Saturday, September 13, 2014

Reesa's slide and ride

“Reesa’s Slide and Ride”
Sun.Star Davao, Sept. 13, 2014
Ariana Melissa Tempongko Villanueva, or Reesa to her family and close friends, is an avid home baker. Chocolate Chip Cookies, Red Velvet and Carrot Cupcakes are among her scrumptious bestsellers.

Currently a second year college student at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Reesa is taking up BS Community Nutrition.

Recently, Reesa celebrated her 18th birthday, with a unique concoction that warms the heart.

Here is the recipe for Reesa’s satisfying birthday treat!


Reesa’s decision to forego the traditional cotillion was not made overnight.

As the daughter of Gawad Kalinga (GK) full-time worker Ricky Villanueva, she was a mere 4-year old kid when her father started bringing her to communities to paint houses, till backyard vegetable gardens and play with the children of the GK villages.

Gawad Kalinga, which means to “give care” in Filipino, is recognized globally as a world-class Filipino movement for nation building. It has built close to 2,000 beautiful and thriving communities for the poorest of the poor.

At the age of 18, Reesa was ready to choose a road less-travelled, and to celebrate a milestone in her teenage life.

How else? The GK way! Where else? Her favorite village – GK Pueblo Antonio in Catigan, Toril, Davao City.


Reesa had to give something concrete, something that the community would benefit from for the long-term.

A stainless work table for the ube processors? Too serious. A fresh coat of paint for the GK houses? Too grown-up.

Even at 18, Reesa was still a child at heart. Bingo! An outdoor playground! The garden fronting the Daycare Center was conveniently vacant – a void that two sets of slides, swings and see-saws would do well to fill.

A GK Playground, this would be Reesa’s long-lasting and tangible legacy to GK Pueblo Antonio!


What is an 18th birthday celebration without a party?

And, so, Reesa planned a typical children’s party – complete with the staple fried chicken and spaghetti (cooked by the Pueblo Antonio Cooperative), chocolate cupcakes (from the ovens of GK Sakadab Village); fun games and prizes; party give-aways; and the party clown who entertained the children for an entire morning.

The highlight of the celebration was the unveiling of the stone marker, Ariana’s Slide and Ride, which formally opened the playground to the children of GK Pueblo Antonio.


This was to be the icing on Reesa’s proverbial cake: the Daycare children of the village came together and offered her a song, followed by a bouquet of flowers, freshly picked from the homes of the GK residents, and arranged by the mothers of GK Pueblo Antonio.

That exact moment affirmed Reesa’s conviction that a life lived for others is its greatest reward.


A whole community of children, and generations of children for years to come!

(The above article was beautifully written by Monique Tempongko-Villanueva, my good friend and the lovely mother of Reesa for Human Nature Davao’s #HeroesRising. Special thanks to Reesa’s elder sister, Kimie Villanueva, for the photos.)

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