EARLY December, the Team Titans and their group of offroader friends were off to the mountain villages of the Matigsalugs in Marilog District.
This must be the third time, and Davao Eagle Volunteer Group's fourth.
I can still remember the excitement in the eyes of the children when they field beheld four-wheel vehicles in their mountain barangay in 2011. That was then the Davao Eagle Volunteer Group first decided to hold a Christmas treat for the tribal folk so that they no longer have to go downtown every Christmas to beg.
Bring Christmas to them was the battlecry, and they did. Very early.
The group has since expanded, and with the gaining popularity of running, the runners of Team Titans Davao have joined the regular gift-giving.
There's a big plus to this now because Team Titans Davao president is Dr. Ricardo Audan, the Southern Philippines Medical Center chief of clinics, and when a doctors gets into the scene, he can't help but bring in other doctors and medical practitioners and yes, the much-needed medicine.
No heart is ever hard enough to stand the sight of sick children up there in those mountains.
In their trips up there, they are assisted by the Kinaiyahan Foundation Inc., which works closely with the communities there for their forest conservation and sustainable agriculture programs.
Last December, they were back again.
Led by Dr. Audan with Davao Eagle's Richard T. Cagape Sr., Beni Venus and Alex Tumba, the group motored up again with their truckloads of gifts and their medical volunteers composed of Dr. Richard John Millan and Dr. Paolo Dillera and nurses Evangeline Millan, Gleny Alag, Cheenee Cerilo and Paul Roma along with Team Titan volunteers Rolly Itallo and Sheila Barnes with members Yen Gimony, Chongke Trajera, Dindo Dalumpines, Gino Gudmalin, Jason Dawn, Don Richard, Bryan Camposo, Aldin John Malcampo, Crisanto Selgas, Tommy Inigo, and lone student volunteer Kassandra Barnes.
Aside from the regular feeding, gift-giving, and medical assistance, the group also brought construction materials for the primary school there.
"This is the highlight of our medical, gift-giving and feeding mission for the year," Cagape said in describing the convoy they once again brought to sitio Malikongkong in Marilog District, some 25 kilometers of mountain trail from the Bukidnon-Davao Highway.
They only have thanks to say to all their donors, whom Cagape said would rather remain anonymous.
More than 300 families were present, he said, with close to a thousand children.
"Hopefully, we could do more and share more next time. Aside from the the cough and cold medicines, antibiotics, loperamide and vitamins were given to patients," he said.
"We need more flu vaccines and yun pang purga kay gibitok man mga bata didto oi (children need deworming)! We shall return soon," he added.
Like in the past, the initial funds used to gather all the gifts for the lumad families are from funds Team Titan raise during their runs.
Friends pitch in to add more, thus, the convoy of offroad vehicles that Davao Eagle brings is usually packed to the roofs with toys and shoes and foodstuff and just about everything poor families in the boondocks would have dreamed of but will have a hard time to get.
Their arrival has become a festive event for the residents. For this year alone, the group has gone up there for their gift-giving three times already - April, September, and December.
The need there is just so great, the groups who are able to witness the feeding, gift-giving, and medical assistance are always willing to return to bring more.