Every two years the Holy Cross HS team from Surrey in Vancouver embarks on a mission trip to the Philippines to build houses and immerse in the lives of the poor. I feel fortunate to have been part of this remarkable initiative of our school.
Earlier this month of July I went back to the Philippines. Part of my trip was to visit various ANCOP sites where the Holy Cross High School mission team built houses in March last year.
First stop was Avanai in Quezon City north of Manila. I was so pleased to see that the ANCOP homes were fully developed, and there were gardens despite the limited space!
Anita with the homeowners of an ANCOP house in Avanai
I could feel the happiness of the villagers, especially the children. “We are looking forward to the next build of Holy Cross!” they said. They told me that “it is not just for the additional new houses, but also for the strong bond” we have developed with them.
I also met the members of a mission team from USA called FOCUS (Fellowship of Christian University Students) who were staying in the houses of the villagers fully immersing in the community. They came from various states in the US like Texas, Florida, Illinois, and California. It was a pleasure interacting with them and sharing memorable experiences on working alongside ANCOP beneficiaries.
Anita with the FOCUS Mission team from USA
While in Avanai I also met Jimmy Ilagan the President of CFC ANCOP Global. It was refreshing to hear first hand news on the global work and future initiatives of ANCOP. “I am grateful for the support of various groups and organizations to ANCOP,” he said.
ANCOP Global President Jimmy Ilagan apprising Anita and the members of FOCUS mission team
on the developments in ANCOP
The other site I visited was Our Lady of Banneux Village (OLB) in San Mateo, Rizal east of Manila. OLB is a beautiful village in the hilly and windy area of San Mateo. A giant statue of Mother Mary rises over the chapel as a reminder of the Marian apparition in 1933 in Banneux, Belgium.
This ANCOP site is quite spacious and blessed with rich soil. It is not surprising that the ANCOP village boasts of huge gardens of vegetables and herbs, and the backyard full of fruit trees. I was thrilled to see fruits already ripe for picking and full-grown vegetables ready for harvesting. The houses were well developed and maintained, and the whole community was growing well economically and socially.
Indeed, my visit to the ANCOP sites was rewarding. My husband Tony and I have always been involved in the work of ANCOP. The developments I saw in the ANCOP villages and the positive effects to the people were quite affirming.
Back in Surrey, a city in Greater Vancouver Canada, Holy Cross High School is once more laying the groundwork for the mission trip in March 2016. The team will be composed of 35 students, 6 teachers (I am one of them) and one priest. Early on this year the team had already started raising funds through the school’s Multicultural Day celebration.
The aim is to raise funds for four ANCOP houses that we would help build next year. Once again the Tessa Beauchamp Foundation would donate funds for one house in memory of Tessa, a Holy Cross student and popular basketball player in BC. Tessa was very involved in the HC mission trips and in working with the poor before she succumbed to cancer.
The team will continue to work hard to raise the financial goal. But our efforts are quite small compared to the tremendous feeling of self worth and happiness of the future homeowners. Aside from helping build houses, the mission team would be doing other works of charity in St. Martin de Porres orphanage, Tahanang Walang Hagdan (house without steps) for the wheelchair bound, and others.
Our mission trip is a wonderful way of putting our faith into action and making new friends thousands of miles away. I, and the rest of the mission team, look forward to the next trip in March 2016!
By Anita Aytona, Holy Cross HS Teacher/ANCOP Volunteer,Vancouver
The 2014 Holy Cross Mission in the Philippines