WELCOME to San Pablo City!
It is with great pride and honor to welcome you to our City of San Pablo, the only city in the world blessed with the grand seven crater lakes. It is dubbed as the "City of Seven Lakes" teeming with the bountiful gifts that God bestowed upon us under the peaceful azure skies. The city gives a fascinating blend of both the urban and rural ambiance. Yet soothing, enlivening. Aside from its natural serene beauty, the magnificent seven lakes provide livelihood to the fisher folks around with abundant catch of marine life sustaining the small fishing communities.
Lucky that in the midst of the city, there is a YMCA! YMCA of San Pablo City is adjacent to almost all wonderful sites on its surrounding areas. Established in 1947 and became one of the foremost organizations that cater to the needs of the people within and nearby localities, the forebearer of community services through various community-based programs. I want to send our gratitude to the people who exerted extra miles of their efforts to revive the YMCA. The poor out-of-school-youth, their valuable contribution made YMCA San Pablo live again after almost 2 decades of dying.
Recently, the 4th batch of campers from Taichung YMCA, Taiwan came to San Pablo for their Winter Service Trip, composed of 32 young. There was a simple welcoming program, followed by friendship games, an introduction and initial way of getting familiar with each other and local volunteers. Everyone seemed to be very excited and a big surprise for some! Five long working days with the unfriendly weather for them, sun shining so bright and raining suddenly! But the condition didn't stop them from seriously working on the construction of the YMCA Volunteers Canteen. Together with Batang Y (local volunteers), they experienced the actual building of the structure from cement mixing to putting on hollow blocks walling. First timers they said, there were traces of tiredness and exhaustion but still had brilliant smiles on their faces.
After construction work, campers had a chance to interact with YMCA adopted School's children, the Bagong Pook Elementary School, wherein most of the population have shanties along the railroad and beneficiaries of YMCA Feeding Program. Teaching and playing traditional games with children and conducting learning activities have made them more energetic and creative. At night time in the YMCA, campers had their "Learning and Sharing of Culture" time. Getting more familiar with each other and started to develop friendships. After hard works, campers were given chance to explore the city visiting some historical sites and exploring some of the seven lakes. Horseback riding and boating in Taal Lake from Tagaytay had given such an awesome experience to everyone! A night spent with Batang Y and their families is considered as one of the most very meaningful experience too! The "homestay" had taught the campers to understand real situations in the Philippine Family setting and made so many realizations of the value of relationship and real happiness, the inner self-satisfaction. A magnificent "Cultural Night" highlighted with various presentations signal the end of the camp. Indeed, the moment is a treasure to cherish.
The YMCA of San Pablo City, from its being a cocoon is now trying its best to become a colorful magnificent full grown butterfly spreading its brilliant wings. And with GATN, the "Service Trips", the door has finally opened for YMCA San Pablo and International Volunteers come and go, leaving good memories and bringing back a home bounty of unforgettable experiences from building constructions, learning, and meaningful life sharing with children, youth, and elders. The exchanges of culture through various innovative means giving the opportunity to gain priceless experiences and achievement of common goals. We're not just building structures but more importantly, the program provides a major platform for our young people to develop their inner talent and skills and most especially GATN is becoming the true agent of change and transformation.
GATN is building deeper relationships and partnerships. Truly, GATN is Making Community Alive around the Globe! With YMCA San Pablo existing community programs, our participants have the chance to interact with our adopted schools and communities and learn the diversities of life while enjoying the spirit of volunteerism.
- Kristy Sumague (General Secretary of San Pablo YMCA, Philippines)