An Englishman living in Taytay, Rizal, is preparing to spread some festive cheer this Christmas.
For several years John Flanagan, aged 66, has freely given his time and money to distribute gifts and supplies to the needy.
He said: “Since I came here I have spent a great deal of time helping the poor, infirm and homeless. I have helped thousands of people with food, clothing, medication, educational items, toys, shoes and medical equipment. I have also helped secure sheltered accommodation and even get jobs for others.”
His work has previously been featured in documentary featured on GMA7 television and in numerous newspaper reports. A YouTube version of the film has received more than 86,000 views online. [See below]
John settled in the Philippines in 2010, after meeting his Filipina wife two years before when he lived in Singapore.
Previously, he has worked as a teacher, DJ and actor, with British TV credits on Brookside, The New Statesman and League of Gentlemen.
Not just a Christmas job…
These days though, helping others has become a full-time job in itself. He said: “When I saw the extent of poverty and the awful condition millions live in I felt I had to try and help. So I started to visit communities, the homeless, orphanages, soup kitchens, etc, so that I was able to understand the needs of the people and to determine what I could do.
“I have no funding and everything is done by me. I get donated items of food, clothing, toys, books, etc, that I personally distribute to people I know are genuinely in need of help.
“Anyone interested in supporting my work can do so by sending clothing, tinned, packet foods eg sardines, luncheon meat, noodles, milk (long life), toys, educational materials, sanitary items, toiletries, shoes… in fact almost anything. All I ask is that they are clean and, in the case of food, not out of date.
“Remember the saying: It is better to give than receive. If you can spare anything that would help make Christmas a little better for someone I would be so grateful and so would the recipients.”
To find out more about John’s work, or to offer to help, visit his Facebook page The Philippines – The People, The Faces, The Places, The Poverty.