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A Sign of Kindness – School Supplies for “My Agdao Kids”

In the past, I wrote about a friend of mine, Tom Martin. Tom also comments here every so often. He is also known as Father Tom since he is a retired priest.

For all the time I have known Tom, he has always wanted to help people and families in a charitable way. He gives of his heart, soul and pocket and most of the time, what he gets back is hurt. He has been insulted when he gives and gives and then when he offers advice and assistance he ignored. He has also helped a family open a business and then they run it into the ground and he then is asked for more money.

Well, after I arrived in Las Vegas, Tom asked me if he could help my kids at Agdao market. He knew of the story from last Christmas when Elena and I gave a small Christmas party for about 25 kids. If you missed the story or the video and photo sideshow, click here to see the story.

He knew the new school year was about to start and the kids need school supplies. Even though these kids come from poor families they work at the market to earn a few pesos, to help cover their daily meals.  Their family and their earnings can never cover school supply costs. A few of the kids have asked Elena if she could buy them their needed supplies.

After  Tom contacted me, I had Elena call Tom and ask what he had in mind. He asked Elena to find out what the children needed for their basic supplies, the cost and how many kids can he help. The following Sunday morning Elena asked the girls that assist her what items and quantities are needed and how many children at the market can we help. Elena was told the items and that there are 25 kids in need. The next day Elena went to the mall and the wholesale Chinatown stores to get a quote of pricing. Elena then meet with Tom to tell him all the information. She also asked if they  could also give each kid a backpack. As no surprise Tom agreed and as you read Tom’s story, he increased the supplies too.

During the week, Elena met with Tom and his caregiver/friend Cardawe and went to purchase the supplies. With Elena’s bargaining, they were able to get all the supplies for less cost then was estimated. Over the next few days, Elena divided the supplies and placed them in each backpack. Our nephew, Amar donated four cases of Magnolia fruit juice beverage for the kids too.

Sunday morning, Elena went for her shopping at the market and told the kids to meet her and Tom by the eatery at 10am. Amar meet Elena at the house to load all the filled backpacks into his truck and drove everyone to the market. Once there, when Tom saw all the kids, he told Elena that he wanted to buy them food to eat too, so Elena made arraignments with one of the cafes to prepare food for all 25 kids. Then after eating, they gave each child a backpack filled with all the supplies needed for their new school year.

I am sure Elena, Tom and the kids will remember that day for a long time.

Here is Tom’s story:

Mr. and Mrs. Bruce H. Linder had been helping the children working around Agdao Market for some time. Prior to Bruce returning to the States we had discussed my getting involved. We decided a good project would be helping the children with their school supplies. It is difficult for poor families to provide the supplies needed when school opens in June. They cannot expect much help from a government that cannot even provide desk/chairs for over 20,000 students in the Davao area alone. The supplies needed to start school were 8 spiral note books, 6 writing pads, pencil, blue pen, ruler and 16 count color set. We decided to give in addition an extra pencil and pen, pencil/pen holder and backpack. Elena, Cardawe Acmad and I went to China Town to purchase the supplies. Thanks to Elena’s bargaining skills we were able to save money and get first quality supplies. The supplies were put into the 25 backpacks and on Sunday May 30th we took the supplies to the children and treated them to lunch at the market. The children were delighted and anxiously waiting for us to arrive. Elena had gone the previous Sunday and made the arrangements for the children to meet us at around 10 in the morning.

I am just using some of the photos Tom took, but to see them all, please click here to see all the photos.

29 Responses to “A Sign of Kindness – School Supplies for “My Agdao Kids””

  1. Marcel says:

    Very touching Bruce to see those kids happy…

  2. maria says:

    hi bruce
    i remember in the philippines, the kids who went to school wrote very lightly on paper with pencil so it can be erased and the paper could be used over and over again. these kids will be proud to go to school with new bag and supplies.

  3. don m. says:

    The good deed go on even now that you are back in the us. You put everyone on the right path for those little children. Hope the tips have been good in cab city. Keep us up to date on your life.

    • Bruce says:

      Yes, I hope it will continue even when Elena comes here. Those kids have become part of my heart.
      Tips vary. I am working on an article, but working 12 hour days, it is hard to sit and write with a clear head.

  4. Marvin says:

    God Bless you Tito Tom, Ate Elena and Kuya Amar.

  5. Marissa says:

    Hey Bruce, been a long time. How are you doing in Vegas?

    I feel sad about Tom being treated unfairly despite his efforts, I guess there are just really those who don’t know how to appreciate, but then I still admire him for continuing to extend a helping hand. That’s really out of the ordinary -well, for me.

    I’m very thankful that somehow I am given the opportunity to earn online and I was able to buy my kids complete sets of school supplies and my only concern now is their uniforms, but nothing that can’t be handled.

    Keep writing Bruce!


  6. John in Austria says:

    A wonderful story Bruce. You and Elena and Tom have made a lot of kids happy.

  7. Ralph M. says:

    Hi Bruce,

    This is your friend Ralph from Vancouver / Baguio.
    I will be visiting Las Vegas from July 8 to 12 for a
    family reunion. I would like to me you while I am in
    Las Vegas so please send me your cell number. Also keep
    up the updates to your Web site as I enjoy keeping up in
    what is happen. Congradulation on your new job.

  8. So wonderful. Helping people in need, is there something better to do in this world? I wish I could do the same when I get an opportunity. Bruce, I really hope you are doing allright there. Not so good here in Sweden. No jobs and the situation seems bad for some time. I am looking for jobs but it doesnt seem to go my way at the moment. But things will hopefully get better.

    • Paul Fuller says:

      Hey, Bruce great to read your blog again. I know Father Tom well and know him as a generous fellow. He sure made 25 kids happy and that is wonderful.
      You might recall the Friends of Mindanao group visited the Davao City Women’s Jail, which is also known as the “Ray of Hope Village”. A week or so back the women’s group from my wife Grace’s church asked me to arrange a visit for them as part of their outreach program. While I was there arranging the visit one of the women who knew me from the previous visit asked if I knew anyone who might sponsor just one child for their basic school needs. I was told that there were 21 mothers detained who could not raise enough cash to pay for their child to attend school with at least one note book and a few pens and pencils. I agreed to sponsor one child and was given the list of a child to choose. I said I would choose when I came back with the church group.
      While walking down Magsaysay Ave (China Town) later that afternoon I noticed one store selling school supplies so looked in to see what the prices were like. To cut to the chase, I ended up buying 21 sets of pens, pencils, pencil cases and notebooks. My budget did not stretch to include backpacks as much as I would have liked to.
      At the church visit last Saturday, I took the school sets with me and I felt that many of the mothers there were watching me to see if I had chosen their child to sponsor. When they announced that Mr. Paul had brought all the kids their school stuff several of the women cried which I felt was rather moving. I guess it was a relief to them to know that their kids will have the basic materials to start school. It is not in my nature to buy one kid a gift without buying all the rest the same. Even my wife said I was such a good person so that was more brownie points for me.
      One of the young women in the jail asked me if the church group or FoM might help her with a medical problem. She required a breast tissue biopsy and a laboratory examination and because the jail receives just 3 pesos each month for each detainee, her chances of them paying for that were remote. I mentioned that matter today at the FoM meeting and a member stepped forward and offered to pay for those tests. Therefore, overall I think it has been a very worthwhile week and I am very satisfied.
      I hope you are doing ok Bruce and settling back into the hustle and bustle of the US.
      Keep safe my friend
      Paul Fuller

      • Bruce says:


        That is great. If more of us could help more kids would be wonderful. I hope Elena or I can find someone who can continue the help to “my kids at Agdao” after Elena moves here.

    • Bruce says:


      It is nice helping those who you have a connection with already.

      You could always drive a taxi here in Vegas, hehehe

  9. queeniebee says:

    Hi Bruce, So nice to see that the work that you started has been continued with the kind halp of Elena and generosity of Tom Martin. I’m sure that these kindnesses were truly needed and appreciated. I think that doing things for others can often get foreigners “out of their own heads” and into a more positive mindset of the world around them.
    I wish you the best of luck in your new challenges. I’m sure it hasn’t been easy, but hope that you and Elena can soon be together and build a life that you desire. You seem like a person with a lot of energy and I hope that you find what you’re looking for. Best, Queenie

    • Bruce says:


      As I have replied to others, I wish I was there to see the smiles on the kids faces. With Fr. Toms assistance we were able to continue our assistance to the kids. I just hope I can find someone to continue it after Elena comes to the US.
      Thank you for your good wishes.

  10. nico says:

    hello Bruce
    my name is nico and i am going to davao in august i would like to do something there for kid,s like you have done i am from holland and i work here with kid,s to as a social worker but with kids who are in problems ,now i want to go and relocate to davao i go there for a couple of months and then 6 months later i wil make the move ,i wil go there on my early retirement ,and i have been looking for a way to help the poeple like you and your wife did ,beautiful i think ,so if there is anything you think i can do so please let me know ,i heard your name and website from jan expat ,and he told me i could ask you anything about davao ,but when my decision to relocate was sure i saw you left again ,but i thought maibe this way i can do something for your kid,s overthere ,i can probebly get some poeple to help out with some fund,s aswel .i hope you get a very good live with your family in texas ,and hope also i wil ever meet you and your family in the future ,keep up the good work ,thanks for the wise lesson,s on this side .greetings from holland .

    • Bruce says:

      There are many kids in need of assistance. Yes I would love to have the kids at Agdao since I know them and have an emotional attachment to them. They could use support such as lunch assistance since they work at the market to earn enough to buy their lunches. They probably need dental assistance since many children in the Philippines have rotting teeth.
      When will you next arrive in Davao, Elena would like to meet you and introduce you to Fr Tom too. She can show bring you to the market to meet the kids there or assist you in the area of assistance you want to set up.

  11. Evelyn says:

    ohhh this is a very touching story,bruce..
    i did not forget my promise to you to participate in the dec xmas gatherings for these kids..
    remember,i promised to buy something for their dessert..?
    i will help elena come dec
    kudos to all of you esp to Mr Tom Martin

    • Bruce says:


      Your help is appreciated. I hope if by some good luck and Elena can move to join me before Christmas, I hope there will be someone to continue the tradition we started.

  12. peter nerwinski says:

    hi bob,,i live in california & someday i will live in davao,,as i told u ,,i will have only a couple thou usd to start with ,,so i will need to work there,,i am a 53 year old dental tech,,i hav taught informal english lessons to the boulevard kids where i have a host family,,i cant stay there cuz they have 8 or 9 people in the 10meter square lot/shack,,u know,,anyway i also spend time with ojt students to help them practice their english & talk about the jobs they want,,very spirit building for everyone,,fun for me,,but at times exhausting,,anyway,,i ma surprised to har u are back in the states working hard with the rest of us,,he he,,give me ur advice on my eventual plan to live in davao,,got any leads for hotels or resorts that could use a foreigner on staff,,tour guide,,mission helper,,english speaker for giving the staff practice,,i have time to develop a position in advance so your input is appreciated,,thanks peter

    • Bruce says:

      As I replied to your past comment and question, my best advice is work hard at what ever you can do in the States to Survive. Moving to Davao with a small savings and expect to open a business or get a job to be able to live is very difficult if not impossible.

  13. ian says:

    Peter- why dont you just ask your good friend Dr Arnold P Falcon for a job- after all he does have 3 dental offices in Davao.

  14. joie mae says:


    Every time i go to work i pray that God will always make me an instrument to help others through my job.. I’m Joie, a social worker from Maa Davao City. I really appreciated the assistance you extended to my constituents in Agdao.. May God Continue to bless and use you to help others…

    • Bruce says:

      Joie Mae,
      It is mine and my wife’s pleasure helping the kids of Agdao market. I miss them so much now I am in the States. They have a permanent place in my heart and hope we can find others to continue the support to these kids after Elena moves here to be with me.

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