Christmas is indeed a tonic for our souls. Its spirit moves us to give love and moves us to think of others rather than ourselves. I also personally believe that giving is a gesture of the heart; the hands are only the tools.

Lycah and her friend on a nice trip
My friends and I ride an overloaded motorbike, locally called “habal-habal” to reach the village.

The event was set last December 27, 2015 and we travelled more or less three hours on a minivan and motorcycle to reach the area.

Schoolbag Christmas Project
A screenshot of the Schoolbag Christmas Project on Facebook.

What matters most?

Barangay Laconon was situated in the top-most portion of the mountains in the T’boli province and it can only be reached by riding habal-habal or motorcycle. We had an exhausting 2-hour habal-habal ride but when we reached the area, we we’re filled with joy and awe as we marveled on the scenery of the lush green mountains and plains and were greeted by the warm smiles of the kids and the community leaders.

Lycah and her friend on a nice trip 2
Volunteers of the project carry the packs filled with bags and toys for the children.

We had games and snacks before we started giving the schoolbags and toys. A group of kids sang some Christmas songs but what took my attention was the little girl who sang a song in their native T’boli dialect. I didn’t understand the lyrics but I felt its sincerity.

I was amazed and at the same time curious. When asked about the song, it turned out to be a love song. Somehow, it made me feel loved and happy at the same time.

Lycah and her friend on a nice trip 3
To show her gratitude, a girl renders a T’boli love song for everyone.
Lycah and her friend on a nice trip 4
The children walk home with a wide smile after receiving their bags and toys.

Wet, happy, loved, fulfilled

We ended the day with a splash in the cool waters coming from a cave where Allah River passes through – the bat cave at Sitio Bakngeb. We spent an hour swimming even if we don’t have clothes to change. We went home wet, happy, loved and fulfilled.

Lycah and her friend on a nice trip 5
The volunteers take a side trip in the river before heading home.

We were there to give love and some Christmas cheer but we receive more than what we give. We had fun, adventure, fulfilment and received love from the kids, the community and the surroundings as well. The activity reminded me of a saying from an unknown author which says; never get tired of doing little things for others. Sometimes, those little things occupy the biggest part of their hearts – and it will also occupy a huge portion of yours.

About the author – Cherrilyn Baylon (Lycah)


Cherrilyn Baylon (Lycah) is based in Manila and works as the export consultant for the Developing Country Export Assistance Program in the Philippines. She is responsible in pre-screening suppliers for DCEAP and providing them one-on-one training and practical approaches using online marketing tools to increase export sales and create jobs. She also conducts research and interviews for the content of the PH Developing Country Sourcing Reports.

Prior to working with Hinrich, she’s been into development work for 4 years focusing on MSMEs. She worked as a Program Coordinator (2 years) and a Project Development Analyst (2 years) for MASICAP MSME Development Foundation, Inc., a non-government organization that also promotes trade by helping MSMEs gain access to financing. She is trained in the preparation of project feasibility study and business proposals.

Lycah graduated from the Notre Dame of Marbel University in 2010 and obtained a degree on Bachelor of Science in Commerce major in Management Accounting