I have not been to Batanes. I am forever planning a visit to this northernmost part of the country. So many summers passed and I have not once visited. But this is the nearest thing I’ve done short of visiting this northernmost island.
The BAHAY AT YAMAN NI SAN MARTIN DE PORRES can be found in Claro Santos St., Bonga Menor, Bustos, Bulacan. It began as a feeding center in Tondo back in 2002 for the street children of Manila through the initiative of Rev. Fr. Florentino S. Concepcion. Better known as “Father Boyet”, he inspired countless others to share time and resources for what was initially a Soup Kitchen which blossomed into a center for streetchildren who found love and care beyond the hot meals and shelter. As the “Bambang Kids” grew in number, Fr. Boyet transferred the “community” in 2003 to this donated lot in Bustos, Bulacan. As more well-meaning Christians supported Fr. Boyet’s project, these streetchildren were fed, sheltered, ‘healed’ and treated with love and tender care. Volunteer psychologists and social workers, along with financial donors, helped sustain this apostolate mission such that the Center now houses and cares for as many as 120 streetchildren.
We weaved through ricefields and paddies to reach the Center which now has a Chapel and a few stone houses built like the ones you’d find in Batanes. These Ivatan -inspired stonehouses are so lovely that we all agreed we’d stay a night here sometime soon, and spend more time with the children. The dormitories where the children live are surrounded by moat-like fishponds. Up on the 2nd floor, there are folding cabinets in varied colors and an uncluttered floor shining in its cleanliness and space. I can imagine the boys rolling out their mats here and sleeping with the wide windows open to let the breeze in.
Right across the dormitories, there is a Social Hall cum dining area. Lovingly designed with vibrant colors, the hall is artistically decorated with items one would normally discard. Like empty bottles hanging on a makeshift chandelier made of dried twigs and branches. I found beauty everywhere. The colors, the minimalist decor, the ingenious artistry, the carpentry, all these combine to create an atmosphere of love and communality.
For sure, the Center can do with a lot of help from us who can spare time and resources to live out our Christianity right here where help finds meaning. With 120 streetchildren under his wing, Fr. Boyet needs our support. Go visit them, and view a slice of Batanes in this area of Bulacan. Meet King David, a 10year old who has gone through 4 religions at so young an age. He can entertain you with his operatic voice. I kid you not. And there’s Ramon Magsaysay, an abandoned baby who is forever clinging to Fr. Boyet the whole time we were there. And another pre-teen whose body bore tattoos long before he knew what those markings are. Go visit, and discover a part of yourself too. That part which longs to offer a slice of heaven for God’s children.
SAN MARTIN DE PORRES
Address: Mission Road, Bonga Menor, Bustos, Bulacan 3007, Philippines
Manila Office: +632-367-02-72
Cell no: +63-918-517-4492
“In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort, we must help the weak and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 21:3)