“Between the East of my youth and the West of my future”

Last year was the year I put the story of myself out there in the universe. It took me all these years to come full circle with my past experiences and their impact on who I am today. It is equal parts liberating and empowering to know that at this point in my life, I have made amends with all the failures and mistakes of the past, as well as all the successes and triumphs, no matter how small they may be.

While it gives me sense of pride and relief to have shared my life stories, I am now even more inspired to meet people and get to know their life stories. This year is promising to be the beginning of bringing people’s stories to the frontline; connecting individuals from different walks of life to learn with and from each other; recognizing and bridging gaps in talents and skills  in underserved communities; and providing opportunities for learning, training and networking; all with the intention of addressing global issues with local perspectives: “thinking globally, acting locally.”

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have spent three solid weeks with my family, rebuilding my relationships and witnessing my parents and siblings’ ideas come to fruition. I am most proud of the work we put together during The Week of Giving, a pilot project I designed to serve as a template for giving back and volunteering in the Philippines. Not only have I seen the talent and creativity of my family members, but I was also introduced to a ton of people in my hometown who have the passion, dedication and skills for their chosen fields. We were fortunate enough to have served over 500 individuals, from the elderly to the babies, teens to the young professionals, from farmers and community workers to teachers, and many others who volunteered their time to learn and collaborate with us.

It is my vision to build a space and platform to further nurture and refine the talents, skills and knowledge of our people, in turn building better informed and empowered communities. Join us these next few months and years as we lay the groundwork for what will serve as a model for giving back and volunteering beyond the material and temporal sense. With the Philippines’ most scenic and beautiful spots as the backdrop, come and share your talents and skills; donate books and other educational materials; teach a life-skills workshop; read to the kids; get to know men, women and children and see how their life stories may impact yours, and vice versa. We are one, after all.

My gratitude goes to all the volunteers who spent countless hours in making our events happen; to our donors who generously provided us financial and material support right from the beginning; and to all the people of Cabagan and neighboring towns who believe in the work that we do and showed up to any and all of our activities. You all inspire us to continue to dream and to work incrementally towards building a more giving and caring community. Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat!

To my family, thank you for helping me make this idea a reality. Your passion and creativity for the tasks in front of you far exceeded my expectations. It has driven me even more to aim for bigger and brighter things. Thank you so much! “I am what I am because of who we all are.”

See you all at the end of this year for another “Week of Giving.” In the meantime, take a look at some of these videos and challenge yourself to give back in one way or another. We’ll be here whenever you’re ready.

The Week of Giving 2016 (December 26, 2016 – January 2, 2017)

December 26, 2016 – “Medical Mission” at Sitio Palattao, Barangay Pilig, Cabagan, Isabela. Medical practitioners from Tuguegarao City, Cabagan, and Saudi Arabia, along with Nursing students from St. Paul University and University of Cagayan Valley provided medical and dental care to children, elderly, men and women of this remote village with support from the municipal police office. Used clothes and shoes were donated by students of TJ Caguioa at Delfin Albano High School.

December 26, 2016 – “Open Mic” at the Beach House, Cabagan, Isabela. A local band provided musical entertainment along with young adults from Cabagan and Tuguegarao City who share their singing skills.

These events were coordinated by Katherine Caguioa, Ms. Tuguegarao 2013 and Mutya ng Pilipinas 2015 Candidate.

December 27, 2016 – “Teacher Appreciation Day” at the Beach House, Cabagan, Isabela. Over a hundred teachers were provided professional development in computational thinking by Dominic Caguioa, through The Hour of Code from Code.org and best practices in technology integration; and English Language Proficiency and preparation by Philip Caguioa from TLC IELTS Review-Cagayan Valley. This event was coordinated by Trinidad Joyce Caguioa, Secondary Teacher at Delfin Albano High School.

December 28, 2016 – “RISE ABOVE: Teens and Youth Evening” at the Beach House, Cabagan, Isabela. This event showcased designs and creations by Madonna Caguioa Naval of House of Madonna and Sepphie Ramirez, modeled by the town’s reigining beauty queens and fashionistas. Beyond fashion, teens and youth were engaged in meaningful conversations about diversity, self-expression and personal development. This event was  coordinated by Madonna Caguioa Naval, a wedding singer and Top Ten finalist at last year’s Mrs. Globe Philippines pageant.

December 29, 2016 – “Kids’ Day”at the Beach House, Cabagan, Isabela. This event provided about 70 underprivileged children from the villages of Ugad, Anao, and Catabayungan, fun and learning activities such as book reading and spelling, movie screening, parlor games, and feeding. This event was coordinated by Socorro Caguioa, retired school teacher from Angancasilian Elementary School.

December 30, 2016 – “Friday Artnight and Networking” at the Beach House, Cabagan, Isabela. This event provided local artists the space to exhibit their works of art. Featured artists were Matt Zipagan, Jason Bulan, Fritzie Ann Bentero Vinasoy, and Krisanta Caguioa Monnich’s ArtworX by Krisanta CM. This event was coordinated by Krisanta Caguioa Monnich, a wife, mother and artist based in Berlin, Germany.

January 2, 2017 – “Coffee with the Farmers and Vendors” at the Beach House, Cabagan, Isabela. This event provided local farmers and vendors opportunity to talk and share their goals and issues in their line of work. It also allowed for an open conversation about potential partnerships to improve their craft and livelihood through investment opportunities.

Special thanks also to our Coodinator of Logistics Danny Caguioa; Coordinator of Transportation Domingo Caguioa; Coordinator of Technology Jerald Caguioa; Coordinator of Sound and Music Eman Caguioa; to Principal Gemmalyn Palogan Ramirez and Delfin Albano High School and Philip Caguioa of TLC IELTS for providing us with chairs; and to all our supporters and crew: Rodirick Naval; JR Zipagan; Anna Mae Espinosa; Jheng Caguioa; Lhen Caguioa; Joan, Rene, Raymund and Mark Tarayao; Jek and Chelsea Bacud; Juvy, Lourdes, Theresa and Manang Letty; Joselyn Dungca; Myleen Salinas; Jake Beltran; Melissa Ramos, Melanie Manuel, Marjoseph Galangco; Michelle Gunayon Cacho and Abigail Balisi Mamauag.

Lots of love and thanks also to our supporters and donors from Los Angeles and around the world: Kelly Tabata; Jessica Guevarra-Carbajal; Ruth Temple; Daniel Blatt; Jed Garces; Suzanne Patterson-Jones; Asako Hosoe; Los Feliz Public Library; Glen Relatado; JL Manili; Albert and Leslie Sta Ana; Marivic Nica; Richel Bacani; Melissa Ramos; Gina Tabug; Anabelle Vinarao; Cory Fryling; Kesarin Sripinyo; Al and Jovie Cruzada; Andy Kohrell and Andy Amata; Joe Cooper; Justin Tandingan; Cherry Red Zozobrado; Vince Ladinez; Wendy and Paul Svenson; Damion Goodrich; Fatima Capinpin; Michael Redic; Jewelyn Pastor; Amity Ruaro; Duyum Dulom; Roan Louie; Jo Palma; Marilou Adra; Niels & Myrna von Keyserlingk; and Peter & Anna von Korff. You all are awesome! Your support has allowed us to successfully  launch the first ever Week of Giving!

Click HERE for more photos from The Week of Giving 2016.

Special shoutout also to our Production Crew, shown here learning basic camera shots and angles prior to The Week of Giving. These are high school students from Delfin Albano High School, where I graduated as Student Council President and with Third Honors in 1998.


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