Westerner’s Find New Hope in the Philippines.
2015 Philippines Philanthropy Tourism Season | Empowering The Philippines…Rain Or Shine.
Quezon City, Philippines, Barangay Pasong Tamo, Marcos Field of Dreams | The 2015 Philippines Philanthropy Tourism Season Kick-Off weekend just ended; despite delayed and re-routed flights, typhoons and thunder storms that ravaged the field and surrounding areas, flash floods, trips to the Quezon City General Hospital Emergency Room, stiches and a few cases of Pink Eye, the 3rd Annual Empower 2 Play Camp AK Philippines was a huge, fun success for everyone –both foreign and domestic.
Quezon City’s Barangay Pasong Tamo Neighborhood at-large and Captain Banjo Pilar, with wife Quezon City, City Councilor Marivic Co-Pilar were the hosts and beneficiaries of the largest Camp AK Philippines to date.
Empower2Play; the United States not-for-profit organization which organizes the annual outreach event, were able to reach –and exceed- their goals of hosting 300 children and families, serve more than 2,500 meals, attract 100 international volunteers, give away 1,000’s of school supplies, bags, shirts and award 12 new Achieve Success Annual Scholarships.
In addition, the US Embassy Club, more than doubled the Champion Cash Prize from last year’s P6,000 to P15,000. Then, due to surprise torrential rains, the Camp AK Final Match was extended. The E2P Board Members who were present, decided to award a cash prize, to the boys, as well as, the girls Final Two Teams! A total of P30,000 was awarded to the two teams. Parents and kids were seen ‘Dancing in the rain’ at the close of the camp in celebration.
Highlights of the camp were Nigerias’ DJ Blacksolo, live performances by Philippine Pop Opera Icon, Jonathan Badon, US R&B Singer Patrick Odel, former US NFL Player Anthony Trucks, celebrity Coach Michaella Recto of the Philippines Recto Family Political Dynasty and Rodel Bacsal from the PH Malacanang Presidential Palace (PCOO). The entertainment was an international introduction to ‘the arts.’ Jonathan Badon, and Patrick Odel, both serenaded the children, as well as the coaches, celebrity guests and volunteers during Half Times, a rare and unique show, the community would never have experienced otherwise.
Started by Co-Founders Kareem Jackson, AK Ikwuakor and Joel Tiongson in 2013, with one simple and humble goal: to help 50 kids is the Philippines.
This year, the camp hosted over 300 kids, and nearly 1,000 total guests and community-wide supporters over the week-long tour. As well as, boasting more than 3 dozen sponsorship partners; including Icons such as BDO, SM Markets, Hershey Chocolates, Buffalo Wild Wings, Resorts World, Stargate PeoplesAsia Magazine, Distileria Limtuaco and Rainforest Water, United Airlines, Roar, Unilever, Body By Michaella, Dusit Thani Hotel and Carasuchi Villa amongst others. Collectively, they created a wonderful, empowering and educational weekend for the children that was far beyond anything they imagined.
A near disaster was avoided. According to insight from The American Press, original Gold Level Food & Beverage Sponsor, Robinsons Supermarkets, backed out just days from camp opening day.
Hearing of the dilemma, top executives of BDO Banks and SM Markets saved the weekend for hundreds of families; donating food for the event, along with Buffalo Wild Wings who catered for the VIP’s and Volunteers.
The Empower2Play Immersion Tour was 8-days & 8-nights of, true-life, real-Philippine lifestyle: starting with an airport pick-up in a real-Philippines jeepney, 2-nights in Carasuchi Villa, in Indang Cavite, then, a stop-off in Tagaytay, Taal Volcano, following a 6-hour scenic drive through metro Manila to the camp site.
100% local community support. Before the event, the coaches from America all stayed 1 night in the shanties with the scholars and their families; a humbling experience. Then, they were hosted in a PH Mag writer’s retreat home near ‘The Marcos Field of Dreams’ as part of their overall immersion. Coaches walked, or were whisk around the barangay in brigades of up to 15 local tricycles, for dinner, shopping, food, haircuts and other necessities of daily life –you can’t get any more real-Philippines lifestyle than that.
On the shanty overnight, some homes were less than 8 foot square, with make-shift walls, no-air conditioning, no flush-toilets and no amenities. The goal was-actually– to empower the Americans. To inspire them to harness a deeper appreciation for both what they have in the West, while also experiencing an eye-opening, life-changing, peak into what these children endure in their everyday lives –yet are still able to maintain their scholar status and their happiness.
The Empower2Play Experience was life-changing. “I cried…I was humbled…I was heart-broken on numerous occasions. But ultimately, I was the one who was changed.” stated the award-winning American empowerment and life coach and US serial-entrepreneur, Dr. August Leming to PH MAG International Publisher’s during an interview while in Quezon City. Leming was one of the E2P Board of Directors who flew in from the United Sates for the chance to change –others– lives in the Philippines. He later also stated, “…at times, the circumstances of the tour were challenging, but how could I complain? I knew these wonderful people lived this way everyday…and are some of the happiest people I have ever met in my life.”
Many Westerners, even though they may be considered rich in monetary value, however, are not inherently happy with their lives. Western blind-ambition fuels a sense of hopelessness and lack of contentment for so many successful Westerners. But, Filipinos are considered to be some of the happiest and most-hospitable people on earth. A lot can be learned by this empowering, annual immersion experience into true-Filipino culture and lifestyle.
That being said, many expats from the West are catching onto this new Philanthropy Tourism trend, where the key is to visit Asia, the Philippines, looking for an inner peace and achieve a shift-of-paradigm that has been lost in the American post-recession lifestyle.
The entire excursion, is sort of a new-era version of the classic ‘Eat. Pray. Love.’ which showcased Bali, as a soul-searching destination for a hot shot New York City writer searching for a new meaning to her life.
After the US recession, those who have survived financially, are searching for new purpose, they’re re-inventing themselves and a taste of what simple-happiness truly is, can spark humility and helps them to see their life in an all-new optimistic way.
“How is it that ‘they’ are so happy? So humble and so appreciative…it makes my problems seem so petty I am embarrassed to mention them. This has changed my life…forever, there is no going back from here.” Former Stanford Female Basketball Super Star, Azella Perryman expressed during her exit interviews for local and international media while in the Philippines.
Children, parents, celebrities, volunteers, USA Student Ambassadors, E2P Board Members and coaches alike were all caught overcome by emotion and crying at different moments throughout the events and tour; touched and heartbroken by the realities they saw and felt. The experience was just as empowering for the Philanthropists, guests and sponsors, as it was for the children, families and beneficiaries.
Realities that hit-home with all of the American guests; unlike any other experience they had imagined. These are not sad stories or desolate people, Empower2Play and Camp AK are not ‘savior missions’ or focused on destitute people.
Conversely, despite their circumstances, everyone was astonished by the comradery, happiness and joy harnessed by the Filipino people. For many Western guests and coaches, such as, wellness Guru Dr. August Leming, former NFL player Anthony Trucks, Stanford University female basketball star Azella Perryman, with Jason Singleton, the USA Student Ambassadors Harrison Garret, Andrew Eckler and Peter Curtain who were amazed by the everyday-joy of those less-financially-fortunate than themselves.
American Film Maker Cody Groom, who will be releasing “You’re Not Alone.” a movie documentary to be aired in the United States and the Philippines, the piece showcases the true-life of an empowering little girl; Realyn Manila, who overcomes what many would label ‘trials and tribulations’ to ultimately, achieve her dream of being a doctor. Groom, also came along with the USA junket to film the experience personally.
In addition, the group will debut their new Achieve Success Student & Philanthropy Magazine, a showcase of the efforts of Empower 2 Play, Camp AK Philippines and those who made it all possible later this year.