Wednesday, November 21, 2012



The Pusong Pinoy's sense of heroism transpired again in Little Lights Ministry. I have been with this organization for three years starting as one of the Vice Team Leaders in Hong Kong.  
There are many ways to support this non-profit organization that provides an opportunity for everyone we call "Heroes" to help disadvantaged kids in the Philippines, and, one of them is to celebrate birthdays in a meaningful way.  That's why on the 7th birthday of my daughter, ASHLY CAREL, she celebrated this special day the Pusong Pinoy way!
Since I live in Hong Kong, this is a new experience for me and my family in capturing this wonderful event. On October 7, 2012, we accompanied Ashly to celebrate her birthday with about 100 disadvantaged children of Little Lights Tawi-Tawi at the Tramo Multipurpose Hall in Pasig, Philippines.
Little Lights Ministry is a children's outreach of the Kerygma Apostolic Ministry Asia - a non-profit organization dedicated in helping the less privileged Filipino children and their love ones to have a better way of life.
Thanks to sister JENNIFER ZAMUDIO for guiding us to our destination and volunteers of Little Lights for their warm welcome.  Arriving at Little Lights with the birthday cake, it was so exciting as they sang a birthday song in unison as we enter the multipurpose hall, where the party took place. 

Ashly was a bit shy; however, the kids were very friendly that, at no time, Ashly joined in the fun! The children were amazing!  They gave thanks to our Lord for the wonderful day. They had spaghetti, sponge cake, and fresh orange juice at the party. Cameras flashing, Ashly's playing with the children and everyone was chatting away with fulfillment in their eyes.
Ashly's birthday celebration was a success! Time flies fast when you're having fun at Little Lights, but  it was time to go after all the excitement. I would like to express my gratitude to everyone in Little Lights for making Ashly Carel's 7th birthday celebration a truly wonderful experience that she'll cherish and never forget.

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If you would like to celebrate your birthday the PP way, please email CTL Jay Martinez or TL Carol Vega at

Click HERE to see past Pusong Pinoy's birthday celebrations.

Friday, November 16, 2012



At the first ever Pusong Pinoy Summit held in Manila last July 21, 2012, volunteers and guests alike marveled at ventures of the young man holding the microphone. They listened intently as he recounted all the daily challenges he faced as a mobile teacher in the mountains of Palawan. They were moved by the photos he shared of his young students. He revealed that he used to be obese but not anymore. His regular hikes up and down the mountains of Palawan led to his dramatic weight loss. He then proceeded to show his stretch marks as proof, much to the delight of the crowd. At the end of the young man’s sharing, there was applause and great admiration from the Pusong Pinoy audience.
REUBEN "JONG" HERRERA graduated with honors with a degree in Secondary Education major in Mathematics. He taught in the local public high school for a year before he acquired a permanent position at the Department of Education (Dep Ed) Alternative Learning System (ALS). One of the programs of the ALS is Basic Literacy for the katutubo (tribe members also called Pala’wan). Because of this, Jong had no choice but to subject himself to the physical rigors of his new job. There was much concern from his superiors because Jong is asthmatic and has in fact battled asthma all his life.

He recounts that as a child, he always missed his classes and important school events. He would be absent for long stretches. His asthma attacks came often and were so severe that nobody expected him to live through high school. One anecdote that he shared was when he was in sixth grade, he was absent for a month because of a prolonged asthma attack. He and his family were surprised when one day his classmates arrived at their home laden with flowers and monetary donations because they all thought he had already passed away! But such was the validity of the concern his superiors had for him as a mobile teacher. How could a bona fide asthmatic like him scale the mountains of Palawan? But he did, and how!
Jong relates that he has visited and taught in many communities where the katutubo dwell. He expresses his frustration that nobody from among them pursued further education. After they learn the basics of reading and writing, they move on and look for work. As much as they want to stay in the program, they don’t have the money to buy even the cheapest pencil and paper. But when Jong was assigned to the communities of Bolnok and Magagong, he saw that many of the young ones were interested to learn. He made a firm resolve that he will not leave these communities until he actually sees someone graduate from high school. He immediately set in place his own programs for learning but he quickly realized that these programs will not last if he cannot provide for the basic school needs of the katutubo. Thus began Jong’s quest for sponsors.

Thanks to Facebook, Jong discovered Pusong Pinoy. He took a chance and asked for help. In June 2011, his communities received 400 children’s books and assorted school supplies from the heroes of Pusong Pinoy. In that same year, it was a happy Christmas indeed when they again received books, school supplies and food from Pusong Pinoy! At the recently concluded Pusong Pinoy summit, Jong was given seed money by PP partner group, PUSO AT DIWANG PILIPINO, to make school desks for the children of his community. He cannot stress enough how these donations have improved the lives of the katutubo. They treasure the books most of all especially because some of the children have learned to read not only Pilipino, but English text as well.

Currently, Jong is successfully managing three areas under his stead and he divides his days visiting these areas. One area at the Bayan (town) is for out of school youths and adults ages 13 to 43, another area is in Bolnok which is about 20 kilometers by motorcycle ride then an additional 30 minute hike. Here, he handles learners ages 5 to 37 years old. The third area is in Magagong, which is situated above Bolnok. It takes a back breaking 2 ½ hour hike from Bolnok to Magagong. In this third area, Jong handles learners 6 to 21 years old.

His dreams for his students are simple - to see at least some of them graduate from high school or even college and for their learning center to be a formal elementary school so that the children will have the benefit of a teacher who will be with them from Monday to Friday. For Jong, these are but dreams but the odds have always been in favor of this idealistic young hero who has overcome poverty, obesity and illness. With this young man championing their cause, the students of Magagong and Bolnok have a fighting chance. 
(Jong's students did not have any desks)
(Jong's students writing on their new desks)

Friday, November 2, 2012



Give-and-go, in basketball, is “a maneuver in which one offensive player passes the ball to another, then runs toward the basket to take a return pass.” Clarizzah Macatugal knows all too well how to execute this maneuver on the court. After all, this Pusong Pinoy hero and basketball aficionado has been shooting baskets since the tender age of eight.
Now 18, she continues to profess her love for the sport. Despite her busy schedule as a college freshman, Clarizzah strives to keep a healthy balance between studying her lessons and getting her basketball maneuvers down pat. Without question, her passion for basketball parallels her dedication to education. Her appreciation for the educational opportunities available to her in the United States truly runs deep. “I take my education seriously and I think everyone deserves to have a good education,” she said.
Born in Makati, Philippines, Clarizzah and her family immigrated to California when she was five. She reckons that her family escaped poverty when her parents made that fateful decision to seek a better life in the United States. Even as a little girl, she was always driven by a strong desire to help children mired in poverty. When she was barely out of high school, Clarizzah took this belief and passion to a whole new level by performing community service.
During her senior year, she seized the opportunity to put her thoughts into action by way of her APN (Alternative North Program) class. Since she had always wanted to give back to her home country, Clarizzah decided on a project that would benefit disadvantaged children in the Philippines.
The decision to choose a beneficiary for her school project came easy for her. Clarizzah and her family, especially her dad, Jovito, have been generous supporters of Pusong Pinoy over the years. “I really like how Pusong Pinoy puts such an emphasis on education. I really commend Pusong Pinoy for making learning a top priority,” she avered.
Through her “senior project,” she was not only able to help spread the word about our cause but she also donated the proceeds of a bake sale she ran to Pusong Pinoy which was used to purchase a sack of rice; two cans of evaporated milk and two packs of ramen noodles for our Food for Thought project completed earlier this year.
Moreover, she collected several boxes of used clothes, toys and 87 children’s storybooks to benefit our recipients. She definitely scored huge points with us for her outstanding off-court performance. Pusong Pinoy also gave this young hero some bonus points for giving a whole new meaning to the concept of give-and-go.