Showing posts tagged the let them go project
You know, two weeks ago, I cringed at myself when I chanced upon these old photos. It just seems too goody two-shoes of me. I feel like I was pretending to be someone who I was not. Like I was trying to make a difference in the world (a la Angelina Jolie), finding my town’s version of Africa, assuming a handful of previously owned bags was what they actually needed. As if giving them away was going to end a terrible plague or help fill their stomachs with nutrition.
If you had followed my blog (of the same URL) a couple of years ago, you would have actually witnessed the birth of this project. I think I remember stating and defending myself that the reason why I was posting the said project was so that I could inspire you, my readers, to try and do something good. And although I’ve had a few responses from my readers about how they plan to also give back, I’ve never really actually had a desired feedback from anybody.
Last week, I was on the wheel waiting for my mom to get in the car. She was on the sidewalk, coming from the ATM machine, and was about to get in the car when one of the sampaguita kids approached my mom and told her something I couldn’t hear. My mom later told me that the kid was actually asking her to remind me about a bag that I was supposed to give to him, just like what I did some years ago.
“A bag?” I asked my mom.
“He said he has been expecting one from you. 'Di ba namigay ka daw ng bags noon?” My mom reminded me.
I remember that I interviewed the kids, took photos with them to document my good work. I also wrote about them and exposed it to you, my readers. I told you of their dreams, what they wanted to be when they grow up, what their parents’ do for a living. I gave you their names. I gave you their faces. I did all those things, but after two years, a broken heart, and a new occupation, I have forgotten them. The wonderful thing is they haven’t forgotten me.
All this time, I thought all of my efforts were in vain. Honestly and even though it shames me, I was kind of looking for a pat on the back, an itsy-bitsy commendation from my peers and mentors. In retrospect, maybe that’s why I wanted to air the project’s progress. I wanted to be liked. It wasn’t enough that I get to do something good for others, I had to broadcast it. I was so busy looking for an approval from the people I thought mattered, that I forgot who really mattered. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t my readers. These kids who smiled upon realization that they were going to get a bag, they’re the ones who mattered. I was so caught up with the work and the light that came with it that I forgot why I even thought of doing it in the first place. True, at first it was to pacify my guilt of having too many bags. But I had decided long after that to transform the guilt into a good thing. I had good intentions and although I wasn’t on-point in the delivery, I guess that intention pushed through. (Am I being too hard on myself?)
I guess what I’m trying to say is that even though I felt like this Let Them Go Project I had attempted to do wasn’t all that laudable and successful, the fact that one kid remembered it and regarded it as a good thing makes all the difference to me. I also realized, after more than 24 months that this project has been on-going, that when you’re trying to do something charitable or selfless, it is best that you do not show it to the world. Let the good that you’ve done remain between you and the receiver. And then forget about it. Never do a good thing because you seek some sort of reward for it (not even to make yourself feel better), not even a morsel of praise. I believe that in that way, the good deed is rendered pure.
This will be the last post I will be posting of The Let Them Go Project. I do hope these posts have somehow made you think, goaded you to do something good which you’ve always been planning to do but never quite got to doing, or even made you believe in dreams and the power of giving. I am happy I have let you in on a good thing, but like what they always say, all good things must come to an end. In this case, though, it will just come to a shhh.
I had a really great time spending the second day of 2013 with these girls for my project and the long, deep conversations with my other girlfriends Hun, Sis, Anna and Jaja that came afterwards. I had a nice time driving around my hometown, too. :)
Bag #’s 5 and 6 of The Let Them Go Project
Here is a special edition of The Let Them Go Project. My fabulous cousin Jelina has given me some of her pre-loved stuff last year when she was clearing out her things in our house, we were housemates in college. She has granted me permission to give the bags away as part of my project. I thought it would be a great idea since all the recipients of my bags are boys and there were a lot of sampaguita vendors around the campus who were girls.
The recipients (L-R): Juliet, Rizza and little Rica Mayores
These girls are cousins. They are all students in Lopez Elementary School, Los Baños, Laguna. During the afternoons to early evenings, they could be seen selling sampaguita leis to everybody. Today, January 2, 2013, I chanced on them selling, near the UPLB Christmas Tree.
Juliet is 9 years old, in Grade 3 and is aspiring to become a famous actress. She sells sampaguita leis to help out at home and her studies. She shared to me that her father had died when she was still a baby and her mom supports their family by selling mangoes at Crossing. If her dream of being an actress doesn’t come true, she says she’ll just pursue being a doctor. Her favorite subjects at school are Math and English. She received my cousin’s pink bag and a matching wrist wallet both of which she’ll be using to carry her stuff to school.
Next is Rizza. She is 11 years old and although her age suggests that she would be in Grade 6 already, she is still just in Grade 2 because she stopped studying due to financial constraints. Like her cousin, Rizza enjoys Math and English and aspires to be an actress like her idol, Marian Rivera. Next to being an actress, she would want to become a teacher. Her parents earn money by selling trash. She says she’ll use the bag she received for carrying stuff to school, too. Rizza also got a native batik coin purse from me which I’ve never used.
Little Rica is only 6 years old and is in Grade 1. When I asked her what she liked doing in school, she mentioned that she loved writing and recess time. Like her two cousins, she says she’d like to be an actress, too, like Barbie Forteza. She received a penguin wallet which could be worn on the wrist. I suggested that she put her earnings from selling sampaguita there.
Thoughts: After so many months of this project being on-hold, I have finally made progress. It was so nice to give those bags away, even though they weren’t really mine and I don’t have any attachments to them. The feeling you get after giving something away, knowing that they are needed and will be of use to someone, it just leaves a wonderful feeling. I might be getting addicted to giving stuff away, no?
I also loved that they were very open sharing their lives to me and my friends, Pat and Eya, who I brought along with me. We got to empathize more and appreciate them and their struggles. We became friends with these three girls after tonight and they aren’t just “sampaguita kids” anymore, we know now that they’re real humans with their own struggles and things to deal with. And, somehow, that makes a difference.
I was also planning to hand out two of my own bags today which I’ve taken out of my closet and into a paper bag (together with my cousin’s stuff) ever since June of 2012. Unfortunately, some of the kids I thought I’d see tonight weren’t around. I put the bags in a paper bag and out of my room so I could organize my closet and learn to live without seeing them. This proved to be extremely effective. I can honestly say that after more than 6 months of not seeing the bags and conditioning my mind that I would give them up, I have let these bags go. Now, I just have to physically give them to those who will have a better use for them. And I plan to finish this project before my birthday month ends and that’s this month! So help me, dear Lord.
Special thanks to my Hunney (Pat) and Sis (Eya) for helping me out, taking pictures, and giving the kids some money to put in their new wallets!
Bag #4 of The Let Them Go Project
The recipient: William Mayores
William Mayores, at the tender age of 6, already sells sampaguita leis together with his friend, Mark Vince. He uses the money for school and to help at home. He is currently in Grade 1 at Lopez Elementary School, Los Baños. A fan of action films, he idolizes Robin Padilla. He is also a loyal follower of GMA 7’s Amaya. He dreams of becoming a doctor someday.
The bag: This is one of the few bags I really aspired to have. Like I always did whenever I enter a store, I browse all the messenger bags and then when I saw this one January day, I just fell in love with it. It was ruggedly handsome. I didn’t have enough money when I first saw it and I usually don’t tell my parents that I’m going to buy a bag because they won’t allow me anymore—they weren’t oblivious to my collection. I went home sad, but determined. I decided to save money and did all I could to save enough and after two weeks, when we returned to the mall, I was able to purchase the bag. I walked to the car, smiling like a crazy person—very much content and elated.
Thoughts: Even though this is one of my more expensive bags which I am giving away, I realize now that it’s not because of its monetary value which makes me sad, it’s more of the feeling that I have, the idea of me having that bag as something that would define me, my taste and my personality. It somehow is a part of my being. Something that I would not be shy letting others see and speculate. That is painful to let go.
I almost cried in front of my officemates on the way to the car, after I took a last glance at the two bags I managed to let go today. But I told Jaja that this sadness is exactly what I needed. I needed to feel how attached I am to these material possessions. I am not torturing myself because this is essentially a part of the process of healing me of my attachment. Knowing that underprivileged kids are going to benefit from this project makes the pain more than bearable.
Goodbye, gray Giordano bag! Thank you! I enjoyed you and I will miss you! =,)
Bag #3 of The Let Them Go Project
The recipient: Mark Vince Garbanzos
Mark Vince is also a sampaguita vendor. He is 10 years of age and the eldest of 4 children. My officemates and I saw him this afternoon (1/10/12) together with his friend selling sampaguitas at the front of the Math Building. He is studying, currently in Grade 3 at Lopez Elementary School, Los Baños. His favourite subject is Filipino and he aspires to be an engineer when he grows up. He says both of his parents are jobless and he uses what he earns for school. The bag I gave him will be used to carry his school stuff.
Background: I’ve never seen Mark Vince before. What attracted me to him was his shyness. He didn’t really force people to buy leis from him unlike the others.
We couldn’t decide which boy between him and his friend would get which bag (I brought two bags with me). So we decided to flip a coin, and whoever wins gets to pick a bag first. I hate having to do that, but of course, I couldn’t please everyone and I don’t have two bags of the same design, so we flipped. Mark Vince got to pick this white bag!
The bag: This is my only white bag; ergo, of all the bags I’ve owned, this was the most frequently washed. I even used soap for delicates when washing it to prevent snagging or fading of the colored parts. During the time that it was really new, I took extra care of it because it easily gets stains. Now, I am letting all of that go, too. Mark Vince is in charge of that already!
Thoughts: It helps that I interview the people I am going to give the bag to. It helps me feel comforted that he/she really does need the bag more than I do. It also gives me a sense of peace. Peace from the knowledge that the bags are going to real people, with real lives that I somehow, even in the slightest, have managed to touch.
Good bye, white Converse bag! Thank you! I enjoyed you and I will miss you! =,)
Bag #2 of The Let Them Go Project
The recipient: Nora Masajo
Ate Nora is one of our janitresses at where I work. She has been working here as a janitress for 11 years. She was born in Mindanao, but she met her husband while on vacation in Batangas where she currently resides. She is 43 years old and has 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls. When she is not sweeping floors, dusting shelves and cleaning bathrooms at our office, she is a full-time mother—cooking and washing clothes and tending to her children and 2 grandchildren. During my interview with her, I asked her what she regarded as her greatest accomplishment in life to which she quickly answered, “Na napalaki ko ang mga anak ko ng maayos, masunurin, magalang, at may takot sa Diyos.” (“That I was able to raise my children well; they’re obedient, respectful and they have Holy Fear of God.”)
Background: I met her during my first day at work a year and 4 months ago. She, aside from my boss, was the first person to befriend me their. She was the one who initiated small talks and gave me unending compliments of just about anything like the shirt I was wearing or my cologne.
There are two things about her which I could never forget: 1) It was early in the morning and I just entered the Seed Lab when she handed me a sachet of Energen Cereal Drink. I was so moved by that simple act because even though she earned a little, that didn’t prevent her from doing something nice like sharing. I felt ashamed at that moment because I didn’t have anything to offer her in return. 2) She never ever fails to invite me to have a cup of coffee (although she knows that I don’t drink coffee); it’s just her being polite.
I allowed her to choose one out of the 4 bags that I brought to the office today (12/27/12). She picked this one and I interviewed her briefly. She says she will use the bag going to and fro work.
The bag: I wasn’t really planning to give this bag away since this is one of my favorites. It’s the most practical to use; no fussy locks and it’s very earthy which I really like. It also has a nice strap which doesn’t easily slide down my shoulders. Earlier this week, I looked at my closet and saw the bags which I decided to hold on to and it seemed wrong that they were still relatively many and they seemed to be all of my favorites. That’s when I decided to include this one as well.
Thoughts: I have this little sharp pain in my heart right now knowing that it’s no longer in my possession. Oh my, it’s no longer mine! But I know I will be alright. Yes.
One fond memory with that bag was when it was new, I brought it with me when I had a trip to the Asian Development Bank, after that I picked up my reserved copies of Mariah’s Memoirs of an imperfect Angel album at Megamall and this bag carried it all the way to my province.
Good bye, green Giordano bag! Thank you! Nobody deserves you more than Ate Nora. I enjoyed you and I will miss you! =,)
Special thanks to Rozhel for taking our pictures!
The recipient: Alfred Geronda
Alfred is a Grade 4 student at Lopez Elementary School, Los Baños, Laguna. He is 11 years old.
He sells sampaguita leis around UPLB campus to add for his schooling as well as for food. His favourite subject is Math. He spends his free time playing with his friends, selling sampaguitas, and currently, he sings Christmas carols for some change anyone is willing to give him. His father is a street vendor in Manila while his mother tends to his other 7 siblings at home.
Background: I saw him yesterday at the parking lot of the College of Agriculture (my college dear) after my 10k run. Imagine me all drenched in sweat as he sang Christmas carols to me. It turns out it was his birthday and I asked him how he’d feel if I would give him a bag. He said he wanted to, very much. I told him I’d only give him one if he was really going to use it, especially for school. He gladly nodded and I told him I’m going to give him a blue messenger bag. He excitedly squealed that his favourite color was blue. I knew it was just a perfect match.
I met with him today (21/12/11). I recorded an interview with him before I gave the bag.
The bag: Of all my bags, this is the newest one and also the one bag I seldom use. I was with my mother when I bought this bag at Megamall and we spent a good hour roaming around until I came upon this at Mental.
Thoughts: This is my first bag to let go, and it’s probably one of the easiest because I haven’t built a strong attachment to it since it’s fairly new and it’s my least personal favourite of all. Even though, seeing Alfred carrying my bag which I picked with my mom and which I worked for, seeing something that I value and something that was a part of my room, my wardrobe, realizing that it would never be in my hands again made me sad. But the sadness is overshadowed by the joy which comes from the realization that I could let go, and I am one bag closer to realizing this project. Good bye, Mental blue bag. I only pray you’d be of good use and help to Alfred.
Special thanks to Nics for accompanying me and taking photos!
Thank You for the courage, inspiration and opportunity to do this! :)
This is The Let Them Go Project.
I’ve been struggling for years with my attachment with bags. If my memory serves me right, the very first bag that I owned was a blue Ghost Busters messenger bag. According to stories it was the same bag that I used during my first attempt to run away from home. I was 4 years old. I wasn’t thinking rationally, I mean I was 4 and clearly, I didn’t know better—that bag was too small for all my necessities!
Almost 2 decades after that, I still find myself engrossed in messenger bags. At one point in my life, I’ve learned to be materialistic and brand-conscious, something which I attribute to my being enrolled at a school for rich kids. Looking back at it now, it’s something that I don’t pride myself for. It’s something I’d rather my friends forget about me. But then, maybe life is really just like this: In time, we learn that there are things far more important than labels, brands, and material goods. Even though throughout my college years, I’ve known this truth, it was still hard to let go. Now, that I am working, I realize that there is so much more to life than riches or possessions. One cannot simply get what he/she wants, sometimes he/she has to work for it. And I’m lucky to have been born to parents that are hard-working. Life is a challenge, and there are those who are especially challenged. Isn’t it my motto to do something worthwhile? I’ve learned that my longing to keep these material possessions that I value has kept me from helping others—those who are in need.
Please understand that it is with no miniscule amount of courage and forbearance that of the 19 bags I have acquired, I have decided to give away 8 to children who need them more than I do. These children would be students from underprivileged families.
This decision springs forth from the realization I had while driving home months ago: I realized that the worth of these bags would be more realized if they were used by children in going to school as vessels of notebooks, textbooks, pencils and other school supplies as opposed to being just displayed here in my room. The remaining 11 are not all messenger bags, and all of them, as I have deliberated, I still use regularly. This decision has brought me to tears. You have to understand that these bags are my prized possessions, all of them have histories (sentimental value) and they’re not really cheap (I wasn’t born to a rich family, so even though these aren’t at par with Vuittons and Guccis, they’re very much valuable for me).
This idea has been simmering in my head for more than 3 months. Now that the year is almost over, I can’t procrastinate anymore. Today is exactly a month before my birthday, too so it’s kind of symbolic. I will be posting my progress here and a brief profile of the recipients of the 8 bags as well as my thoughts in this challenging endeavour.
I am not publicizing this so that all of my readers would think of me as a do-gooder.
I only aim to inspire anybody, especially those who feel like they have an attachment that prevents them from doing something worthwhile. You must learn to let them go. Look beyond the sacrifice and think of the greater good that’s going to come out of it.
This is me trying to do something worthwhile.