KALOOB in Digos City, Davao del Sur!
Last July 12-23, 2022, Kaloob Foundation in coordination with the Divine Mercy Parish in Digos City went to repair the chapels of the two rural GKKs. The group was composed of Assumptionists Br. Mark Vincent Madronero, Fr. Cristopher Quinal and Novice Jundelle Romulo Jalique, and French volunteer scouts Jolane Pessel and Valentine Carre. They lived in the place, helped the community volunteers and the paid workers in the repair work, and shared their food, stories, and adventures.
The repair work differed in each of the chapels. On one hand, the old termite-infested wooden-truss roof in the chapel of GKK of San Isidro in Barangay Soong was replaced with a new and painted metal-truss roof. On the other hand, the barely-finished and more remote chapel of GKK San Roque in Sitio Pangaguran (politically, still under Barangay Soong) included several works: new metal foundations, a new metal-truss roof, a new concrete wall in the altar area, additional layers of hollow blocks at the side and front walls, and new concrete flooring. The amazing thing about this was that it was all finished in just a span of two weeks.
The group, though made some valuable help to the workers, was more focused on community engagement. Since the group stayed with the host family (which means extended family in the Filipino context) and the wider community, a close connection was developed — the warmth of their acceptance was unexplainably and transcendingly heartfelt, truly evident of the Filipino values of hospitality and close family ties. Collaboration with the local officials as well as GKK chapel officials was also deepened and can be a springboard for future partnerships for development and social work.
On top of all the meaningful experiences in the community, the group also had a lot of side trips and leisure activities both within and outside of the host communities. The group was fascinated with the beautiful scenery and vegetation as well as memorable experiences swimming in the river as well as in the sea. On the penultimate day, a thanksgiving and farewell party was held; the community enjoyed the presentations and games but was also a bit melodramatic for the upcoming end of the engagement. And on the last day of engagement, the group participated the some of the activities of the Parish Summer Youth Camp of the Divine Mercy Parish, and enjoyed the rest of the day being and relating with the youth.
In all of the experiences, the commonality could be the encounter of Jesus in building His Kingdom. The project was beyond successful. The group was no longer seen as alien to the place but had indelibly become part of the local community. All by the grace of God.