How 2 Pinoy-at-heart Brits aim to help poor kids in PH
LONDON - British natives Malcolm Conlan and Peter Watson are self-confessed Pinoys-at-heart, and they are both ready to endure a grueling 15-mile walk to prove that while raising funds for poor pupils in the Philippines.
Conlan, 42, and Watson, 35, are embarking on a charity walk on Monday, September 30, in aid of Sambat Trust, a small UK-based charity providing books to impoverished Filipino communities around Batangas and Laguna.
The fundraisers are walking from Bromley Town Centre in Kent to the Philippine Embassy in central London, a total of 15 miles which takes approximately 3-4 hours to walk on average.
“I believe that we can all do more to help the Philippines. For me, this is also a personal challenge as I never do any exercise nor walk anywhere,” said Conlan, who is married to a Filipina.
The first aid trainer added: “I am not sure what to expect. We will be walking in excess of 15 miles, and whilst this may not seem a lot for some, this is a big challenge for me.”
Conlan admits he often suffers from fatigue and back pain due to his height, at over 6 feet tall, which makes long walks problematic. But he also said it “takes a personal sacrifice” to achieve certain goals.
In 2011, Conlan already walked 10 miles from his house in Bromley to central London to raise funds for the victims of typhoons Pedring and Quiel, which left him in pain for days.
“I found the walk very tiring and I remember limping along the road in absolute pain that was partly as because I took so many wrong turnings. With my fellow walker Peter navigating, hopefully this will be a little easier,” he recalled.
This year, Conlan will be joined by Watson, another British native married to a Filipina. He considers his previous visits to the Philippines as his “best and coolest experience.”
“I am doing this charity walk because I care and just want to make a difference to those in need in the Philippines,” said Watson, who works in the nursing industry alongside many Filipinos.
He continued: “My children are going to grow up [in the Philippines] one day, when me and my wife have children, so it’s only right I do whatever I can to support and help in my small way.”
Watson organized a fundraising event in 2012 in aid of victims of typhoon Sendong. He raised £328, or approximately P22,000.
He claims his love for the Philippines originally came from working with Filipino nurses in his industry, who all told him “wonderful stories” about the country.
“I had a strong love for the Philippines but did not know it until many years later in 2010, when I was lucky enough to meet my wife from Iligan City. Meeting her was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Since then, my love for the Philippines has grown so much and I really class it as my home now,” he explained.
Conlan, on the other hand, discovered the Philippines through his love of theatre and Miss Saigon, where he became familiar with many Filipino actors.
“I didn’t know where the Philippines was until I watched the show. I had a crush on the second person who played Kim, Monique Wilson, and decided to travel to Manila to meet her,” he recalled.
Romantic love didn’t blossom between them but he remains friends with Wilson to this day. And since then, Conlan has become an active member of the Filipino community, not only in the UK but the rest of the world, through his events website Fil-Event.com. He is also affiliated with several Filipino organizations and is frequently seen in community events.
Some people left messages of support and encouragement through his fundraising website. One donor said: “The pain in your legs will be gone within days, but the glory of your finish will last you forever. Best of luck all the way to the end.”
Another wrote: “You can do it! Thanks for doing this for the children of the Philippines, kuya. Much appreciated.”
Conlan and his walking partner Watson are aiming to raise at least £300. They have so far raised £138 at the time of publishing. Their fundraising drive will continue for two more weeks after they complete the challenge.
For more information, visit http://www.justgiving.com/malcolm-conlan1.