A FORMER teacher handed out hundreds of books to poverty-stricken children in the Philippines as part of a Christmas drive to help the needy.

John Flanagan gave out around 300 books to children living in a shanty town in Pasig on Tuesday, December 6.

The 65-year-old became involved in philanthropy after his teaching career at St James and The Abbey School and Malvern Girls’ College.

He resettled in the Philippines with his Filipina wife in 2010, after meeting her two years before when he moved to Singapore.

Mr Flanagan said: “They were school books for various age groups.

“Many of the kids do not attend school as their parents are too poor. Despite the beauty of the country there is so much abject poverty.”

Mr Flanagan says he also dresses up as Santa Claus and hands out gifts in a remote village called Pampanga.

“I started to do what I could to help and that started my interest in raising awareness of poverty,” he said.

“I have become a well-known figure on the streets and this has resulted in me becoming the subject of a documentary on national TV.”

A YouTube version of the documentary about the former teacher has received over 33,000 views online.

Anyone wishing to donate goods such as tinned food and packet noodles can contact Mr Flanagan on his webpage www.facebook.com/filipinocharityfund.

The teacher was head of drama and theatre at St James’ and The Abbey School from 1988-1992 and acting head of drama at Malvern Girls’ College in 1997.

You can watch the documentary of Mr Flanagan on YouTube by searching this URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYdIscntIuk.