On Friday, November 12th, at 3:30 in the afternoon, we all boarded a jeepney to go to the Sabang Elementary School, in the vilage of Puerto Galera, Philippines. With me was my brother Larry, my dive pals Amy, Mike, and Leah, and one of the divemasters from the Atlantis Dive Resort, Bala. After a bumpy five minute ride through the village, we parked and walked under the white wrought iron sign, “Welcome, Sabang Elementary School.” We were met by the head teacher, Rosa, who directed us through the school and down a stone stairway to a covered playground where we saw about 300 children assembled. We were greeted by the beautiful sound of their voices in unison shouting out, “Good afternoon, Madam Leslie!” The pupils were lined up by class, with the five-year-old first graders at one end and the 12-13-year old 6th graders at the other end. After a few minutes of settling down, they became quiet and we introduced ourselves. I then talked to the children about my friends, Steve Viglione and Marilyn Powers, and showed them the photo in The I AM! Affirmation Book. I showed them the deer on the cover and the many animals throughout the pages. I told them about how Steve had written this book for them and for all the children in the world to tell them how special they are. I told them they would each be receiving their very own copy of The I AM! Affirmation Book to keep, to take home and share with their families.
We recited some of the affirmations together, starting with “I am Powerful!” The children’s voices rang out as they shouted out together the words of power: ” Because of the greatness that’s in me, It’s the truth of who I am, and the truth I am to be!” We then began to hand out the books to the children. We waded into the crowd, watching their faces light up as they reached out to receive their copy of The I AM! Affirmation Book. They began to excitedly talk among themselves as they opened their books and saw the colorful pages of animals, forests, and oceans. After several minutes, we joined together with everyone sharing another affirmation, “I am Confidence!” Many of the older children followed along with their own book, and the teachers were pleased to see the Tagalog translation printed under the English words of each affirmation.
The children were eventually directed back up the stone steps to the classrooms. I spent 15 minutes in a classroom with the teachers discussing the many ways to use the I AM! affirmations in their daily lessons. We talked about the affirmation, “I am Freedom!” and how it can be used with the 11-to-13 year-old pupils to appreciate their freedom in the Philippines. The other visitors had a chance to visit with the children in their classrooms and outside, and we enjoyed many photo opportunities. After meeting with the teachers, I was able to sit with a small group of 6-7 year-olds and talk to them about reading and how many doors are opened when you can read books.
Finally, we began to drift towards the stairs again as we said our goodbyes. The children were beaming as they waved and shouted at least ten times, “Goodbye!” Their faces were glowing and many of them were sitting and reading their new books. The teachers invited us back on our next visit and assured us the other children away on another activity that day would also get their copy of The I AM! Affirmation Book. It was a wonderful afternoon.
I was especially excited when I saw the video! One of the local dive videographers, Ron, came with us to the school and made a beautiful 8 minute video. I will post it on the I AM! website or You-Tube as soon as I figure out how!
And the adventure continues! I am now in Quezon City with my friend from Truckee, CA, Marnita Hadnot. We are being hosted by her cousin, Haidee Cortez and her family at their apartment here. Tomorrow we head up country to Ilocos Sur, one of the northern provinces where we will be visiting three more schools in the next few days. We will have an opportunity to see the country and immerse ourselves in Philippine culture, community, and food! We have a thousand books to gift to more children here and are excited to hear that Haidee’s father, Ruben is providing a film crew and wants to broadcast the mission on cable TV! Once again, the magic of The I AM! Affirmation Book inspires vision and creates connections wherever in the world it goes. Thank you, Steve and Marilyn, for creating this magic with your love of children and your dream of peace and love in the world.