Jollibee is the most family-oriented fast food chain in the entire Philippine archipelago. No doubt about that as Filipino families would often gather and dine at Jollibee right after hearing mass on Sundays. I basically grew up with such kind of family tradition that as a child, I looked forward to weekends because of two things: 1. We'll go to church together as one family and 2. That I could eat my favorite meals at a Jollibee with my loved ones. Jollibee had made my childhood years truly special. And I'm sure most Filipinos are able to relate with me. Jollibee is for every Filipino family, including the elderly. My recent birthday was made even more memorable as Jollibee had invited me to join him on his visit to Kanlungan ni Maria--a home for the aged and the abandoned in Nayong Silangan, Antipolo City in celebration of Grandparent's Day.
For someone who can be considered as "laki sa Lola" (someone who grew up with her grandma), I was totally elated when Jollibee had invited me to come with his team to pay homage to our neglected Lolos and Lolas (grandfathers and grandmothers) at Kanlungan ni Maria. I'm used to volunteering and visiting orphanages and home for the juvenile delinquent but it was my first time to visit and interact with the aged and the abandoned. The elderly will always have a soft spot in my heart because seeing them and being with them would remind me of my dearest grandma whom I terribly missed. I wouldn't be who I am now if it hadn't been for her.
A staff from the Jollibee Team that visited Kanlungan ni Maria talks to one of the many Lolas.
Ms. Marissa Sanchez renders a beautiful song number for the elderly at Kanlungan ni Maria
Going back to Jollibee's visit at Kanlungan ni Maria, when we got there, Jollibee made sure Grandparent's Day will be extra special for the Lolos and Lolas. Jollibee had also invited a special guest--TV personality, comedienne and singer, Ms. Marissa Sanchez who rendered a few songs for them. Jollibee also brought with him two sacks of rice and other grocery items for the Lolos and Lolas of Kanlungan ni Maria. Aside from that, Jollibee also had a Red Ribbon Chocolate cake for them as well as everyone's favorite Jollibee treats such as Chickenjoy, Spaghetti, and many others.
Jollibee happily donates two sacks of rice along with other groceries and needs of Kanlungan ni Maria
Jollibee had also prepared a special dance number to the delight of the Lolos and Lolas from Kanlungan ni Maria. I felt blessed to have been given the opportunity by Jollibee to spent time with the elderly. I was able to interact with Nanay Remedios "Remy" Cruz who looked like she was in her 60's but she was actually 84 years old. It was a great pleasure to get to know her. She said she's been with the home for the aged for seven years now. I asked her if it's sad to live in such place and she honestly said "It depends. We're happy to be living together here and we've all been taken good care of. It's only when you think about your family or relatives that you start to breakdown, cry and feel sad." Nanay Remy (along with other Lolos and Lolas in the said community) was a joy to be with. What I love most about being with old people--they'd share stories about their past and experiences where you can learn a lot of things about what life is all about.
The Jollibee Team with Rev. Fr. Dari Doquino, OIC of Kanlungan ni Maria
Before we bid them adieu, Nanay Remy said, "You know we truly appreciate your visit. Thank you for taking some of your most precious time to spend us. We delight each time we have a visitor like you because it means that the world outside still considers us special and remembers us despite our old age."
Purple Plum Fairy with Nanay Remedios "Remy" Cruz
I couldn't help but feel the hoarseness on my throat, as my eyes went a bit watery after hearing those words. I was touched by her words that I almost cried. I thank Jollibee for having me that Saturday morning. Coming to Kanlungan ni Maria on my natal day had given me a new perspective. And I look forward to coming back again there soon for another visit.
You're lucky if your grandparents are still well and alive. Go, visit and spend as much time with them while you can. If there's one regret I have in my life, it would have been that--I should've spent more time with my beloved grandma. I used to take her for granted (well, probably because I was too young and I didn't know any better) but when she passed away when I was 14, I felt that half of me had died with her.
Watch this Jollibee video and I'm sure it will also tug your hearts the same way it did mine.
To all the Lolos and Lolas out there, Happy Grandparents' Day!