Posted by: James Shannon | February 11, 2013

True Manila: Friendship, Food, And Helping People In Need!

DSCN0763Enjoying a meal with one of the most humane souls I’ve ever met on this planet – seated on the left in this picture is Edwin, a 30+ year resident of the City of Manila. Having been shown the way to a better life through English instruction and other mentorship activities via American missionaries a couple of decades ago, he has sought to repay the favour through his anti-poverty initiative, True Manila.

I have always meant to give back on my travels, but it had fallen by the wayside so many times. When you are frequently on the move, attention can be fleeting at times.

Having met a gentleman by the name of Edwin at my hostel in Manila changed this regrettable situation, however. A friend of the owners of Where 2 Next, he frequently promoted his recently launched charity organization, True Manila, to guests staying there. Through participation through this group, Edwin promised an experience unlike any typical touristic experience, as he offered an insight into the humanity, tragedy, and the resilient optimism of the Filipinos that populated the working class neighbourhoods of Metro Manila.

Costing nothing but our time, sweat, and optional small donations, it was an offer I simply couldn’t refuse.

DSCN0779Assembling toys, shoes, crayons, colouring books, etc before hitting the streets of Manila…

DSCN0781Edwin leads a small army of backpackers onward to aid the working poor of Manila and their children…

DSCN0783The gritty streets of the Barangay (Filipino term for neighbourhood) of San Andres … at first blush, it doesn’t look like the friendliest place … but as I’ve learned countless times on my travels, looks are never what they appear to be…!


DSCN0787With Easter Weekend right around the corner, local children honour, venerate, and praise Jesus Christ, singing hymns and saying prayers. This altar was found in the midst of a series of alleyways that could be best described as a labyrinth.

DSCN0788This gives you a better idea of the passageways that snakes in between the main streets of San Andres. People’s homes, places of commerce, play areas all occupy these claustrophobic spaces!



DSCN0792The highly enthusiastic and energetic children were overjoyed at their gifts, and tirelessly played games with us until we were exhausted, where upon they clambered upon us, like proper 4-7 year old kids 😛

DSCN0794Basketball, a national obsession of most Filipinos, is contested vigorously as the sun sets on another sultry Manila day…

DSCN0800Even the adults got in on the fun!

After a long, tiring, yet emotionally rewarding day, we made our way back to the hostel, where we assembled a traditional Filipino meal in the kitchen to celebrate our day of hard work and friendship together.

DSCN0805Chicken gets pan-fried as the mouthwatering process of cooking Chicken Adobo begins…!

DSCN0809The entire feast complete, ready for eager consumption by our squad of famished volunteers!

And with that, a fulfilling day of making a difference in people’s lives had come to a close. It’s not hard to do folks, and it feels awesome! Just take the first step when you stumble upon an opportunity to help others, and it gets easier from there!

Ever volunteer on your travels? If so, tell all in the comments below, fellow do-gooder! 🙂



  1. Amazing! Thanks for telling True Manila project to others. Let’s continue making a World of Sharing and Friendship.

    • No problem Edwin, I enjoyed my experience with True Manila, and I loved writing up this post last night. Hope you are well man! 🙂

  2. […] True Manila: Friendship, Food and Helping People In Need! by The Pursuit of Excitement | Philanthropic adventures and stories in the […]

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