Do you believe in destiny, fate or purpose? It’s a rare opportunity for an ex-PY to be visited especially in Mindanao since you have to take a domestic flight from Manila to reach the island. But what amazes me the most is to find out the reason for their visit was more because of some divine or greater purpose – to indeed make this world a better place.

Let me tell you a story:

On the 16th of December 2011, we left Japan after the SSEAYP. I remember myself giving my best smiles knowing that we won’t be seeing each other just like the 53-days journey we had , and also , a friend told me to save my tears at the airport because usually PYs   still have the chance to meet there. It was more than a 5-hour ride in Japan Airlines and we finally arrived in the Philippines.
Who would not miss his homeland after being away for almost two months? Filipinos just can’t live too far away from their families because we easily get HOMESICKNESS (more that seasickness or landsickness). We had some rest and I informed my family that I’m back and chat with my friends in Iligan with regard to our planned reunion on December 22 or 28th. Who would have thought that night that a  Bagyong Sendong ( TS Washi) would kill more that One Thousand People in Iligan and some parts of Mindanao not counting the millions of properties destroyed. We had seen lots of pictures on Facebook about that natural disaster and that worried me because we were just chatting last night and I couln’t reach their phones when I called them.
Who would have thought that some natural disaster will lead to another milestone of my SSEAYP journey? I volunteered myself in January for relief operations and play with Kids through Gawad Kalinga. I was pretty excited also for the Bayani Challege on April (for our Post Program Activity) which was planned even before Sendong striked Iligan City. The calamity made PintigPinoy more eager to come in Iligan and help rebuild the lives of our Fellow Filipinos.
How small do you think the world is? On February, I applied as an Humanitarian Volunteer in Health Organization for Mindanao ( HOM) which was founded by an Ex-PY (Dr. Khasmin Ismael).  There, I also meet ate Malou Eudela who’s from Bacolod city and batchmate of Dr. Khas in SSEAYP. And of course, w/o ate Malou, we won’t be able to see you here in ILIGAN. J (Hope you could also meet out two beautiful workmates ate Hanna and ate Sabel)

To Jinnie, Sir. Vg and Maam Grace:
1.       Next time? We know were to find a more tasty vegetarian food minus the 90-minute wait? We’ll find tea and more durian?
2.       We had so much fun giving candies to the people we met on the streed during the WHD. J Simple joys in life.
3.       You shouldn’t miss visiting Maria Christina falls , Tinago falls and more places in the City of Water Falls.
4.       More interaction with local youths like Rene, Niel , Kaye, Karen, Charity and Jen? And more stories from Sir Melchor and Jamal?
5.       Well, on December, should learn to cook at least 1 Filipino Dish. J
6.       I still don’t know whether I’ll be here in Iligan on December  but if ever , send me photos of them climbing that hill? (haha)
7.       Finally, I had seen your overflowing kindness by just coming over in Iligan. Your enthusiasm and the spirit of  volunteering  for a great cause awes me. As what SNL Alvin said, we can really get to know more about the person after the program. I find it hard to express what I feel towards the three of you. But, to tell you, I am grateful – so much grateful. I will miss you. I enjoyed a lot! :D Next time I’ll talk more (maybe haha). And, Ill also miss kuya Jose ( our friendly driver). 
Jinnie, Maam Grace and Sir Vg

      I could recall SNL shared to us while on board ship Fuji Maru, about the tea ceremony. It was unforgettable to me. ICHIGO ICHI. Its a once in a lifetime experience. It will never happen the same way as before but for sure the journey will always be filled with love, compassion, joy and happiness. SSEAYP is the bridge that linked us together. Though I didn’t have a homestay in Singapore, but I know I have a FAMILY in there. Till we meet again. J
Domo arigatou gozaimasu! J

Francis Alain L. Ebardo
An ex-PY, A friend, A family

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