This is my entry to Electrolux's "My Shirt Story Blogging Contest."
In 2008, my Alma Mater, the University of the Philippines, celebrated its centennial year. Everything was special in UP during that year, especially the events that were held in the different campuses throughout the school year. Being alumni, my husband and I made it a point to attend these gatherings and events. One of the events we attended was the Feb Fair held at UP Diliman and that was where I bought this shirt.
But that's just part of the story. There's a more meaningful story behind that souvenir shirt. The shirt is special because it reminds me of what UP has brought me. I owe UP a lot, not only my undergraduate and graduate education but also the lessons that were revealed to me outside the classroom.
I was part of UP Manila's Ugnayan ng Pahinungod (UP Oblation Corps). I was already on my third year and I wanted to do something more meaningful before I leave the school. The summer before I enrolled for my senior year, I signed up for the Summer Immersion Services Program (SISP) of the org. It sounded fun, plus the fact that I get to spend my summer traveling to some distant place in the Philippines for free.
Much to my dismay, I was only sent to Talim Island, Binangonan, Rizal which was only three towns away from my town, LOL! Still, it did not dampen my spirit and I was still enthusiastic with the trip. I found it an advantage since it was nearer to Manila and, most probably, would have all the facilities that were available in the city.
I was wrong. It was already 1998 and yet parts of the island still lived in darkness. There was no hospital in the island and the sick needed to be ferried across Laguna Bay to avail of medical services in the town capital. There were health centers but there were little to no supplies. There were still malnourished children and mothers who do not have a single clue what family planning is all about.
My buddy and I were instantly transformed into health workers. The locals sought our help whenever there's a medical emergency. We were both 18 and only underwent a quick 3-day leadership and medical training before we were deployed. Yet, we can't let the people down.
With the help of our foster families, we went around the island to do what was needed to be done. We held nutrition seminars for the mothers and health care volunteers. We taught the children to brush their teeth. We administered first aid to a lady who had a heart attack. And before the summer ended, we circumcised over a hundred boys in the island. Up to now, when I visit the island, some men cannot look me straight in the eye, haha!
This shirt has the words matatapang (brave) and matatalino (smart) on it. It would have been more apt if makatao (public spirited) was included. I believe that, having been privileged to enjoy a subsidized education from the State, we UP graduates should do, at the very least, one single act of devotion to public welfare. May this shirt remind us of that fact.
I love this shirt! Now I want someone else to love it,too! I support the Electrolux Wash-athon Clothes donation Advocacy.
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