Christmas is the time for giving. A wonderful occasion, usually spent with family and friends. Nothing beats the joy of seeing somebody’s face light up when given a present. But it’s more enjoyable when that person is someone who we’ve wanted to give back to for being an inspiration. Last December 30, 2022, Pic-A-Talk, along with its volunteers, came together with Wenuturio and Project Sustainable Smile PH to bring joy to Iligan City.

The gift-giving program started at 1:30 PM where the kids with special needs, along with their family members, came to Plaza Alemania. The venue was graciously sponsored by Angel, the daughter of Iligan City’s vice mayor Dodong Alemania. Meanwhile, the food was prepared by Chebon’s kitchen and the gifts were wrapped by the team. We had gathered our volunteers to ensure the program would run smoothly – volunteers who wanted to give back to the community as well. The participants or recipients of the gifts were kids from Iligan City’s SPED Center, specifically under the class of Ma’am Ana Compacion. 

The program was led by Pic-A-Talk’s secretary, Mia Roa, who opened the afternoon with a few games. It was delightful to see the kids being helped by their parents when it came to an exciting game of Bring Me. They brought their masks, their bags, their vaccination cards and laughed with glee when they were given snacks. Nothing beats food when it comes to rewards, after all! 

Mia and Uma Roa of Pic-A-Talk conduct a quick game of Bring Me!
Angel Alemania of Plaza Alemania shares her own experiences with her older sister, Aria

Afterwards, the program moved on to a special talk by Angel Alemania, who shared her experience growing up with an older sister with special needs. It was a moving talk, one that had the parents nodding along with every word that was being said. It’s important to raise awareness to the struggles of raising kids with special needs but at the same time, it’s also important to share the joys and wonders of seeing them grow into strong, independent or at least capable human beings. Because that’s what we want out of these kids – we want them to be happy! And we were touched to see that at least we brought smiles to their faces. 

We also had several song presentations from one of the kids, Raine Joy, who sang a rendition of pop culture songs such as A Million Dreams and You Raise Me Up. She practically wouldn’t let go of the microphone since she wanted to sing and we were blessed to hear her amazing voice. She could be a part of Philippines Got Talent!

Uma and Lea pose for a picture with winner Michael Andrei!
Raine Joy receives a gift from Mrs. Rex!
The parents sign up for Pic-A-Talk!

Moving on, the food was passed to each of the kids, along with their parents. And while they ate, the CEO of Pic-A-Talk walked up to the stage and started her presentation on the mobile application she hoped would help the kids. Uma was very informative when it comes to the pros of having an AAC application, talking about how it would help the kids learn more and for the parents to understand them as well. As part of the earlier registration, we had the parents register Pic-A-Talk to their cellphones. Hopefully they will see the benefits of having Pic-A-Talk in their lives.

The most awaited part of the program arrived with the gift-giving! One of our volunteers dressed up in a dinosaur costume and introduced herself as Mrs. Rex, the one who would give out presents to the kids. Most of them were happy to see the dinosaur, even hugging the mascot while getting their pictures taken. A few were not so thrilled and chose to keep their distance. They were still happy when they got their gifts, however, and the gift-giving went without a hitch! 

Mrs. Rex brings joy and gifts to the kids!
The kids even get a hug!

Ma’am Ana also told the parents that the kids had a dance presentation inspired by TikTok at the ready. With a helpful video guide on the projector, the kids came together and danced to the best of their abilities. The parents, pleased with the performance, made sure to record it on their phones. Before the day ended, we took pictures to commemorate the event. 

It was truly a wonderful experience. Ma’am Ana hopes that it will be a yearly thing. We hope so too! Seeing the kids happy and laughing again would be the best way to end the year!

The Pic-A-Talk team enjoy a meal together after the success of the event.