We are made up of twelve men from different churches on Maui. Our goal was to go to Siargao and put on sports camps, work with the local high schools, put on a surf contest for the community, and work alongside Hope for the Island, which is a Christian-based mission dedicated to providing schooling, medical services, a youth sports center, and raising the standard of living in the community. We also got our hands dirty with a few jobs done in a two week period.
Arriving in the Port in the Island of Siargao
Arriving in Manila
Our first stop was in Manila, a very busy city, a place where we were warned to watch our backs. We checked all our gear into the hotel, which consisted of over 36 boxes of surf gear, sports equipment, and 13 surfboards, all to be donated to the community of Burgos.
The next morning, our first stop with the MOI group was heading into the Manila Dump! Okay, I was not really up for it; I was thinking, do I really want to go to the dump where 30,000 people live? So, what the heck, come what may! We first stopped in an open market right before the dump. As we walked through the tents and shops, we noticed that there were no white people and everyone was staring at us.
The people were made up of Muslim and ordinary Filipino folks. So, I thought I would have some fun and busted out my camera and took some pictures of the local girls working in the shops. They were just amazed to get their pictures taken by these foreigners. They would hide and point, and laugh really hard.
I was buying something to eat—don’t ask me what it was—when someone grabbed my hand, and I looked down. This little barefoot, skinny boy was looking right into my eyes with a look of deep sadness. I reached down and grabbed all my change that I had in my pocket and gave it to him, and he was gone in a flash. Hey, I am no Mother Theresa, but what a trip.
Baptist Mission Manila Dump
Finally, we pulled up to the Baptist Mission in the Manila Dump. Pastor Jack was the only white man to be seen. He and his wife have lived in the dump area working with abandoned kids, single moms, and kids surviving in the dump. Pastor Jack said many kids biggest goal in the dump was to drive a trash truck. Pastor Jack has taught many kids English and has inspired them to be teachers, lawyers, and doctors. He also taught them about how to drink clean water and take care of their teeth.
So, with a guide, we went walking through the dump. There were two Koreans (one with tattoos and big muscles who everyone thought was an ultimate fighter), Henry from Bank of Hawaii (he’s 6’1” which is a giant in these parts), Kaib (who is a tattoo artist and drew lots of attention), Danny (the only Hawaiian), and the rest of us were windsurfers, surfers, and one contractor, oh, and Don (from Seattle) joined us.
Manila Dump Girls
The kids came out in the streets and the people were the nicest I have ever met. There was a sense of joy amongst the poverty. We shot a couple hoops with the kids, which I wasn’t very good at, but it was fun none-the-less. Actually, I think they were some of the happiest people I have ever met, something to think about, especially how in America we think we need so much to really be happy. It made me take stock of what is really important in life: God, family, friends, and neighbors that live around us. It was a very humbling experience walking through the slums.
Kaib with the kids
Finishing our tour, meeting many beautiful people, we headed back to the mission…we were kind of a side show, and people driving by us in garbage trucks were waving and really stoked to see us. This gave us a window to see how people, like Pastor Jack and his wife, work alongside these people, and how with a little support, can really make a difference in the dump community.
Having fun, mission at the dump
Back at the mission the kids were so happy to see us. They would hang on to us and give plenty of hugs, it was so cool. Almost all of these kids didn’t have fathers. We all gathered together in an open area in the street and we jammed Christian music for the kids playing guitars and ukuleles—it was over the top—the kids knew all the words and were singing so loud.
There was a large group of kids, and people were coming out from their homes to see what was up. At one point, I looked at all the kids singing and felt a little bit of Heaven. I now get why Jesus mentions that we need to become like little children.
I thought this was funny
All of us men performed the Haka for the kids, really fun, and not too bad for a white man. When we left, we left some ukuleles and gifts for the kids. As we headed back to Manila, I thought about how I would never forget that day. I was blessed with the love we felt from these sweet people and I believe that was the general feeling throughout the group.
Surigao and the Surf Contest
As I began typing this blog, we had just landed from a 2-hour flight from Manila, and we were sitting on the deck of a ferry looking at islands for as far as we could see. It was a four hour ferry ride and the water was a deep blue, and it was a beautiful day.
Our last leg of our journey we landed in Siargao Island. The camp director, Derek, was napping next to me on the bench after working hard to get us down there from Manila. We still had our gear consisting of over 36 boxes with surfboards, gifts, skateboards, volleyballs, and goodies for the kids to pack along our trip. After that, we took an hour and a half ride to the camp above a jitney bus—riding on top of the bus was a blast!
The weekend arrived at the Hope for the Island base on seven acres and the surf contest was on.
Surf Contest City of Burgos
We divided up the kids into four teams for the week and the surf contest was our first stop. All the kids in the area turned out for the event and had a blast. It was a beautiful day, the waves were fun, and all the kids got to surf no matter what their skill level was. Prizes and awards were handed out to each child.
A Big Thanks To…
A big Mahalo to Da Kine team manager, Micah Nickens, for all the surf gear, clothes, leashes, deck pads, and surfboards; Jarius Cannon from Oahu for surfboards; Scott Thrudon from Reef for donations; Roger Anderson from Maui for helping fix all the surfboards for the kids and Hawaiian Airlines for flying all our gear down to Manila for free. The surf contest was a big success and Hope for the Island made food for all the kids. What a day, everyone had an incredible day!
Packing up after a great day
Hope for the Island Surf Camp
Monday’s first day of sports camp was kickball at the high school and there was a big turnout. We worked with the kids, it was another big success. Tuesday, we had a category 2 typhoon come through, so we had to prepare for the storm and lie low. The next morning, the storm passed with no damage, but left some pretty nice surf, so four of us paddled out into some overhead spitting barrels (throughout the week we were able to get at least one surf session in a day).
Nermilyn was the teacher for Hope for the Island and a great dancer
There was no one else out and I was feeling pretty blessed watching my friends and I trade off empty waves. Wednesday morning, we set up at Hope for the Island for soccer and volleyball. So all week, at the high schools and at the base, we had sports camp and the kids turned out in big numbers.
We also had the honor of meeting the mayor of Burglos, which completed the week. I was introduced to the Mayor as the “Mayor of Maui”…somehow I was tagged with “Mr. Mayor,” pretty funny. The final day of sports camp was volleyball and a water festival. We were set for the day’s events, another huge turnout, and these kids rocked at volleyball and also had some talented surfers among the pack.
We also held paddle races, and man, we had so much fun; the kids were cheering on their teams at the paddle board races, it was amazing! We all laughed and had so much fun playing volleyball. I was amazed at how talented so many of these kids were.
Returning after days work
That evening, we had dinner for all the kids, a big bonfire on the beach, jammed guitars and ukuleles, and sang worship songs. The kids knew all the songs and it was a beautiful evening.
Hope for the Island is a last ditch chance for many of these kids. Some of the kids grow up here and become part of the staff. One boy, his name is Kenneth, was abandon by his family and taken in by Hope for the Island; he is 23 now, and I can’t tell you how impressed everyone was with this young man.
Boys returning from beach
The staff of young girls that teach in the classrooms are the sweetest people I ever met. Hope for the Island, which is a Christian-based organization from Canada, offers prenatal care, school classes, meals, medical treatment, they run an organic farm, sports, and counseling—and all of their support comes from donations.
Eddie Kim, Founder of Moi Maui
We also worked on daily projects on the property repairing skateboard ramps, cleaning the grounds, and our tattoo artist, Kaib, did a mural on the wall that was 30 ft. long and beautiful. Our team also built chickens coops and rearranged storage areas; all was looking good on the base under the watchful eye of Captain Chris.
As we winded down, looking at the events, storms, great surf, diving, jam sessions, community of great kids, and hanging with a great group of guys from Moi Maui, I have to say, we are the ones coming away with the blessing.
Henry Shin from Bank of Hawaii
Being able to work alongside dedicated people, like Derek and Jen and staff from Hope, their dedicated staff, LetLet from Manila, Jeff from Florida, and the sweetest girls that teach at the schools at the mission, Corah, Jing, Christina, Nermilyn and the rest of the staff, I can attest that Hope for the Island is a light of hope to the loving people of Siargao Island.
Corah teacher, guitar player, great dancer
This has just been a window of time into the lives of folks in the Philippines. To all the local Filipino people that have touched our lives, a very hard working and loving people, thank you. There is something to say about keeping it simple and being able to crack up and laugh, and dance on the sidelines with these kids. On Tuesday, we started our journey back to Maui, which took two days—what an amazing adventure!
We all left the Philippines with a sense that we just scratched the surface. We are already talking about plans to go back to help with other projects to start a fund to see some of these kids go to a local college. It costs six-thousand dollars for two years for one student’s food, lodging, and classes. We will be starting a fund to help one child at a time.
If you would like to donate to this cause, you can write a check to Hope for the Island/Scholarship Fund and send it to me, and I will forward it to the director. Or if you feel led to become a supporting member of Hope for the Island, feel free to visit their website.
Artist Kaib Knight’s Mural
It was hard to leave Hope for the Island and all our new friends; we all hugged and cried, and made new friends we will never forget. As we were traveling home, it seemed as though the last two weeks were surreal. I know for the men of Moi, we all were touched by the lives we encountered, and it forever changed our lives.
Christina—teacher, lovely person, great dancer
Special Thanks To…
Special thanks to Captain Chris from the Trilogy for all his hard work and planning that went into this trip, Eddie Kim (Moi founder) now living in Seattle, your inspiration touches lives across the ocean, and Moi Maui for all your support and work that you do in our Maui community.
Shane, Jeff, Derek (director), Luke
A big thank you to the many Maui churches and churches in Seattle that supported this trip. I want to mention all of our team members, Chris Walsh, Henry Shin, John Ganagini, Shane Perry, Oakley Lipp, Danny Feiteira, Don Bohart from Seattle, Doug Pointer, Kaib Knight (artist, funny guy), Adrian Gibson, Luke Adolfson, Eddie Kim, and my name is Steven Nickens, and Mahalo to our wives, family, and friends on Maui for all the support. This has been a journey that we will all remember.
Back on Maui
So far, back on Maui, our group is raising money for a one year-old baby in Burgos that is seriously ill—we just got word from the Philippines, so the journey is not over. We will also be working to bring down solar power, hopefully on our next trip. So, if I can leave you with anything, today is a good day, make it count.
Blessings to you and your family! (Filipino saying)
Steve (The Mayor) Maui!