Tuesday, October 29, 2013



The Damascus Foundation is situated in the Damascus Compound, Doña Remedios Trinidad in Bulacan – a couple of hours North of Manila. The complex has a church, dormitories, staff accommodation, a water treatment plant, meeting rooms, dining rooms and a feeding and learning centre, set in a quiet and attractive rural setting.

The Foundation celebrates its 17th birthday on January 25, 2014. Outreach focuses on delivering drug rehabilitation and reformation programmes for groups of boarders. Six years ago, the Foundation decided to play a bigger role in the community, by helping improve the lives of the underprivileged children in the area. It now provides child-feeding programmes, education initiatives for children and the provision of parental support via education and livelihood programmes. 

New livelihood projects include a sewing room which provides employment and training, manufacturing showerproof shopping bags and other items and offering customized embroidery. There is also a high-tech water treatment plant which produces high-quality bottled water. Recent developments include the establishment of a bakery and a mushroom farm. The aim is to provide training, employment and development of products to sell, so that the Foundation remains self-sustainable. Damascus Foundation relies on volunteers and donors to support its work. Pusong Pinoy has supported the Foundation in numerous ways, over the past few years, through food drives and the donation of clothes, slippers, books, and school supplies. In 2013, Pusong Pinoy sponsored 15 Damascus elementary school students. 

I met Robert Tiangco at the Pusong Pinoy Heroes Summit in Manila in July 2012. He spoke so enthusiastically about his work that I was determined to visit the Foundation to learn more. After some coordination, we agreed that I would visit and that Pusong Pinoy would provide a range of items for its 14 male boarders. I also offered to organize a “PhotoWalk” for the boys.

The day finally arrived on October 29, 2013. It was going to be a full Filipino day! After breakfast at the hotel, we wound our way through the traffic log-jam. The first stop was the supermarket to initially purchase a range of toiletries for the Damascus boarders. Fortunately, the budget stretched to some food items, snacks and treats. The items donated are found below:

40 pcs Plus tetra juice 
4 pax Mucho chocolate bars 10s 
4 pax Cuppkeyk Combo Topps 10s 
10 pax Quaker Quick-cooking Oats 800 gms 
14 bars Tide laundry detergent 
14 bottles Clear Sport shampoo 200 ml 
14 tubes Master Hair Wax 
14 bottles Rexona Ice deodorant 25 ml 
15 bars Safequard Guava bath soap 90 gms 
14 tubes Close-up Green toothpaste 
3 pax Bear Brand powdered milk 800 gms 
3 pax Equal white sugar 2.5kgs

Then, it was off on the road to Damascus- the North Luzon Expressway. Motorways aren’t too exciting, but soon we were off into the countryside, zooming past rice fields, palms and villages – everything a sea of vibrant green and blue skies. It was a glorious day. Rice left to dry on the road was a constant hazard! Robert is great company, so the miles zoomed past. We reached the Foundation mid-morning. Robert agreed to show me around. First stop was to give some treats to the young children being fed, while their parents enjoyed a talk in the church. Then, it was off to see the new Livelihood Projects. We visited the sewing room, where new products were being made. The showerproof shopping bags, in attractive colours, are nicely-packaged – an ideal gift. I had a couple of souvenir facecloths embroidered on the new sewing machine– a really skilled job. I was the first customer!

Next stop was the cutting-edge water treatment plant which produces clean, pure water. After a tour round other parts of the complex, we had a really nice lunch. I love Filipino food! After that, the toiletries were “turned-over”, then packed to provide a “goody bag” for each recipient after the PhotoWalk. The Foundation also received a Fuji digital camera from Pusong Pinoy. It was a fortuitous gift, as the old one had recently broken! The afternoon was devoted to a PhotoWalk around the complex.

After a brief orientation, students worked in small teams, using compact cameras, to take a series of photographs outlined on the “task sheet”. We had fun! After the Photowalk, we enjoyed juice, snacks and the toiletries were distributed. Then, it was back to Manila! After a brief detour to visit the local library and hand over some birthday presents, we went to “Mesa”, in Manila- a restaurant serving tasty traditional Filipino food. Yummy! It was also a great opportunity to chat to fellow Pusong Pinoy friends- CTL Susan, TL Jocel, and TL Claudette. This was a wonderful way to end a fascinating day. Thank you to Robert and all the people who worked hard to make this such a successful day.