Sunday, October 28, 2012


   Being involved in our ward gives us the opportunity to help on a very personal level.
  Since being in the Tayuman Ward (Taytay Stake) we have had eight requests for walkers and wheelchairs. We get to see the continuing good that these aids provide.

This man has several members of the church in his home. He, his wife, two sons and some granddaughters are members and active. We get Elder McDonald and Elder Raiwalui to help us whenever we can to get them new contacts in the ward. Just a short time ago, we delivered this man a walker because he still had strength in his legs. Now that strength has diminished to a point where we supplied him with a wheelchair. He can no longer speak and has no strength to come to church, but his family's life is helped by making it easier to care for him. He cried as we fit him to the
wheelchair and we joined in the choir. These moments are very tender and the spirit is there to confirm the truth of our Father in Heaven's love for them.
  We also have Sister Amalia Decena in our ward. She heads up an organization of 67 elderly people in the area, mostly non-members. She is regularly requesting help for people. She is a jewel in helping those that need help.  This man is over 70 and his body is warn out. This was a beautiful experience as he told us he had a dream and he saw our faces and we were going to delivery a wheelchair that day. The spirit confirmed the truthfulness of the experience he had. He cried as we put him in the wheelchair. The older people are so appreciative for the help that they receive. The spirit manifested the love that our Father in Heaven has for his children as he embraced each of us on that wonderful Sabbath day.

Three months ago, the monsoon rains displaced this sister and she is still in an evacuation center because her home remains flooded. She is there with hundreds waiting for the opportunity to go home. She told me she saw me in the Temple and was excited to see me again. She had been borrowing a wheelchair from a friend, but now she has her own. This gives her the opportunity to go to the Temple whenever she can. The Lord works in mysterious ways his labors to perform. I have never been so sure of that statement.


  Old methods are not abandoned in the Philippines. New methods generally cost money they don't have. While in Northern Luzon, we saw a man building a boat using a mixture of both old and more modern.

He had built the structure with rough cut lumber and fashioned it with a wood plane. He had used tin where the structure may be weak.
In the cracks of the wood he pounded nylon material that has been rolled to look like a rope. He pounded the material in to form a leak proof bottom. If he has enough resources, he will use a tar substance to give it more longevity.
I have seen and used tools like these that I got from my Grandfather Hadlock. They look good in the picture, but they are 50 plus years old. They are in great condition and the plane had an incredibly sharp blade.

This life is not easy and they pay a price from exposure to the sun and weather. They age before there time and life expectancies are not anything like life we have at home.


  The Carabao is a domesticated water buffalo. It preforms the heavy labor in field preparation and harvesting of the crops grown here - mostly rice. They can get upwards of 2000 pounds.

They have no sweat glands, so to cool off they head for the nearest water or preferred mud. The mud serves two purposes 1. cool them down and 2. its a deterrent for insects and cats.
This farmer uses it for his only mode of transportation. They even race them during celebrations.
But their real purpose is the work they perform in growing crops.
  They have been doing this work here for thousands of years. Early on, they supplied work, milk, meat and clothing. Philippine warriors used the hide to make armour out of.

They generally eat morning and evening. The edge of the rice fields or fields recently harvested are the areas you will generally find them stacked out.
Most are trained to put a cart to haul families, workers and crops for market.
But showing them off during a parade is also a plus.
 Kind of reminds me of my daughters playing dressup with their younger brother.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


  Pete, my friend in the little tricycle wheelchair, had set up an appointment with the Vice Mayor of Quezon City. This is the largest city in the Philippines and part of the Metro Manila group of 13 cities.
  The appointment had been set for two weeks. The opportunity to meet with Vice Mayor Belmonte can open the doors to forward the work with LDS Charities.
The Vice Mayor's office is located in this administrative office attached to city hall. To give you the impact of the meeting, most cities have 15 to 30 barangays (the unit of local government) they are responsible for. Quezon City has 142 barangays and a population in the millions.
Vice Mayor Ma. Josefina G Belmonte is in her first term but has followed the footsteps of her father who has been in Philippine politics for many years. She oversees the budget and workings of the organizations that help the PWDs (persons with disabilities). Our meeting gave me the opportunity to share what LDS Charities is and the projects we are involved in. She immediately assigns her assistant to work with us and commits her resources to help us do our work.
This is the city hall and is by far the largest in the Philippines. We feel good about our new friend and our opportunity to work with Quezon City. Again, the Lord is opening doors.


  All of the Humanitarian Initiatives originate from the Area Office except for Family Food Production. This Initiative is the brain child of local leaders of the Wards and Stakes. As leaders see a need and develop a local plan to fill that need, we avail ourselves to help them be successful.
  Generally their plans begin with gardens and then enlarge to the use of small animals such as chickens, ducks and pigs. Local leaders are the key to success. If we have one or two champions that really want to make it happen, it will flourish. If leadership is not committed, success can be fleeting.
  Our role is two fold. First we give them needed instruction by using knowledgeable and skilled professionals. Second, we can supply necessary funds to help it get off the ground.The success is up to the plan they have formulated and the execution of that plan.
  My first plane trip since arriving here takes us to the northern part of Luzon and the city of Tuguegarao. I was very surprised to learn that this seemingly small area has one million inhabitants.
This family has really taken the project to a high level. They had a beautiful garden, fruit trees, pond with fish, chickens, pigs and the list goes on. They money they save by growing their own food, allows them a better quality of family life.
We are in the heart of the cooler and wetter months. Plants can be started anytime from May through Oct. and still mature before the hot season begins in January. It is difficult to grow in the summer.
After the members grasp the skills required to garden, the next natural thing to do is to add small animals. Pigs can really be a great way to help families to be self-reliant. They are raised in pens that are kept quite clean, even by our standards.
I find that those that are participating in this project are very happy with the results. They love to show us what they have accomplished.
This is the boar that one family uses and shares to provide more pigs. Part of the program is to share with what you have been given. We started with 70 families last year. Five families dropped out but 20 more families joined in.
This is one of the families that joined in later and has already grasped the joys and benefits of producing their own food. This is a fairly new Humanitarian Project but I feel it will be very successful in the Philippines where it can literally change the dynamics of what a family can do for themselves. In some cases, families have sold surplus. This allows them needed income that will be a blessing to their families.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


  For most of Asia, rice is the main food harvested. Most people have rice for every meal. For many it is their only food. For those that have more money, rice is still the basis for all meals with meat and vegetables added as their budget allows.
  Outside the Metro Manila area life revolves around rice planting and harvesting.
This is a photo of the roto-tiller type equipment (tractor) used to prepare the rice field for planting. The paddles prepare the soil (mud) to plant. This same machine will exchange the paddles for tires and it becomes their method of transportation with a trailer attached.
This is really old school, but is evident everywhere, as a Cariboa is used to till the soil for the next planting. Cariboa are used in place of a tractor in most areas that have terraces. The engine powered equipment can be too damaging to the fields in those areas.
After preparation comes the planting. In an adjacent field to this are young rice plants. They are pulled up and separated into the starts that the workers are planting. They work long hours getting the starts planted and do so quickly and in rows. The 'farmers' are paid 150 Ph.Pecos (under $4 US dollars) for a days work in planting. That is generally a 10 hour day.
The crop matures and eventually heads out with waves of rice.
The next step involves harvesting. With sharp curved knives they cut the upper half of the rice plant and put them in piles. This is the start of a pile that is generally very neatly stacked.
Then a thrasher comes in and the rice is harvested. The power for the operation is supplied by the motor off of the 'tractor' that was used for preparing the field. The pile of prepared rice plants is thrown in the top and the rice comes out the bottom and collected in the rice bags placed there to fill. The straw is thrown out the side and put in piles to burn when harvest is complete.
The full rice bags are then emptied for the rice to dry. Any available area is used to dry rice. Concrete roads are the preferred areas, but tarps will also work. When dry, the rice is put back into the bags and taken to the rice mills to complete the work and put into bags for sale in various outlets.
The 'farmers' (laborers in our country) are paid 1/8th of the total price paid for the crop. They keep track and share the money with all who helped. If it is a bumper crop, it is good for those that worked so hard. We pray for bumper crops.


   Many years ago, Dr. E William Jackson from the Provo area served in the Philippines as a missionary. While here he saw a great need for medical care that especially included the poor.
  With his experience, he set up a group to help fulfill that need. Mebuhay Deseret Foundation was established to help in the area of surgery and post-op care for cataracts, cross eyed, club feet, clef lip, clef pallet and facial plastic surgery. They have 3 locations in the Philippines. One in Metro Manila, one in Cebu (Visayas) and one in Davao (Mindanao).
  In our travels, we often see the need for such work. We simply gather vital information and forward it to the Foundation and they follow through with contacting and evaluating the individual. If they are found to be a candidate, they receive the needed help.
  The work they do is life saving in the very sense of the word.
Children especially are able to partake of the services rendered and have a place for post-op recovery at their facility here in Metro Manila. These children are all patients that have been helped.
This young man in the center has had club feet repaired and will now have the ability to walk. His life is forever changed for the better.
This young lady is in the middle of a series of operations to repair facial deformities with clef lip and pallet. It has only been a few days since the last surgery as is evident by the still present stitches. She is such a wonderful and pleasant little girl. She loves to be hugged and wants to play with everyone.
This young lady has had severe burns that resulted in her chin being attached to her shoulder. The first of the surgeries released that attachment. She has more surgeries to go to clean up the scare tissue as best as possible.
Manny Enriquez is the director and the contact we use when we find possible candidates for them to help. LDS Charities supplies them with needed equipment with the agreement that they use their time and the equipment to help those in need as a portion of there overall business.
Our experience here is truly showing us the best in people. Those people that have a desire to help people less fortunate. We see miracles on a daily basis that shows God's love for his children. Those children's prayers are answered by people like these, that know what it means to be an instrument of the Lord on the earth.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


  We tried several times in August to get to the Mountain Province to conduct training in Bontoc but the severe storms kept delaying our efforts. It turned out to be a blessing due to the extended damage received by the roads in that area.

The Mountain Province is the most beautiful area I have encountered thus far in the Philippines. I must be missing the mountains back home, but I can't get enough of this majestic splendor.
This is the only road to Bontoc coming in from the South and the best of all the roads that lead to this area. Of course the best of three isn't a large selection. You can see where the road was washed out and more fill brought in to make it passable. This area is very steep and the road quite narrow in much of the journey.
This area requires a retaining wall to hold the fill in place, as does much of the mountain road. Once the fill is put in place by dump trucks and track hoe, the remainder of the work is done by hand. Concrete is mixed by hand for all the retaining walls. They do use cement trucks for the road itself however.
This road was easily navigated in spite of the condition, or so I though.
As we saw it from a different angle, the concrete we just drove over was suspended.
This area was completely blocked off due to the mudslide that occurred here. This road would not have been passable had we tried to travel here with our earlier plans. The Lord is constantly blessing us in ways we don't even realize until after the fact.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


   This is the northern most area we have done wheelchair training. In conjunction with NCDA and the city of Bontoc, we trained 18 people to do wheelchair assessments. There is a large need for wheelchairs and other devices in these remote areas and LDS Charities help is greatly appreciated. It took us 14 hours by car to arrive at our destination.

We are always greeted warmly and often they go to extra lengths to make us feel welcome.
The accommodations here were small, but we made do. It doesn't take long to move chairs and tables out of the way when necessary. Most of our class consisted of  government workers that worked with PWDs in one way or another.
Day two of our teaching requires assessments of actual people that may need a wheelchair. This young man had polio and limited use of his legs. He went home with crutches and a wheelchair to fill his needs.
In our closing, we give participants a time to express their thoughts on the training. Mostly we hear of appreciation for this opportunity to learn and be a greater part of their community. This gentleman sang for us is his rough but beautiful voice. I was concerned that he had too many challenges to pass our course. I found him outside on the first day trying to study. He had found a very bright area to read the material. He had a bad cataract in one eye and couldn't see. His other eye had been gored by a Cariboa horn and he could only see if he tilted his head. I had a magnifying glass in my case and gave it to him. Wow, he could now see the material and was able to pass the course with a little extra help. His appreciation for such a small thing was overwhelming. The Light of Christ is exposed in so many ways as we work with this humble people.
Graduation is always the best part of their experience. We had made 18 new friends and so had they. But most importantly, they have a skill that will allow them to help their fellowman.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


  All of us have a dream of seeing exotic places in our lifetime. We generally add this to a bucket list that infrequently comes to fruition. Even with the best intentions it is difficult to make it happen.
  Our trainings have taken us to many locations on the Luzon island of the Philippines. This is the most inhabited island of the Philippine chain. Manila is located in its' heart. Millions travel its roads everyday.
  But the northern part of the island is much less dense in population. One reason is the Cordillera Mountain range. It is rugged and very jungle like in vegetation. Living in the Mountain Province takes a lot of hard work. The life is not as easy as those that live in the valleys and lowlands. But it does have advantages of cooler temperatures and less humidity.
  It is in this beautiful area that a people some 3000 years ago began a feat that is unequaled in the world.
  These are the Benaue Rice Terraces in the Ifugao Province of Northern Luzon. History says it took over 2000 years to build these terraces from the river up. The feat was entirely done by hand with primitive tools. One terrace at a time was built to the contour of the ridge that gave it its structure. One rock at a time to create retaining walls for a level area for growing needed food. As the population grew, so did the number of terraces. It is said that if the terraces were put end to end they would reach half the way around the world.

This photo shows the rice terraces down the Benaue valley. There are other valleys with terraces, but this is the most dramatic. The terraces cover over 4000 sq. miles in this region. This area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is called the Eighth Wonder of the World by those that live here.
These terraces are used today much like they have been used since they began long before the birth of Christ. They are planted, watered and harvested all by hand. Cariboa and Brahma are used to help with the heavy work. The lowest of the terraces are about 700 ft above sea level and the upmost are about 5000 ft above sea level. It is a Living Cultural Landscape and an engineering marvel.
The rice terraces are supplied by water from mountain streams in the area. The system is a marvel in hydraulics as each terrace can be watered or drained at appropriate times in the growing process. In this region, a special strain of rice is grown. The Tinawon Rice is used here because it can germinate in freezing temperatures. Also it grows chest high as compared to the rice grown in the lowlands that is around waist high. This Tinawon Rice is also classified as organic and when cooked, it turns red.
Well more pink I would say. And you know me, I'm not a hugh rice fan, but I like this variety.
Many people visit this region every year to see and hike these mountains and rice terraces. I for one can check this off my list with a true appreciation for a people that made this happen. And it happened because they needed to take care of their families. Families are the motivation behind all good works.
 It is a place of grandeur and beauty that more than met my highest expectation as I dreamed of a time I could see them.