LitClub Updates: LitClub Zamboanga Discussing Confidence


February 24, 2018

Saturday | Zamboanga Sibugay


Our Zamboanga Sibugay LitClub members had an exciting list of activities for the week:


~ Discussing Confidence: Taking a Stand.

In this activity, LitClub members were asked to advocate for something they believe in.

Members shared their thoughts of what was one moment this week when they felt really great about themselves.



~ Community Building Activity: Earth, Air, Water, Fire.

This activity aimed to enhance the LitClub members’ vocabulary and public speaking skills.

In a circle, when the leader would say “earth,” “air,” “water,” or “fire,” the members would point at the leader and quickly respond with any creature that lived in that environment e.g. fish.

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~ Storytelling for Read Aloud

For our younger members, a storytelling time was held for them to enjoy and learn moral lessons as well. The story for the day was about an old woman who loves to read.




Thank you so much to our volunteer and LitClub coordinator Teacher Jen Cardente and family for the photos!






Basic Photography Lesson for HOPE Youth Members


Batia, Bocaue, Bulacan, Philippines

February 17, 2018 | Saturday


For this day at our PEARLS Learning Center in Batia, Bulacan, our HOPE youth members hosted a “Basic Photography Workshop”.


About our HOPE Youth Members:
In 2017, three girls from Bulacan joined the HerStory Summit in New York in which they shared their stories with other girls from different countries. From then on, they created their own community action plan called HOPE Project (Health, Opportunities, Power, Education). HOPE Project focuses on providing health education for boys and girls. The project expanded to providing a safe space for high school to college members to study, do school work and other extra-curricular activities to further provide them with more opportunities for growth and empowerment.




We would like to thank Torvic Fernandez for being our guest speaker and mentor for this day’s hands on class. Torvic is a professional wedding and events photographer. He was a former employee of BPI, a typical ‘8-5’ employee, but later decided to pursue his passion as a photographer and made it as his living.

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Our PEARLS learning center filled with eager students to learn something new today.

Torvic first had a brief discussion about photography and its basic rules and the entire class intently listened

We all love taking pictures—whether it be with cameras or mobile phones—and, thanks to Torvic, we now know how to take simple but aesthetic photos.

Some of the lessons he shared were:

While taking photos, we must emphasize on our subject by applying these rules:

  • Fill the frame
  • Blur the background
  • Contrast
  • Leading Lines going to the subject
  • Frame the subject
  • Use the rule of thirds




After the short discussion, HOPE members had the chance to take photos using mobile phones and cameras applying the rules that they have learned. Torvic instructed his students for the day to go out of the Learning Center and take photos of anything outside.


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Shortly after, members went back inside. Torvic checked the photos the students took and gave them advice on how to enhance their photos and how to improve.



Of course, the day ended with a happy group photo!


Thank you so much Torvic and to Hilary as well for bringing him here in Bulacan to give a free workshop.


Flowery Chinese Lanterns




­­­­Project Pearls Brain Booster

February 24, 2018


Helping Land, Tondo, Manila, Philippines




For this week’s Brain Booster in Helping Land, kids made colorful paper Chinese lanterns with paper flowers as the designs. This is in observance of the recent celebration of Lunar New Year and the Panagbenga Festival in Baguio.


Every February, we celebrate Lunar New Year and Baguio’s Panagbenga Festival. Our Brain Booster for this Saturday commemorated these celebrations.


The paper lanterns are an ode to Lunar New Year and the Panagbenga or Flower Festival in Baguio inspires the flowery designs. Both occasions are being observed and recognized all over the country. Filipinos will always find reasons to be happy despite of the different hardships we are going through.


Here are our PEARLS’ children’s creations! Thank you volunteers for assisting them.

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Thank you so much to our long time volunteers and advocates, Ginny Matabang and Criselle Timonera-Toral for sponsoring this day’s Brain Booster and feeding program.


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Ginny and Criselle have volunteered for Project PEARLS since 2011.



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They sponsored this day to give back and share their birthday blessings. Happy, happy birthday to the both of you!


Thank you also to all our guest volunteers from Optum for donating medicines for wound care and for giving medical kits to the kids.

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And to all our volunteers whether old or new, thank you so much for all your shared time, love and care dedicated for the wonderful youngsters living in the slums of Tondo.



 Photos by: Sidney Snoeck (Thank you!)



Let’s all meet Michelle Angeli Dela Peña.




She’s a volunteer of Project Pearls for more than 5 years already and still counting.  Here’s a short text from her on why she volunteers and what is volunteerism for her.



“I volunteer because I saw that there are a lot of people needing help.
Volunteerism for me is willingly doing something without expecting anything in return.


We must continue to help others because there’s a lot of them who needs our help. It doesn’t have to be always money or material things.
Sometimes what they need is just your time and attention a part of you that is priceless.

I witnessed lives saved and changed for the better with the help of ordinary people, doing what maybe simple acts to others but miracles to those who they have helped.

This is my proof that there is good in this world and a feeling of joy that I cannot put into words is my reason why I volunteer.”




To join us on our growing family, you may sign up here.

Volunteer. Advocate. Take time to share.

Valentine’s Day at Helping Land



Project Pearls Brain Booster

February 10, 2018


Helping Land, Tondo, Manila, Philippines


“Valentine. Is the day of love. Many ways to express affection to the people we love. By way of giving a gift that is definitely synonymous with words of love and romantic. Gifts do not have to be very expensive.”

~Arif Jmsh



It was a Happy-Hearty day at Helping Land for this Saturday morning!


Our Pearls kids learned how to make colorful paper hearts using watercolors and old newspapers. They made these pieces of art to serve as presents for their loved ones in celebration of Valentine’s Day.



As always, we began the day with serving food to the kids.




Thank you PACSSM for sponsoring this day’s feeding and Brain Booster activity! Thank you also for volunteering today.


Our guests and first-time volunteers introduced themselves to the kids then, as a way of saying ‘Thank You’, some of our Pearls kids performed a dance for us.

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Great performance, kids!


After the dance, we then had a short film viewing. The movie was about the history of Valentine’s Day.


This worldwide celebration of Valentine’s Day started thousands of years ago through St. Valentine.He secretly wedded soldiers with their lovers who wanted to get married. During this time, Roman soldiers were forbidden from marriage because the government wanted them to focus on wars. He was then sentenced to death. But, before he died, he wrote a letter for his judge’s daughter labeling it, “From your Valentine…”

February 14 was his death anniversary and, from then on, Valentine’s Day was then celebrated every year to commemorate St. Valentine’s martyrdom. Valentine’s Day then became a popular celebration, especially for couples.


After the film, the volunteers then taught the kids how to create a unique Valentine’s card using watercolors and old newspapers.

Then it became a busy courtyard for the Pearls kids and volunteers.

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Here you go! Presenting their artworks full of hearts and colorful love!

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Thank you for today volunteers and Happy Valentines!




May our hearts will always be filled with love and joy not only during Valentine’s Day but all year round!


Aya’s Birthday Celebration at Jollibee and Museo Pambata


February 3, 2018


Luneta, Manila, Philippines



“A lot of people ask me why I do it and my answer is simple — it makes me happy.”

-Hilary Anne Diaz, Project Pearls Volunteer since 2015




Hilary, aka Ate Aya, had her third annual birthday celebration with the kids of Helping Land! She’s been a great volunteer and generous sponsor since joining Project Pearls since 2015.


In 2016, she spent her 23rd birthday at Helping Land with 300 kids and then with 50 selected kids at Kidzania.


For her 24th birthday last year, she hosted a kiddie party with a magic show at Helping Land once more and over 300 kids happily joined.



This year—for Ate Aya’s 25th birthday—she celebrated with 50 selected kids at Jollibee Luneta Manila. These kids include our top scholars, kids with great attendance, and kids that Hilary personally chose herself.


The kiddie party included parlor games and a yummy Jollibee lunch.

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We even had a special guest come out for the party! Hello there, Jollibee!

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Warm greetings, heartfelt wishes and birthday songs for Ate Aya filled the whole party place.



We are grateful that Ate Aya’s generosity and love for the PEARLS Kids is unconditional!


After lunch, we headed to the Museong Pambata to continue this blessed day.

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Two hours at the museum was full of fun, learning and unlimited playtime!


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Ate Aya also gave away party favors to the children.



Everyone ended the day happily


And here’s a short message from our birthday celebrant;


“Volunteering for Project PEARLS has made a huge impact in my life. A lot of people ask me why I do it and my answer is simple — it makes me happy. It makes me happy to see the kids having a good time. It makes me hopeful to see how eager they are to learn. It inspires me to see how the people in the community help each other. It encourages me to make a difference by working with people who share the same passion.


I volunteer because it makes me happy.


I wanted to share this happiness with the kids and my family & friends by celebrating my 25th birthday with a Jollibee party and a trip to Museo Pambata.


A big thank you to my family and friends who never fail to support me. This would not have been possible without all of you.”



Thank you so much Aya!


May you remain the sweetest and caring Ate to our PEARLS kids! Thank you for being a great person to your co-volunteers, friends and family too!

God bless you! We all so love and value you!






Festival Inspired Artwork



Project Pearls Brain Booster

January 20, 2018 | Saturday

Helping Land, Tondo, Manila


Let’s go festive for this day’s Brain Booster Activity!



Aside from inspiring creativity, our program aims to give kids a deeper appreciation of Filipino Culture. Different festivals all over the country are colorful, joyous and being celebrated by everyone. Festivals include costumes, street dances, parades, processions, and even demonstration of historical traditions and legends. Neighborhood get-togethers with a lot of specialty food is also on the list.

Despite the different circumstances or even economic and personal crisis every Filipino is going through, festivals will always be in the line for celebration.

And for this week, we want the kids to know more about this Philippine culture that we are truly rich and proud of.

The day started with more than 200 kids having their breakfast and probably the only decent meal they can have in a day.


And then one of our volunteers, Steven, entertained the kids by singing two original Filipino music even though he came from a foreign land. He can sing fluently using the Filipino language! Thank you so much for amusing us, Steven especially the young ones!





And then Brain Booster Time!

After a short film about Sinulog, kids were taught how to create headdresses made of colored papers.


This is in line with the celebration of Sinulog Festival every January. Sinulog Festival is one of the most colorful and most popular festivals in the Philippines.


An hour inside our courtyard filled with busy kids creating unique headdresses out of colored papers, cutting it into different sizes and shapes.

Another fun activity to boost kids’ creativity!





Thank you to all the volunteers who’s been with us this Saturday morning! Thank you so much for all your help and see you next week for another day of new learnings, uniqueness and fun!



Scholars Describing Their Loved Ones



Project Pearls After School Program

January 14, 2018 | Sunday

Helping Land, Tondo, Manila, Philippines


This day’s After School Program focused on adjectives. To engage the scholars in the subject, we had them draw their family members in their notebooks and use adjectives to describe them.

But, before we proceed with our main activity, the kids had their feeding first.

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We would like to thank Brian Lim, family and friends for sponsoring this day’s feeding and for being with us as volunteers today as well!

Thank you so much for the support, love, effort and time you shared for this day with the kids of Helping Land, Tondo, Manila!


Volunteers were assigned to teach 4-5 kids per school year level. They were also given a basic lesson on how to teach the scholars about adjectives and how to lead this day’s activity. After the feeding, these artistic and academic lessons began!

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Scholars defined their loved ones positively. You can tell that despite their hardships, having a family whom they can depend on can surpass it all.

Some of them described their parents as brave, loving, kind, supportive, hardworking and more!

Some described their siblings as naughty but also loving and supportive to them.

Through this activity, our scholars realized that there are so many things that they can still be thankful for.

This day ended with inspiring stories for everyone and an enhancement of our scholars’ English skills.

Thank you so much for all the help and support volunteers!


Cheers to more fruitful and motivating Sunday mornings!


More photos are on our official Facebook page:

A Volunteer’s Journey: Featuring Rita Dela Cruz


“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” — Unknown



Here’s a short piece written by one of our great Project Pearls volunteer and advocate Rita Dela Cruz explaining why she volunteers and what is volunteerism for her:


“I volunteer because I feel it’s a moral obligation on my part to share whatever I have to those who have less or to those who have totally nothing.



Some children are born to poverty, to which they have no control of, and so I somehow, I feel a bit empowered given that I have something I could give.




Also, I volunteer because I find something incredibly satisfying in doing something that is in a way, consistent with what I believe. Every change starts with a small action.






Volunteerism for me is an investment of your time, emotion, and pain. For one to say that, “I feel you”, you have to know the community’s heartaches and what the people’s heartbeats communicate.”



-Rita Dela Cruz, Project Pearls volunteer and photographer since 2012


A Volunteer’s Journey: Featuring Maemae Figuracion


“Why do you volunteer?”





Whenever I try to answer the question, I just get so emotional. There’s this feeling of sadness and, at the same time, an overwhelming feeling of love and hope.


I’ve been spending a handful of Sunday and Saturday mornings in Helping Land for almost three years now.


On some days, it is so depressing. I walk my way towards the courtyard and see kids as young as two years old sipping through other people’s trash, I see families living amongst mountains of garbage. But on most days, my heart just overflows with love and hope – strangers welcoming me with a smile and a “Good Morning!” and children running towards me and giving me a hug, people offering and sharing their only meal for the day, kids happily singing and dancing and playing, and so much more.


I have never felt such a great sense of belonging in a community despite the harshness of reality that surrounds them.


Spending time regularly with them, the reasons for why I volunteer continue to grow.

At first, my thinking was that I have been given so much in life and it was important for me to give back – if not financial support, at least my time. Then, I suddenly wanted to help them get out of poverty through education, inspiring them and making them realize their potentials.


Then, the sense of fulfillment I got in doing what I love and seeing their smiles gave me purpose. Now, most importantly, I volunteer not just because of what I am capable of giving them, but because of what I am taking in return, what they are capable of giving me. These people who fill my life are the poorest I have ever met, yet they have given me so much.


They teach me something new every day, including what I should value most. Volunteering has brought such a paradigm shift in my life that I honestly can’t imagine myself living outside this culture.


Written by: Maemae Figuracion, Project Pearls Volunteer since 2015