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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Social Immersion ~ a sharing by Aleona Natalio

“Why do you look down on yourself believing that you cannot do, where in fact you have all the potentials as a promising young missionary" ~ a comment by my mentor.

Mount Mayon (Volcano) in the province of Albay, Luzon, Philippines
This was one negative thought that had been bothering me when I had my 2 week Social Immersion in Sto. Domingo in the province of Albay, Luzon from 20th Oct till 2nd November. I was hoping to find an answer to this question. Is it personal or some thing related to my background? I lived with a simple family and community. During the immersion period with my new found community and my encounter with my foster family, I reflected deeply on my root. It was like returning to my source.  I was born and raised in a poor family in the province. We live a simple life just like the people there. The people are hospitable, generous, humble, joyful, approachable, family-oriented, hardworking and etc. They possess good qualities which is common among the people in the province.  In a world prone to accumulating, they remain faithful and accepting living for less. 
Aleona squatting 1st from left (in pink blouse)

I noticed that each time we went into their house, they would offer us food. They would always say “Please bear with our situation. This is the only thing we can offer because we are poor.” In fact, they had given us too much. Whenever I heard those words, it saddened me because it reminded me of my situation, being poor and lacking in education. It is always in my mind that, to be respected, one needs to have good education and wealth. This seemed to be my thought as I label myself as such. It was a great awakening for me, for now I realized that it is not so.

Most of the barangay (village) officials here did not even complete elementary school yet they are serving deligently in their barangay. Lack of higher education  is not a barrier to be a leader, serving the people. As an intern in IFFAsia, my biggest challenge is none other than myself. 

Aleona front row 2nd left
I had been thinking of how I could be a leader to this group of upcoming young leaders and young professionals. That was the biggest challenge.  I lacked  experience and skill. If I’m not confident of myself, how can I convince and lead others? I doubted my capabilities. I know there are people who believe in my abilities. I pray that God will continue to guide me in my journey as an intern.

I learnt how great God is. Though they may be materially poor but they are spiritually rich with big and welcoming hearts.  These positive attitudes they have is a treasure that money can’t buy. I, being poor need to know how to value and appreciate this blessing from God. I should learn to take hold of my own being. I also realized that I can serve and be respected by others as long as I maximize the use of my talents, skills and attitude. My mission is to empower my fellow poor. 
Aleona 2nd row 1st on the right with bath 5 students and interns during their mission project in Sandakan 

Reaching out and touching the hearts of the people seemed to be my gift  because I am like one of them ~ poor people serving the poor. It was simply amazing. I found beauty in the poor which is also a reflection of my own. 

“There is none who is too poor to give or too rich to receive" Bishop Baylon, Diocese of Legaspi Albay

Aleona Nataleo, a 5th batch student of IFFAsia of the Philippines, spend her one month mission project in Sabah, two weeks each in the Diocese of Keningau and Sandakan from 16th January till 14th February 2011. She graduated in March this year and is currently an intern in the same institute.

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