For some people, traveling would mean visiting different places and having a taste of other people's culture.
But for this group of friends from Manila, it is more than that. They seek and yearn for a more profound purpose of travelling which means giving back to the community and devoting time to help and promote humanity in the destinations they have chosen.
TAO Po which stands for Travelling hearts Advocacy Outdoor Po is a group of backpackers, nature lovers and spiritual seekers who love outdoor adventures, at the same time share the same credo of sharing their blessings.
This group is one among those who advocate voluntourism which is becoming the new trend in the Philippines, but these are not widely publicized and are unheard of.
Basically, voluntourism was coined from a combination of two words- volunteerism and tourism. The scenario is like this - local travelers organize an outreach program in a selected barangay in a province where they chose to visit. For the remaining days of the trip, they explore and visit tourist attractions.
These events are normally Kanya-Kanyang Bayad (KKB); thus, volunteers who would like to join are expected to shoulder their accommodation, food and transportation.
Sharing your blessings
Prior to the TAO Po’s visit, Vevey coordinated with the Bontoc municipal government through Elizabeth S. Farnican from the Municipal Tourism Office to look for a barangay where the group can visit and share gifts before they will proceed to their travel itineraries on June 2, 2018. The latter with the nod of Bontoc Mayor Franklin C. Odsey has identified Barangay Caneo as the recipient-community.
From the money they solicited from their colleagues and friends in Manila, and the collection shelled out from their pockets; Vevey together with her friends were able to buy bags, notebooks, pad papers, pencils, ball pens, sharpeners, erasers, boxes of crayon, coloring books, oral hygiene kits, tape measures and scissors.
54 pupils from Can-eo Elementary School and 34 from Chapyosen Elementary School were given five pieces of notebooks, two pieces of pad papers, five pieces of pencils, two pieces of ball pens, one sharpener, one eraser, one box of crayon, two coloring books, one toothbrush and two sachets of tooth paste.
The tape measures were distributed to the weavers in the barangay while the scissors were given to the teachers.
A mother whom the writer has the chance to share pleasantries expressed her profound gratitude and happiness saying that the visit of the group was timely. With the items donated by the visitors, she was saved from buying school materials for her children whose first day of class starts in June 4.
It may be little, but for the grateful receivers, it is more than enough.