Sponsors Experience Unique Filipino Culture Firsthand

By Babylene Bocayes, Philippines Field Communications Specialist   |  Photos by Hope Center staff and DJ Visitacion, Child Champion

Visiting your sponsored child in his or her home country is something to look forward to, but it’s even more exciting to experience their culture. Read about how a group of sponsors enjoy their visit to the Philippines, meet their sponsored kids, and engage in their rich culture.

Children from the Dumagat tribe community welcomed the sponsors with their traditional dance and music.

A group of sponsors from the U.S. visited the Philippines in April 2023 to meet their sponsored children in person and see the work of OneChild in several communities.

Their church, District Church, has been supporting 151 children in the Philippines.

They had a fun and memorable time with the kids while experiencing Filipino hospitality and their unique culture.

The Musicality of a Tribal Community

Wearing their bright red-and-white traditional costumes, children from the Dumagat tribe community welcomed the sponsors with their traditional dance, music, and leis at the foot of the Sierra Madre mountain range.

It was the first stop of the District Church members as they visited several Hope Centers. The Dumagat tribe, one of the marginalized indigenous people in the Philippines, have been displaced from their ancestral lands due to industrialization in many parts of the Sierra Madre.

A little rain couldn’t keep the kids from meeting their sponsors.

Many of them have not attended high school and have no sustainable livelihoods.

Because of that, OneChild’s partner Mountainside Church of the Nazarene started its ministry in this community and opened a Hope Center for the children.

Here, the children are connected to sponsors who help support them through OneChild. And this was the day the kids had been waiting for — to finally meet sponsors from the other side of the world in person!

It was raining that day, but it did not stop the children from showing their traditional dance and playing music using instruments made from indigenous materials while the Child Champions covered them with umbrellas.

As the famous saying goes, “The show must go on.” It was a special time for the sponsors to witness the beautiful culture of the Dumagat tribe.

Boodle Fight, a Filipino Feast

Filipinos are particularly proud of their cuisine. Savory and sweet chicken, pork, or fish dishes with rice are staples of every meal. The meals also feature different dipping sauces made of vinegar or soy sauce along with a local citrus lemon called calamansi, as well as spicy wild chili peppers called siling-labuyo.

Sponsors experience a boodle fight with the kids.

Tropical fruits native to the Philippines like bananas, papaya, mangoes, or watermelon serve as dessert.

When these foods are served on banana leaves, spread out on a table like a piece of art, with no plates or utensils to use (you eat with your hands), it is called a boodle fight.

The Blessed Kids Hope Center was the second stop of the District Church members.

There, they were surprised by the Child Champions and kids with the boodle fight.

The sponsors ate together with the kids and Child Champions, standing parallel to the long table where the boodle fight was served.

They all had a good time exchanging laughter and stories over food. To some, it was their first boodle fight.

Knocking Down Prisoners and Jumping Over Thorns

The names of these games might sound brutal, but every Filipino kid grew up with them.

Tumbang preso, which translates to “knocking down prisoners,” is a tag game that involves knocking down a can (which is the prisoner) using flip-flops.

One person guards the can, and once the can is knocked down, he will chase and tag another player to be the guard. The sponsors had a blast knocking down cans and running around with the kids.

Sponsors play with the kids in a game called luksong-tinik, where each player jumps over levels of linked hands and feet.

The other game that the sponsors played with the kids is called luksong-tinik, which translates to “jumping over thorns.” It’s a group game where each player jumps over levels of linked hands and feet. Whichever team jumps the highest wins.

The sponsors didn’t miss their chance to show their jumping skills to the children. The children were amazed at how high Americans could jump. Everyone cheered for each of them.

It was a fantastic bonding time with the kids and sponsors at Small Beginnings Hope Center. Indeed, play is a universal language everyone enjoys regardless of age, language, and where they come from.

The Feeling of Being at Home

Filipinos are known for their hospitality. And when sponsors come to the Philippines, our local partners ensure that they would feel at home. From genuine smiles to warm hugs, Filipinos do not hold back in making one feel welcome and loved.

Sponsors were able to visit the homes of the children and meet their families.

This is what the District Church members experienced when they visited Ima’s Home for Children, a place that cares for abandoned, abused, or neglected kids.

There, the sponsors received the warmest hugs they would ever have from more than 100 children who are part of OneChild’s program.

The same warm welcome was also shown by each home that the sponsors visited in the community of Born in Zion Hope Center, where houses are tight and crowded, and pathways are narrow and dark.

Even though the children’s houses were small, less than 100 square feet, the families opened them to the loving sponsors even if it meant that they would be sitting just a few inches from each other.

It is always an honor for the families of the kids to have visitors in their humble homes.

Exploring an Old City Called Intramuros

To cap the whole trip, the District Church members visited an old city right in the heart of Manila, the capital city of the Philippines.

Intramuros is a walled city built in the 16th century. There the sponsors experienced riding a carriage pulled by a horse, which was the mode of transportation back in the day, and a pedicab (a bike taxi) which is a common short-distance mode of transportation in the city.

While in Intramuros, the sponsors experienced riding in a carriage pulled by a horse.

Their trip to Intramuros included a cultural show that featured serenades and traditional dances like tinikling, a dance using bamboo poles. Some of the sponsors tried it when they were invited by the dancers.

The Souvenir From the Trip

It was indeed a trip full of new experiences for both the sponsors and the local partners.

But what we Filipinos really want our sponsors to take with them when they go back home are hearts filled with love and hope for the Filipino children.

A Filipinio family shares sweet and savory recipes for Christmas dinner!

Sponsor a child today and experience the joy and uniqueness of his or her culture.


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