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The Piggy Bank Project

BULL MARKET, BULL SHEET - Wilson Lee Flores - The Philippine Star
The Piggy Bank Project

Student Minxie Romualdez and her mother, Leyte Rep. Yedda K. Romualdez, distributing piggy bank cash gifts at the PGH last Christmas

‘Even our small acts of kindness, when brought together, can make a difference in the lives of others,’ says 10-year-old Minxie Romualdez.

One of the most unique and cute youth civic projects in the Philippines now is already in its second year and spearheaded by the idealistic 10-year-old equestrian Mariabella Gabrielle “Minxie” K. Romualdez, which she calls the “Christmas Piggy Bank Project.”

Instead of just saving up coins in a piggy bank, which her parents taught her to do, she went further and turned her love for piggy banks into a charity project. She said, “Even our small acts of kindness, when brought together, can make a difference in the lives of others.”

Minxie’s parents are former Bb. Pilipinas International beauty queen, and now Leyte Rep. Yedda K. Romualdez, and Philippine Constitution Association president Martin Romualdez. Martin is former Equitable PCIBank chairman and the former three-term congressman who authored Republic Act No. 10754 or the law granting VAT exemption and 20 percent discounts to persons with disabilities or PWDs.

Minxie was born in 2007, the Year of the Pig,  and started collecting piggy banks at age five or six, though her parents say she got her first ever piggy bank during her baptismal from a ninang (godmother).

Recently, a family friend not only gave two piggy banks for her charity cause, but also added a Christmas gift of a beautiful antique porcelain piggy bank that he bought from a trip to Beijing.

The student bought 500 plastic piggy banks (red and gold colors) from Manila’s Divisoria wholesale market that she gave away to classmates, relatives and friends for them to put in their spare coins through the months, then she collected them on her birthday a month before Christmas. Her mother and her staff volunteered to help with this civic project.

Piggy bank gifts for child cancer patients in public hospitals

Out of the 500 piggy banks she distributed to friends and kin, 450 piggy banks came back full of money in time for Christmas. Others which were only half-filled she returned so the donors can still fill them up for Christmas 2018.

Last Christmas, Minxie gave away piggy banks to young patients in the pediatric wards of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila, Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in Leyte, Tacloban City Hospital in Leyte, Vicente Sotto Memorial Hospital in Cebu and the Sistosomiasis Hospital in Palo town of Leyte province.

Minxie hoped that each donated piggy bank full of coins and peso bills would be good enough to afford a family a decent noche buena. Each full small piggy bank can hold P1,000 to P2,000 in coins, while the big piggy banks can hold up to P8,000 to P10,000.

Unforgettable encounters with piggy bank recipients

Minxie said she couldn’t forget her visit to PGH, where she met a baby named Kristine Borres of Imus, Cavite, two years old and already a leukemia patient. The baby had a swollen head. Minxie gave her the most special piggy bank which she received from her grand-aunt, the 89-year-old former First Lady and now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Romualdez Marcos, which was filled with P1,000 notes.

Another unforgettable encounter was also at the PGH pediatric ward. Minxie visited a one-year-old baby girl stricken with cancer. It was a Saturday and the kid’s neighbors — a 13-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl — were taking care of the ailing child because her mother needed that day to rest and get ready for her Monday to Friday job. Minxie recounted: “It was very touching”.

Passion for pigs & horses

Although Minxie loves pigs and piggy banks, her other passion is horseback riding and horses. Her father Martin is a polo player, her two elder brothers Andrew and Marty — now at a boarding school in Switzerland — also play polo.  

When asked what her favorite pet is, a pig or a horse, she replied: “Does a lechon count? A horse is very clever. You have to know them well, each has a unique personality. My favorite horse is Mio, he’s Swedish, 10 years old and would you believe we have exactly the same birthday?”

Minxie is a disciplined equestrian who dreams of someday competing for the Philippines in the Olympic Games. Her coach is Joker Arroyo, the namesake and daughter of the late Senator Joker Arroyo, Philippine national record holder in the puissance event, Asian Games  competitor and former captain of Yale University’s equestrian team. Minxie’s other equestrian coach is Toni Leviste, former Olympics and Asian Games competitor.  

Unknown to most people, equestrian sport is not all glamour but is very physically demanding. Although only age 10, Minxie revealed that she has already fallen off a horse eight times. Her mother Yedda said she almost had a heart attack once when she saw a bad fall that caused Minxie bruises on her face, arm and a black eye. The legislator said: “She’s very brave, she just went back riding again.”

 As a child, Minxie said her original dream was to be a unicorn, now she wants to be an Olympian. How is she working to attain that dream? She said it’s all hard work, perseverance and a commitment to practice one hour daily after school, Mondays to Saturdays. She also improves by practicing with fellow horse riders in Sweden, France and other countries.

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For individuals or civic groups that want to participate in the “Christmas Piggy Bank Project,” you may communicate with Minxie and her team of volunteers at the Facebook page

Thanks for your feedback! Email or Follow @wilsonleeflores on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, read my blog

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