Friday, 28 April 2006

Philippines: San Teodoro & Calapan

From Philippines Photo Album
This morning’s distribution consisted of 450 bedkits. These children were so content and delighted to receive them. As it was my privilege to hand out bedkits, I noticed that many of them literally ran towards me to receive their special gift from Canada.

This came as quite a surprise considering they had been waiting at the site for several hours and the temperature was about 38° Celsius!

One little boy had fused fingers and another had an enormous stomach on his tiny frame. Dr. Romy Infantado, the president of the local Kiwanis Club, said they would follow up with medical attention for these children.

In the afternoon, we were — as always — so warmly greeted at a Roman Catholic parish, for our final distribution of 350 bedkits. The parish was being used as a distribution site, even though there were children from any or no denomination at all there.The invocation by their priest was very moving. He expressed their humble gratitude for our gifts. He said that SCAW served as an inspiration to the local community to renew their own efforts in serving their greatest in need!

After at least 1,000 km of traveling along the roads of the Philippine Islands visiting 13 locations, we wrapped up today. We feel so privileged to be the ones blessed to see the happy smiles on the faces of 5,000 children!

Kay Mountford
for the SCAW Philippines Travelling Team

Thursday, 27 April 2006

Philippines: Photo Album

Philippines: Memories of Murray Dryden

The distribution is now complete and many of the team are back in Canada. Like all travelling volunteers, Linda Taiabjee was required to write a report for the Donor Newsletter, which is usually produced several weeks after the distribution is complete, but you can read a preview below.

This is the 24th distribution of SCAW to the Philippines. Over the years a very successful partnership and bonding has been developed between Mr. Murray Dryden and a group of Kiwanis and other volunteers from various service organizations in the Philippines.

During this year’s distribution, many fond memories of Mr. Dryden — the man — were told to us which the SCAW team extremely enjoyed and made us realize the depth of the respect and love they have for Mr. Dryden. I decided to submit to the Newsletter an interview with Dr. Juan F. Torres Jr., the Chairman of SCAW Philippines, the lead group that organizes and overseas all Philippine distribution.

Linda: Dr. Torres, how did you meet Mr. Dryden and how did the Philippines become one of the recipients of bedkits?

Dr. Torres: I was District Governor in 1982-83 holding office at the Manila Peninsula Hotel, when a tall lanky man appeared one day and asked me, what I’d do if I received bedkits for children. I immediately replied, "Of course, I’ll give it to children." Shortly thereafter, he simply left.

About a month or two later, I received a letter stating that SCAW Canada was considering the Philippines for one of its recipients of bedkits. I did not give it much thought so I gave the letter to a club president for acknowledgement. Shortly thereafter, he received a cheque from SCAW for 500 bedkits. The Kiwanian did not know what to do and asked me for advice. I realized that Mr. Dryden really meant business. This was the start of the SCAW relationship.

After the kits were made, Mr. Dryden came to the Philippines and asked me why my own club was not included in the distribution. From the start, we developed a close relationship and he wanted to know why I was not more actively involved. After a few years, Mr. Dryden informed me that he will discontinue SCAW in the Philippines on account of certain discrepancies that were not in keeping with SCAW procedures.

Somehow, I was in Toronto area and I appealed for reconsideration. I emphasized that the children in the Philippines needed SCAW and I couldn’t understand why a worthy project would be scrapped simply because some adults were remiss in their job. Subsequently, I was informed that because of my argument, SCAW would be resumed under my guidance and leadership. Being a busy practitioner and professor of Medicine, I told him that I may not be able to do a good job. Mr. Dryden countered: "Why should a worthy project be stopped just because some adults were unwilling." After Mr. Dryden agreed to include two other people in the committee, we continued undertaking the project year after year.

Linda: Dr. Torres, what fond memories do you treasure of Mr. Dryden?

Dr. Torres: I have countless memories of Mr. Dryden that I treasure. All of them underscore his intense passion for what he is doing. What excites me is his unending commitment to his vision of seeing children spend a good night’s rest. As a matter of fact, he always told me, "There is nothing more peaceful than a sleeping child."

Linda: Are there any stories and anecdotes that are fresh in your memory that you would like to share with us?

Dr. Torres:
  • He is a Kiwanian and every year during Kiwanis conventions that I attend and which he also attended without telling me beforehand, he would always surprise me with a phone call saying, "Why haven’t you come for breakfast?" During breakfast, he would keep me updated about SCAW matters and sometimes he would take me along with him to different possible sources of funding.
  • He would always kid about the colour of my suits calling them funeral grey, trying to tell me that I should wear bright coloured suits like he did.
  • When he received the World Service Medal of Kiwanis in Seattle in 1988, I was with him. He was on stage and I was at the foot of the stage. He was speechless and in tears and so was I and I kept yelling at him words that I thought he should say. Of course, he never heard me.
  • Another incident that shows the character of the Man that I so admire and respect was when his worn-out leather briefcase fell apart and he wanted me to have it repaired. I told him the repairman refused to touch such an old briefcase. He insisted that he wanted it repaired. I bought him a similar bag and put the old bag inside, and he said, "This is not my bag!" I never won the argument so I gave him his old briefcase back and he returned the new bag to me.
  • There are often instances that established the quality of this Man one of which is, he would send me clippings of cartoons made about him. He also sent me many letters which were never dated and here is a sample of one of his letters.
  • On his last trip to the Philippines, he said to me, "I don’t think I will be able to come here again." He refused to use the wheelchair.
  • I thought of him as a very close friend. Our relationship would be that of a father to son, or brother to brother, and his passing away is a great loss to me.
    The last time I came to Toronto was in 1988. Rolly and I came to meet him dressed in silk and Murray was dressed in Barong Tagalog, the Filipino national shirt. I though maybe he was trying to tell me something.
  • Another incident was lunch at a Country Club in Toronto. They would not let me in because I was not wearing a suit. Mr. Dryden was so embarrassed and flabbergasted so I asked the waiter if I could borrow a tie and a jacket which was oversized. At dinner we went over the draft of one of his books.
Dr. Torres: I am glad that after so many years this is finally in print as this is my tribute to the man.

April 27, 2006.
Linda Taiajbee

Wednesday, 26 April 2006

Philippines: Malabon, San Teodoro, Calapan

From Philippines Photo Album
This distribution was the most emotional for all of us. Some of the children bedkit recipients were chosen from the Salvation Army, as they had been abused in their own homes. One of these was a little boy named Jack. He was a beautiful child with an endearing smile. Brenda did a superb job of making him feel comfortable and at ease enough for his photo.

Also included in this distribution was a sweet little girl, who had a hole in her heart. Too weak to walk, we took turns carrying her for the photo (she smiled wonderfully!) and also to receive her bedkit. Dr. Juan (Ito) Torres, our beloved SCAW Co-ordinator in the Philippines, was made aware of her situation and said that he would follow up for her to receive the proper medical attention.

We enjoyed a scenic drive south of Manila around beautiful Lake Taal. We were able to partake in a commanding view of a lake within a lake. Two perfectly shaped volcanoes appear in the centre of the lake, the small one being still active!

Upon reaching the port of Batanga, we embarked on the super ferry to cross the famous Verde Strait to the port of San Teodoro on the lush island of Mindoro.

Kay Mountford
for the SCAW Philippines Travelling Team

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Philippines: Manila

Off the ladies went this morning in the company of Alice Torres for a detox at a salon near the university where Dr. Torres has his clinic. We came out feeling refreshed and cleansed, a real treat.

Our afternoon distribution of 550 bedkits was in a suburb of Manila. It was interesting to meet a young man who received a bedkit 20 years ago, and today his son was receiving a bedkit. We had a chance to talk to Noel, the father, and discovered that he's a fine looking young man, and is employed and seemed happy to see us. His son Patrick gave us a big smile for the picture.

We're having trouble getting to the internet cafe but will try to send a photo with the next Live Report.

Linda Taiabjee
for the SCAW Philippines Travelling Team

Monday, 24 April 2006

Philippines: San Esteban

From Philippines Photo Album
We started the day with breakfast at the home of a local Kiwanian in San Esteban before proceeding to the distribution site. We were treated to a performance of a Spanish dance by 8 local children -- beautifully done -- in beautiful costumes.

The backdrop for the pictures was creatively done by the teachers, and included a live goat.

Following the distribution we headed north to the historic Spanish town of Vigan where we did some sightseeing and shopping before heading back on a very long drive -- 10 hours -- to Manila.

Linda Taiabjee
for the SCAW Philippines Travelling Team

Sunday, 23 April 2006

Philippines: Sunday

Only one distribution today, but a big one: 500 bedkits. This was also our first time doing group photos. We were greeted by a sea of smiling faces waving Canadian flags. After the distribution we travelled even further north to San Esteban, and finished the day with a swim in the sea, dinner, and karaoke on the beach.

Linda Taiabjee
for the SCAW Philippines Travelling Team

Saturday, 22 April 2006

Philippines: Angeles & Cabiao

We had an early start north from Manila on a 4-lane highway to Angeles. This was a distribution of 400 bedkits, some to children of families who didn't have the resources to send the children to school. Some of the items in the bedkit such as socks, backpack, school supplies and face cloth will help to facilitate the children being able to go to school.

The afternoon found us in the grotto of a beautiful church in Cabiao. Some of the children here were from a mountain region. Both of the distributions today seemed to be to especially needy children which is most gratifying.

Linda Taiabjee
for the SCAW Philippines Travelling Team

Friday, 21 April 2006

Philippines: Escopa

Our second day began at Escopa, still in the greater Manila City at a local school. These children arrived from 2 locations: the surrounding area as well as the squatter area. Last December a fire under a road bridge displaced the hundred families that lived there. Now they are camped into a covered basketball court, and the government is still arguing where to locate these people. We visited this temporary home and it was pathetic and dirty.

Needless to say, these families greatly appreciated the gift of your bedkit.

In the afternoon, we traveled to the slums of Tagiog. We were privileged to be joined by our Consul General of Canada to the Philippines, Andre Ducas and his lovely wife Gill. 400 hundred more happy faces left our hands today.

Linda Taiabjee
for the SCAW Philippines Travelling Team

Thursday, 20 April 2006

Philippines: Antipolo

From Philippines Photo Album
The very first day in the Philippines found us in the hills of Antipolo, just west of Manila where we handed out 300 bedkits. We also visited the Kiwanis warehouse where the 5,000 bedkits are assembled and stored -- very organized and efficient!

In the afternoon we travelled to Angono, not too far way to distribute another 300 bedkits.

Linda Taiabjee
for the SCAW Philippines Travelling Team