‘Maaaring mangarap sa kabila ng mga pagsubok’ – Sarah Mae, 15, ALS passer

 

(Bukod kay G. Edwin Camerino ay may isa pang kabilang sa 23 matagumpay na mag-aaral ng Alternative Learning System (ALS) ang nagsalita sa pagdiriwang ng ika-66 na anibersaryo ng Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) noong nakaraang ika-22 ng Hulyo. Siya si Sarah Mae C. Cleto, 15 taong gulang. Isa siya sa mga nakapasa sa Accreditation and Equivalency Examination ng Department of Education (DepEd). Ito ang kanyang mensahe.)

 

Bago po ang lahat ay nais kong pasalamatan ang lahat ng naging instrumento at nagdala sa akin sa aking kinatatayuan ngayon. Una po ay ang ating Panginoon, ang Dios ng Sanlibutan at ating Tagapagligtas.

Pangalawa po ay ang lahat ng mga bumubuo ng Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI), lalo na ang Board of Trustees nito.

Ako po si Sarah Mae Cayabyab Cleto, 15, isang “drop-out” at nakatira sa Manila North Cemetery (MNC). Dahil naninirahan ako sa sementeryo, tinutukso ako ng mga kaklase ko na “bampira.” Dumanas ako ng matitinding pagsubok, mula sa aking pamilya hanggang sa aking pag-aaral.

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Si Sarah at ang kanyang ina. (Photo ni Ernie Gagno/KKFI)

Tahimik at matiwasay ang buhay namin noong musmos pa lamang ako. Parehong kumikita ang aking mga magulang at hindi napababayaan ang mga pangangailangan naming magkakapatid.  Ngunit dumating sa punto na nalulong sa droga ang aking ama at naubos ang aming kabuhayan. Ito ang hudyat ng sunod-sunod na pagsubok sa aking pamilya.

Ngayon ay nagtitinda na lamang kami ng bulaklak sa “gate” ng Manila North Cemetery. Inutang namin sa Bombay ang puhunan ng maliit naming negosyong upang maitawid ang pamilya sa araw-araw na pangangailangan.

Sa kabila ng kawalan, pinilit kong pumasok sa paaralan. Pumapasok ako nang walang pagkain at baon sa buong araw. Ganito ang aking buhay hanggang nakaabot ako sa second year high school.

Lahat na ay ginawa ko para malagpasan ang mga hamon ng buhay, ngunit inaamin kong halos hindi ko ito nakayanan. Dala ng gutom na naranasan sa araw-araw ay nagkasakit ako at hindi ako nakapasok sa eskwela ng isang buwan.

Nang bumalik ako sa paaralan upang ipagpatuloy ang aking pag-aaral, natikman ko ang isang di-inaasahang pang-iiinsulto mula sa aking guro. “Lumayas ka sa aking silid-aralan ngayon din!” pasigaw niyang sabi sa akin sa harap ng aking mga kamag-aral.

Dala ng kahihiyan ay hindi na ako pumasok magmula noon. Nakaramdam ako ng matinding sakit. Sinisi ko ang aking sarili sa nangyari. Ngunit naisip ko, “Hindi pa ito ang katapusan.”

Isang araw ay nasabi sa akin ng isang kaibigan na merong ALS na ginaganap ang pag-aaral sa mismong lugar namin, ang MNC. Hindi ako nag-aksaya ng panahon at agad akong nag-enrol. Nagsumikap ako nang husto sa pag-aaral, nagpapasalamat sa isa pang pagkakataon.

Naranasan naming mag-aral sa lilim ng mga puno o mga mausoleum. Sa kabila nito, masaya kami at nagtutulungan. Sama-sama kaming nagluluto ng pananghalian at sabay-sabay kumakain.

Ang ALS ng KKFI ay hindi karaniwang paaralan. Dito ay naranasan kong mapuri, mapahalagahan at matrato bilang ako. Dito, naranasan kong maging bata muli—makahiling ng nais na meryenda at madala sa doktor kung ako’y may-sakit. Ito ang mga bagay na nagtulak sa akin upang pagbutihan pang lalo ang aking pag-aaral.

Nang lumaon ay lubos kong nakilala ang KKFI. Mababait na mga kawani nito. Ang mga guro nito ang naging sandigan ko upang malampasan ang mga suliranin ukol sa pamilya.  Dito ko rin nadiskubre ang aking mga kakayanan. Kaya’t ngayon ay naniniwala akong ako’y magiging mahusay na guro. Ito ang pangarap ko maging at edukasyon ay nais kong pag-aralan sakaling pagpapalaing makatuntong sa kolehiyo.

Marami pang mga espesyal na aktibidad ang isinasagawa ng ALS program ng KKFI at ang mga ito ay naglalayong pausbungin ang mga pangarap naming “learners.” Dahil dito, 23 kaming nakapasa sa Accreditation and Equivalency Examination na ibinigay ng DepEd noong Abril 17, 2016.

Dahil dito, narito kaming 23 mga kabataan, gayundin ang aming mga magulang, na nangangarap ng matiwasay na kinabukasan.  Kaming 23 ay inyong natulungan upang maigpawan ang mga hirap na aming pinagdadaanan at humarap sa bagong yugto ng aming buhay, na noon ay madilim at walang katiyakan.

Sa kasalukuyan ay alam namin na may mga pinto ng tagumpay ang bubukas para sa amin. Kung papalarin man kami o anumang buhay ang tatahakin namin ay sisikapin namin maging mabuting ama, ina, kapatid, guro o mga professional o saan man kami sa mundo. Pagsisikapan din naming maging mabuting halimbawa sa aming pamilya at mga mamamayan sa mundo na may takot sa Dios.

Sabi nga nila, “mahirap maging isang mahirap.” Ngunit kung nariyan ang KKFI, maaari kaming mangarap at maiibsan ang paghihirap ng mga kabataang tulad namin.

Sa KKFI, maraming-maraming salamat!

‘Hindi pa huli ang lahat’ – Edwin Camerino, 58, ALS passer

(Noong nakaraang ika-22 ng Hulyo, ipinagdiwang ng Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) ang ika-66 na taon ng pagkakatatag nito sa pamamagitan ng pagkilala sa 23 mag-aaral na tagumpay na naipasa ang Accreditation and Equivalency Examination ng Department of Education (DepEd). Dalawampu’t dalawa sa kanila ay maaari nang mag-kolehiyo at ang isa ay handa na sa mataas na paaralan. Ang isa sa kanila ay ang 58-taong-gulang na si Edwin Camerino. Nagbigay siya ng mensahe sa nasabing “commencement exercise” at ito ang kanyang pahayag.)

 

Ako po si Edwin Camerino, taga-Imus, Cavite at kasalukuyang naninirahan sa P. Paredes Street, Sampaloc, Maynila, kapitbahay lang po ng Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI).

Ako po ay minsan nang naging overseas Filipino worker (OFW) sa bansang Saudi Arabia sa loob po ng walong taon bilang electrical technician. Umuwi po ako sa Pilipinas noong 1991 at nagkaroon ng maliit na negosyo ng pag-a-assemble ng stainless owner-type jeep sa loob po ng pitong taon.

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Edwin Camerino habang nagsasalita sa 66th anibersary of KKFI. (Photos by Ernie Gagno/KKFI)

Taong 2002-2007, ako po naman ay naging “barangay captain” sa aming baranggay. Noong 2010 hanggang 2012 naman ay nabigyan ako ng aming meyor ng puwesto sa munisipyo ng Imus. Hinawakan ko ang isang departamento bilang head po ng Peace and Order Council at nabigyan din po ako ng isa sa pinakamataas na “item” sa munisipyo.

Sa kasamaang palad, hindi napunta sa akin ang mas mataas na posisyon dahil kulang ako sa educational background. “Second year high school” lang po ang natapos ko kaya hanggang Executive Assistant II lang ang naibigay sa akin.

Okey naman sana, kaya lang sayang di po ba?

Marami na pong pagkakataon ang nakalagpas dahil sa hindi ako nakapagtapos ng mataas na paaralan. Naisip ko na lubhang napakahalaga sa isang tao ang edukasyon. Nasabi ko sa aking sarili na kung ako ay nakatapos sana, siguro ay mas magagandang trabaho ang aking napasukan.

Hanggang nabalitaan ko po na ang Kapatiran ay nag-o-offer ng “Alternative Learning System” na nagbibigay ng pagkakataon sa mga out-of-school na gustong makapagtapos ng pag-aaral sa mataas na paaralan at gayundin sa elementarya.

Noong una po ay ang aking kasambahay ang aking kinumbinsi na mag-enroll dahil hindi raw po siya nakatapos ng “high school” dala ng kahirapan. Ngunit ang akin pong maybahay ang nagsabi sa akin na, “Bakit hindi n’yo subukan mag-enroll.” Sabay na raw kami. Ito na raw ang pagkakataon para ako ay makatapos ng high school.

Ngayon po ay narito ako sa inyong harapan upang ipagyabang na, “Ako po ay nakapagtapos na ng high school.”

Sa mga kabataan na narito ngayon, hindi kayo nagkamali sa inyong desisyon na magpatuloy ng inyong pag-aaral. Ito ay napakahalaga sa ating buhay, base sa aking sariling karanasan—Hindi hadlang ang edad o katayuan sa buhay upang matupad natin ang ating mga pangarap.

Gusto ko pong magpasalamat, una, sa ating mahal na Panginoon sa patuloy na pag-gabay sa akin, pangalawa, sa aking pamilya, sa walang sawang pagsuporta, at higit sa lahat, sa Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. na nagbigay sa akin ng pagkakataon upang makapag-aral muli. “Thank you” din po sa inyo Sir Vince (Eliver) sa tulong po ninyo.

Kung ipapahintulot po ni Lord, gusto ko pong mag-enroll sa college sa susunod na school year. Gusto ko pong subukan ang kursong “political science.” Alam ko po na hindi pa huli ang lahat para sa akin.

Sa aking mga kapwa ALS passers, “congratulation and may the good Lord bless us all!”

Maraming-maraming salamat po.

KKFI chair urges ALS passers: ‘Don’t ever give up!’

On July 22, 2016, the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) honoured its 23 scholars who passed the Accreditation and Equivalency Examination for Alternative Learning System (ALS) students conducted by the Department of Education (DepEd) that came out last June 29. Out of the 23 passers, 22 may proceed to take up college or vocational/technical courses, while one is now an elementary graduated and may now enrol in high school. The KKFI arranged a commencement exercise that would give them the experience of graduating from one level that signals the start of another. Mrs. Goodwill Mercado gave this Opening Remarks address the passers during the said event:

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‘NEVER SURRENDER’. Mrs. Goodwill Mercado (second from left), chairperson of the KKFI Board of Trustees, and Ms Nancy C. Nicolas (far left), executive director, pose Jay V. Legarda and his mother, Enecita. Jay, holding the certificate that proves he completed all the requirements of Alternative Learning System (ALS) studies making him qualified for college or vocational/technical studies, is one of the 23 scholars of KKFI who passed the latest Accreditation and Equivalency Examination of the Department of Education. “Hindi po ako sumuko kasi po ang umaayaw ay hindi nagwawagi” (I did not give up because the ones who do never win) Jay said philosophically. (Photo by Ana Martin/KKFI)

 

Our esteemed members of the Foundation and the Board of Trustees of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI), our honoured parents and their children  who belong to the graduation batch, the inspiring and inspired teachers of the graduates, our beloved staff members of the KKFI,  friends, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

Today is a joyous day. This is your proud moment as it is Kapatiran’s proud moment. Actually, I am not sure who is prouder, you, your parents or KKFI. I guess it really doesn’t matter. What is important is we are all very happy about this breakthrough and the chance to face another set of challenges in the next level. What is important is all of us recognize the significance of what we are here for today.

Why are we here? We are here to celebrate a human triumph. We are here to celebrate hope.

When the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. or KKFI or Kaunlaran, as we are more often called, was founded 66 years ago, it had one and only one purpose—to give hope. Let us be reminded of what the Gospel according to John, in chapter 10, verses 9 and 10: “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

The Lord, Jesus Christ, whose grace allowed all of us to be here this morning and whose provision has been blessed upon us, came so that we “may have life, and have it to the full.” This Bible verse is all we need to keep the hope in our hearts burning.

If there is one message that I wish will stay with after the ceremonies today are done and over with is that, “never, never lose hope.” God will never leave you nor forsake you. He will stay with you even through the hardships and until you have achieved the full life He promised.

The Kapatiran was founded for moments like this. We want to help disadvantaged people, especially the youth, achieve abundant life. Your achievements are our achievements.

The Kapatiran is like a mother to each of you. A mother would sacrifice and expect nothing in return just to see go, grow and glow, mean development and achieve positive things in your life. And like a mother, the Kapatiran assures you it is with you every step of the way.

I am a mother myself. All of my children—all three of them—have reached successes in their respective fields. But the years before their proud moments were replete with challenges that tested their determination, if not their sanity.

I am sure you, the graduates, will experience the same challenges, perhaps harder ones. But I urge to not surrender, to not choose the easier path of giving up and accepting a lesser fate. You must fight it out. You must embrace the hardships knowing that after all these has passed, the joy of victory would be twice or thrice as sweet.

After all, life is full of thorns. Those who are willing to endure the pain shall have a life as sweet as a rose in the end.

Don’t forget, do not be disheartened because KKFI is behind you. Again, congratulations and happy 66th Anniversary KAPATIRAN!

Thank you and God bless to all of you.

REWARDS COME TO THOSE WHO SACRIFICE

Elated Ian Leonardo Sabdao (Right) is all smiles as he poses with a batchmate, Mark Anthony Tado.

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Ian (right) with batchmate, Mark Anthony (File photo of KKFI)

 

They are among the 23 students of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) who passed the recent Accreditation and Equivalency Examination conducted by the Department of Education.

“All these sacrifices led to this. Wooaahh!!! At first, I was afraid to find out that I failed the test and that my name would not be in the list of passers, but BOOM!!” Ian enthused. “I thought my dream was long dead, but it was suddenly resurrected because the Lord used a few special people who gave me the opportunity to study and start all over again.”

Ian admitted that it was a huge struggle that entailed much sacrifices, but concluded that it’s all worth it. He extended his heartfelt gratitude to his mentors—Joanna Marie Merced, Nora Asedillo-Cunningham and Arvin Reyes. He gave a special mention to Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) for its all-out support to him and the rest of the ALS students. 

ALS Tutor Teaches OSYs Life Lessons

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“Life used to be a struggle,” says Joanna Marie Merced in Filipino vernacular.

Teacher Joanne, as she is fondly called, is one of the Instructional Managers (IMs) of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) who have been helping the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) provide education to erstwhile out-of-school youth.

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From left, Joanne Merced, Global Mission Fellow Nora Cunningham and Navotas Coordinator Ana Martin

She is the eldest of three sisters. The youngest died of heart attack in 2006 when she had just graduated from high school.

Their mother took it seriously and had difficulty coping. She could not cope with the reality that her daughter who always came out on top of her class and was very conscientious is gone.

“Why did God take her when she had a bright future ahead of her? Why so early,” she bewailed. “God should have taken others who were far worse than my daughter.”

The small eatery, the family’s main source of income, slowly went under and with it the mother’s health deteriorated. Later that year, she suffered her first stroke. This was followed two years later, in 2008, by another that rendered her bed-ridden and helpless. She never fully recovered and died in 2012.

The year after the mother’s first stroke, in 2007, the Merced family adopted a baby boy, who became a source of its joy.

To augment the meager family income, Joanne worked as a “yaya” or baby-sitter in Las Piñas City. She also worked as a clinic staff.

Life continued and Joanne trained in Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Hotel and Restaurant Services and gained a National Certificate II accreditation. She also was able to finish two years of studies in BS Nursing.

She learned about the ALS Program from a friend of their middle sister. The KKFI and Magsaysay United Methodist Church (UMC) were then looking for an Instructional Manager (IM) to teach in Tondo district in the city of Manila. She later met Arvin Reyes and Rev. Rey Viernes, former KKFI Community Development worker and former Magsaysay UMC administrative pastor, respectively.

Joanne is a member of the Roman Catholic Church, but is now attending worship services at Magsaysay UMC. She also assisted in the day-care center of the said church.

“I was elated when a member of the in Batch 2014 passed the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) test of the Department Education. To me, it was a validation. It meant that I taught them well,” Joanne said.

For Batch 2015, the latest batch, 10 more took the A&E test and five of them passed. One could imagine the happiness that engulfed when she learned of this.

When asked why there was a higher passing rate, she answered, “I motivated them. I told them to take just one more goal at a time in order to achieve success.”

She said their house-to-house visit helped. She and Nora Cunningham, a Filipino-American Global Mission fellow who has already returned to New York City in the United States, would visit ALS learners who failed to attend their classes.

Joanne said the Family Development Sessions (FDS) also helped motivate parents to encourage their children to go to school.

Joanne came out of her comfort zone, which was Tondo, and came to KKFI. There, she got the much-needed affirmation that she has the talent for teaching. She also learned that there are others whose life stories are worse than hers.

“KKFI, which is celebrating its 66th founding anniversary, should continue to help children and youth through its education programs,” Joanne said. She said she always prays that KKFI will continue to exist for years and years to come.

Her advice to ALS learners who failed? Study again. She told them to persevere and study harder and practice writing essays.

Joanne emphasized to them that the opportunity to study and have a better shot at the future—exactly what the KKFI offers–is rare. They must not bungle it. God gave Joanne such a chance and she did not bungle it.

She certainly could teach young students more than what textbooks tell them.

THE MENTOR AND THE ACTORS

Kuya Rex Dayao, Program Director of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) shares a few acting tips to the passers of the Alternative Learning System (ALS), who are set to present a mini-play during a KKFI-sponsored commencement exercise on Friday, July 22, 2016.

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Kapatiran will honour the 23 ALS students who successfully passed the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) test of the Department of Education (DepEd) in a ceremony at the Max’s Restaurant in Quezon City.

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After the commencement exercise, the Board of Trustees (BoT) of KKFI will conduct its regular meeting. “We are proud of the achievement of our scholars,” Executive Director Ms Nancy C. Nicolas said. “It motivated us much more to help the out-of-school youth as they pursue a better future through education.” (Photos by Glenda B. Gutierrez/KKFI)

‘Walang Barya’

My name is Henry Kibambe. I was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. When I was young, my dream was to become a civil engineer. In 2009, I left my country for Johannesburg, South Africa, not to realize my dream, but to study business administration.

But the Lord sent me to another vocation—to be a Global Mission Fellow of General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) of the United Methodist Church (UMC). I was assigned to serve for 22 months at Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) in Manila, Philippines.

I arrived in Manila in September 2015 and did not have many expectations about the country. The only thing I knew for sure was that God is calling me to participate in His mission and I had to grab this opportunity to serve Him through he least of his people.

I believe it was time to be a participant in His mission and change my world. People are affected directly or indirectly through my actions. There is nothing much one can do by being a spectator because what he/she can offer is only his/her opinions about certain things, but an active participant in God’s mission offers real solutions to societal issues such as poverty and social and economic injustice. I believe that sometimes our actions as Christians are the only bible some people might have access to.

My first day working at the KKFI coop canteen I had to find a strategy that will connect me with the people, hence I found my favorite and key words: ’’Walang barya” –Tagalog words translated to English as. “no loose change.” That helped me to connect and integrate with local people.

Serving at KKFI canteen has taught me a lot of things about life in general that even top universities in the world cannot teach in their curriculum because these things are only learned by experience. Among the things I learned are: humility and patience. Starting with humility, the people whom I work with might not have tertiary education or formal education, but one thing I knew for sure is that they have life experience which is as important as formal education. So to adapt in this new environment without missing so many learning opportunities as a result of superiority complex, I had to consider myself as someone who knew nothing and had to learn everything.

So far this process of unlearning and learning has yield positive results and gave me another perspective to life. On the other hand they taught me patience, too, because their mind and thinking process might not be as fast as mine in the aspect of decision-making, but their hold to valuable information required patience on my part to be able to get it from them.

Of course, the canteen has many challenges that need to be addressed, but I like challenges because they give me opportunities for growth both career wise as well as socially.

I thank God for giving me this opportunity to serve his people and congratulate myself for saying “yes” to chance to participate in God’s mission to witness his spirit at work and tangible presence among his people especially the least and the lost.

And again my name is Henry Kibambe and this time I say: “Mayroong barya,” meaning there is “loose change.”