The Journey of a Shoebox Filled with Dreams

This is a story about shoeboxes and the Mangyans, an indigenous community from Mindoro whose rich and storied culture is weaved into the Philippines’ history. The Mangyans make a living by cultivating land and making handicrafts. At present, they live in a complex reality, somewhere in between preserving tradition and adapting to the needs of the modern world. They who first walked the islands of Mindoro are now marginalized, having to make hard choices to feed, clothe, and shelter their people. Education takes a backseat when the choice is between eating today instead of buying school supplies for tomorrow.

A shoebox, on the other hand, begins its journey in a store, cradling a pair of shoes. The average middle class Filipino buys about four pairs of shoes a year. After those shoes are purchased, what happens to the shoeboxes? No one throws these boxes because they know it can be useful for something, but for what –many people don’t ever figure it out. It‘s used to store various odds and ends, maybe it gets cut up and is used for an art school project, but for the most part, it’s just gathering dust in a storage room, never to be seen again until the next pair of boxes are piled on top of it. There are those who know exactly what to do with it, and know what potential it holds to be part of a story, to make dreams come true.

For seven years, My Dream in a Shoebox, a gift giving campaign jointly spearheaded by integratedmarketing communications firm TeamAsia and IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), have reached thousands of children in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao to spread messages of hope by giving out shoeboxes filled with school supplies.

Krista Ann Taclan, a social worker and consultant for the A Teacher partylist, was present for the gift giving activity for 497 Mangyan kids from Karyandangan and Barayaw Minority Schools. She was so moved by the simple gesture of kindness that she wrote a letter addressed to people who have donated to the program, saying:

“We may not know what you have given up to come up with those shoebox full of supplies, and you may not personally meet the children to whom your shoeboxes were given to, but this I know, and because I have seen it: those weren’t just shoeboxes full of supplies for the kids, those are boxes full of dreams waiting to be unwrapped and opened by our young dreamers who found a shoebox full of hope, a shoebox full of happiness, and a shoebox full of reminders --that they too are remembered, included, and loved. For most of them, it was their first time to receive a gift, and if I could only wrap their smiles back to you, I would. Thank you, for taking part in this cause, and know that with this, you are teaching our Mangyan brethren not just how to survive, but also teaching them how to live. “

The campaign also has other beneficiaries including the S.O.S. Children's Village, Ascension of Our Lord Parish, San Pedro Calungsod Parish and Payatas Orione Foundation Inc (PAOFI). Through a small fundraising activity last year, My Dream in a Shoebox was able to help PAOFI in filling a classroom in their newly-built facility with furniture and equipment. “We are very thankful for programs like My Dream in a Shoebox which has been an invaluable partner in our goal to help more Filipino children. Through the help of our beneficiaries, we were able to provide our children with desktop computers, chairs and tables needed for their convenient learning experience,” Father Martin, PAOFI executive director, said.

Help us make #BiggerDreams come true. Connect with TeamAsia by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or call Clarisse Salindato at 0917-5079379. For cash donations, contact Abby Madarang of IBPAP through This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 0917-8695941. For more information, visit website