In July 2015, the Bayanihan Foundation supported the trip to the Philippines with the NEXTGEN Fellows and the Kaluluwa Kolectivo. The following four blog posts reflect insights and experiences of that trip.
Muslims are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, a holy day that comes at the end of Ramadan. Eid al-Fitr is a day of merriment and thanksgiving marked by gatherings with friends and family, wearing new clothes, exchanging gifts and putting up lights. It is also a time for reflection, a time to remember those who don’t have enough, to count our blessings while also giving charity to others. The Bayanihan Foundation follows this spirit of giving that cuts across religion and ethnicity.
In July 2015, the Bayanihan Foundation partnered with the Zakat Foundation of America in distributing over 3 tons of rice and food to over 100 indigent Filipino Muslim families in Iligan City, Philippines. Since 2010, the food package distribution was made possible by the tireless efforts of many people including my uncle and aunt, Dr. Vicente and Mrs. Luz Saavedra, the local Imam, Atty. Saidali Gandamra and countless volunteers from the Rotary Iligan South and Rotary Iligan East.
For the last five years, Christian Rotarian volunteers have packed, distributed and provided help in giving these food packages to indigent Filipino Muslims. The years of gift giving has engendered goodwill and trust among the local community and slowly but surely built trust and peace among Christians and Muslims in the area.
The local volunteers including the local Imam, Atty. Gandamra chose Barangay (village) Mahayahay to be the recipients of these food packages as many residents there recently suffered a devastating fire in the neighborhood. One hundred families received a fifty-pound sack of rice, canned goods, sugar, coffee, ramen noodles and other condiments that will last them for one month. This must have been the largest food gift giving they have ever received.
I am so glad that I got to share this gift giving and food distribution with the NEXTGEN Fellows and the participants of the Kaluluwa Kolectivo, Filipino-American students and young professionals traveling and rediscovering their heritage. I was fortunate to share this important part of the Philippines where both Christians and Muslims strive to live together and find common ground.