The Last Chapter:
Marnita Hadnot and I flew back from Ilocos Sur to Manila Wednesday night and stayed in a small hotel in Pasay City, one of Manila’s many small neighborhoods. On Thursday, I commiserated with Sammy Pacibe, one of the hotel front desk managers. When I told him I was seeking an elementary school nearby where I could visit and gift books, he immediately referred me to Cuneta Elementary, 5 minutes away, and even agreed to go with me. He telephoned the school principal, Mrs. Amping, who invited us to come visit the next morning, Friday.
I knew we had 900 books left, and of course, this school has 720 students and 21 teachers. How perfect! I called Cherry Salazar, the owner of G.A. Printing in Makati City, the company who did a beautiful job printing The I AM! Affirmation Books for us. I explained about the pending school visit, and invited her to come too, and see what The I AM Foundation is all about. She eagerly accepted, and we agreed she would come the next morning with the remainder of the books to gift at Cuneta Elementary.
That evening, Marnita returned to the US. For this visit, it would be Sammy, Cherry, and me. Cherry arrived on Friday morning and we headed over to the school. The two block drive was through heavily crowded streets, and we arrived at the school about 11:15 a.m. We parked and were directed to the principal’s office. As we waited for her to finish a meeting, the security officer came in carrying one of the nine packages of books, wrapped in brown paper. Then, behind him came eight boys and girls, each carrying a package of books. They put the books down and left.
Mrs. Amping greeted us and we went into her office. One of the teachers came in and Cherry gave a shout! It was a teacher she had employed in the past to tutor her daughters, who she hadn’t seen in years! Another ‘small world’ moment. We explained the purpose of our visit and gave Mrs. Amping one of the books to review. She was so grateful for our visit and for us bringing The I AM! Affirmation Book to the children at her school.
She said there are 51% Muslim children at Cuneta, a public school, and because of that, other foundations and charity groups often overlook the school. In the next sentence, she described how the school has taken in ANOTHER school of 1200 children because their school was closed for renovation, and those children are attending on a second floor level. All the children at both schools are attending in shifts so there is enough space for classes for them all. Just imagine the logistics of that accommodation!
Of course, we didn’t have enough books for the second school, but we gifted 750 books to Cuneta, and Mrs. Amping took 50 books for the other school’s principal to share with the teachers and place in their library. We decided to visit some of the classrooms and gift the books there, so we went to an adjacent room where about 30 3rd graders were sitting. Mrs. Amping then rounded up another class-ful and brought them into our room, now filled with children. They sat on the floor or at their desks as she introduced me. I also introduced my friends Cherry and Sammy, who were using my Flip video and Canon Sureshot to record the event.
I noticed a group of small boys so excited they were jabbering away and shoving each other. After I introduced myself and showed them The I AM! Affirmation Book, I asked one of the small boys to help me. He came up and in a quiet little voice, said his name was Loloy. I helped him to demonstrate his power by asking his name again, and helping him say in a loud voice, “I AM Loloy!” The other children loved it! We then did the affirmation together” “I AM Powerful!” Their voices were in perfect harmony and unison as they repeated the words, and shook the walls of the classroom. We recited a few more affirmations, and Cherry, Sammy, and Mrs. Amping helped distribute a book to each child. They chattered away as they looked at their very own books, amazed at the colors, animals, and affirmations in their language and English. We then recited an affirmation they could follow in their books: “I AM Healthy!” It took quite awhile to say goodbye in this classroom.
We were then directed to another classroom with 4th graders, and again, another group of pupils was brought in to join us. We all had a great time again, singing out affirmations, laughing and saying, “I AM Monica!” “I AM Leslie!” Feeling that they have some power when they say, “I AM!” We gifted another 80 books, and were again amazed by the joy and excitement in the faces of the students looking at their books.
Mrs. Amping planned to have the teachers of the other classrooms distribute the remaining books so each pupil at Cuneta would receive one, and she had some left for the school library. I took a USB port and later downloaded the Teacher’s Guide for her to share with the teachers, as we didn’t get a chance to meet with them.
As we left, the group of small boys escortede me to Cherry’s car, making quite the production out of opening the car door for me, holding my hand, and saying over and over, “Thank you!” There were two who stayed next to my window and followed the car as we drove away. They don’t get American visitors, so for many of them, it was a first, and I know they were happy to receive The I AM! Affirmation Book.
It was a fitting end to an amazing experience. As in Kenya, I was energized, inspired, and my soul, too, was changed by all of the children, teachers, and communities we visited. I know this book is their first book, for many of the children. The light in their eyes and joy in their faces is an experience we will never forget. I can hardly wait to get down to further planning and fund raising with Marilyn and Steve, with an eye towards the further reaches of the Philippines, poorer, rural communities where the schools have very little to teach with. I will be sharing with all of you again and I invite you to join me anytime to venture out into the world of amazing, beautiful children, and share the truths within the pages of The I AM Affirmation Book. I also hope to be distributing I AM The Earth wherever The I AM Foundation can travel, and see what magic IT generates!
A special note of thanks goes to Steve Viglione and Marilyn Powers, for their support of this fantastic experience. I hope you too have been inspired by these stories, and encourage you to support The I AM Foundation by going to http://www.iamfoundation.org and learning more about their work.