This August, 14 adventurous souls from all over the northwest ventured out to the remote Philippines to build a court for the Mamanwa people. They embarked on arguably the craziest travel schedule in Courts for Kids history. They left on July 31st and arrived at the community on August 4th. They left Portland and flew to Hawaii, where they overnighted, the next day they flew to Manila, Philippines, where they caught flight to another island called Cebu. They arrived at midnight and spent the night there. The next day they took an overnight ferry to the island of Mindanao, where they packed into vans and drove 2 hours to their destination. This group of 14 had finally arrived!
But the story of how they got there really starts 3 years prior, when Roger, the founder and director of MCN a ministry to indigenous peoples in the Philippines such as the Mamanwa, contacted us and expressed his desire to have a court for the people there. Through Roger we learned that the Mamanwa were originally hunters and gathers and have only recently settled. Twenty years ago when Roger first started working with them they were 100% illiterate. Now they have schools, a church and they are proud to say their first college graduates! The Mamanwa, like other indigenous peoples, are greatly discriminated against by the greater Filipino culture. This is due in part to their illiteracy and lack of education which has left the people as beggars.
The Mamanwa, like the rest of the Philippines, are crazy about basketball! In fact, it is through basketball they are starting to earn respect from the greater Filipino culture and dignity and pride for themselves. This all started when the Manawa entered a tournament where they won, earning the nickname “Mamanwa NBA!” However, the Manawa had no court to practice or host games, only a dirt court with rocks and holes and make-shift hoops.
So over the course of a week this team not only completed this court, thus making a dream come true for the Mamanwa people, but found themselves moved and touched by the love they received from the community.
“This trip was probably the greatest experience of my life, not only because I got to meet and help new people but also because it pushed me to my limits. It made me realize that you don’t need the newest technology or the nicest clothes to be happy; the most important things are family and friends and with them you have everything.” – Sara, High School Student from Idaho
“They seem so much more relational as a culture – and seem so much happier because of it. They don’t let things get in the way of loving on one another or spending time with each other . . . . It will always be easy to get caught up in things but where I want to invest my time, money and efforts is with the people and relationships around me.” – Nicki, Teacher from Vancouver, WA.
“This trip has honestly been the best experience of my life . . . I feel forever changed by the children of the community. We have a special bond that cannot be broken despite the fact that we are worlds apart. We are all children of God . . . I will never be able to thank them enough for showing me what is important in life: family. It is true that the best things in life are not things, they’re people, even those you’ve only known a week.” – Emily, High School Student from Portland, OR
“The Mamanwa are a remarkable people and I was totally humbled by them . . . In my wealth I often feel anxious, stressed, and selfish, but the Mamanwa have showed me that they can live joyfully, give freely, and love deeply in their poverty.” –Brian, Coach from Seattle, WA
“This trip taught me a whole new dimension on life because these people have nothing in terms of materials, but everything in terms of love and togetherness.” – Trent, High School Student from Camas, WA