The Bayanihan (pronounced as buy-uh-nee-han) is a Filipino custom derived from a Filipino word “bayan”, which means nation, town or community. The term bayanihan itself literally means “being in a bayan”, which refers to the spirit of communal unity, work and cooperation to achieve a particular goal.
To witness the amplified impacts when people work together to achieve a goal, especially when the ones in need would benefit it the most is priceless.
The Turning Point
Back in January, a couple of people reached out to me on social media and asked if I can teach them “how to be a Virtual Assistant (VA)”. Truth be told, I was confused at first because how I got into Virtual Assistance was kind of a twist of fate.
Just a quick backstory, I was a former English as Second Language teacher and 8 months into teaching, I lost my voice to Chronic Laryngitis. So, I hopped on to my next best passion which was writing and the rest was history. Bottomline is, no one taught me how to be a VA.
But now, I got a few handful of people who want to do what I do. So, I thought, “Okay, I can most definitely share the most effective tips and techniques that I’ve used over the years, right? I mean, why not?”
But simultaneously, I also thought, “How can I make the most out of this situation?” and “How can I amplify it so it would make more sense and more value?” And then it came to me, “What about tapping the NGOs I serve?”
In 2019, I was the English Teacher for Children of Asia – Philippines during their In-House Summer Training Program. It was a 2-month long intensive program housed in Naga City, Cebu.
“In-house” meaning I got to stay with the kids 24/7, giving them intensive English training. And apart from the training sessions, the most striking parts for me was when I got to know their life stories and was definitely humbled by their passion and commitment to education.
When I was younger, my family was also in the same difficult level of financial situation as them. It resonated with me so much that that experience is definitely still one of my best milestones and memories up-to-date.
My dad had always been the ‘vet’ in my family. His life may have taken him in a different professional direction but he always brought a sick and abandoned animal back home, whether it’s a dog, cat, or chick, and revived it to its fullest, healthiest stat.
And so is my life partner, Shreyansh, he continues to spend his days helping and feeding strays back in his hometown in India.
So these two people have been my strongest pillars and muses when it comes to my love for stray animals.
In February, we lost our 13-year-old dog, Toothless, due to old age. And my mom started to feel lonely and definitely was missing our old lady. So, I messaged non-profit organizations based in Cebu who rescue stray animals.
There, I found and messaged MARO about my interest to adopt a rescue.
Dan Vetter, the director of MARO, asked me to visit their shelter first so I could properly connect with one.
And that really moved me big-time because there were so many rescues that deserve a loving home. It tore me apart knowing I could only afford to have one back home.
Nevertheless, after 6 hours of savouring their warm hugs, I found my new soulmate. A week after, Dan personally brought our newest family member back home–the sweet, young boy, Marley.
The Virtual Charity Event
In March, I launched the “How To Be a Rockstar Virtual Assistant in 2021” fundraising event. My goal was to teach professionals how to switch their careers online and become Virtual Assistants and Freelancers.
Then, a U.S. client who also became the event’s sponsor, Tartle.co, pledged a gracious donation for every sign-up.
Fast forward to the day of the event, I gave a 2-hour webinar live training to the attendees, which had enthusiastic individuals who were really eager to improve and develop their careers online.
Over the weekend, I was excited to personally donate them on-site amidst the COVID-19 restrictions and protocols in the city.
The Bayanihan Spirit
The concept of Bayanihan is a traditional one when the town’s people were asked to lend a hand to transfer/relocate a family and literally, their entire house (which is traditionally a bahay kubo, that is made out of bamboo and nipa/anahaw leaves) to a new place.
Without everyone’s effort and cooperation, the success of the event would not be possible. Amidst the pandemic and its economic impacts, it is amazing to see people of different walks of life willing to lend a hand for others.
What’s more is that the bayanihan spirit shined the most because we all had the same goal in mind, which is to not only move our professional lives into a virtual direction but to bring the lives of children and stray animals to a better state or welfare– where good education and good health resides.