By Franchette Angeline Molina 11-2 and Jeremy Isobel Evasco 8-4
December 15, 2020
Desmond Tutu once said, "Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Opening the school year in a time of uncertainty was certainly not anticipated. School events such as the much-awaited Intramurals and the annual School Fair were postponed due to the drastic changes brought about by the pandemic. Fortunately, with some creativity and much determination, certain major school activities were successfully implemented in the AA TREE. One such activity is the beloved Handog Pasasalamat which was held via Microsoft Teams last December 12, 2020. Handog Pasasalamat is an annual event held by Assumption Antipolo to celebrate the Christmas season. Like in previous years, AA students carried out the school’s mission by offering Christmas packages to their Handog partners and celebrating Christmas with them through thanksgiving and meaningful interaction. It is beyond doubt that sharing joy through giving is part of the heart of Assumption.
The partners who gathered with the students were guests from different communities. The students prepared weeks in advance to make sure everyone played active roles during the event. The partners participated in the games the students had planned and had an informative talk with them after. Despite the interaction being held online, the students were able to learn about their respective partners’ concerns, issues, and opinions about certain topics and events that happened which affected their livelihoods.
Students and partners alike were delighted to be given the time to communicate and enjoy the activities that were planned out by the students themselves. From playing guessing games and engaging in conversations about their favorite Filipino food, to impersonating actors, it was clear that this experience was essential in connecting the students and their partner communities despite the pandemic. The Sitio Nanays, one of the community partners, radiated a sense of home because they exemplified an upbringing of empathy and tender-heartedness. This gave way to building the bond of the students and Sitio Nanays with one another. This has become an opportunity for both parties to lessen the anxieties they have felt throughout the year. The heartwarming experience of seeing the excitement of the Sitio Nanays was enough to affirm that the occasion had been a success and left memories that will certainly remain with them for a very long time.
Knowing that both the students and teachers had responsibilities and deadlines to meet, their efforts to prepare a wonderful outcome were very commendable. Many worked hard to make this interaction possible. The success of the Handog Pasasalamat shows that, regardless of the hurdles the online set-up brings, genuine and authentic interaction is possible because it isn’t limited to face-to-face, physical communication. Meaningfully interacting with others, even online, can make us recognize that we are not alone in going through our current challenging circumstances. Empathy and communication have made these events a success. Hopefully, for a long time, the values instilled by the Handog Pasasalamat will continue to encourage the students of AA to continue being the light of hope in their homes