pushed through and participated with the weekend activity.

Our group was composed of employees from branches in Eastwood, MDC 100 and  Two E-Com Mall of Asia. Besides the turnover of donations, part of the activity that morning was spending time with the lolos and lolas of the nursing home.

Kanlungan ni Maria is a nursing home run by Fr. Darry Dioquino and currently, there are 22 lolos and lolas in their care. Each of them have different stories to tell. Most of them have lost touch with their families or they no longer have family members or relatives who can look after them.

On the left photo is Nanay Bing, During our visit, she sat next to Yaya Cita, who was the first resident of the nursing home. Nanay Bing served as the "interpreter" between me and Yaya Cita, who since suffering a stroke last year, had difficulty in speaking. I tried to ask Nanay Bing why Yaya Cita preferred to be called that way rather than "lola" or "nanay". She told me that it was because Yaya Cita did not have any child of her own thus the absence of grandkids.

The lady with me in the middle photo is Nanay Remy. She's in her 70's and is a widow. Her husband died just a week or two after being diagnosed with cancer. I had spent quite an amount of time having conversations with her talking about realities of life which included marriage. Just like my parents, Nanay Remy was married to her husband for 30 years before he passed away. And for someone like me who is considering the idea of settling down in a few years, her advice proved me that the words of wisdom from the elderly are still the best reference to some of life's questions ( and that's despite the emergence of things you can just read on the web).

Nanay Puti. That was what's written on her name tag and it made us all curious. When I asked her about it, she just pointed to her white hair making me nod and smile. In the middle of our conversation, her carer approached us and said that she just turned 90 years old the day before our visit. She reminded me of my paternal grandmother who is living with us as she is now 93 years old. Her family was killed during the Japanese occupation making her the only survivor. She is also a widow, and did not have a child of her own. They adopted two kids (a boy and a girl) but sadly, both abandoned her.

Before we left, we mentioned our plan to return to visit them (even as a group or on our own) to which they said we are most welcome. Nanay Puti said that the shelter welcomes visitors and volunteers daily from 10 am to 4 pm. and help in any form is greatly appreciated. We were only visiting them for just a few hours, but it was time well spent. What earned my admiration was that despite of their experiences and circumstance, the lolos and lolas still remained and chose to live a happy disposition.

Kanlungan ni Maria 
#17 Lanzones Road Nayong Silangan
Antipolo City 1870


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