Our Right to Have a Voice and to Be Heard

by Ruzelle Llarena Camposano
They’re the children who see the dumpsite as their playground.
They’re the children whose health is at risk
Because they spend their days and nights beside a landfill.
These children suddenly become jolly and excited
When they hear they’re going to be taught.
 
Then they will give their teacher a big hug
And they will flash their endearing smiles.
More endearing still are their positive attitudes
That remain in them in spite of the circumstance they face.
They are the reason why this teacher loves to teach.
I would love to give them a voice.
 
I want them to be heard.
These are the children under the KKFI program named “Kalinga Mo, Kinabukasan Ko”
That aims to provide opportunities for children-at-risk
To enjoy fair rights and opportunities,
To be part of community development.
 
Just like them, I used to be a kid who became a beneficiary of an organization
That advocates children’s right.
Most of the time I see my old self in them,
Eager and passionate to know what are their rights
And how can they apply this in real life.
And have a voice that is heard.
Like I have now.
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LJ Basilio: No Retreat, No Surrender!

By Evelyn Tendero

 

Larren  Jo Basilio, or “Kuya LJ” to his students, is the education officer of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI).  Recently, he was elected as the national president of the United Methodist Youth Fellowship in the Philippines (UMYFP).

There is no question that LJ is a leader. His sight is set on making his organizations—both the KKFI and the UMYFP—better. He’s doing well in juggling both roles – his salary in KKFI helps in defraying the cost of performing his duty as UMYFP president, a post that does not pay, and he gives back to KKFI whatever he learns from the UMYFP.

Both jobs offer enormous challenges. Both required of him tremendous patience and courage. These are the qualities of a person who has a life-goal like his: To draw people to God.

Hence, LJ adopted the motto, “Walang Susuko!” (No Surrender!), an attitude he wanted his students of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) to learn by osmosis. He thinks the best way to become in charge of his “young soldiers” is to lead by example.

LJ is not new to hard work. He supported himself during college by helping classmates write their theses for a fee. With all those reading and writing, it is no wonder that, in 2016, LJ graduated cum laude with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the Far Eastern University (FEU).

He was born in Cabcaben, Mariveles, Bataan 22 years ago on a Christmas Day. He is the first-born to his parents who are active and dedicated members of the Cabcaben United Methodist Church.

His mother is a local church lay leader and the head of their district finance committee. His father, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who now works in Laos, became the president of the local church United Methodist Men’s Fellowship or UMMF. Hence, LJ grew up in a church environment and was involved in children and youth ministries.

In college, he joined the Tamaraw Volunteers, a school organization that focuses on “green peace” and improvement of education. They connected with other non-government organizations (NGOs) and adopted communities and indigenous peoples or IPs, like the Dumagats of Rizal Province.

LJ came to know about KKFI when he met Ms. Christian Love Daroy-Gagno, our current KKFI Program Director, in a Young Leader’s Summit for the UMYF members in Subic in September of 2016. They became partners in a discussion and Love invited him to join the program team of KKFI.  This led to him joining the KKFI working team in February 2017.

LJ said that the first three months of working as supervisor of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) in KKFI was “overwhelming.” His students were all out-of-school youth and adults aged between 10 and 35 who were used to attending formal schools.

The job was stressful, indeed, but he finds comfort in Love’s leadership and the loving attention he gets from the ALS students.

It has been a cycle for LJ—then stresses, rejuvenation process and then the return of enthusiasm to work again. LJ is glad that, like the proverbial Phoenix, he is able to rise from the ashes again and again, ready to journey once more towards his goal of serving others and drawing them to God.

“Walang susuko.”

 

The Engineer’s 5 Reasons for Staying in KKFI Dormitory

By Evelyn Tendero

 

 

I have been seeing this smiling gentleman since January whenever I visit the main dormitory building of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI).

One day, our Dormitory Assistant, Malou, introduced him to me. His name, I learned, is Marine Engineer Arnelo Llarena. He was a reviewee for 1st and 2nd engineer licensure exam, which he eventually passed successfully.

The engineer has been in the service for 20 years, but he took a respite from his job as a seaman since January 2018. He has since stayed in Manila with his 13-year-old son Karlo Martin, who was then reviewing for the International Mathematics Wizard Challenge (IMWC) held in Jakarta, Indonesia.

We had the chance to talk again after they arrived from Jakarta. Engineer Llarena proudly told me that Karlo garnered a bronze medal in the international competition! He said he was glad that he had a chance to be with his son to provide a much-needed moral support. It was a good thing that the engineer was still waiting for a call from his placement agency when it all happened.

The rare achievement was certainly worth all the trouble and the expenses, including airplane fare and accommodation in a foreign land, which he personally shouldered. That’s not yet including the cost of Karlo’s IMWC training.

The Llarenas live in Legaspi City, so Engineer Llarena had to rent a place whenever he stayed in Manila. We are glad the engineer chose to stay in KKFI every time. We are especially pleased when he brought with him his son on their way to Jakarta.

I know for a fact (since I am aware of the compensation package marine engineers enjoy) that the Llarenas can well afford to pay for a hotel accommodation. So why stay in KKFI facilities, instead?

Engineer Llarena gave me five reasons. They are:

  1. KKFI is accessible to Karlo’s training school
  2. The rooms and the compound itself are comfortable and conducive for study and rest
  3. The surroundings are clean and peaceful
  4. The people are hospitable and accommodating
  5. It is affordable.

It will not surprise me one bit if Engineer Llarena will choose KKFI to be Karlo’s “home away from home” when the time comes the latter enters college here in Manila. Will you be?

KKFI Day-C Annual Retreat

By Rev. Maricel Monceda-Osias

 

The Kapatiran Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) Day Center for Older Persons (Day-C) held its annual retreat at Decker Memorial Foundation Inc. located at 22 J. Abad St., Heroes Hills Quezon City last May 12.

Although only 13 Day C members participated (the rest were involved in the upcoming barangay polls) the whole-day activity was a lively one

“Unity in Love” wass the theme of the said event. The importance of unity in love within the group and love for their selves was emphasized. Thus the thrust of the activity in the morning was all about loving others. Group Dynamics activity entitled “Win as Much as You Can” encouraged them to love others by taking others interest not only their own. They have realized that most of the time they are more concern about their selves and forget to think about the welfare of others. One of the Day-C members said: “All I want is for our group to win. I want the money. I was thinking of dividing it among the group members and then later on go for a shopping in Fishermall (nearby mall). I never thought about how others might feel especially if we betray them by changing our cards.”

The afternoon emphasis was quite different. It shifted from loving others to loving their selves. The reflective activity entitled “Loving me: Reconciling with Myself” encouraged them that their love towards their neighbors would not be complete if they will not learn how to love their selves. And loving their own selves means reconciling with their selves and letting go with the things that will not help them grow as Christians. They were asked to write in a piece of paper some things (sins, guilt, shame, hate etc.) that are still haunting them to the present. The paper was put in front and burnt before them. When they gave their reflections, most of them were crying. It was a surprise that at their age they are still harboring a lot of negative emotions and are not able to forgive their selves even to those things they have committed back decades ago. It was one of their most unforgettable moments. One of them said “Pastor I have lived this kind of feeling long ago. And until now I am still haunted by it. My husband died without me saying I’m sorry for being unfaithful to him. I am glad we have this kind of activity. I can now breathe.”

After the moment and sharing the group ended the retreat with a fellowship snack at the Fishermall, Quezon City. It was nice to end up the activity with a feeling of relief as beautiful smiles painted in the beautiful faces of Day-C members. We are looking forward for another unforgettable retreat experience with the group!

 

Jomar Abana: A Will to Walk the Extra Mile

By Evelyn Tendero

 

When I retired from Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) in 2015, Jomar Abana was the institution’s driver as a replacement for his Saudi Arabia-bound brother, Marco, who left the Foundation in January 2014.

When I returned in November 2017, I learned that the 41-year-old Jomar was no longer the Foundation’s driver. He since then became the team leader of the maintenance division.

Jomar is the fourth of the 10 Abana children who were all born and raised in their hometown of Enrile, Cagayan Valley. His father was a skilled carpenter and his mother was a plain housewife who looked after them. Jomar was on his 6th grade in elementary when his mother died and his father followed her to the Great Beyond right after Jomar finished high school.

Jomar had been supporting himself since high school by driving. He would go with a relative who owned a jeepney to learn to drive. He secured a driver’s license when he was 18 years old, although he had been driving since he was 16.

He came to know about KKFI when he became the driver of a sister of Mrs. Priscilla Atuel, the former executive director of the Foundation. When Mrs. Atuel was looking for a driver for KKFI, he referred his brother, Marco, to the position.

Four years and four months ago, Marco reciprocated the gesture when he referred Jomar to the current executive director, Ms Nancy C. Nicolas, to replace him since he was then set to join his new wife in Saudi Arabia.

Jomar told me he was assigned in Gilead Center as driver-mechanic, gardener and maintenance for three months after I retired from KKFI. I asked him, “How come you know a lot about maintenance, from electrical to carpentry?”

He said he learned a lot from his father, who would bring him often to work. Jomar is not afraid to plunge into any kind of work and patient enough to figure out any problem. He loves to work with his hands and he’s gutsy.

Invariably, his colleagues in KKFI described him as “hard-working” and “easy to approach.”

“Masipag si Jomar at madaling lapitan basta maayos mo siyang lalapitan,” a co-worker said. “He is such a busy body yet he’s very accommodating. He is even willing to grant any of his colleagues’ requests even on his day off and Sundays.

Kapatiran has many valuable assets and, certainly, Jomar is one of them.

 

KKFI Board Elects New Member

By Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

The Board of Trustees of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) elected a new member last March 22, 2018 to replace Atty. Carlos S. Cao Jr. who resigned due to his busy workload.

Mr. Reiner R. Puno is the son of the former Board member and legal counsel, Atty. Leven S. Puno. He is an active member of the Knox United Methodist Church (UMC) and other civic organizations. At present, he is the manager of MOED Inc. (printing business), Director of General Board of Communications (UMCOMM), Corporate Treasurer and Board Member of the Philippine Christian University (PCU), and member of the Board of Trustees of the Mary Johnston Hospital (MJH).

His rich experience and expertise are great assets to the KKFI. He was immediately included in the Scholarship and Personnel Committees.

On another occasion, 22 members of the Foundation attended the Annual General Membership (AGM) meeting held last April 3, 2018. The program updates and 2017 Audited Financial Report were presented. They also ratified the board resolutions of the fiscal year 2017-2018 briefly discussed the proposed new logo of the foundation. They also re-elected five members of the foundation, namely: Atty. Armando L. Suratos, Mr. David D. Gutierrez, Dr. Betty. I. Molina, Ms. Eloida Lindo and Ms. Rosella Jean M. Puno.

The AGM was followed by the meeting of the Board of Trustees that re-elected Mrs. Goodwill Y. Mercado-Lansang as Chairperson.

Ms. Goodwill Y. Mercado-Lansang has been the chairperson of KKFI since April 2016. She has a rich background in management as the chief executive officer (CEO) and president of Primera Pharma Corporation, chairperson for the Resources for the Blind, Inc. and president of the Mary Johnston Alumni Association.

She has immersed herself in the programs of KKFI by volunteering in the Manila North Cemetery and by donating medicines.

She is supported by her co-officers namely: Atty. Armando L. Suratos (Vice-Chairperson), Mrs. Ruth R. Flores (Corporate Secretary), Atty. Lourdes M. Gayao (Assistant Secretary), Mrs. Fiona A. Molina (Treasurer), Mr. Eduardo C. Jimenez (Assistant Treasurer) and Mr. David D. Gutierrez (Auditor).

Like Ms. Mercado-Lansang, they have been serving as officers since April 2016.

 

‘Because We Care’: Organizing and Managing CGs in KKFI

By Rev. Maricel Monceda-Osias

 

“Because We Care” is the theme of the first Care Group Leaders Training of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) held at Prudente Hall of the KKFI Compound at 937 P. Paredes St., Sampaloc, Manila last June 21.

Ten Care Group leaders representing the different departments of KKFI attended the activity, which started at 9 a.m. and ended at 5p.m. These CG leaders are expected to administer care to KKFI staff members, students (residents and reviewees), as well as to the community-partners.

The aim of the activity is not only to train them on how to organize a Care Group (CG) or handle designated Care Groups but also to foster the importance of caring ministry in the lives of a Christian community such as the KKFI.

The activity started with a devotion, including a biblico-theological reflection on the importance of caring. It elaborated that seeking welfare (shalom) for others not only encompasses the spiritual but all dimensions of human life—physical, emotional, psychological, etc.

Ms. Nancy Nicolas, executive director of KKFI, emphasized in her lecture the importance of discipline in the life of Care Group leaders. She said leaders should be examples of excellence and integrity in both of their temporal and spiritual lives.

The self evaluation activity that Ms. Nancy Nicolas conducted helped the leaders realize their respective levels of discipline.

n the afternoon, the participants focused on discussing how to lead Care Groups. The Rev. Maricel Osias, chaplain of KKFI, discussed the following topics: “Why we join Care Group,” “Tips in leading Care Group,” and “How to lead Care Group: The Pastor’s Take.”

Malou Angoluan, one of the dormitory assistants who participated in the activity, expressed appreciation of the Reverend Osias’s inputs.

“This activity is very important for me, for us,” she said, “because before we don’t really know how to lead the group.”

Malou said she is often asked by the dorm residents what Care Groups are all about.

“We now know what to answer and how to invite future Care Group members,” Fath Leoncio, another dorm assistant, commented.

Malou and Fath are both leaders from the KKFI Revenue Development Department who handle Care Groups composed of University Belt students.

The said activity culminated with a practical application (practicum) on how to lead Care Group. Using Genesis 45:1-15 as the text, the KKFI chaplain led the leaders into a Care Group activity entitled “Reconciling Love” (from the Upper Room Disciplines). It was a meaningful and emotional moment for some leaders who opened up and shared their individual concerns.

“Because of this activity, we can now more effectively manage Care Groups and spread the message that we care,” Malou said.