Mission Kapote was a successful program serving five schools, one foundation, and was the product of personal experience – one that was shared with others locally and across oceans to make a difference in a number of communities in Baguio City and Tuba, Benguet.
Mission Kapote began as an outreach program to raise sufficient funds to provide raincoats for 132 students, from Kindergarten to Grade 6 at Yagyagan Elementary School. However, with the generous outpouring of donations, Mission Kapote expanded itself to provide raincoats for Lubas Elementary School, Labney Elementary School, Taloy Norte Elementary School, Mariano Sabarino Elementary School, Save Our School Children Foundation, Inc., and select students from neighboring school, Sioco Carino Elementary School, located in Tuba, Benguet.
However, not only raincoats were provided, but also school supplies for every student at Lubas, Labney, Taloy Norte, and Mariano Sabarino. Within three weeks of Mission Kapote lift-off, the abundance of funds collected made me realize I needed to find more schools to provide raincoats for – besides, there were plenty in need! With the help of Cabrini Mission Foundation in New York, NY, donors from around the world had the opportunity to donate to this program, and all donations were centralized. Thank you technology (and Facebook)! After teaming up with the principal at Yagyagan, she introduced me to other schools in the Benguet region, mostly in Tuba, an area composed of rural municipalities outside of Baguio City.
After looking for more schools to donate raincoats to, and after personally conducting school visits, I found that the schools were of perfect size to provide additional raincoats to, but still, there were extra funds that I would be able to use for the schools. Ah, what a great problem to have, right? Well, that also meant more work! More work that I was happy to take on.
After venturing to these schools, crossing rivers, hiking, and experiencing the everyday commute for the families and children getting to and from school, I experienced truly how far these barangays or “towns” are from the major cities where the families would have to commute to buy their food and goods. Given this firsthand experience, I thought it would help even if a little bit, to lift the burden off of these families, by saving them trips, money and effort, to get to town, by providing them with raincoats and school supplies for the upcoming school year. I was always taught on mission to “go where the people are.” And so I did! 
I also learned that from mid-June to September, there is no nearby transportation available to some of these areas because the river gets too high for the jeepneys to cross. Presented with that reality, I immediately told the principal, “Yes, po. We will return!” Perhaps reluctant at first, she joyfully accompanied me throughout the process.
I recall working on another outreach program at Yagyagan Elementary School last year with one of my friends, where we also gave school supplies and played some games with the children. For some reason I wanted some affirmation that school supplies would be of use for the children, and that this would be of assistance to their well-being. Was there something else concrete that I could do with the money? I remember asking some of the college students at the Foundation, “Hey, do you guys think school supplies would be of help to these students?” They immediately replied, “Yes, Ate, the kids would be more motivated to go to school if they had school supplies.” Boom. Done.
So, after taking a look at the total funds collected, not only were all of these schools able to be provided with raincoats, but also a complete set of school supplies were provided for every student.  What? Thank you, Jesus!
For the next two weeks, I spent time with the assistance of some of the college students from the Foundation, ordering the supplies, picking up the supplies, ordering the raincoats, packing the materials, and boxing all of it up for distribution. What did I discover? I’m horrible at tying up and securing the boxes, but I’m pretty good at counting and ensuring that the correct number of materials were packed in each box! And so, the week of June 4 was the scheduled distribution week, given that June 4 was also the first day of school for the students.
Monday, June 4, I was joined with one of the college students, and a friend of mine to distribute the supplies to Taloy Norte and Mariano Sabarino Elementary School. Originally, the plan was to also visit Lubas and Labney Elementary School in the morning, however, because monsoon rains had occurred just two days prior, the river was way too high for the truck (carrying us and all of the supplies) to pass through. Yes, there is a river that trucks and jeepneys must pass through. Crazy! As a result, that trip was to be rescheduled for Thursday of that week, again, weather permitting. This was a bummer because I wanted the students to receive their school supplies and raincoats sooner than later, but I also realized, safety first!
Norlyn (the college student), Cherry (my friend), the driver, and the Principal of Yagyagan Elementary School accompanied me to Taloy Norte and Mariano Sabarino where we passed out the school supplies and raincoats for the students, and also provided some supplies for the teachers and staff. We were able to transport these goods through the assistance of the Principal, who was able to hire the Emergency Vehicle of the Office of the Congressman of Tuba, Benguet. Thank goodness! It was of great help.
First to Taloy Norte, then to Mariano Sabarino, the children were all very excited and grateful for the donations. At each school, we were greeted with merienda (“snacks”) and also lunch. It was a beautiful day!
Upon meeting the students, I recalled my first days of school, especially during elementary school, and remembered that the weeks prior to the first day of school were the most exciting for me. New notebooks, a new backpack, some new clothes, sharpened pencils, and fresh everything, so that I could start off the year energized and complete with all the materials I needed. 
When I visited the first school, Taloy Norte, the students were quiet, reserved, and they were so little also! I saw their clothes, their worn out feet, and thought to myself, wow, this is so different than what I am used to for the first day of school. It was just another day for them, and immediately I recalled what the first day of school was probably like for the kids back at home – much different than this. I was extremely grateful to be with the students of Tuba that day.
Tucked in the mountain was another small school called Mariano Sabarino, composed of children from Kindergarten to Grade 6, and the students were very similar to what I experienced at Taloy Norte, except they had more energy. After distributing the raincoats and school supplies, we spent time listening to the teacher-in-charge play the accordion for the students during recess, and I raced some of the kids. For the first time, I actually won a running race – go figure! 
The teachers thanked us for thinking of their school as a recipient of raincoats and school supplies, but I assured them that there are people back at home, and locally here in the Philippines that do care, and appreciate all of their hard work for the children, despite their challenging circumstances.
Distributing the goods was when I realized, yes, there is a need here, and if these donations could provide our young brothers and sisters here with just a little bit more motivation to go to school and excel at that, then it was all worth it. Never mind the rocky fields that the truck had to maneuver through for hours on end – it was an experience, and I was glad I was able to share my morning and afternoon with the communities of Taloy Norte and Mariano Sabarino.
On Thursday, again with the help of the driver, the Principal of Yagyagan, and Norlyn, we were able to venture off to Lubas and Labney Elementary School, as the community members said that there is an alternate route that our vehicle could use for the distribution of school supplies and raincoats. After piling everything in the Emergency Vehicle, and journeying for two hours, we finally made it to the area of the schools. But, not so fast. The road became absolutely so rocky and so muddy (because of the recent rainfall) that our vehicle got stuck and we had to wait for the husband of one of the teachers at the school to come and pick us up. 
Eventually we were able to move the Emergency Vehicle, park it in a local town, and through the help of some of the community members, they were able to transfer all of the materials from the Emergency Vehicle, into this new truck that we would take over to the school. Phew! It was quite the adventure. Thank goodness there was cell phone service. This definitely helped in our communication efforts!
After leaving Baguio City around 8:30am, we finally reached our destination of Lubas Elementary School at 12pm. Right in time for lunch. We were very hungry, but it was nice to finally get to our final destination!
There was true bayanhian (“community”) spirit which I witnessed with the community members that day, and it was beautiful to see. Seeing that our Vehicle needed help backing up in the mud, I watched as the people in the area threw down rocks to add traction for the tires, and I witnessed some of the members in the community start transferring the heavy boxes. It was such a beautiful spirit that I was able to witness that morning prior to even arriving at the school – it’s a lovely community.
After distributing the donations at both Lubas and Labney Elementary School, the teachers and staff were very grateful, along with the children, and it was a blessing to have shared the entire day with them! Because there were a few extra supplies, there was another principal present from neighboring school, Sioco Carino Elementary School, and she was able to bring some of the donations to the most indigent children of her school, also located in Tuba, Benguet.
All in all, every child was provided for, and the Mission Kapote program exceeded its original intention. It seemed to me that God had a bigger plan than what I thought was possible. I should have known that upon praying to the Holy Spirit for guidance, direction and assistance in the beginning of stages of Mission Kapote, the Holy Spirit would provide, and look what happened! I remember one night talking with my friend about this idea, and not sleeping because I was so excited of the possibilities, that I started to draft the advertisement for it. Little did I know that it would turn into a true mission in itself, where more than what I imagined would actually happen, and I would be able to meet, smile with, and join hands with a number of beautiful children!
It was indeed a lot of work, and sure there were challenges and stress here and there, but nothing that was enormously debilitating. This was such a testament to me that God provides, and I feel that the communities were also touched in the sense that they were reminded that they have not been forgotten, despite their great distance from the major cities.
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the help of my mom, Cabrini Mission Foundation, and all of the donors and supporters, that both prayed and/or financially contributed to these efforts. It was such a grace to share these communities with all of you, and I thank you again for walking with me as we do our best to reach out to the poorest of the poor. God provided generous hearts and His timing was all on-time with surprises every step of the way. Thank you for being a part of Mission Kapote.
Maraming Salamat po!
School or Foundation
# of Students
Labney Primary School
Lubas Elementary School
Mariano Sabarino Elementary School
Save Our School Children Foundation, Inc. (SOSCFI)
Sioco Carino Elementary School
Taloy Norte Elementary School
Yagyagan Elementary School


Pack of Crayons (for Students)
Pack of Crayons (for Teachers)
Pencil Sharpener
Pentel Pen
Ream of White Paper
Spiral (Composition) Notebook
Waterproof Canvas Bag
Writing Pad
–end —
Written by Crystal Catalan
June 18, 2012


  1. Hi Crystal,
    Thanks for your great overview of your wonderful mission work. Reading it on the anniversary of Mother Cabrini’s canonization makes it even more relevant. I can’t wait to welcome you back to Cabrini College so you can tell your story to students here. Best wishes on your journey.

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