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The Happy Backpack Movement

Happy Backpack Movement.

“Pretty cool name for a project.” That’s what I thought so when I learned about this project started by my high school batchmate, Romella. As I’ve said before in my post about the Pag-Asa ARKA Foundation, when you’re raised and schooled a Catholic, it’s almost always easy to come up with ideas like this. What makes me love this project though is the fact that it has a lot of potential – the potential to actually transform from something simple to something huge – something with far bigger reach.

What is the Happy Backpack Movement?

The Happy Backpack Movement is the maiden project of the RDA (Rodolfo Dy Apuli) Foundation which was launched in 2016. The RDA Foundation serves as an avenue for the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities of DM RDA Corporation, the fishing coporation of the Apuli family in Pioduran, Albay.

Basically, the goal of the Happy Backpack Movement is to give every poor school child a backpack filled with necessary school supplies. At the start of the school year, they select school beneficiaries, gather volunteers, and distribute the backpacks to eager school children. In 2016, their beneficiary were selected school kids from Daraga, Albay where the Foundation is based. This year though, as their reach grew, the Happy Backpack Movement was able to benefit two schools in Daraga, Albay and one in Pioduran, Albay.

The Early Years

Now this one’s funny. When I asked Romella to tell me about the early days of the project, I learned her “wow” moment happened during her 18th birthday in 2004. Her parents spent for a non-traditional debut party with all the usual – good food, good music, clean fun. She was happy but felt that the money could have been better spent for some other cause. So, when her 19th birthday arrived, Romella told her mother that she did not want to have anymore of the fab parties. Instead, she spent the money to buy biscuits and candies which she gave away to street children in Pioduran, Albay. Romella decided on Pioduran because it was their family’s hometown. Reminiscing, she told me that she used to play too in the streets without caring whether her clothes, her hands, or her face became dirty. As the years went, the biscuits and candies evolved to rice noodles and sandwiches until they were able to afford a full party complete with clowns and yes- the Jollibee mascot!

happy backpack mvoement

Why Backpacks and School Supplies

In 2016, Romella felt that she wanted to give more than just food for one day. She wanted to make an impact, something that would affect the lives of the poor children she often saw. She learned that some children refused to go to school because they felt ashamed that they had no school supplies – not even a pencil or a notebook. She also learned that in some cases, two to three children would cut a single pencil into pieces so that each of them would have something to use. Romella’s heart ached for these children and so she decided to give school supplies instead so that kids would be encouraged to keep on going to school and finish their studies.  She had this to say:

I believe it’s through education that we can truly be able to cope with life – not just merely surviving, but really living. That’s why I love learning and I want to impart the same love for learning to these children.

I mean, do we have Mother Teresa’s reincarnation here or what? (haha!) Seriously though, all these discovery about the Happy Backpack Movement touched me even more. With everything that is happening in this world, we surely need a lot more people with Romella’s heart.

happy backpack movement

How to Help

The Happy Backpack Movement has come up with four ways on how other people can help –happy backpack movement

All cash donations can be deposited to this account –

BDO Savings Account No.: 010240060520

Donations can also be made through Paypal through this link –

The Happy Backpack Movement also accepts donations in kind, particularly the following:

1 – Old books of whatever type that they can sell online. The proceeds will finance their breakfast program.

2 – Children’s books, which they will add to Happy Backpack Movement mini libraries in their our beneficiary schools.

3 – Breakfast meals. You can provide bread,eggs, fruit juices, milk, etc.

4 – Plain fabrics that they can turn into drawstring bags.

All donations in kind can be dropped off or sent to this address –

RDA Foundation 
G. Baldo Compound, Lakandula Drive, Daraga, Albay, Philippines 4501

If you want to donate your time and effort by being a volunteer (usual activities happen from April-June), you may let them know through this link –

Now, here’s the really exciting part. Soon the Happy Backpack Movement will have a charity exhibit where they will be selling artworks created by Albayano artists, including Romella!

happy backpack movement

I hope that with this feature about the Happy Backpack Movement, more hearts will be encouraged to give to this worthy cause. As Mother Teresa said, it’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.

To know more about the Happy Backpack Movement, click here. You can also access their website by clicking the Happy Backpack icon appearing in my homepage.


Credits: Photos in this post were taken from the Happy Backpack Movement website and from Romella herself.


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