Home Lifestyle and Trends Volunteer in Iloilo Province, Feeling the Charm and the Cause, The Philippines

Volunteer in Iloilo Province, Feeling the Charm and the Cause, The Philippines

Frida and Jacob from Sweden found me through hand-me-down pens and pencils. It was in 2011 when I picked them up in front of a mall and offered them my couch. There were no pre-plans of hosting, travelling and volunteering together but these all happened after a couple of days cooking side by side while talking about anything endlessly. Conspiracy theories, their life on the road, their meal for school project in India, making a difference, fleeting cosmic connections and pesto love.

Days later, we trekked the aeta community of Nagpana in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo. With some other volunteers, we gave away pre-loved school supplies, toys, clothes, chocolate drinks and had some storytelling time with the local kids. In the next years, my heart got closer to travelling + volunteering.





What’s the beauty in doing both at the same time?

Real immersion.

If you want to experience and not just see a place, being with the locals is surely a great way to do it. Looking back, I have realized some of our social issues (concerning literacy) more – lack of alternative ways of learning, lack of appreciation for the arts, lack of appreciation for creativity. When you are out there spending your time and energy with the community, you do not only take home with you photos worth social-network-sharing but a deeper understanding of what is really going on through first-hand experience.

Of course, there is (and will never be) an alternate for the warm smiles of the children.

As you travel and walk around, you also have that chance to enjoy the raw charm of a place. We have volunteering projects in rural areas so we have all the time in the world to have activities under the trees, on the shore, near the waterfalls or in a local hut.

I remember that night after we had free workshops for the kids – basic photography, clay molding, kite-making. Three traveller-volunteers (two guys from Germany and one lady from Iloilo City) and I spent the night having dinner over candlelight and the view of fireflies from the balcony. We slept as the sound of the waterfalls lulled us.

In 2010, one RTW traveller has also joined us in our Doodles and Dreams activity and he told me that it was a brief yet enriching experience for him – being an Education student back in his country.

This July, I am inviting friends to help me re-design our pedicab book nook (a mobile free reading project) and have some storytelling activity with the kids. Online friends, cousins and loved-ones have helped me gather around 200 second-hand books for this project and we are all looking forward to receive more from donors.

Interested to travel + volunteer with us? Interested to send old books?

You can write me – patadyong@gmail.com
Check out – facebook.com/SinggitSirkulo




What awaits you?

* The beautiful community of Nagpana (by the waterfalls) – an hour bus ride from Iloilo City to Barotac Viejo Town (57php), from the town center – a motorbike ride to Nagpana in Barangay Lipata (25php).

* The lovely locals who are accommodating and ever-smiling!

* Hand-woven purses, bags and accessories from nito leaves – created by the women of the community.

* If you are lucky, fireflies and stars in a summer night.


* The lovely coastal village of Nueva Sevilla – an hour bus ride from Iloilo City to Barotac Viejo Town (57php), from the town center – a tricycle ride to Baranggay Nueva Sevilla (10php).

* The active and inquisitive kids (who have asked me a lot about the outer space!)

* Fresh seafood and majestic sunrises and sunsets by the sea

Travel is truly a gateway to one’s own beat, a real re-connection to the ties that we have with nature and people. Lives have been enriched by the charm of the Philippine countryside and the cause that small groups and volunteer activities try to share.

When are you coming over?

/// Written by Kristine Buenavista, The Philippines
Her personal blog can be visited here