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.

 

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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.

 

Quenching My Thirst for Fellowship After 30 Years of Absence

By Rebecca L. Evans

 

Thirty years on from my first visit to KKFI or Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc., I have had the privilege to return in a research capacity.  I am working with the Water and Engineering Development Centre of Loughborough University in the United Kingdom and my thesis is WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) challenges in informal settlements/slums, particularly pertaining to MHM (Menstrual Hygiene Management).

I would like to share some of my initial observations with you.   I have looked at Water, Sanitation, Handwashing, Solid Waste and MHM in these areas: Manila North Cemetery (urban); Dump Site at Looban, Bulacan (rural); Tramo, a peri-urban site in Pulilan; and R. Papa Street, Manila (Urban).

Firstly, I have seen very big improvements with regard to water.  Piped water is available 24/7 here in Manila and there has only been one stoppage during my stay.  Even the informal settlements are served with household connections (except MNC) and individual meters on 1-inch diameter flexible piping.

A culture of purchasing filtered drinking water has also been established very effectively.  Water is sufficient and affordable for most.  This in itself will have led to a reduction in water-washed and water-borne diseases.

Regarding sanitation, there has been a cultural shift so that most people are using comfort rooms (CRs) and open defecation is not practiced in the city (although it still is in the rural areas).   Even in the informal settlements, people have dug pit latrines where they can.   Most are pour-flush as water is available.  However, they may be shared by a number of families, even 20-plus extended family members and friends.   Status is conferred by having a pedestal CR.

All the women I talked to have an aspiration to have a private CR.

Hand-washing is a bit of a hit-and-miss.  Many people know they should be hand-washing but they tell me they are lazy, or they forget.  There is a lack of understanding about the importance of washing with soap amongst those that are uneducated.

Generally speaking, solid waste and its disposal has got worse.  There has been a proliferation of plastic, here in Manila fuelled by the fast-food chains, but everywhere plastic is being used because it is cheap, convenient and, ironically, hygienic.

I have eaten food off plates wrapped in plastic to avoid washing up and making sure it is clean. The solid waste is accumulating in the streets and blocking drainage systems.  Although there is an efficient garbage collection system that comes regularly, there isn’t an understanding or commitment to separation and recycling.  The environment is being degraded.

Speaking to women about MHM, they face the same challenges as women the world over: worrying about leaking, staining, where to change, privacy, washing hands and disposal.  The extent to which it limits their activities is not fully understood.  It certainly is limiting to girls and students who are in education; they can’t always concentrate, they can’t take part in everything and they may need to go home.  It is also limiting to working women for the same reasons.

But for those in project areas who live in and around their homes, bringing up families, it does not seem to be such a worry.  Many are not regularly menstruating due to the constant cycle of childbirth.   It is difficult to say whether a coping strategy for menstruation is to stay at home, and a consequence is to have babies, or whether it is the other way round.

Nearly all women and girls would choose to use disposable napkins during their menstruation, for the comfort and protection they afford.  Women who stay at home or who are trying to save money, might use cloths.   Tampons are not available here and caused much curiosity.

I have identified some common cultural traditions surrounding menstruation:  On your first menstruation you should jump down three times in order to have a menstruation that lasts three days; you should not use disposable napkins otherwise your menstruation will stop; you should wipe the menstrual blood on your face to prevent pimples; you should stay in the house; and, finally, during your menstruation, you should not take a bath.

The extent to which these were practiced varied, though many people saw them as old wives’ tales.

In Manila North Cemetery, there are no household connections for water as it is not recognised as an informal settlement, merely a squat.  However, there is a hand-pump and deep-well, and people are earning sufficient as tricycle drivers mainly, to buy water to meet their needs.

However, there are very few CRs and many people are using “flying latrines,” (plastic bags which then go in the garbage).  In regard of MHM, most women can afford to buy napkins at the “sari-sari” store and dispose of them wrapped in plastic into the garbage, adding to the solid waste problem.

In Tramo, Pulilan, the community has water connections, CRs and garbage collection.  The main problem identified here is the anti-social behaviour of some of the residents.  Tramo is known as “Little Tondo” because of the fighting and drinking culture.  This prevents some people getting sufficient rest and was a particular complaint of menstruating women.

In Looban, at the dumpsite, the environment is full of waste.  There is plastic in the mud underfoot, diapers in the trees—it is everywhere. Although there are some household connections for water, there is also a hand-pump, which provides free water.  This community is very poor as their livelihood has been curtailed due to the closing of the dumpsite.

The hand pump broke while I was there.  Hand-washing is rare and they said soap was too expensive and too strong.  The people are not using sufficient water with soap for bathing, and I noticed a lot of water-washed diseases such as conjunctivitis, ringworm, scabies, boils, prickly heat.

The children looked malnourished and many have rotten teeth.  This community was also the least educated that I visited and very superstitious, for example, not taking a bath during menstruation.  This community needs education as well as practical assistance.

In Tondo, the main challenge is poverty.  Most of the workers are onion and garlic peelers, and their incomes are small.   Although they have household connections for water, they tell me they may disconnect them to save money.  The women and girls don’t always have enough money to buy sanitary products and have to resort to using old underwear during their menstruation.

These observations will form the basis of my paper and we are hoping to share the work globally at the Water and Engineering Conference in Kenya in July.  Our purpose is to capture the voice of women, and add to the academic literature which is informing governments and donors who are designing programs to make sure they are inclusive.

With my research complete, I was pleased to return to the dumpsite on my last weekend, changing my last dollars to buy some hygiene kits for the children of Looban.  We ran a hygiene education session and I was very pleased that we could give out 70 sets of soap, washcloth, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, powder and some napkins.    I very much hope that when I get back to the UK, I can continue to support this work.

My final reflections are really about what it has been like to revisit “Kapatiran” after 30 years.  Well, it was 30 years too long!

I made life-long friends when I came, who I see regularly on Facebook, and it has been my joy and my honor to have been able to meet up with so many during my stay.  Some of you may know Ate Nila Basilio, for example, who I was glad to see in Pampanga. She really looked after me when I was young.  And you all know Kuya Danny.  But the absolute highlight of my life was to meet up with my “sponsored child” from R. Papa Street, Webster Obina, who was able to finish his computer engineering degree and is now a grown man with a wife and family, with a good job that takes him all over the world.  He treated me to dinner in Makati City. I was so proud!

Kapatiran then, and now, is like a family.  I have found my old family, but I have also found my new Kapa-tiran family.  It has been a wonderful experience to have met so many lovely and passionate people in the new generation.

I have enjoyed sharing work, travel, devotions, street food (still not sure about “balut,” though) and birthdays.  I am indebted to you all: Ma’am Nancy Nicolas and Ate Glenda Gutierrez for making my visit possible; Kuya Danny Tangonan for looking after me in KKFI’s guesthouse; Ate Love Daroy-Gagno for organizing an incredibly rich exposure;  Joharrah Rafanan, Brian Fernandez, Ruzelle Camposano, and LJ Basilio for their fantastic translating skills;  Joanna, Teacher James Aguilar, Ate Ana Martin, Ate Lilia Bejer for making me so welcome in the office and including me in such fun times, Ate Evelyn Tendero and  Malou  Angoluan for making time for me, and Brian again for ensuring that I learn and experience as much as I possibly can about Filipino culture, language, food , politics, etc.

I have been richly blessed in meeting you all. You inspire me to continue with this work.

Picture Perfect!

By Christian Love Daroy-Gagno

 

Everybody knows Filipinos love to take pictures of themselves, a new global phenomenon called the “selfie.” Even the prestigious online magazine time.com recognized the Philippines as the “selfie capital of the world.”

That’s how pictures changed a nation’s lifestyle. But an incident that happened only recently showed how one picture changed not only the lifestyle but the very life itself of a girl.

It was in January 2018, a delegation of La Grange College students from the state of Georgia in the USA, led by the Rev. Dr. David Ahearn, once again visited the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) property in Pulian, Bulacan called the Gilead Center for their annual exposure trip.

During that fateful day, the LaGrange delegates and KKFI staff members visited Tramo, one of the communities in Pulilan that KKFI serves. Rev. David took pictures of the children while attending a class.

Among those that appeared in one of the pictures was Marielle, a baby with cleft palate while her grandmother was holding her.  Rev. David uploaded the picture to the Internet, which a friend of his, Ms. Maya Rowencak Crauderueff, saw. The latter took pity of the child and immediately asked Rev. David if the baby needs a surgery.

According to Rev. David Ahearn, he got to know Ms. Maya Rowencak Crauderueff about two years ago through a colleague at LaGrange College. Maya is the founder of Maya’s Hope. From its website, the mission statement of Maya’s Hope says: “Maya’s Hope works to improve the quality of life of orphaned, impoverished, and special-needs of children on a global scale. Whether providing funding for loving caregivers, vitamin-rich formula, or access to quality medical care, Maya’s Hope improves lives, one child at a time!” (mayashope.org].

The organization works especially with children in the Ukraine and the Philippines. Maya’s own mother was  a Filipino, and Maya wanted to continue her charitable work “after her death.”

KKFI coordinated with Maya, Smile Train and Operation Smile and the family of Marielle to make the surgery happen. It was on February 27, 2018 when the surgery was made.

“I felt so happy to be able to do something concrete for the children of Tramo community,” Rev. David said. “I have gotten very attached to the older children there through our programs at the Gilead Center. But the need is so great and I always hoped to do something more.”

He admitted that “I really didn’t do much to help personally.”

“My only role was to be a communication link,” he said. “But this case with Marielle shows that there are many people in the world who wants to show God’s love to others. I felt happy to be just one link in the chain.”

The family of Marielle, especially her mother, Mariela, was visibly grateful for the help.

“Maraming maraming salamat po sa mga tumulong sa anak ko sa pagpapaayos ng kanyang labi,” Mariela said. “Sana marami pa po kayong matulungang mga bata na kagaya ng aking anak na si Marielle Ferrer.”

(Thank you to all the people who helped my daughter undergo the surgery for her lips. May you be able to help more children just like my daughter, Marielle Ferrer.)

Marielle can now flash that picture-perfect smile.

 

An Extra-Ordinary Day at KKFI

By James Monsyler T. Aguilar

 

It was a day of glitter and glamour, a day away from school. No books, nor paper and pencils.  My role as teacher was not focused on teaching and imparting knowledge only. It does not comprise only of molding behaviors of children. As a teacher, I am like a wing, a stem or a cradle for these young children.

Finally, the day when my widest dream became a real one came. The day that turned children into blossoming flowers and winged butterflies.

Last February 14, we witnessed children wearing their most lovely gowns and suits at the KKFI Multi-Purpose Hall. We saw them wearing their sparkling jewelries. They had become surprising beauties!

But that was not my main goal. I pushed for this day not because of these elegant gowns or suits nor expensive jewelries or make-ups but I wanted to make them feel that I, as teacher, and their parents are always there to care and provide support to them. We wanted to make them feel that they were all beautiful and handsome regardless of how long or how expensive their outfits are and what were they made of.

The most important thing for us is to see them wearing the proudest smiles on their faces, and make them feel that they are all beautiful and well-loved by us.

The night began. The glitters and sparkles started to fill the entire place. Each of the children walked to the center with elegance as if they were princes and princesses. It was more than I expected. It is more than the dream I had. My heart was like a candle that melts from a warm flame.

As the party started, kids were set to own the night. They prepared group performances in the ‘90s songs. There   were the Nursery group danced in the nostalgic music, while the Kinder 1 students danced to the song, ”Do You Miss Me?” and those from Kinder 2 danced to “Last Thing on My Mind.”

They also had a general performance accompanied by the song, “Dying Inside.” The kids showed what they got and it was, indeed, fun. All the parents were very proud and happy with the performances, the proof of which was their deafening cheers and applause.

It made me feel so overwhelmed and proud when I saw the parents hugged and kissed their kids. This feeling became more intense when the kids started to chat and make circles as they talked about their looks. It proved that the party is not limited only for adults but it is more enjoying seeing these kids filling their childhood with this kind of experience.

As the night became deeper, the lights were turned off and the floor was filled with colorful lights. Kids were very excited to show their gracefulness as they partied on the floor with the different upbeat music. They danced like professionals while copying the steps on the projected screen. They did not mind how they looked. What mattered to them was that they were enjoying the night.

When the party was about to end, the parents congratulated the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc.—Children Development Center (KKFI-CDC) for a very successful event.

As they left, they all had a message of gratitude: “Thank you, teacher, for your passion for these kids.”

Their remarks were enough to melt my heart, most especially when these words came from the fathers of these kids. There is no exact word to express my gratitude to these supportive parents. The only thing I knew in my heart was that they made a great impact not only in my profession but in my passion.

 

Ang Buhay ay Tila Teatro Rin

Ni Sarah Mae C. Cleto

 

May Theatre Workshop na idinaos ang Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) sa pakikipagtulungan ng Angel C. Palanca Peace Program Foundation, Inc.  (ACP3FI). Ang tatlong araw na workshop ay ginanap noong 23-25 ng Mayo 2018 sa Multi-Purpose Hall sa loob ng KKFI compound sa P. Paredes Street, Sampaloc, Manila.

Ito ay dinaluhan ng Alternative Learning System (ALS) learners at mga staff member ng Program Department ng Foundation at pinangunahan nina Ms. Thess Limpin at Sir Marco Gutang ng ACP3FI.

Ang workshop ay may temang, “Peace In The Eyes Of The Youth.”

Sa workshop na ito ay mas nahubog pa ang aking talento pagdating sa pag-arte o sa pagtiteatro. Nalaman ko rito ang “eight basic elements of artistic expression.” Naranasan ko mag-isip at makipagbatuhan ng linya sa loob ng segundo lamang.

Natutunan ko rin dito ang ilan sa “basic ballet steps” at lumikha ng “basic dance steps” sa saliw ng musika o tugtugin.  Napag-aralan ko ring gamitin ang musika sa paggawa ng “scenario” sa isang drama sa tulong ng aking mga kagrupo.

Sa pamamagitan ng workshop na ito ay nalaman ko ang kaibahan ng pag-arte sa telebisyon at pag-arte sa entablado. Ang pag-arte sa telibisyon ay maliliit o limitado lamang ang iyong paggalaw, hindi tulad ng pag-arte sa entablado na malalaki at malaya kang makaka-explore ng buong entablado. Ngunit kailangang maging sensitibo ka sa mga kasamahan at sa paggalaw mo.

Kailangan mong i-apply dito ang “eight basic elements of artistic expression,” “components of drama” at iwasan ang paggawa ng mga bagay na hindi naman kailangan sa pagtatanghal.

Pagdating din sa teatro ay mas mahalaga ang  kilos kaysa boses. Mahalaga rin ang kaalaman tungkol sa kahalagahan, gamit at paggamit ng “mime” sa pag-arte. Higit sa lahat ay naranasan kong umarte o ipakita ang aking “character” na ginagampanan na wala akong sinasabing mga salita kundi sa pamamagitan lamang ng aking “facial expression” at “body language.”

Sa workshop na ito ay marami akong naranasan, nalaman, natutunan at napagtanto sa aking sarili at sa aking buhay. Na-realize kong hindi lamang sa drama magagamit ang motto sa teatro na “Show Don’t Tell.” Bagkus, ito ay magagamit din sa reyalidad o sa tunay nating mga buhay, na kung saan ay hindi sapat ang mga mabubulaklak na salita at mga pangako lamang dahil mas hi-git na kailangan mong pagsumikapan, paghirapan at gawin ang lahat ng bagay na makakaya mo upang maisagawa o maabot mo ang iyong mga pangarap sa buhay.

Para sa aking pananaw ay isa sa mga mahahalagang bagay o elemento ng ating buhay ang “conflict.” Naniniwala ako na hindi sapat na masasabi mong nag-succeed ka talaga sa isang bagay kung hindi mo mapagdadaanan, mapagtagumpayan at magagawan ng solusyon ang mga “conflict” sa iyong buhay.

Kaya kahit na gaano man kalaki ang iyong mga problema, gaano man kasakit na mapagsalitaan ka ng mga hindi magagandang salita, gaano man kasakit ang maliitin ng iba, lagi man nilang ibinaba ang iyong pagkatao’t dignidad, kahit na hindi nila nakikita ang iyong halaga’t pagsusumikap, kahit na mga mali mo lamang ang nakikita ng iba, at ilang beses ka mang matumba, mapilayan at madapa ay huwag kang sumuko.

Lagi mong tandaan na ang mga taong matagumpay na sa ngayon ay naranasan rin nila ang lahat ng iyan.

Kaya laban lang. Gawin mo itong tuntungan upang maipakita sa kanila na iba ka, na may pangarap ka, na magtatagumpay ka at higit sa lahat ay mahalaga ka.

Huwag mong kalimutang ang lahat ng “conflict” sa iyong buhay at sa teatro ang siyang nagbibigay ng kahulugan, kulay at kagandahan sa isang pangyayari o drama.