We spent Easter literally in the air, on four different airplanes. From Brussels to Milan. From Milan to Istanbul. From Istanbul to Kuwait. And from Kuwait to Manila in the Philippines.
When we were asked about how we survived this great holidays, we could reply as follows:
‘Very vividly and symbolically. Just as Jesus rose from death to life, so have we we departed from spiritual stunned Europe and landed to the hot pulse of life and joy.’
Philippines are considered the most Catholic country in Asia (over 90% population). Their faith is strong, solid, deep, proud to be Christians. Churches are full.
There is a completely different picture in France, Italy, Belgium and Spain, where we traveled last year. European churches are large and beautiful, but mostly empty.
Moisture and heat
If you ever traveled to the tropics, then you know what it feels like when you step out of the plane. Moisture and heat (35 degrees Celsius) are nearly take your breath away.
We were sweaty after the first few steps. But feelings are pleasant, the heat is different than we are used to, it slows you down and is overwhelming.
Drive to the office
On the main airport Ninoy Aquino we were greeted by Mr. Boy, a friendly older man who works as a volunteer for more than twenty years at the Pag-aalay ng Puso Foundation (Gift of the Heart), where we were headed as well.
We drove for an hour to reach the Foundation offices. Taxi drive prices are of course much lower than in Europe.
For one hour of comfortable drive, we paid 200 pesos (Philippine currency), which is around four Euros. In Belgium, where we had to make an emergency drive, we paid 15 Euros for four kilometers, this clearly can not be compared.
Although, interestingly, the prices of other services, and food especially, are very comparable to the EU, despite the obvious poverty which most of the Filipinos endure. The country is economically booming, large corporations and retail chains are spreading their networks throughout the country.
Economic growth however, as in any wild-capitalist system, provides many people with better quality of life, but many are left in even greater poverty and misery.
In the office we were warmly welcomed by the President of the Foundation, Theresa Dalumpines or ‘sister Tere’, as they call her here. After a warm welcome we handed over our two full bags of toys, which were gathered for poor children in the slums by the Slovenian children in Belgium.
We arrived here at the beginning of the summer season, right during holidays. Thus, the School Foundation’s activities currently at a standstill. However, some activities, such as prayer groups for people in the slums are still in progress.
Share poverty with poor
Our mission will be beautiful and interesting. We have already spent some time with the family in a barrack camp on the island of Navotas, right at the so called ‘funeral slum’.
We shared poverty with the people in the slum, getting to know their way of life and tried to understand at least a bit what it means to live and survive in conditions that are so foreign to us, maybe even repulsive.
In the weeks to come, we will regularly return to the slum, meet people, talked with them, with open eyes and ears to what we can still learn from them.
God in action
Operando then! Those who already know us, know that our primary task is to watch God at work.
God who is actively present in every moment of life of every human being. Even for the ones who are pushed to the extreme edge and seem to be abandoned, ignored and forgotten.
Money for people from the barracks
During the time that we will be spending with the people in the slums, we will be raising donations for the Gift of the Heart Foundation. An indispensable initiative, which allows for many children in the slums to get quality education, educates adults as well and offer them spiritual support.
Any donation, though small, is extremely precious here. These people have the option, we have the power to help them!
To donate please go to this link here.
Our time spent in the slum
In the following article you will read about how we spent time at the barrack camp and about the interesting people we met there.
Operando Expert Council
There’s something else to inform you about our society. At a time when we were back in Slovenia, we have formed a council of experts of the Operando association.
It consists of four distinguished individuals, experts in various social areas, namely: Dr. Zvone Štrubelj, Dr. Silvo Šinkovec, Dr. Jože Ramovš and MSc. Marko Zupanc.
Our team is expanding! You may read more about the team here.
Operando – Bog is working!