When I told my mom that I’ll be spending my Saturday doing volunteer work, I was already expecting her to raise her eyebrows. She did not fail me. I could clearly see the what-the-f*ck-are-you-volunteering-for? expression plastered on her face. I could not blame her. Although we’ve sent help and contributed to charities before, we’ve never done any actual volunteer work in our entire lives. A great part of it has to be because of the phoniness we sense on such events. Thanks to movie stars always wanting to get their charity work televised, we’ve subconsciously avoid volunteering for good causes. But then the atmosphere must have been significantly different last week; I’ve agreed with my friends to wake up early on a Saturday and travel to Camp Aguinaldo for some volunteer work.

So what exactly did we do there? We came there for what they call Project EDSA, a project aiming to give the avenue a makeover by painting (what they aim to be) the longest peace mural in the world on the wall of Camp Aguinaldo which runs along a good length of it.

Getting up early required tremendous effort. The event was supposed to start at seven in the morning and I had to be up at three to prepare sacrificing a good deal of what could’ve been sleeping time. I knew it won’t take me more than two hours to get to the location but I had to consider my usually long preparation time and the possibility that it would take long for the bus at the station to get full and rolling. I got to our meeting place at the exact set meeting time of 6:30 am nevertheless. I got there first. The problem with living far from a certain place is that you either get there late or ridiculously early. But I believe I got it right that time. The other were just late which was, fortunately for them, understandable. The previous day was a Friday and a payday which translates to everybody either splurging somewhere or getting stuck in Friday night traffic.

The event started at eight for us with the registration at the booth near the EDSA shrine. We were then asked to pick our spot and look for a lead artist who will give us instructions on how we should paint our chosen part of the wall. We walked past Santolan MRT station. We even got to the end of the amazingly long wall. We’ve already spotted good spots. There was no lead artist and there was no paint, which got me to thinking that while I was early that day, some were forgivably late, and some were Filipino late which translates to being late for about an hour or more. We walked back to a spot under a couple of trees that could provide shade come noontime. At around 8:30 am, we finally started painting.

The long wall was separated into several sections by posts or what seemed like it and we were assigned three adjacent sections to paint on. The outline of the things we were supposed to paint was already provided during the first leg of the month-long event and all we needed to do was follow them. Painting was fun. Needless to say, it’s one thing we’ve always enjoyed as children. And if doing it in coloring books back in art class was already delightful, how about doing it in a coloring wall? My friends did pretty well while I was unsure of how my work turned out which was ironic for I was supposed to be the experienced one among them. I was tasked to do a makeover of a previously painted wall and there was really nothing much I could do about it unless we paint over everything. Without playing expert, one can say that the first person to work on it must have had a hard time following the outline and the story of the image was barely recognizable. We did what we can though with only a two-inch paintbrush.

The event was fun. There was not a single moment that I’ve considered it a waste of time. It was an enjoyable way of bonding with one’s friends. Nationalism was in the air and for a while it made me cringe. But the event was sponsored by the Philippine army and even the navy and air force were there so it was not at all surprising. Being pretty much a fan of war movies, it was nice to see them in their day out uniforms. Up to now, in a positive light, I still find it quite unbelievable that there are indeed some willing to give their life to serve this country of mostly selfish, apathetic, or just plain crazy people. That is priceless.

We took some pictures before we took off to grab some lunch and go home. It was a Saturday well spent. -aB

The group. The towel was just a prop. Tt was an unusually cool day.
The group. The towel was just a prop; it was an unusually cool day.
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