“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” – John F. Kennedy It’s known to many that this quote inspired a lot of people and organizations around the world. It’s like a message that highlights the great importance of children as they are the most precious treasures a community can have. They are the promise and guarantee of the future; so they should be taken care of all the time. Members of IROG Foundation, along with LGO employees, used this quote as our inspiration in giving excellent service to adorable little children during our recent activity called “Soup Kitchen Activity” at Sta. Rita Elementary School on September 1, 2016. September 1 seems to be an ordinary day for all Grade 1 students of the school; but for the members of LGO and IROG, it was truly a special day because everyone wants to share their purpose of giving to a lot of charming, little students that day.The staff of IROG Foundation wholeheartedly prepared the food that we were going to deliver to all Grade 1 students of the said school. But before I elucidate the topic regarding the food, I would like to share how we were all excited before we even departed from our office. While we were preparing to leave, we were already imagining the sweet responses we will receive from the children and it was enough reason for us to become more motivated. Even though it was hot outside and we needed to travel for a few minutes before we could even get there, all of us had enough strength to work hard for them because we were eager to perform this beneficial activity. At exactly 1PM, we left the LGO compound to begin our voyage to the school. All of us rode a jeepney to get there and during our trip, I could hear some of my colleagues’ excited conversations and their words were all filled with enthusiasm. While we were on our way to the school, I couldn’t help myself but imagine the endless gratitude we will receive from those children. The thought of it made me more effervescent about our activity. A few minutes had passed since we left our office; and we finally arrived at our destination. Sta. Rita Elementary School has a tranquil surrounding and the moment we entered the place, I could feel the anticipation rushing through my veins. Watching the parents patiently waiting for their children inside the campus made me miss the old days.
As we looked around, you would notice the simplicity of the school and appreciate its charm. It was only a moment but it felt like I had been visiting the school for a number of times already because I felt comfortable being inside the school grounds. But it was then that my colleague led me to where the staff of IROG Foundation was. Everything was set and they were only waiting for us to arrive.
We rushed to the place and readied ourselves for our activity. And since it was a soup kitchen party, I already expected to see some delicious soup and to my surprise, there were also a lot of tasty bread. But before we even began, we didn’t forget to offer a prayer to God and express our gratitude towards all the blessings we received and asked His guidance to make this activity successful.
After the prayer, everyone was now focused on serving the children. Our first destination was the farthest room of the left building. You can’t help but giggle once you saw the surprised expression from the students because they were all very cute with their shocked faces.
Each class gave us a warm welcome and you would have seen in their eyes that they were really happy and some of them couldn’t wait to taste the foods that IROG especially prepared for them. Some of the children were doing little cheers for us and kept on pointing at their location, telling us to go faster to them.
The children were all charming and lovely, you will never have gotten tired looking at them being so joyful and thankful about their soup and bread. After we distributed their food, some of them already ate their bread, and it was cute how they said “It’s so tasty!” after just one bite. But their teachers never forgot to remind them that they needed to thank God first and offer a prayer before eating.
Sta. Rita Elementary School has 6 classrooms for Grade 1 students, and even though some rooms were quite far from each other, LGO and IROG members didn’t mind it. I could see some of my colleagues sweating hard from carrying the foods; but they still managed to smile and continued to pass happiness to the children.
We were really touched seeing their bright expressions and their mellifluous way of saying “Thank you po” each time we gave them their food. With this activity, LGO and IROG Foundation aim to instill the value of service to those young souls.
Before we left each classroom, we were encouraging them to always study hard and their responses were bright young smiles with a strong dedication and an honest “Opo” (Yes, we will). I personally translate those smiles as promises that they will do well in their studies and will build their future with optimistic minds. Because of those smiles, I’m confident that our activity truly provides good service to them.
Being a part of this kind of activity makes me so thankful to our company; because aside from giving service to others, our visits at school and charities also teach us life lessons. “Soup Kitchen Activity” taught me how vulnerable children could be, and I realized that each of them really needs proper guidance. I’m suddenly glad schools exist. I’m hoping that this event showed them how much adults really care for their well-being.
I also had the chance to see cute students while studying, a sight I rarely see every day; and seeing those students focused during their recitation or simply copying notes from the blackboard was indeed a delightful sight to see. And because we had more foods left, we also delivered them to some Grade 3 students and called some of the parents waiting outside to have some soup and bread.
I understand that each of us has our own answer to what is the purpose of giving; and I’m glad that I became a member of a company that invariably provides the meaning of giving through activities like this. However, LGO would not be a company like this without Sir Joel Castillo, the founder of LGO and now one of God’s angels, who’s known as a kind of person who doesn’t think twice about giving help to other people, especially to those who are in need.
The first time I became an employee of LGO and saw how Sir Joel, together with all the members of the company, did things, I felt overjoyed because it is not only about the growth of the company that was in the mind of our boss but also the welfare of other people and how to share his blessings with them.
Everything about LGO and IROG is an eye-opener for me at first, such as how everyone treats each other as a family and how everyone participated in sharing their blessings and offering their help to other people. And it seems that our boss’ own definition of giving has been passed on to everyone, especially to me. LGO and IROG’s deeds taught me that genuine happiness doesn’t come from what we get but from what we give.
… All these mixed feelings I’m having while writing this piece; they’re all imponderable
I firmly believe that death is not the opposite of life but a part of it.
It has been a year since Sir Joel, or Boss Owe, became one of God’s angels. I’m sure that he is guiding us from above and continually making sure that his presence is always felt by us.
The first time I saw Boss Owe, I felt this sudden rush of fear through my veins. I was so scared because he looked so strict. When he was in the office, I could not even type a word. (I could be exaggerating; but that’s what I really felt back then.) But after witnessing Boss Owe’s great kindness towards other people and his employees, everything changed. He suddenly became my idol. He was very kind-hearted and was always concerned of his employees’ welfare. Even though the time I spent with Boss Owe was short, I’m certain that his beliefs and principles are already written in the deepest parts of my heart. He is one of those few people I really adore because of his accomplishments as a successful businessman and his personal mark as a survivor of life’s greatest challenges.
Please bear with me as I recount two different events which occurred on September 16, 2015. First, LGO employees went that day to the Divine Mercy Memorial Park
to give something special for Boss Owe. Second, Ma’am Rose, her son, Ate Roselle and Ate Charlotte decided to go to the San Marcelino Hospital to give special gifts to some newborn-babies on behalf of the IROG Foundation.Jar of love letters (LGO employees at Divine Mercy)
It was during that morning of September 16 that each one of us wrote a special love-letter to Boss Owe. The papers we used were of different colors and we all put them in a "jar of love-letters". What we had was such a colorful jar which made us really proud and happy.
We left the office around 1:30 P.M. for the Divine Mercy where Boss Owe had been laid to rest. Everyone did not mind the scorching heat of the day because our minds were filled with the thought of visiting Boss Owe once again. Also, we were so eager to give Boss Owe our special gifts.
Once we got there, most of us hesitated from reading our letters in front of Boss Owe (we believed he was there with us) and everyone else. But after a while, Kuya Ryan started to give his heartfelt message to Boss Owe and we felt a rush of sadness in every word he said. And before he became too emotional, he ended his message with a smile and told a simple joke to lighten up the mood. After Kuya Ryan, it was Ms. Faye, Mayeth, and Kuya Dong who read their own heartfelt special messages for Boss Owe.
Then, after filling our "jar of love letters", we sang Superman by Five for Fighting for Boss Owe (I'd heard from my office-mates that it was a very special song, being one of Boss Owe's favorite songs). We didn’t have any musical instruments with us but simply hoped that our "golden" voices will make our "special number" worth doing. Haha! And again, all of us felt hesitant to start our presentation. I don't remember how many "Okay guys, this is it; be ready in 3, 2, 1...*awkward silence*...." moments we went through. After each awkward-silence moment, we would all burst into laughter! I could imagine Boss Owe laughing at us and doing a face-palm, because we have always been that way during unified singing. But as we stood and sang by Boss Owe's graveside, I knew that each one of us left a simple promise. A promise that he will never be forgotten and his beliefs and deeds in life will always be remembered.
Delivering hope to new beginnings
Boss Owe was a person who was truly devoted to his principles in life. That is why it is not surprising that we admire his strength of character. I just joined the company last year and I witnessed how Boss Owe's positive attitude influenced each and every one of us. Yes, there were challenges that came; but we knew that Boss Owe was always around to guide us; and if we can hear him now, he might be telling us to never give up and to ever stay positive.
Boss Owe also greatly valued the life of every person; that is why on the same day of September 16, Ma'am Rose (Boss Owe's loving wife), as well as their son, Ate Roselle and Ate Lot, paid a visit to the San Marcelino Hospital to give newborn-babies some of their basic needs, such as baby bottles, blankets, diapers, milk and stuffed toys. Almost 20 infants received those special gifts prepared by the IROG Foundation. And for every bag handed out to the parents of the babies, we got back the refreshing sense of fulfillment and great satisfaction for all the efforts we put into the preparations. It felt really good to see all their smiles and to hear all their "thank you’s". It was truly a delightful opportunity to be part of the gift-giving.
Seeing those innocent babies gave me that wonderfully rare feeling, as if those tiny angels were telling me that life is such a precious gift we must cherish at every moment. Babies are the cutest creatures on Earth! And just looking at them made us giggle like kids again.
The day we lost Boss Owe, we felt our own life had ended, too, because of so much grief. But Boss Owe had taught us many things, including the lesson that “no matter what life brings you, keep on moving forward and stay positive”. So now, we face each day with hope and happy memories to help us on our way. Even though he is no longer here with us, his influence continues to guide us and his presence remains as real and as strong as the memories he gave us.
The life of a person might end, but his memories do not; because when someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a great treasure you would always want to hold in your heart. The laughter, the smiles and all the fun we shared with Boss Owe are incomparable. They are memories of forever. They will never die because they live within our hearts, bringing strength and comfort.
Lupang Pangako. It's the area at the top of a mountain in Brgy. Amungan, Iba, Zambales where the Aetas affected by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991 were relocated. It was almost a two-hour journey from Subic where the office and most of IROG Foundation's volunteers are based. To say that the road to Sitio Lupang Pangako was not easily accessible would be an absolute understatement. However, that didn't take away the fun of the road trip from us. The counterintuitive notion of "the more you give, the more you receive" had been proven true once again. A documentary video by Logicgateone Corporation
The Chess Tournament
is an Isabelita Rosueta Organization
Project in Memory of Joel “Owe” Castillo
, the Chairman of the charitable institution for children and the needy.
Around 26 chess enthusiasts
in different ages gathered last April 12, 2015
for the pre-elimination round. Geared with their respective strategies for the board game, only the Top 16 was chosen during the elimination round. The competition was a long run event in screening the most dynamic players leading for the Top 2 best players; Mr. Alfredo Bivas
and Mr. Khruschev Tolentino
The championship round was a best of 3 game
. During the first round the game seems so fast as each player exchanges their moves and as time goes by, the air was filled with intensity as they seriously focused on their target. The mind boggling game
ended with a checkmate by Mr. Tolentino followed by a surrendered game in the second round in favor of Mr. Tolentino leading him to be declared as the champion last May 16, 2015.
The event was supported by the dedicated LGO Staff
and IROG Volunteers
. And as we always said “It is not about winning but it is on how you play the game.”
The wait is over. In commemoration of Boss Joel "Owe" Castillo, the Mind On Board 2015 Chess Tournament is now on the go.
Who will really stand out and will be declare as the champion?
Let's see for the final move!
It was barely past eight when our bus finally reached the last leg of the trip -- the tricky path up the mountain. But instead of a typical camping trip, we had planned on something more meaningful that Friday morning.
Our mission: To give some school supplies to elementary school pupils, and let them have some fun playing games while we're at it.
Our destination: Lupang Pangako. It's the area at the top of a mountain in Brgy. Amungan, Iba, Zambales where the Aetas affected by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991 were relocated. It was almost a two-hour journey from Subic where the office and most of IROG Foundation's volunteers are based. To say that the road to Sitio Lupang Pangako was not easily accessible would be an absolute understatement. However, that didn't take away the fun of the road trip from us. (Though I suspect our bus driver and his sidekick would say otherwise.)
Thankfully, the children still looked excited when we got to the school, even with our rather late arrival. And with kids being kids, it was not hard getting them all fired up for outdoor games. They had fun playing, especially in the Flour Game where they had to puff on a bowl of flour to find an item buried underneath without using their hands. You can just imagine the racket that would ensue when five kids were to do this simultaneously on the same bowl! Yep, hilarious chaos. The boys' team found it so amusing to have flour-faces that they were laughing at each other even after the game.
Another really fun game was the Fish Race where they had to make the paper fish travel around an obstacle by fanning it with a folder. Somebody commented that perhaps by the time the game ends, that paper fish will be no more. True enough, halfway through the game, the "fish" was barely recognizable in its crumpled form. But what really cracked people up were those kids who were seriously trying to 'fan' the paper fish but were, humorously enough, only hitting sand.
They also had turns playing Calamansi Relay and Ball Relay. You could tell there was unmistakable competitiveness between the teams when by the end of each game the winning team would jump around and do victory shouts -- talk about unlimited energy!
We also gave out trinkets and small toys that seemed to be greatly appreciated by them. In fact, you'd hardly see any pupils who were not sporting either a colorful hairband or a pair of sunglasses.
Their teachers were also commendable for their dedication in their job, especially because they're working way out of their comfort zones. It's not easy teaching hyperactive children to line up properly even for a food distribution, but with a little help, the team managed it.
During break time, we couldn't help but smile when every kid said a "thank you" while we handed them snacks. After everyone got their share, there were still some leftovers so we decided to give seconds to some of the kids nearby. It proved to be a bad call on our part because we totally got mobbed by the rest of the kids in a matter of seconds! (It's a real funny scene where our pleads of "hold on" were lost on their "me too". I see now we should have asked them to line up again for seconds. Lesson learned.)
While eating their snacks, for some reason, we noticed the kids were all gathering in the middle of the field. I was still trying to figure it out when some of the lively boys suddenly went on an impromptu dance showdown! (Like I said, unlimited energy.)
We managed to have small talks with some of them, albeit limited to what-is-your-name and how-old-are-you kind of conversations. But just as some were too shy to talk, you could tell they love the camera as they gamely smiled and waved.
It's a real blessing to see them enjoying themselves like all kids should.
Somehow, the counterintuitive notion of "the more you give, the more you receive" had been proven true once again. Because as our bus started to leave the school that afternoon, I can't help but think we've already received our reward: 200 smiling faces.
We are all set for tomorrow's activity.
Our hearts are filled with so much excitement as we are all ready to extend help to our Aetas brothers and sisters.
No other words can express how happy we are to see their precious smiles.
IROG is on the move!
"Walk for a mile and build a bridge to lend a hand to others."
Lupang Pangako Elementary School, Iba Zambales. The Promised Land - total of 205 Aeta elementary students. Lupang Pangako is a resettlement area of the Aeta tribe displaced by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991.