Sgt. Winston Fiore’s Smile Trek

I met an amazing U.S. Marine Corps sergeant, Sgt. Winston Fiore, a few weeks back and his story is amazing because he is on a 5,000-mile trek across Southeast Asia to raise awareness (and funds) for corrective facial surgery on children, young adults and even adults in the developing world.

Sgt. Fiore’s trek is taking him through countries such as Vietnam, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand and Laos. He has never been to this part of the world. This trek was an idea born in 2007 in Senegal where he was stationed for 3 weeks. He got the idea of dedicating a year off from military service to see parts of the world he still hadn’t seen and do this on foot. And walk for a cause.

Back in New York, he began searching for a cause. His father sent him a newspaper clipping of Dr. Jeff Williams who had a comfortable lifestyle as a plastic surgeon but who would volunteer 1-2 weeks in a year with volunteer groups. Dr. Williams had grown disappointed with some of these volunteer groups so he decided to found International Children’s Surgical Foundation (ICSF)  in 2005. Sgt. Fiore took a closer look at ICSF and decided to work with Dr. Williams.

His cause became children with cleft palates.

Continue reading

If you liked this post, here are ways to share:

How to help victims of Tropical Storm Sendong

Early dawn today, two areas in Mindanao (a southern island of the Philippines), were hit with sudden and unexpected flash floods from Tropical Storm Sendong (international code name Washi). The floods hit Iligan and Cagayan de Oro around 2AM — when everyone was asleep. Many villagers were caught and trapped wherever they were, with little preparation and no forewarning.




A bloated Pulangui River (photo from Francis Awiten, a blog reader of and posted via Twitpic)




A young Sendong victim (photo posted by @mindanaoan via Twitpic, with credits to Atoy M.)




Dumaguete flood (photo owner unknown)

(UPDATE: Bukidnon and Dumaguete likewise need assistance so I will be including in my list donation info for these places as soon as I get them.)

I am creating this post for you, my dear readers, wherever in the world you are. If your heart is touched by some of these pictures, there are many ways you can donate, either in cash (PayPal included) or kind.

Please note that I will try to list as many as I can. I have been listing based on posts in social networking sites, some news sites, government agencies, etc. If I miss some, please leave me a comment at the bottom so I can add to this list.

FINAL UPDATE – DEC. 23, 2011 (4:56 PM)


Bottled water (VERY URGENT!)

Canned goods
Clothes (for those abroad, pls note that there may be some requirements for donating used clothing. Am trying to get confirmation directly from government agencies)
Hydrogen peroxide
Mats (banig)
Medicines (anti-tetanus vaccines, Betadine, gauze, cotton, bandages, for cough/colds/diarrhea, etc)
Milk (preferably breast milk)
Mosquito nets
Off lotion
Toiletries (sanitary napkins, toothpaste, etc)


Bigby’s – branches in Megamall, Ayala Cebu, SM City Cebu Northwing, Abreeza Davao, SM City Davao, SM City Bacolod, Limketkai Center, SM City Cagayan de Oro, Robinson’s Place General Santos

Caritas Manila – can pick up cash and donations in kind. Call 563-9311 for cash donations; 564-0205 for donations in kind.

DSWD Field Office NCR: San Rafael St., Legarda, Manila

DSWD Field Office IV-A: Alabang-Zapote Road, Alabang, Muntinlupa City 1770
Tel. No.: (02) 807-4140 Fax No.: (02) 807-1518
Contact: Gina Laranan 09108860826

DSWD Field Office IV-B: 1680 F. T. Benitez St., Malate Manila
Contact: Shiela Tapia (02) 5252445

DSWD relief Samar:

Ludwig Lao, 85 del Rosario St., Catbalogan City or Samar ChamCommerce, DTI Bldg., Catbalogan City CP No. 09189351993

DSWD relief drop off Zamboanga: Ateneo de Zamboanga Univ Gym, La Purisima St., Zamboanga City. Tel 9910871 local 2224 n 2225; 9913711

GMA 5 (Davao) – Please leave donations at Shrine Hills, Matina, Davao (info from @mindanaoan)

GMA Kapuso Foundation – for info on where to bring donations in kind, click HERE

Kristohanong Katilingban sa Pagpakaban (coordinated with Xavier University) – call (088) 8583116 loc 3210 for details

La Salle Greenhills – will start accepting donations Monday, Dec. 19 (info taken from HERE)
Donations in cash and kind will be received at Gate 2 of La Salle Green Hills at 343 Ortigas Avenue, Mandaluyong City 1550. You may call any of the following telephone numbers for further inquiries:
Alumni Office — 721-2729, 722-7750, 725-4720
GS Principal — 721-2482
HS Principal — 721-8914
Buildings and Grounds Office — 721-8904 (Telefax)
La Sallian Mission Office — 726-5851 (Telefax)

LBC Foundation – bottled water, food, blankets, clothes, etc. Drop off your donations at the nearest LBC branch nearest you, nationwide. Call (632) 8585-999 to find the closest LBC branch. Donations must be addressed to LBC Foundation; they cannot ship for free if goods are addressed to specific consignees.

Mercato Centrale (BGC) / Soderno (Alabang) – bottled water, rice, canned goods, bottled water, utensils, toothbrush, mats, used clothes, blankets

Moonleaf Tea Shop, Maginhawa St., QC – They’re open every day, 10AM to 11PM.

National Resource Operations Center (NROC) – Chapel Rd. Pasay City (Back of Air Transportation Office)
Contact: Francia Fabian 0918 9302356

OneMeralco Foundation

– accepting cash/kind donations. Please bring between 8am to 5pm to G/F Lopez Building, Meralco Compound, Ortigas Ave., Pasig. Look for Joy. Donations in kind will be issued acknowledgement receipts. Cash donations will be issued official receipts.

Parish of St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral (Dumaguete, Negros Oriental) – receiving cash/relief items. Contact: Msgr. Julius Heruela

The Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces ave Mascado cor Yague, Makati ph.+63 2 8978808 Ms. Kasilag/Ms. Kalagayan.

Sagip Kapamilya ABS-CBN Foundation Inc., Mother Ignacia cor. Eugenio Lopez St., Diliman, QC – for goods in kind

Sen. Kiko Pimentel – accepting donations starting Dec. 19 at Room 512, GSIS Building, Senate of the Philippines. Contact person: Ron Munsayac (new media group)

TEAM MANILA – they are accepting donations in the following places:
Branches: Mall of Asia, Trinoma and Rockwell
TeamManila Warehouse: 71 Ecoville Townhomes, Metropolitan Ave., Makati. (near Meralco Ayala Ext ofc.)
TeamManila studio: 3rd floor, 20 Jupiter Ave., Valdecon Building, Bel-Air Makati (near Buendia Car Exchange) till 7PM

TV5 Kapatid Foundation Inc. – Donations in kind like food, clothing, utensils, blankets, mats, water containers, and medicines may be sent to News5 Aksyon Center, TV5 office in San Bartlolome, Novaliches, Quezon City. For inquiries, please call News5 Aksyon Center hotline – 938-6393.

UP Manila

– accepts donations at the Office of Student Affairs (Padre Faura, Mla) and PGH. Call 526-8419/526-0527/554-8400.

Xavier University KKP-SIO – cash, food, bottled water, clean clothes. You can drop them off at the Xavier University KKP-SIO.

[important]Strictly for breastmilk donations:
1. 17 Green Grove Villa, Lantana Rd., Barangay Mariana, New Manila, QC (office of Kalusugan ng Mag-Ina, Inc)
2. UP-PGH Human Milk Bank, 4th Floor, Left Central Block (LCB) c/o Tina or Grace (during office hours) or the NICU Fellow (after office hours)
PGH can pasteurize the breastmilk before sending this to CDO/Iligan.[/important]


Ateneo de Manila University – please see how to donate HERE

Caritas Australia (for Australian residents) – for donation details, please click HERE

GMA Kapuso Foundation – for info on how to donate dollars, click HERE

HELPCDO (PayPal Donations) – Proceeds will be donated and delivered to Xavier University Cagayan de Oro where the members of CDOBloggers are planning to volunteer. (Note: Info received c/o Ria Jose)
Email Address for PayPal donation:

ONE FOR ILIGAN – a Google doc that tells you how you can donate at least US$1 via PayPal
Your Donations will be shown at:
For donations on Paypal, your names and initials HERE

Simbahang Lingkod (info taken from HERE)
Direct deposits may be made online from any BPI branches, pay to:
Bank Name: Bank of the Philippine Islands (Loyola-Katipunan Branch)
Dollar Savings Account Number: 3084-0420-12

TV5 Kapatid Foundation Inc.
BDO Savings Account No. 005310-410164
Bank of the Philippine Islands Savings Account No. 1443-05333-2
For inquiries, please call News5 Aksyon Center hotline – 938-6393.


For Globe subscribers:
via S

If you liked this post, here are ways to share:

Yahoo! pays tribute to Pitong Pinoys

Yahoo! recently gave recognition to seven Filipinos (‘Pitong Pinoys’ in the vernacular) whose contributions in the realm of volunteerism and advocacy work made a significant impact in the lives of Filipinos. It is Yahoo!’s first initiative to celebrate patriotism and national pride among Filipinos. This recognition, for me, is so timely because, under an administration that was elected on a platform of transparency and good governance, there is a clear need to show the Filipinos that despite general cynicism stemming from scandalous revelations of corruption in all corners of society, there is no dearth of ordinary heroes.

During the launch, Yahoo! Philippines Country Editor Erwin Oliva related that they were wondering at first whether they could actually find 7 heroes. After the initial call for nominations some time in May 2011, they were surprised by the submission of hundreds of applications representing people from all walks of life, including simple folk who were doing community work without any prodding or thoughts of compensatory recognition. Those applications were eventually whittled down to the final 7.

What made this awarding ceremony particularly special was the fact that two good friends were among the 7 awardees: Jay Jaboneta and Anna Oposa.

Meet the Pitong Pinoy awardees who have chosen different advocacies to make life better for the ordinary Juan.

(L-R) J. Jaboneta, T. Leonor, J. Enriquez, A. Oposa, T. Saniel, H. Mendoza, A. Belonio

Continue reading

If you liked this post, here are ways to share:

A sea full of memories worth preserving

Growing up, I always had a connection to the sea in many different ways.

We lived in Mindanao for many years because my Dad was assigned there. During summers, my parents would take us to Manila and back — not by plane but by boat. At that time, boats were unlike the speedy ones that get you from Mindanao to Luzon in just a little over a day. Back then, it took days. So much so that before every trip, Mom would buy stacks of comics, puzzles and books and stash them away somewhere. And she’d take these out a little at a time over the duration of the boat trip so we wouldn’t get bored.

But we did not spend a lot of time on those. Instead, I remember that we enjoyed hanging out on the sides of the ship, watching island after island pass by. We’d call out in delight when we’d see swordfishes jump out of the water like flying spears. At certain ports in Mindanao, we’d look in awe as children with their parents would approach our ship in their tiny bancas, motioning to the ship passengers to drop coins off the sides so they could dive for them. I remember being amazed to see a mother with a tiny toddler on her back cling tightly to her neck as mother and child dove into the sea for a coin that hit the water near her.

Living in Davao City then, we always had the chance to go to beaches. And our own home (at least the last of many homes there because we transferred quite a number of times within the city) was beside the sea.

I think it’s no wonder then that I love traveling by boat and as my own kids were growing up and we’d travel to my inlaws’ province in the Visayas, many times I’d choose to travel by boat. We had traveled by sea so many times that I knew the layout of most of the Super Ferry and Negros Navigation ships plying the route, knew the best cabins in each ship, and what children’s entertainment centers could be found in each.

Very early on, one of my girls had dreams of becoming a marine biologist. When she finally entered college, that dream had changed and she ended up taking a graphic design course. But her love for sea creatures has remained. She specifically loves dolphins and is attracted to many things from the sea. And she’s not the only one.

My whole family loves the sea. I want my children and their children and the children of their children to experience the wonders not only above the waters but below them for years to come. While I have never gone diving, I have heard the stories from blogger friends who have and who say that the world below is beautiful beyond description. One friend said that the fishes he saw on his dives were exactly like the entire cast of Finding Nemo. If you’ve seen that animation movie, you can understand how beautiful it must be underwater.

The recent shocking discoveries of shipping containers full of contraband corals, shells, turtles and other marine life upset me so much. I cannot believe how we have allowed foreigners to destroy our coral reefs and continue the pillaging of our marine life. This has been going on for decades in exchange for some money (because that, sadly, was the motivation) and it is unimaginable how these all went on allegedly without the knowledge of local government units or national environmental agencies. It just boggles the mind that we have people supposedly tasked with jobs to oversee, monitor and protect our natural resources but now say they never knew these were going on.

Continue reading

If you liked this post, here are ways to share:

When Facebook goes beyond socializing and changes lives

How many of you have a Facebook account? And how do you use your Facebook account?

Most of us probably use our Facebook account to stay in touch with family and friends (and find long-lost friends as well). We upload pictures and videos, post status messages that range from the mundane “what I had for breakfast” to rants about lousy customer service, links to interesting articles, and other socializing activities.

But here is a story, a true story, about how Facebook was used by my blogger friend, Jay Jaboneta, to actually change the lives of children from the Layag-Layag community in Barangay Talon-Talon, Zamboanga City, Philippines.

Jay’s story started out as nothing out of the ordinary. He traveled to Mindanao (southern part of the Philippines) last October 2010 to talk about The Role of New Media in Nation-Building in a Mindanao Blogging Summit. Having been involved in the last electoral campaign for now President Noy Aquino, Jay met with some of the Mindanao campaign volunteers during his free time and there first heard about the children of this small community.

The kids WADED to school!

(click to enlarge)


Jay told me that the water part that around 200 kids had to wade in is around 1 kilometer. In low tide, the water comes up to their knees but during high tide, those who cannot afford to pay for a boat ride have to wade in chest-deep water to shore. That’s not the end of it. Once they reach shore, the school is still some 1 kilometer away so those who have no money to ride a tricycle still need to walk the rest of that way to Talon-Talon Elementary School.

video grab from FB page of "Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids"

Continue reading

If you liked this post, here are ways to share:

It’s Time to ACT and Curb HIV/AIDS Spread

Who would ever have thought that I would get involved in an HIV/AIDS advocacy?

I supported advocacies, yes. But I never thought of supporting something that I felt then I had no connection to. In my mind, I was saying that those who should be concerned are those who are sexually active with multiple partners, the gay community and others. Nope, not me. I will just focus on advocacies up my alley — maybe breast or cervical cancer or children illnesses. You know, women and motherly concerns.

But last year, when Project Headshot Clinic invited bloggers, along with some celebrities, to spread the word about HIV/AIDS awareness and the importance of action, I took a second look at the disease.

Here are some highlights that everyone should know about HIV/AIDS –

* HIV is not = AIDS. AIDS is the full-blown manifestation of HIV but if well-managed, HIV-positive people may not necessarily end up with AIDS.

* HIV attacks the immune system, our defense against all kinds of sickness

* You cannot die from HIV but because it weakens your immune system, you are susceptible to more serious infections and diseases

* Anyone can get HIV. It can hit anyone of any age, gender, sexual preference, race, religion, family background, profession, social status, life accomplishments, height or weight. ANYONE!

* HIV is transmitted in 4 ways: 1) unprotected sex, 2) sharing of infected needles, 3) as a fetus or infant during birth or through breastfeeding, and 4) by blood transfusion.

That is what caught my eye – item #4 (blood transfusion). How many of us have contracted dengue, for example, and needed blood transfusions? Even children get blood transfusions when platelet count is down.

Just today, I found this online news article from the Inquirer where some 124 blood units were found tainted with HIV. How safe is blood screening of donors in the Philippines – really? Scary thought…

That’s not all. Here are some alarming numbers. And mind you, this is just for the Philippines.

Continue reading

If you liked this post, here are ways to share: