BEFORE taking a leave from strenuous newspapering for Christmas, Varsitarian staffers park their pens and get hold of cleaning materials and gifts, and set off for their annual outreach activity.

Since its first outreach activity and medical mission in Sitio Malasa, Bamban, Tarlac in 1998, helping those in need has been a part of the Varsitarian’s mission to serve the public.

For the past two years, the publication has been lending a hand to the old folks and orphans of the House of Hope and House of Joy by the Missionaries of Charity in Tayuman St., Tondo, Manila.

Clad in old shirts and pants, Varsitarian staffers start the day by helping the nuns clean the home for the aged. They divide into groups to distribute the household chores.

According to Varsitarian news editor Marie Carisa Ordinario, nobody is forced to help out. They are not told to do anything. “Kung gusto mong tumulong, humanap ka ng gagawin mo,” she said.

Ordinario reveals that nothing beats a firsthand experience. “Iba kasi pag nakita mo, pag nagsulat ka, it makes a difference, may puso.”

Some staffers get the chance to talk with the lolos and the lolas while feeding them for lunch. Varsitarian news writer Maria Pacita Joson fondly remembers meeting Lola Concepcion.

“There was a sea of faces and I was looking for someone to connect with. And then, she called me,” she related.

According to Joson, the experience was an eye opener. She became thankful that her own lola still has them to look after her. Now, she sees the Lola Concepcion in every article she writes.

Kissing the España soil

“There are other victims like Lola Concepcion. Knowing where I am right now, I can pinpoint what is wrong with the system. This way, I can end the line of victims,” Joson said.

After lunch, they leave for the orphanage just across the street. For Varsitarian sports editor Christian Ace Pasco, the recent outreach activity was like a reminiscent of his ComServ days. Since he became a Varsitarian staffer, he did not have the time to join ComServ in its activities.

Even though, Pasco said that it is good that the Varsitarian has activities like these, even if they happen only once a year. “Matagal ko na rin yung hindi nagagawa. Ang sarap ng feeling nang nakatulong,” he said.

Varsitarian literary writer Sheila Lynn Molarto agreed. According to her, this will help the staff relate with other people, especially with their interviewees.

“We may go there only for a few hours and yet we leave knowing we will eventually return to that place even if we we are no longer with the Varsitarian,” Varsitarian Science and Technology editor Stephen Roy Chua-Rojas, added.

On the other hand, Varsitarian Photography editor Paul Ryan Pagaspas see outreach programs differently. When the rest of the staff feel a sense of self-fulfillment after sharing a part of themselves, Pagaspas feels otherwise.

“Pumunta kami doon thinking that that day will compensate with all the years,” Pagaspas commented. “(We should) help all the way, hindi lang dapat tuwing Christmas.”


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