In the beginning...
A few years ago Florencia Kingscote went home to her native land, the Philippines. In her hometown Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya, Florencia witnessed the suffering of so many handicapped children whose impoverished parents were unable to provide for their vary basic needs.
The untold suffering of these children moved Florencia so much that she set up the Philippine Disabled Children Project. In doing so, she hoped to make people aware of the terrible plight of anyone with disabilities in the Philippines.
In the United Kingdom, the handicapped are recognised. They like other human beings, can exercise their basic human rights, they are cared for, they have a voice.
In the Philippines, people who are mentally or physically handicapped are doomed. The stigma attached to the family with a disabled child is so great that such a child is hidden away, not to be seen or heard for fear of being ridiculed. To the community these children do not exist. This is a sad fact, but it is a reality that needs to be addressed not ignored.
The handicapped children in Bambang are left to their own devices whilst their carers are out to toil in the fields or begging to provide for their families.
There is no help coming from anyone at all, these unfortunate children never get the chance to have any form of mental or physical stimulation. They are prisoners in their homes, not knowing that there is another world outside their dark, squalid rooms.
Florencia's heart went out to the carers when she saw their difficulties, hopelessness and frustration of not being able to provide for their unfortunate children.
So the charity began...
Bambang is situated in the Province of Nueva Vizcaya which is in the heart of the mountainous Northern Luzon and is often referred to as "the gateway to Cagayan Valley" as it is located at the southernmost part of the Region.
In 1609, Father Thomas Gutierrez, a Dominican missionary from Pangasinan, arrived to establish the first missionary settlement (subsequently called YTUY) which today actually comprises the towns of ARITAO, DUPAX, BAMBANG and parts of KAYAPA. Although the seat of the vast missionary settlement of YTUY was Aritao, which was established as early as 1609, it was not until 1747 that the first missionaries, Father Urmanza and Father Franco, arrived in Bambang.
In 1751, Father Urmanza was transferred, leaving Father Franco alone attending to the spiritual needs of the new 16 converted natives. He then converged them in one site, what is now known as PUNAWA. There, the people settled once again at Tabangan Hill.
In 1777, the people transferred to a place within the vicinity of a pit ("bang-bang") were the warring Ilongots and Igorots buried their weapons to symbolize the end of their tribal feuds. Subsequently, the name Bambang is derived from the term "Bang-Bang".
Brief history of the Philippines
Situated on the crossroads of Asia, on the Eastern rim of the China Sea, the Philippines has hosted voyagers, migrants and traders since the dawn of history. Early trade with China and Japan can be traced on the archaeological relics left behind by traders in the banks of major hubs of the country.
The West discovery of the Philippines in 1512 facilitated the growth of Christianity and emergence of new culture. However, Spanish colonization did not actually begin until 1565 when voyager Miguel Lopez de Legaspi established a Spanish base in the town of Manila, the Philippines' Capital.
In 1898, the Philippines won independence after 327 years under the Spanish rule, but found themselves controlled by the Americans from 1900-1942 and then the Japanese form 1942-1945. The Americans brought over their educational and legal systems and introduced their style of government. With the end of the Japanese occupation in 1946, the Philippines regained democracy as a Republic. True democracy was fully achieved by the Filipinos after the 'People Power Revolution' in 1986 which led to the downfall of the reigning dictatorship. Still one of the strongest democracies in Asia, the current president is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The Philippines has a tropical climate with relatively abundant rainfall and gentle winds. There are three pronounced seasons; the wet or rainy season from June to October; the cool and dry season from November to February; and the hot or dry season from March to May.>
The Philippines is the world's third English-speaking country, after the United Kingdom and the USA. While there are over 100 regional dialects, the national language is Filipino, English is widely used in commercial and legal transactions.
The dominant religion in the Philippines is Catholicism, though a significant number are Protestants and Moslems.
The Annual Thames Bridges Walk was held on Saturday, 5 March and was attended by 20 very energetic walkers and two dogs. Eric’s Walking Team is increasing in number every year. Many friends and members of the Filipino Club at Westminster Cathedral as well as Cathedral Parishioners made up the group of 20 Walkers. We hope that the new members who joined the walk for the first time to raise funds for the children of the Bambang Sunshine Project will join again next year. Many thanks to all the kind participants and to their generous sponsors for their continuing support which is greatly appreciated.
We are happy to mention and acknowledge the contribution of one of the late Eric’s grandsons in giving publicity to the Project. Connor Considine Leahy who was a member of World Scout Organisation wrote an essay about the Bambang Sunshine Project which he read out during their Cub Scouts awards ceremony. Our thanks to Connor for publicising our cause.
Jake Fontanilla, a member without sight was very excited to inform the Bambang Committee that the local Radio Veritas 90.1 Spirit FM presented him in their Radio Station an award for Commission of Social Communications. Jake reported that he is a regular caller at the midday radio phone in of Radio Veritas. He was recognised for his confidence in communicating with the Radio DJ’s. At his interview on the Awards Night, Jake talked about the Bambang Sunshine Project and that he is grateful to be a member and for the support that he receive. That was indeed a good publicity for the Project. Congratulations to Jake for his award. I am sure that Jake will maintain his excellent endeavours and in doing so will enhance the positive profile of the Project.
Felmie Rose Perez is a member of the Bambang Sunshine Project and is undergoing a training course to be a Catechist under the guidance of Pastor Frankie Cayaban. Felmie has one eye but this does not deter her from her wish to be a teacher. We wish Femy success in her teacher training course. Further wonderful publicity for the Project.
Charo C. Semilla, daughter of Ike Cayaban, the Secretary of the Bambang Sunshine Project, started a fund raising initiative in Manila where she works and live. Charo’s Challenge was set up in 2015. In Charo’s words: “The world needs little acts of kindness and what better way to do so than to help those who are in need. I have coined the idea from 2 initiatives that circulated in the social media. The Lima Para sa Bata programme was inspired by the “Ice Bucket Challenge” and money challenge which became a successful fund raising initiative on social media last year.
A new branch of the SPED School was recently opened in Bambang Elementary.
This school is especially for children who dropped out from school and were unable to complete their Primary or Secondary Education. In order for these children to catch up with their Education, the Alternative Learning System (ALS) was created to encourage further learning of the three R’s as well as learning vocational skills.
The proceeds from the John Keen Memorial Luncheon 2015 went towards the buying of a computer and school materials for the pupils of ALS. The donations from this year’s Luncheon will go towards another computer and school supplies for the children.
April is a happy occasion for Bambang as it celebrates it’s popular annual Town Fiesta.
Bambang is bustling with festivities during this month. Parades, town fares, school fates, and contests of all descriptions are enjoyed. The children supported by the Project happily joined in the town parade and participated in the public dances and shows. They were given pocket money to spend on the rides and in the sweet shops. They had great fun going around the different stalls and shows in the town plaza.
The children, with their parents celebrated this day of love with a programme held in the Senior Citizen’s Hall. Mr. Valentine this year was Darwin Sotto whose birthday coincidentally falls on February 14. He was so happy to be chosen Mr. Valentine. Cloudeth Ofrancia was thrilled to be crowned Miss Valentine. The whole day event was full of laughter, activities and shared fun for all the children. Their parents also participated in the parlour games and enjoyed line dancing.
Our latest newsletter is now available to download...
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write: Jonathon Lipscomb
Bambang Sunshine Project
153 Bartholomew Close, East Hill, London SW18 1JG.