Yoly’s Story: Tacloban City, Philippines

By Yoly Enriquez

Apogee’s Yoly Enriquez volunteered in Tacloban City with the non-profit organization, Experiential Learning International. While there, Yoly lived with and helped the people of Tacloban City as she learned about their lifestyle and culture. Her productive visit is a great example of Apogee’s commitment to serving the greater worldwide community. Here is her first-hand account:

My trip to Tacloban in the Philippines through Experiential Learning International was an amazing experience. Tacloban is the Capital of Leyte, a large island in the Visayan Island Group in the Central Philippines. From struggle to contentment, the wonderful people of this town live decent lives that are incomparable to the ones we live here in America.

Our stay in Tacloban was broken up into different locations:

The Home-Base: This is the place where volunteers first stop for orientation/meeting. It serves as the organization’s local office and Center, and is also used to accommodate the 300+ poor children of the community (neither homeless nor orphaned) for their daily activities.

Yoly and the children of Tacloban City gather in front of the ELI Center

The Home-Stay: We stayed with a local host family just walking distance from the Home-base. We occupied one room with no air-conditioning (only an electric fan) and no showerhead. We had to use a bucket to pour water on our head and body – they call it the bucket shower. We also had to pour water on the toilet bowl to flush it.

The Orphanage: Most of our time was devoted to the orphanage. There were 8 children living there at the time of our visit, with one child residing in the hospital. I spoke with Sister Maria (one of three nuns who manages the orphanage) and she asked for my help with the children’s school fees for this year. We had a great time sharing, assisting and teaching the children. I learned from her that sometimes the children skip meals, so it was my pleasure to bring them McDonalds hamburgers and Dunkin Donuts. They told me that they hadn’t had hamburgers in 6 months.

The children of this Tacloban orphanage smile for the camera with Yoly

Tacloban City’s under budgeted 
housing projects

The Housing Projects: The Center is helping the poorest of the poor by giving them decent houses to live in. Unfortunately, only two homes have been built due to budget constraints.

Yoly assisted children with their 
school activities

The School: The Center also assists some schools with their school activities. We participated in one of the letter-writing activities.

“My trip to Tacloban in the Philippines through 
Experiential Learning International was an amazing experience.”

I can say from the bottom of my heart that this experience was amazing. It was a mixed feeling of joy and sadness to experience the lives of poor people (especially children) with little to no control over their situation. We hope and pray that these children will know that there’s hope to improve their lives as they grow older.

I personally recommend visiting the Philippines and living alongside the Filipino people to see the many facets of life through their eyes. With the recent typhoon disaster striking the Philippines and leaving much of the country in a state of ruin, there is no better time than now to reach out and help.

Although Yoly’s trip to Tacloban City was a great success, the devastation brought to the region by recent super typhoon Haiyan demands an immediate call to action. As a part of a sustained effort to serve the global community, Apogee is committed to renewing its support for the Philippines by assisting ongoing disaster relief efforts.


Experiential Learning International
is a non-profit organization that offers
a variety of volunteer opportunities for
globally minded people seeking unique
travel experiences.
Learn more >