By: Charmaine Lim - Perth, Western Australia
I signed up for this excursion not knowing the language, having no clue where or what EK was, and not knowing much about 2kk. I was a sojourner in the Philippines, who chanced upon Randy from 2kk on a visit to a Gawad Kalinga community in Escopa.
‘You get to sponsor a child to go to Enchanted Kingdom!’ was #2kkgoestoEK told to me in a nutshell.
I thought about my first time to Disneyland, when I was but a girl of 12 and my parents took us to America for a family vacation, and how that became the highlight of my childhood. I thought about the children living in Escopa who are rarely given an opportunity to go somewhere as far away (or as close by, depending on your perspective) as Laguna. So I readily agreed, and two weeks went by before I returned to Manila and embarked on my Enchanted Kingdom adventure with people I have not had the pleasure of meeting yet.
Due to my inability to speak the language, I was kind of, semi-hoping, half daring to hope that the child I would be assigned to would be young enough that we had to communicate in half-sentences and made up words. What happened instead was that I was partnered with a child who was not only able to speak, could speak very well, and whose favourite subjects were Maths and English, so Cathlene was probably the best surprise I could have asked for.
On top of that, our team leader Micah decided we should hang out in a group, so not only did I get the company of one small person, our group shared several, ranging from ages seven to eleven.
A picture speaks a thousand words, and they inexplicably show we had an enjoyable time, climbing bridges, waiting in line for rides. What the pictures failed to capture were the experiences we shared that remain closest to my heart. I am not sure who enjoyed the day more: the children or myself. We shared lunches, ice cream, drinks and dinners. Cathlene and Jhanice happily taught me how to count from one to ten in Tagalog. We rode on ‘kabayos’ to finish the night off. We watched the fireworks under the stars together in silent awe. Cathlene told me her favourite song was Jessie J’s ‘Flashlight’ so we held hands and sang that all the way to the Ferris Wheel. We rode the waterfall ride, where we screamed for dear life before erupting into laughter as we disembarked.
I took away more than just the opportunity to give one child an experience, and an opportunity to play 'Ate' for a day. I walked away with a sense of unity and collectivity that children have the power to bring, and for that, I am humbled and grateful. Thank you, 2KK for bringing me together with some of the best people that I had the pleasure to meet. And thank you to Carla, Jay, Kristine and Micah for taking me under their wing. Most importantly, thank you to Kian, Cathlene, Jhanice, Aaron and the rest of the 2kk children for making this trip to the Philippines the most memorable of them all.