The man who calls himself “Mang Urot” has been a friend of mine for several years. The links below connect with previous posts I did about his work. Recently I recorded his trip to a tiny village in rural Zambales.
Mang Urot’s story
I’ve had a Facebook friend from Saudi Arabia for three years. We’d debate various points about religion. About a month ago he visited my home, he made a donation for my work and told me he was an ordained pastor of Day by Day Ministries, a born-again Christian church. In the Philippines their main venue for services is at the Folk Arts Theater. Once in a while I go there to hear the sermons, but I’m not a formal member.
The first time I went to the village we visited in Zambales, I was with the three pastors of the congregation, but they’ve already returned to Saudi Arabia. That’s when I met the local pastor.
The trip we made together was purely spontaneous. I just had some ideas springing about helping the school and the church. Tibag is in the barrio of Naugsol in the hinterlands of Zambales in Luzon, northern part of the Philippines, about 180 kilometers from Manila and four or five kilometers uphill from Subic, the nearest town.
We went to make donations to Tibag Elementary School and individual school children and to bring electric fans, lighting fixtures, a television and a DVD player to the chapel. It amounted to about 30,000 to 35,000 pesos [$682-795] for the school and about 10,000 pesos [$228] for the chapel. The donation was also a way of giving back to the Saudi pastor.
Each of the little kids got four or five notebooks, three ballpoint pens, three pencils, erasers, a pair of slippers [flip-flops], vitamins, snacks, toys and some other stuff that they can use for their studies. For the school I also brought books, folders, chalk, blackboard erasers, sports equipment and school equipment. Some of it was left over from a previous trip to another location.
The income of the villagers is very low and seasonal. When they’re harvesting some of their crops the median is probably $3 a day, but at other times a lot less. There are no school buses there. High school students going to school in Subic have to walk downhill for an hour or an hour or two, depending on where the residents are located or if the residents are from the school. When it rains the dirt roads get very muddy. If they took a tricycle, the price would be 100-200 pesos [a day’s income or more].
I think there were about twenty volunteers who went with us, people who’d previously volunteered for the soup kitchen. We took two vans. Some of them contributed for the school and the church, so I didn’t ask them for any money, but I asked the others for 500 pesos each for the transportation, because the funds were running low. It was really not in my plan to bring them along, but they wanted to go, so I wanted them to share my experience with them.
The volunteers seemed to enjoy it. There’s a Catholic, a born-again Christian, there’s even an atheist. What we do is just a work of love, there’s no religion really. Even though I donated to a church, it wasn’t because it was a church. I donated because I saw the people’s need for a more comfortable place to worship and because some of some of the pastors are my friends.
I told the people, “If you become rich, don’t prioritize the church, prioritize people.”
From the volunteers:
Hi, my name is Jeanette, and I’m the wife of Mang Urot. We’re here to go to the Zambales Outreach Program. We’re very excited about giving these things to the school children.
Hi, I’m Malou del Rosario. I’m joining this outreach for the school in Zambales to experience this outreach.
Hi, I’m Estella Aubres. I came back from the Philippines but migrated to Australia a few years back. I’m here in the Philippines because I was assigned by my company to work on a project. Since I’ll be here long-term. I searched for a something to work on during my free time, and I found Karinderia ni Mang Urot online. I’ve been active with it because I want to serve my countrymen in any way I can.
My name is Sophie, and I come from China. I’ve been volunteering for the soup kitchen, and Mang Urot invited me for this trip. So I am excited about helping children.
Hi, I’m Rommel Gusto. I’m from the Philippines. I just wanted to help.
I am JR from the Philippines. I’m a volunteer because want to help.
More about Benjie’s, a.k.a. Mang Urot’s, mission: A Personal Crusade. (Link). At a Filipino Soup Kitchen. (Link) The Man behind the Soup Kitchen, Parts 1 and 2 (Link) and (Link) Mang Urot also brought me along to meet his friends for this post, Filipino Squatters’ Tales, Part 1. (Link)