December 8, 2023

Project 360 is an organization founded by a group of teachers in 2015. As this group widens their beneficiaries, membership also opened to other groups of individuals, not just teachers. I was introduced to this organization when my former adviser in junior high reached out to me and oriented me of this organization’s vision and mission.
When I learned that Project 360 represents the cycle of visiting the six provinces of the Cordillera through gift-giving activities to daycare and kindergarten learners, particularly in the far-flung communities of the region, I really got interested and asked to be a pledger.
As a pledger, I was given a coin bank in which if I could save P1 each day and until the collection by December, I would be able to save at least P360. This amount can sponsor a gift bag of school supplies, hygiene kits, slippers, toys, and teaching aids for teachers of selected beneficiaries.
My first actual participation was in July 2022. Together with members of Project 360, we packed 234 gift bags to be brought to the children of Daga Elementary School in Conner, Apayao. I was really touched as I listened to the long-time members who have already been to Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province as they shared their experiences of reaching out to selected learners of these provinces while we were packing.
I asked if I could also join in the next annual gift-giving of the organization and on Dec. 22, 2022, my wish was granted.
Together with the officers, members, and other pledgers of Project 360 (as we fondly refer to our organization), we travelled to Tinglayan, Kalinga. Through this journey, I experienced the feeling of being purposeful and a sense of fulfillment came upon me. When we reached our first destination and I stepped out of the van, I was absolutely captured by the serenity of their mountains and the scenery of countless rice fields. Looking at these captivating sceneries certainly ignited in my heart a sense of appreciation of nature and the provincial backdrop as I tried to imagine the city environment I am very much accustomed to.
We went to child and development centers in Sumadel, Man-ubal, Mallango, Belong, and Dalkinsan. All these centers are in the mountainous part of Tinglayan and the passage to get through are muddy soils, endless stairs, and rice fields. To add to this adventurous walking is the heavy rain that caught us as we took great efforts to carry the heavy gifts.
Upon seeing the happiness and excited faces of the children when they received their gift bags, the exhaustion just wore off.
The hospitality of the locals was also very overwhelming. At every center we visited, they would always welcome us with a warm smile and bottomless coffee.
While in Belong and Sumadel, we were given brown rice, glutinous rice, and different kinds of vegetables. I was greatly delighted because I did not expect this at all. I thought we were the one giving to the community and yet, the community is giving us much more.
The outreach activity in Tinglayan, Kalinga, this mountainous region, will forever be etched in my heart as it has enlightened me to dream big like those mountains I saw, to be more aware and compassionate to those who need help, and be ready to help even in my simplest way.
Truly, this proved that difficult journeys lead to beautiful destinations.