Philippines 2018_Day 2_Monday
Travel from Manila to Tacloban to San Isidro
Our team arrived in Manila the night before (Sunday) at different times. We met in the hotel in the morning and went to the airport together.
As per last year, we took a flight from Manila to Tacloban, which is the closest city to San Isidro that we could fly to. Pastora Fely, along with the workers, volunteers and youth of River of Life Mission (ROLM), met us at Tacloban airport. A youth called Markneil immediately stood out. He immediately struck me as keen and passionate! My husband Jung Yin, who had been on the mission trip to the Philippines with BLi last year, told me all the youth and workers at ROLM are just as keen! That got me really excited!
The team was slightly hungry so we stopped at a fast food restaurant that was a Filipino family favourite – Jollibee. We had an amazing time bonding with the mission and ROLM team. We tried the fried chicken, which was an instant favourite among the team! Filipino style spaghetti was quite an eye-opener to me.
The next part of the journey was a little tougher than expected. It was a 4-hour van journey to the town of Dolores . We visited the ROLM church at Dolores which was just by the river. Our first task required teamwork, efficiency and lots of laughter! We were given boxes of necessities eg toothpaste, soap, food etc, and the team quickly formed a system much like a production line in a factory. These packed parcels were intended for the inmates at the 3 prisons we planned to visit in the next few days. All of these were bought from the donations from our wonderful BLi supporters. Thank you!
After this, we set off to San Isidro. We took a slow river boat to San Isidro which is a small village about 35 minutes boat-ride away from the much bigger town of Dolores. It became dark halfway through the journey to San Isidro, and much to our delight, we were able to catch countless clusters of fireflies along the marsh land. It was absolutely magical! This was Jung Yin and my honeymoon, and I could not think of a more romantic way to spend the first day of our honeymoon together!
Visit to the orphanage
The boat journey felt a lot shorter than 35 minutes with good company, an interlude with a beautiful display of fireflies and watching countless stars twinkling in the night sky. When we arrived at San Isidro, we immediately got dropped off at the ROLM God’s Children’s Home, which is an orphanage for local children. We could not in a million years anticipate what came next!
A ROLM youth and volunteer Gemima led 2 rows of children and they begun to sing at the top of their lungs to welcome us! They used coconut branches to make beautiful pink and blue flowers. A little girl ran up to me and gave me a bouquet of pink paper flowers. Jung Yin and I could not believe our eyes! We later found out Ai Seok had arranged this surprise with Gemima.
The team sat right outside the orphanage whilst the children sang and were eager to play. Jung Yin and I quickly realised the seats right in the centre were meant for us. The chairs were decorated meticulously with paper tiaras and flowers. There was a hand-drawn portrait of Jung Yin and I by Gemima on the wall behind us.
Everything was so perfect! Lots of couples say they are looking for a unique and unforgettable honeymoon experience. Well, I can honestly say – this was an experience we would remember for a lifetime! It is nothing that could be replicated anywhere else! And I thank Ai Seok, Gemima, Pastora Fely, along with the ROLM team, for making this such a memorable occasion for us!