The power of The I AM! Affirmation Book found its way to Ilocos Sur, a northern province in the Philippines, where I traveled with my friend Marnita Hadnot, hosted by Haidee Cortez from Eagle Vision, Inc., one of the Foundation’s partners in the Philippines. This family-operated cable company is currently bringing broadband to the Philippines. Marnita and I traveled with Haidee and her boyfriend, Henzon Estrada, by car from Manila, and arrived Sunday, November 14 about 11 a.m. We could hardly sleep knowing we were going to visit two schools the next day in the nearby communities of San Vicente and Vigan City.
At 9:00 a.m. Monday, we headed for San Sebastian Elementary School in San Vicente, our first book gifting visit in the northern province. Principal Salvador Lazo met us and showed us around this public elementary school, grades 1 through 6. This school is where Marnita’s step-mother used to teach 12 years ago. We were escorted to a patio area in the middle of the school where the children were waiting for us in neat rows. There were several teachers waiting with them, and they greeted us in unison with a “Welcome, ma’am!” I love to begin explaining who we are and telling the children we are from halfway around the world coming to visit them with The I AM! Affirmation Book. As I pointed to the animals on the cover, I told them about scuba diving in Mindoro and seeing the two sea turtles THIS BIG that swam together in THEIR ocean! I showed them the photo of Steve and Marilyn so they can see who wrote this book that we are bringing to them. I shared the reason for our visit: so they know how special they are. We then began to recite some of the affirmations with them, with the principal chiming in to translate here and there. “I AM Healthy!” “I AM Confidence!”
The teachers and principal joined in as we handed out a book to each child. The lines soon disintegrated as the children pushed to the front to reach for a book. As soon as they received their book, they would drift to the back of the line again. After a few minutes of free time, the children were directed back to their classrooms. The teachers assembled in the patio area and I spent about fifteen minutes talking to them about ways to use the book in their class, coloring, reading, or reciting together the affirmations and imagining what the children are thinking about them. We enjoyed a snack, then visited some of the classrooms. As we went into one, there were over 30 children sitting quietly at their desks, all of them reading their new book, and not a teacher in sight!
The principal asked what ‘affirmation’ meant. I told him it is a statement of truth. We realized that there is not an easy translation of ‘affirmation’ in the local dialect, Ilocano, the primary language in the province. As we talked, I realized that the ideas contained in the affirmations are not usually taught, at least in this school. Haidee confirmed later that many of the ideas we described in reciting affirmations, such as confidence and self esteem, are not commonly discussed or taught to children in the public school system here. We decided we would use more local dialect translation at the next school visit, later in the afternoon. As we left, we spent time assisting the Eagle Vision film crew with their footage for a video of our Ilocos Sur mission, which I will try to insert into the next posting!
NEXT: A Visit to Salindeg Elementary School, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.