Sunday, June 30, 2013


   One thing we have learned in our opportunities in the Philippines is how important relationships are in the Asian cultures. If you try to rush things and not develop a good relationship with people and organizations, you are destined to fail. Such is the point with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
   This is a government organization that oversees and works with the PWDs (persons with disabilities). They are in every community and are the workhorse and watchdog for NCDA (National Council of Disability Affairs).
  DSWD has worked with us for a long time in helping us provide mobility devices for the disabled. We have trained many assessors from their group and encoders to enter in the orders for the proper device. However, lately we have let communication slide and not done what we needed to keep our relationship a high priority.

They asked to visit us to find out what is going on . The head of the department is nearest the camera. She is herself in a wheelchair and has been disabled for her entire life. She helps us gain a better perspective on what the disabled are dealing with.
The meeting is very successful and preconceived ideas are corrected by the talking out the challenges we both face. We find we are again on the same road and going the same direction.
Gaining mutual understanding is a much desired thing and appreciated on both sides. I am grateful for their willingness to work with us and by doing so help so many that need the disability aids we can provide.
As missionaries we must learn to do as their culture does. We can get more done if we listen more and talk less.


   December 4, 2012 will ever be remembered as a life changing experience for those people that live in Davao Oriental (southeast side of Mindanao). Many lives were lost, homes and businesses destroyed and livelihood gone. The effect was far and wide as Typhoon Pablo destroyed everything in its path. Mindanao has historically been calamity free for 100 years, but this event took everything.
  This calamity has put to the test the capabilities of many organizations helping in immediate response, rehabilitation and long term planning to aid the wonderful people of this area of the country. LDS Charities has been one of those organizations. We had the opportunity to work with dozens of organizations including Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children Foundation, Muslim Relief Services and many others in this large effort. It also gave our Helping Hands Volunteers the opportunity to give service to those in need.
   We have responded to two large projects involving food, water, temporary housing, generators and buildings. The relief and building effort in the barangays of Boston, Baganga and Cateel is going to take an estimated 10 to 12 years to return this area to normal.
   To a country that sees more calamities than another other country in the world, this was unforeseen and especially harsh.

This area was full of homes prior to the storm. They are gone but the other side of the street seems minimal in damage.

The large home stood because the large homes are made of concrete and rebar. Anything made of wood and sheet metal where leveled. You can see how the trees became the battering rams that leveled property.

   The coconut, banana and palm plantations were leveled. The debris ended up everywhere and blocked transportation until it could be cleared. Early on in the cleanup attempts, we were able to supply chainsaws that helped to clear the area and also to cut lumber from the coconut trees to supply materials for rebuilding.

The Philippine Navy and Marines met with us early on to see how we could help in that devastated region. They came in early January with a presentation of constructing multi-purpose halls in the barangays of Cateel, Baganga and Boston. These were the most destroyed of the populated areas.

 Progress was being made by the time of our next meeting in the DTAs conference room. By then we were able to get preliminary approval for the largest project I was ever involved with. Not long after this meeting, the formal approvals from the Area Presidency and The Presiding Bishopric allowed us to proceed with the plans.
The plans were numerous and in a two part approach. Part one was for immediate need and included food (Rice, Sardines, Corned Beef and Noodles), temporary shelter for 800 families and collected clothing for all ages. Step two was evening more aggressive as we provided for temporary shelter for another 750 families, generators for 3 communities and 3 multi-purpose halls for the communities of Cateel, Boston and Baganga. The projects are all going strong, but the completion date will be August or September of this year.
One of my learning experiences had to do will all the 'Legal Work' that accompanies all the work we do. Nothing of any size that is donated, gifted or paid for by LDS Charities must have legal work to go with it. The photos now are those that show an event that kicks off the actual work that has been approved.
Elder Benson E. Misalucha is addressing the beginning of the event that will highlight the signing of the MOA (memorandum of agreement). This event was held in the Area Presidency Conference Room.
The head of our Legal Dept in the Philippines is Bro. Doug McCallister. He is the Area Legal Counsel. Because of all the legal connections we have, he has become a close friend. He is a church employee and has his wife with him in the country.
Our event is attended by the top officials of the Philippine Navy and Marines. You can tell which are Marines by the yellow and red patch on the left shoulder.
There as the Flag Officer in Command and the head of the Navy is Vice-Admiral Alano. He will sign all documents on behalf of the Philippine Navy and Marines. This project will have the oversight of the Philippine Seabees for both manpower and organization with the volunteers from the various communities involved.

The signing takes place with many witnesses as all the major networks are represented for the entire ceremony.

Also attending is Mencie Silvestre in the red. She is a well known celebrity from TV 5 and a strong supporter of all humanitarian projects around the country. She has been instrumental in helping fellow countryman in hundreds of ways for calamities to school needs for the children.

Following the ceremony, the Public Affairs group give a tour of the Temple grounds to all those that attended.
Part of the tour included a visit to the Philippine Area MTC and introduction to Pres. and Sister Beck, the MTC President and his lovely wife.

They also viewed the MTC Gym that is just a few steps away from the MTC. It is a beautiful facility and gets more use than just physical activity. With the increasing number of missionaries coming, it is also used for assemblies and devotionals.

The event ended with a wonderful lunch and the final gift exchanges. It seems like a lot of fanfare, but the opportunity to host such high ranking officials is truly a blessing. They are able to learn more about our projects, get an introduction to the church and have an opportunity to feel the Spirit that is present. I am always amazed at the doors that seem to be opened even in the midst of calamities. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013


  Being in the right place and being prepared will bring many opportunities to use the Priesthood.
  As we got to church on 5-5, I was preparing for fast meeting and enjoying the time in reflection of all the marvelous opportunities that have come our way.
  The meeting started with the usual song, prayer and announcements. Then they began to do the confirmations and baby blessings. As I looked up Bishop Urbano said, "Elder Hadlock, Sister Salgado would like you to confirm her a member of the church". OK, then.
  As I approached the stand I felt how fortunate to be asked to help. This young lady had felt the Spirit as she was taught and could not deny it. She is the only one in her family to join the church and will probably feel some rejection from her family. Following the direction the Lord has prepared for us is not always easy. For some it is a big challenge.

"Sister Aliza Yule Salgado, In the name of Jesus Christ............................". As I finished, I felt such an overwhelming feeling of Peace. Doing the Lord's work is such a joy. Whether a blessing or a major project in helping the poor, the end result is always the same. A wonderful feeling of peace for doing good to others.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


  Our guide had planned a river lunch before we left.  We had arrived just in time to catch the river barge. The food was good and very typical Filipino. Rice, Pork, Chicken, pasta salad, and fruit for dessert.

This had been a great trip with Elder Benson E. Misalucha, the Welfare Services Manager for the Philippines. He is our director and mentor.
These barrages are moved around with the aid of a small boat attached to the barge and having a good sized outboard motor to push it.
As we went up the river, small communities (barangays) put on live performances on floating stages as a way to earn money. We pulled up along side and were able to put money into a small box that we felt was appropriate for the entertainment.
This is the end of the river channel ride where many streams came together to form the river we were on. It was very beautiful and very peaceful and quiet. Something not often seen by us in our usual surroundings in Manila.
Also at the end of the river was the Life Guard. His assignment was to help where needed and be sure at the end of the day that no one was left stranded.
Our last stop before departure was a Muslim Community in Tagbiliran City. This was a very poor community and in great need of many things.
However, they wanted the need met to have 2 more classrooms added to their poorly constructed school house. They existing classrooms needed finished and they also needed chairs, tables and other essential items to teach.

They had more than enough space to accomplish their dream and children more than enough to fill the classroom space.
As I have mentioned in the past, there always seems to be the One that we come in contact with. I shared some wonderful thoughts and teaching with this young Muslim girl as we held hands and walked back to the van. She is bright, kind, loving and in need of a school that she can be taught in. We have work to do to make this a reality.


  The next day we were able to see other beautiful sites and a project before returning to Manila.
  We first headed to the furthest site away with the intent of working our way back to Tagbilarin City for our flight home. Tagbiliran City is the capital city of Bohol.

  We traveled about and hour and a half to our first site of the day. The 'Chocolate Hills' are a much traveled to site. They are limestone formations that were created while the land mass was under the sea. During the rainy season, the vegetation is all green.

But in the summer months of March, April and May, the tops of each mound turn brown due to lake of rain. It gives the appearance of chocolate. It is a beautiful site and I am glad we were able to see it.

Another interesting area on the return was the Man Made Forest. Over the years school children have been planting Mahogany trees in an area that didn't have much foliage. I couldn't find a very good picture since I was taking photos through the windshield. But you get what you pay for. It has become a very dense area for foliage and now jungle like in appearance.
The next stop was at the Philippine Tasier Preserve. This is the smallest known primate and is near extinction. Some call it the smallest monkey in the world buy the term is not quite accurate.
It is about 4 inches tall and would easily fit into my hand. They are nocturnal and feed on a diet of insects. Its natural predator is a snake. According to the people at the preserve they use their long tall to move quickly through the forests. Even though they are quick they are an endangered species. As we went on the tour the guides would tell us their name and age. Apparently they come back to the very same branch to sleep on each day. They have fingers like a tree frog and con really get a grip.  If we would disturb them they would slowly open they eyes just like a little kid and give you that "What?" expression. You know what I mean, just ask a teenager.


   The island of Bohol is in the central Visayas region of the Philippines. It sits almost in the very middle of the island chain. It has been called the 'Jewel of the Philippines' and for good reason. We only had a short time to be there, but we were loaded with things to do.
  Our first stop would be the island of Pamilacan.

We first got a 'Taxi' for the 14 Km ride to the small island in the Bohol Sea. Sea breeze blowing in our hair, small ocean ways, the smell of sea air and the warmth of the clear blue water. This was truly a paradise.
The island is just under 300 acres which is small by our standards, by about 2000 people live here and somehow eke out a means to survive. The main means of support is fishing and that includes Manta Rays, Dolphin and Whales. Plus there are hundreds of other species of aquatic life.
The other means of support is tourism. If people knew the beauty of this place, they would come. As more people do discover this location, the accommodations will improve. But for a few days in paradise, roughing it is great.
They do have a water source, but is has to be desalinated. Also we would like to see if we could help with distribution. They all have to come to the top of the island to get water. A gravity feed system would work, but it would be very difficult to bury it due to all the rock. However, there is a way. The other issue is that the diesel generator for power only runs from 6pm to midnight. Remember, I said roughing it.
The other possible project would be the addition of more classroom space for their school. They currently have 4 classrooms and our hope is to build 2 more.
A quick story on the building of the last 4 classrooms. A young returned missionary from Utah, Ben, was in the Bohol area for his mission and wanted to help these people on the island. He was never able to go there while a missionary, but organized a charity to be able to go back and help. They built 4 classrooms out of concrete and hollow block (cinder block). That includes concrete floors and sidewalks. Now, there are only 4 motorcycles on the island and that is it for transportation. Every bag of concrete, sand and hollow block had to be carried by them to the top of the island and then mixed by hand to achieve their goal. Some were taken up by the small motorcycles (125cc) but it was too difficult to handle. The boat that we rode over to the island on brought the concrete over at 50 bags per boat trip plus windows and metal for the roofs. I stared at this project and was in awe as to what that would has taken. And all in 95 to 100 degrees and very high humidity.
Amazing !!!
This is basically their library. Stacks of materials on the floor and the leftovers are stacked against the wall. We hope also to provide shelving for the library materials.
Sister Hadlock fell in love with this place and had to get a better feel of the warm, soft sandy beaches.
Paradise Found !!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


  Every three years the Philippines has general elections. This includes local barangays, cities, provinces and National Senate and Congress. This was the off year for the Presidential election that runs every 6 years."
  The evidence that a campaign was beginning started last summer with banners such as "This Program Brought to You by Mayor _______" or "This Building Project made possible by Mayor ________".

There was more evidence as we got closer to the election with signs and banners everywhere. Very common was a truck or van with speakers going around the city with supporters in the back to help spread the 'Word' for their candidate and offer free rides. For those that either lived in the 50's and 60's or saw movies of that time, these vehicles with speakers playing music and the candidates messages were very reminiscent.
People also loved the freebees given out by all the candidates. This was were the incumbents had a large edge. There was a very large surge in the sales of alcohol and cigarettes beginning about a month before the May 13, 2013 election date. I am sure anyone could have guessed were the extra sales where being used. I knew a few members running for office and they just couldn't do very well because they would not give out the above. But some tried other things to give away free. It's the culture and very difficult to change.
During the busiest of the campaigning season there were around 250 killed and over 2000 injured. This occurred mostly in the southern most Philippine island of Mindanao. This island is under Marshall Law and is a hot bed for the New People's Army and MILFH, a radical Muslim group. The only other area that had incidences was the northeast Luzon province of Isabella. This is another area where the New People's Army has a hold.
On the weekend prior to and the day of the election on May 13th, the Missionaries were told to only travel if necessary and to stay close to our apartments. Fortunately, there were no problems in the Metro Manila area.
Historically the Philippines have had great challenges with election fraud. However it has greatly improved with the current President Aquino. But it still exists.
We are glad the elections are over. Because of possible problems with our Humanitarian Projects, we slow down during this time. We do not want to be used for someone's campaign. Our work is for the people, not for a political candidate.