Come, prune & trim away with me... Let's try to shape our world together!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Full cycle

Earlier tonight during my usual volunteer work at Tuloy, me & my Thursday co-volunteers conducted our first rehearsal session with the kids for KAP 2010's final song.  As I am just about ready to hit the sack as I write this, I will defer going into the details of this awesome biennial event slated for December 4, 2010 for a later entry.  I'd just like to post this one while still savoring this feeling that I first felt exactly a year, ten months and a day ago, the day of KAP 2008...   

My ears were buzzing that night, not only from exhaustion - my legs were cramping from rest deprivation (I had less than 2 hours of sleep the last 36hrs and a couple of 18 to 20-hr days that week) - but perhaps also from exhilaration.  Our months upon months of planning, game practices, recruitment of volunteers, center visits, performance rehearsals, setting up of decorations and the like finally paid off.  We gave over a thousand former street children quite a happy day to remember!

Instead of the usual night at one of the dorms tutoring a handful among the 30 or so resident kids, tonight we were all in the gym among the 200+ boys and girls from all 8 dorms.  We were coaching them while they practiced their animation moves for 'Magsimula Ka'.  After a few rounds in their usual dorm platoon formation, they were told by their heads of house to line up single file all around the huge gym so we can see each of them do their moves.  We were not only teaching them the actions, but also how to stay still before the song starts: feet together, hands on the side and heads bowed.  It was about discipline first, artistry and skill came only second.  But remember, these are 10-18 year-old former street children.  Though some have been with Tuloy for a couple of years now, quite a few have been admitted only a couple of weeks ago.  So here and there, you see the smaller kids scratching, girls giggling, bigger boys slouched or... Hey, that kid standing on one leg and staring at the ceiling looks very familiar! 

As I packed up my computer equipment and the rest of my KAP '08 gear raring to leave, one of the Tuloy kids wandered into the volunteer's quarters, or so I thought... Instinctively, I asked him to help me carry the printer to my car.  Although he picked it up and tentatively moved towards the door, he stopped just after a couple of steps, and put the printer down. And then he goes, "Kuya, ibaba mo muna yang dala mo."  Then I recognized him as one of the kids that gave us volunteers quite a few headaches during practices for the Kung Fu Fighting opening presentation: short wavy hair, fair complexion, a bit chubby with a permanent half grin on his poker face and the distinctive perspiration dotting his round nose.  I let out a sigh and asked why. "Kuya tingnan mo oh",  holding up the medal that hanged around his neck, "I won 2nd place sa chess, congratulate mo ko."  As I put down my laptop bag, he took my right hand, shook it and said, "Kuya, thank you po sa patience at pagtuturo sa amin, ang saya saya po.  Sana next year may KAP ulit."

The kid next to him tapped his shoulder and he saw me staring.  I couldn't even call his attention because I can't remember his name.  He has grown taller and is no longer chubby.  As I came closer and repeated my instructions, i saw his signature dotted nose and the half grin on his poker face.  The grin broke into a smile as he straightened up his body and gave me a small nod. He then moved his feet together, placed his hands on his side and bowed his head.

He has come full cycle, and so have I. 

It's all worth it.

Faces of the kids have been blurred to protect their privacy.

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