Hey, guys. I hope your Holy Week has been both fulfilling and reflective. We just recently came back from the Gawad Kalinga Bayani Challenge 2013. The Gawad Kalinga Bayani Challenge is a yearly 5-day activity that tests your strength and love for nation-building. I had the privilege of joining the Gawad Kalinga Bayani Challenge in 2011, and that was in Bantayan. It was 1 big site, and there were thousands of us. This year, there were around 34-36 different sites, so we were all spread out into different areas of the Philippines. We were designated in San Remigio.
I can tell you for sure, that this ‘Bayani Challenge’ was truly a test of endurance, strength, patience and heat resistance. Wake-up call was around 6 AM. We had to prepare and leave by 8. A truck would pick us up and bring us to the build site, which was a bumpy 1 hour and 30 minute drive. Draining. Then we would work from around 10-3 with a lunch break in between, under the heat of the scorching sun! It was physically draining, as we were interested in the house build, which involved carrying hollow blocks, rocks, cement, sand, gravel and all of that good stuff. Learning how to mix cement with shovels. Making sure the flooring was okay by removing coconut and banana tree stumps. Painting. Actually building a house. There were less strenuous activities, like the coastal cleanup and school refurbishment, but we decided on the house build.
This was Brgy. San Miguel, San Remigio, the location of our house build. We were making 4 houses at the time. We weren’t able to finish, but we did a good portion of the house already. The rest will be left to other volunteers and the actual recipients of the house. Aside from us, there was a team from the Army, some boy scouts and other volunteers aside from the service team.
Forming a long line and passing hollow blocks from one area to another is a signature GK task in the house build. Less strain on everyone, but you get a rhythm on how it works after a while. Remember to smile!
Some of the other girls were tasked to painting the steel rods and foundation for the roof of the houses.
Transporting rocks, sand, and gravel for the flooring of the house was another task we had to do.
Placing the hollow blocks onto the cement was another of the tasks, mainly handed to the ladies.
Cement mixing is an art form. The cement is the canvass, and your shovel is the brush. It’s tiring, but good exercise.
We can’t forget to take the occasional rest period, during lunch and short stops in the morning and afternoon.
We had to remove this giant coconut tree stump using a ‘bara’ and ‘bolo’ and it was difficult as heck. It took us about 2 hours to chop it down, but when it did, it felt like a major success!
San Remigio is a gorgeous place. Lots of greenery. Lots of bumps on the road though. The 1-hour and 30-minute drive on the big truck was like riding on a roller coaster, except without the cushioning.
This is San Remigio Central School. This was where we were staying for 4 days. We cleaned out a classroom, put all our stuff, and assigned tasks for washing, cooking and other things. This is the patience part. In these conditions, it brings out all sorts of different stuff from people. Some can adjust, others not so much, so you really have to work together as a team to get through these obstacles. Team building indeed!
We had to stock on lots of food for the 4-day trip. As you can see, the canned goods were aplenty.
Lots of noodles. Shoutout to Pancit ni Mang Juan Pinoy BBQ Flavor. A definite must-try!
Fried porkchop out in the wilderness. Yum!
Grilled porkchop after some short marinating. Salivating!
Basically, you get the idea of what we had to work with for food during the challenge. It takes a lot of hard work too. Someone in charge of the cooking, someone in charge of the utensils and individual plates and stuff, and someone in charge of clean-up after. It’s not easy to be roughing it out like this. A definite step outside of the comfort zone for the others.
This is the Kalinga Night. GK holds a nightly gathering with sharing from speakers on their GK experiences and has a band to dish out some jams for people to dance and jive along to.
This is Team Spicy. All members from USC, and most of us fresh graduates. Just 2 members from Main and not from our barkada of sorts.
Last day of the challenge before we decided to pack our stuff and go. This was truly a lasting experience. Cheers!
March 23-27, 2013
Gawad Kalinga Bayani Challenge 2013
Brgy. San Miguel, San Remigio
Top Column (from L-R): Zaira, Vernice, Krislyn, Stan (at the back), Denise, Issa, Venice, Kevin, Michael Mahinay, Michael Tiña
Bottom Column (from L-R): Jeff, Mitchella, Candle