Biko is a sweet Filipino dish made using glutinous, or sticky, rice.
Agriculture, especially rice, is the main source of income for many residents of the San Mateo, Rizal, area in the Philippines. And they don’t just harvest the rice — they also have many creative, and tasty, ways to serve it up.
TThe residents of San Mateo even have a celebration dedicated to rice and the many dishes made from it. The Kakanin Festival of San Mateo is on Sept. 9 each year, and coincides with the feast day of San Mateo’s patroness, Nuestra Señora de Aranzazu.
There are more than 1,000 children, youth and elders sponsored through Unbound in the San Mateo area, and each year many participate in the Kakanin Festival parade along with their families and Unbound staff members. After winning the title of Miss Barangay this year, sponsored youth Xena Mae rode in a float as one of the contestants to go on to the Miss San Mateo pageant. Though she wasn’t crowned Miss San Mateo, she was awarded for being the most eloquent of the contestants.
Unbound’s office building in Antipolo, Philippines.
A cake designed to look like the Unbound Antipolo office building.
As we reported in 2015, our program in Antipolo, Philippines, built a new office space and community center. The building project was a community effort, with fathers of sponsored children employed as construction workers, along with others from the local community, and several Antipolo alumni lent their expertise to the project.
The Unbound community in Antipolo recently held a celebration to bless the new building. Father Richard Magararu officiated the blessing, and several members from the community also offered their own prayers in Tagalog, the language spoken by many Filipinos.
Here are their prayers, along with an English translation.
Read the prayers
Ramil, Domnick and Anita in front of their home in the Philippines.
Ramil wakes up at 4:30 every morning and ventures out on the sea to catch fish. Twice a day he heads out on the waters surrounding the Philippines for one reason: to support his family.
The father of seven children, including 10-year-old Romnick who is sponsored through Unbound, Ramil sees his job as a fisherman as the best way to provide for his family. After his first round of fishing for the day, his wife, Anita, sells the fish in the market while Ramil goes back out to bring in another catch.
Ramil has been doing this for 20 years.
Through supports groups and livelihood programs, Unbound supports the hard-working parents of sponsored children around the world to help them develop their natural talents, so they can create sustainable sources of income to support their families and work their way out of poverty.
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Social worker Anibal Perez (right) visits with Angelica and Emerson, the mother and brother of sponsored child Ada in Guatemala. As a student, Anibal was sponsored and had a scholarship through Unbound. Because he comes from similar circumstances as the families in the program, he says, “I understand their struggle. …”
Former sponsored child
and scholarship recipient
Anibal Perez remembers how important support from the Unbound staff was growing up.
Now, in his role as a social worker with Unbound in Guatemala, Anibal works with 322 children and their families to support them and be part of their lives.
“I understand their struggle and can be sort of a role model for them,” he said.
Anibal credits his family, his sponsors (Dennis and Mary in Illinois) and the Unbound staff for making it possible for him to graduate from high school.
Taste of tradition
Nancy gets ready to enjoy a bowl of mukimo, a traditional Kenyan dish of mashed vegetables, which she makes for her family. Nancy’s 17-year-old son, David, is sponsored through Unbound.
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Regine (center) with her parents, Judith (left) and Reynald (right), who run an ice cream business. They prepare ice cream each day in a small area of their home in the Philippines and sell it in the community.
Judith (left) and Reynald (right) make their morning batch of ice cream — strawberry and mango!
This Sunday is National Ice Cream Day, and we’re celebrating by honoring an Unbound family who makes their living from ice cream! If you don’t already have a bowl of your favorite cold treat ready to enjoy, you will definitely be craving one after reading this.
Sponsored children in the southern Philippines play together. Unbound promotes peace and harmony in the region through activities with children and families.
Al Nhadzar, 14, from the Philippines
Before Al Nhadzar of the Philippines was sponsored at age 12, he hoped for a sponsor not only to help with his education, but to have a friend in another part of the world.
“It [the sponsorship] will be a help to me and my family, especially in my studies,” he said. “I will gain a friend from the other side of the world, which is a very important experience for me.”
Al Nhadzar, who goes by Al, found that friend in Patricia Lazzaro of New York.
An Unbound sponsor stands just outside a bamboo door of a small dwelling in a village in the central Philippines. She has traveled thousands of miles to be there after months of anticipation. Her sponsored child and his parents wait just inside the small house, smiling their welcome.
Feeling excited and nervous, the sponsor steps through the door and into the home, somehow knowing that her world is about to be forever changed.
On Dec. 8, Pope Francis stood outside an ancient set of doors in St. Peter’s Basilica, surrounded by hundreds of people. Performing a ritual dating back to the 14th century, the pope solemnly pushed the ornate doors open and walked through, officially inaugurating the Holy Year of Mercy.