One happy Sunday at Tuklasan Center

What a powerful word “synergy” is. Derived from the Greek word synergos, which means “working together,” it refers to the interaction of multiple elements to produce an effect that is larger than the sum of the individual elements.

It packs even more meaning when put into practical use − like the outreach event that we attended at the Tuklasan Center on July 20, 2014.

The individual elements that made that Sunday event possible:

Tuklasan Center: A special project of the Educational Research and Development Assistance (ERDA) Foundation. Started in 1991, it provides temporary shelter to orphaned or abandoned streetchildren. Tuklas is derived from the Filipino words Tuklas (discovery), Kalinga (care), Laruan (play), Aralan (study), and Sanayan (training). The center is in San Juan City, Metro Manila.

U! Happy Events: A Pasig-based NGO that organizes volunteer-driven events and matches sponsors with beneficiaries. It  partners with various foundations and individuals to bring cheers to orphanages, hospitals, and community-based groups.

Individual Sponsors: Professional basketball player and celebrity endorser Chris Tiu and Jan Vincent (JV) Tribiana, a flight attendant based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Both July-born (Chris – July 17; JV – July 28), they thought of celebrating their birthdays by sharing their blessings with the children at the Center.

Beneficiaries: Children housed at the Tuklasan Center and children selected from the less-privileged community of Parola in Tondo.

Volunteers: Fans of Chris and friends of JV, students and professionals recruited by the organizer to share their time and talents and to assist in the event activities.

chris tiu

These ladies walk and wear their talk: “U! Make Me Happy” and “Change Starts with U!”


For the rest of the afternoon, the children were individually matched with their respective kuya or ate (that’s how U! volunteers are called, never mind if some qualify to be called lolo or lola  🙂 ).  Each child was assigned a number that corresponded to a volunteer’s number, and when they were asked to find their partners, the place was a riot! They were then divided into groups tasked to do exactly as Chef Kittin Constantino showed in her baking demo.

Find your partner: Number 7, where are you?
Chef Kittin shows them how to bake chocolate crinkles.


Tuklasan Center was one big ball of positive energy that afternoon. Smiling faces. Contented hearts. New friendships. Objectives fulfilled.

As we were about to leave, feeling light and happy after the experience, U! Happy Events founder and chairman Harvard Uy de Baron asked us to receive a token from their group. My husband, my youngest son, Drei, and myself were there to represent JV who is based in the KSA. As we stood there to blow the candles on JV’s cupcakes while the children sang “Happy Birthday,” I couldn’t quite tag my feeling. Was it humility or pride? Probably nostalgia, as I recalled past images of my son as a young boy blowing candles on his birthday cake. This time he is celebrating his birthday away from home.

Just before we left, a staff from the Center I exchanged pleasantries with earlier added to my bliss when she said, “Thank you po, ma’am. Anak mo pala yung sponsor natin. Ang galing mo naman, ang bait ng anak mo.” She was surprised that I didn’t mention my relationship with the sponsor when we were talking. I wasn’t sure about the “ang galing mo naman” part, though. She was commending me for what my son did! I wanted to tell her that I didn’t have any hand in this and it was all to JV’s credit. Instead, I thanked the lady for the opportunity to visit their center.

It is JV’s birthday tomorrow.

Happy birthday, JV! Thanks for making your momma proud!

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