• There and Back Again

    August 9, 2018. Community Impact Coach, Patty Caceres, writes about working with CAC Community Partner Gawad Kalinga in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines with Coaches Across Continents Self-Directed Learning Educator and Team Leader,  Charlie Crawford.

    Back in 2014, my mother, one of my three older brothers, and I went for a short visit to Cagayan de Oro (CDO).  We took an eight-hour bus ride from Davao, our main vacation spot that time, to visit the Priests of the Sacred Heart Seminary in Aluba, CDO, which my mother sponsors.  We never really got to see much of Cagayan de Oro so I vowed to myself that I will come back one day. When Coach Charlie Crawford of Coaches Across Continents (CAC) found out that I was back in Tacloban City, my hometown in the Philippines, after working and living in Spain for a time, he asked if I would like to lead the first year CAC Sport for Social Impact seminar in CDO with him.  Of course, I obliged, after all, it seemed to be the Universe’s way for me to fulfill my vow of returning to Cagayan de Oro. It’s also been awhile since I’ve coached football, and haven’t led a CAC seminar since 2016 (Baybay, Leyte in the Philippines and Jakarta, Indondesia) and it’ll be nice to catch up with a good, old friend after a few years.

     The five-day successful CAC seminar was the result of the collaborative efforts of Gawad Kalinga (GK) thru Mr. Jun Degayo, GK Mindanao Child and Youth Development Coordinator and Ms. Marlyn Importante, GK SipaG Manager, the Cagayan de Oro – Misamis Oriental Football Association (CMOFA) thru its President Coach Percy Guarin, the City Government of Cagayan de Oro, local barangay officials of Brgy. Pagatpat, the Department of Education, and the faculty and staff of Pagatpat Elementary School, the venue of the training, thru its dynamic principal, Ma’am Jenifer.  Of all the CAC seminars I’ve attended and facilitated, this CAC training was by far the most organized. Kudos to everyone behind the success of the seminar, especially to our 46 coach and teacher participants who came from all over Mindanao and ranged in ages from young ones to young once.

    The seminar was not just a learning experience for our participants but also for us trainers.  I personally realized that we all have the power to lead change and progress by starting with a small group of people and that in all the little good things that we do, we can inspire others to be better versions of themselves.  The CAC training, they say, was really inspiring. The participants have always been used to a traditional kind of seminar where lecturers lecture and participants just listen. They never thought that social issues can be discussed through fun games and that football and any other sport, for that matter, is a great tool to educate, inspire and empower children, youth and adults.

    I believe that the participants came to the seminar with an open mind to learn and they left with a full heart to address the social unjust in their communities through education and sport.  I came to the seminar with a full mind, eager of sharing my knowledge of football for social impact and I left with a reignited passion for coaching and a full heart filled with thank you’s, smiles and happy memories of the seminar.  As I write this, I wonder at how my little assistant coaches at the seminar are doing. The three pupils of Pagatpat Elementary School, who instead of staying at home since they didn’t have class, came early to the venue, patiently waited for Coach Charlie and myself, Coach Pretty’s (their words not mine) arrival to help out in little ways they can, I hope to hear from you and your teachers and that you’ll continue being good, respectful and helpful children.  Children like those are our hope for a brighter future, and are the reasons why we do what we do. Going back to Cagayan de Oro has been a dream and it was made into a reality for me this year. Another dream that was made into a reality was my wish of getting a new malong, I was thinking of buying one before leaving CDO but lo and behold, the thank you gift that the principal and teachers of Pagatpat Elementary School gave me, Coach Charlie, Coach Percy and Sir Jun were malong handcrafted in Mindanao.  The Universe has its funny way of giving you what you want and need all in perfect timing.