May 20, 2013

Over the recent May Day weekend, TCRP made their way to the Pearl of The Orient with a team of 23 Catalysts for Change. Manila 2013 Bike & Build kicked off with catalysts gathering for dinner with the crew from Gawad Kalinga (GK). They learnt about how their efforts in building and fundraising would help villagers, and indulged in a little song and dance to bring the message home.

Two of the Kawayan Bamboo Bicycles which had been specially ordered for the trip were available for them the ride, and for a time the hotel foyer was taken over by excited catalysts on mini joy rides.

We rose before the sun and set off to Calamba Laguna, setting up in an empty lot where we adjusted the bikes and got into formation for our uphill ride to the Dr. Jose Rizal GK Village. With a police escort on motorbikes (kindly provided by the Calamba City Council), the group literally stopped traffic as we pedaled through the crowded streets of Calamba before turning into the narrow and bumpy sidestreets that wound upwards to the village.

It was time for the real work to begin. With the summer sun beating down on our backs, we began the process of assembling the playground pieces before grounding them with the soil and concrete. Nut and bolts were tightened, parts misplaced and found, and railings hoisted.

Countless buckets of granite, soil and concrete were passed along lines of catalysts and villagers. Excitable children on their summer holidays ran from the water pump to the build site, water slopping out of little buckets and down their legs. Landscapers arrived and put in shrubs and flame trees that will one day give much-needed shade.

By the end of the second day, from an empty lot with a rusted set of monkey bars, the playground was beginning to come together. Hundreds of eager eyes watched as we put the finishing touches to the safety mats and washed the dirt and soil from the swing seats. It was safe to say the opening was going to be bit of a circus.

The opening of the playground was preceded by a ceremony where we gave out donations the catalysts had brought. Clothes, toys and other supplies were distributed to the most needy families in the village. Sure enough, the moment the ribbon was cut, in swept the sea of children who reveled in having a safe, fun new space to play.

A tip off our hats to the catalysts on Manila Bike and Build: it was hot, it was sweaty, it was hard work – and we never heard a single complaint. All we saw was a bunch of awesome people working hard to give and stay out of troublekids a safe place to play together.

We can’t wait to bring show you all the footage from the trip and launch our next adventure to Asia’s Diamond in the Rough on May 30th, so SAVE-THE-DATE and RSVP HERE!