‘Happy Wives, Happy Community’

ni Vicente V. Eliver

Mula sa hikahos at magulong kalagayan ay nabago ang takbo ng buhay ng ilang pamilyang nakatira sa Manila North Cemetery.

Makikita ito sa mga kwento ng buhay ng mga Cleto, Villegas, Salas at iba pang pamilya na ngayon ay nagsasama na nang masaya, may pagmamahalan at may malasakit sa isa’t isa.

Dati ay kulang na lamang ay magnakaw, mamalimos o mamulot ng basura ang mga nabanggit na pamilya para matustusan ang kanilang pangangailangan.

Iba’t ibang trabaho na ang pinapasok ng mga kababaihan—pagkaka-katulong, tindera, serbidora at tagahugas ng pinggan sa mga malilit na kainan –habang ang mga kalalakihan naman ay gayundin—tumutulong sa pagbuhat ng mga ataul ng mga patay kung ililibing na ang mga ito, tagahukay ng puntod at pagkakarpintero sa sementeryo.

Kahit na anu-ano na lamang ang pinapasukan upang kumita lamang ng kakarampot upang mapalamnan ang kumakalam na sikmura. Hindi sila magkandaugaga sa utang at gastusin sa bahay, kakulangan sa pagkain, para sa mga bayarin at gastusin sa paaralan at iba pang mga pangangailangan.  Laging tulala at malayo ang tingin nila dahil sa kinakaharap na gabundok na problema araw-araw.

Ang mga mag-asawa ay laging mainitin ang mga ulo at sa maliliit na dahilan ay agad silang nag-aaway. Nagkalat at napapabayaan ang mga anak sa lansangan. Hindi na alintana na maaaring madisgrasya ang mga ito.

Ngayon, makikita mong abala sila sa pamamalengke ng kanilang paninda. Ang Pamilya Salas ay makikita mong umiikot sa loob ng malawak na sementeryo sakay sa kanilang sidecar at naglalako ng fish ball, kikiam, french fries, at iba pa.   Gayundin ang mag-asawang Ana at Joselito Villegas na nag-iikot rin sa sementeryo lulan ng nabili nilang sidecar para mamili ng mga scraps—mula sa plastic at bakal—na kanilang napagkakakitaan. Habang ang pamilya Cleto naman ay madaling-araw pa lang ay namimili na ng bulaklak sa Dangwa upang itinda sa maliit nilang pwesto sa labas ang sementeryo.

Nagsimula ito nang mabigyan sila ng maliit na puhunan ng KKFI.

Sa pagtatapos ng araw ay pagod silang umuuwi ng bahay, ngunit masaya naman dahil may maiuuwing sapat na halaga pati na pasalubong para sa mga naghihintay nilang mga anak. Karaniwan ay masaya silang sinasalubong ng mga bata na naghihintay ng dala nilang tinapay na nabili nila sa bakery sa kanto.

Sa pagdating sa bahay ay pagod si G. Villegas. Sasalampak siya sa upuang kahoy, dadamputin ang remote control ng TV at pipindutin upang manood.  Ang may-bahay niyang si Anna naman tatawagin ang panganay na anak na si Junior upang bumili ng bigas na maisasaing. Pagkaluto ay masaya silang magsasalo ng  hapunan sa harap ng telebisyong nabili kailan lang.

Hindi katulad noon na umuuwi sila bahay sa gabi nang walang pera at matutulog nang gutom habang ang mga anak ay pigil ang paghikbi.

Hindi na ngayon, ayon kay Anna. Tuwing umaga aniya, ay sabay-sabay na gigising ang kanyang mag-anak upang maghanda para sa trabaho o paaralan.  Naibahagi rin ni Anna na binilhan niya ng bago at kumpletong uniporme si Junior. Hindi na siya magiging tampulan ng panunukso sa paaralan tulad ng dati. Mabaho at madumi raw ang mga taga-sementeryo, pag-aalala ni Ana. Karaniwang nauuwi sa away at pambu-bully na ganito.

Agad napansin ng guro ni Junior ang pagbabago. Katunayan ginawa siyang modelong estudyante ng guro.  Kabilang din kasi sa Top 10 si Junior. Magmula noon ay natigil na ang pagtukso kay Junior. Hindi naman nagpahuli si Nene, nakababatang kapatid ni Junior. Mataas din ang mga marka ni Nene. Parati na siyang nakakapagsumite ng mga project at walang palyang nakakapasok di tulad nang dati. Nawala na rin ang agam agam ni Anna para kay Junior dahil nagkaroon na rin ito ng mga kaibigan sa paaralan.

Habang ang pamilya Cleto naman ay madalas na dumadalaw sa kanilang anak na si Sarah na ngayon ay scholar at nakatira sa KKFI tuwing hapon pagkatapos nilang magtinda ng bulaklak hinahatiran nila si Sarah ng pagkain.  Bago sila umuwi ay ipinapatago nila sa anak ang kinita nila sa buong araw upang maayos itong maingatan.

Hindi na rin aburido at nananakit ang ama ni Sarah sa kanilang magkakapatid bagkus naging maalalahanin pa ito sa kanilang magkakapatid.  Sa maikling salita ay nagkaroon sila ng pagkakataong para mag-bonding sa isat-isa.  Ang kapatid ni Sarah na si Cedric ay regular na ring pumapasok sa ALS sa KKFI.

Ang mga pamilyang nabanggit ay masayang nagsasama. Regular silang kumakain, naalagaan, nakapagpaaral at naproteksyunan nila ang kanilang mga anak.

Ang pamilya Salas, Villegas at Cleto ay ilan lamang sa mga nagtagumpay na mga benepisyaryo ng “Happy Wives, Happy Community Program” na inilunsad noong Pebrero 2017. Sila ay kabilang sa mga miyembro ng programa na ngayon ay kumikita at umuunlad ang buhay dahil sa programang pautang ng KKFI. Sila ay nagiging tapat na sumusunod sa patakaran ng programa at regular na hinuhulugan ang mga bayarin.

Marami rin sa mga nangutang ang bumagsak ang negosyo at nahihirapang hulugan ang lingguhang hulog dahil sa samo’t saring problema sa pamilya sa kabila ng mga seminars at life skills sessions, financial management na kaakibat sa programa para sila ay ihanda upang maging mga negosyante.

Pinilit ng KKFI na maging patas at inclusive sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng pagkakataon sa lahat ng aplikante sa Happy Wives, Happy Community Program na makautang na matuturing nating kahinaan ng programa.

Ngunit naiparamdam natin a kanila na hindi namimili o humusga ang KKFI kung sino ang may kakayanan at walang kakayanan magbayad. Ang mahalaga ay nabigyan natin sila ng pagkakataon na mamili para maiangat ang antas ng kanilang pamumuhay o manatili sa dati.  Buo nating silang pinagkatiwalaan sa paniwala at sa pag-asang susuklian nila ng katapatan at pagmamalasakit sa programa.

 

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Graduation sa Pasig City Jail

ni Raquel Fabre

Isang taon na ang lumipas nang magsimula akong magtrabaho dito sa Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI).  Masaya ako dahil gusto ko ang ginagawa ko bilang volunteer-worker.

Ako rin ay nagtuturo sa Supervised Neighborhood Play sa Longos, Pulilan, Bulacan.  Marami akong nakakasalamuha at nakakausap na mga tao. Marami ring “challenges” na nae-encounter.

Minsan noong nakaraang Pebrero, inimbitahan ako ng isang kasamahan sa trabaho na si Ate Lilia Bejer sa Pasig City Jail.

“Ano ba ng mayroon sa Pasig City Jail,” tanong ko sa sarili.  “Bakit nila pinagtitiyagaang puntahan ang isang malayong lugar na ‘yun?”

Nalaman ko na isang malaking okasyon pala ang dadaluhan namin—graduation pala ng mga Pasig City Jail inmates ng kursong Alternative Medicine.

Pagpasok pa lamang ay makikita mo na ang magagandang ngiti ng mga inmates na puno ng pag-asa.  Hindi ko inaasahan na ganun ang atmosphere na aabutan ko.  Lahat sila ay excited!

Ang akala ko ay hindi uso ang ngumiti sa loob ng preso dahil mabigat ang mga dalahin sa buhay ng mga nakakulong.  Masasabi kong hopeless ang mga taong nakakulong dito.  Pero nalaman ko na may isang institusyon na nagbahagi ng salita ng Dios sa mga inmate at nag-offer ng programang pangkabuhayan.

Massage therapy ang isa sa mga itinuturo nilang kurso sa mga kalalakihan sa loob ng city jail.  Nakakatuwang pagmasdan na sa kanilang pagngiti ay makikita mo ang mga mukhang puno ng pag asa. At may dahilan kung bakit dahil sa araw na iyon ay magtatapos na sila ng kanilang kurso.

Isang pribilehiyo na ako ay binigyan ng pagkakataon, makapag-share sa mga inmates. Pero sa totoo lang ay ako ang nabigyan ng bagong panananaw tungkol sa maraming bagay.

Na-realize ko na hindi mga rehas na bakal ang tunay na naglalayo sa mga taong ito mula sa mainstream ng buhay kundi ang kawalan ng pakialam sa kapwa.  Na-realize ko rin na ang pagmamahal ng Dios ay abot sa anumang sulok ng mundo, kahit pa sa maliit at liblib na kulungan gaya ng Pasig City Jail.

Kahit pala sila ay nakakulong ay pwede pa rin silang gamitin ng Diyos upang tumulong sa iba upang magbago ang mga buhay.

Sa pamamagitan ng mga programang pangkabuhayan na kanilang natutunan, kasabay ng matiyagang pagbabahagi ng Salita ng Dios ay unti-unti silang ini-equip upang sa paglaya nila ay lalabas sila bilang mga disipulo ng Panginoon.

Nasusulat sa Romans 8:28 na “All things work together for the good of those who love Him.”

Dahil kahit sila ay nagkasala at nakulong, ang mga pangyayaring ito ay ginagamit lang ng Panginoon upang katagpuin Niya sila.  At sa huli ay mananaig pa rin ang original plan ni God sa bawat kalalakihan na gawin silang leaders, hindi lang sa pamilya kundi sa lipunan.

Dahil sa experience ko sa pagdalaw sa Pasig City Jail, lalong lumakas ang loob ko na huwag mawawalan ng pag-asa dahil may inihahanda ang Diyos para sa bawat isa.

Tunay ngang napakasarap pagmasdan na ang bawat isa ay puno ng pag ibig ng Dios at puno ng panibagong pag-asa sa buhay.  Patuloy kong gagawing inspirasyon ang mga taong iyun upang lalo pang magpasalamat sa buhay na ibinigay Niya sa akin at sa mga karanasang nakukuha ko sa KKFI.

Ngayon ay mas nauunawaan ko ang  mensahe ng kantang ito na hango sa awitin ng KKFI:

 

Tulungan ang tao lumawak ang sarili

Ang may kapansanan, bigyan nating alalay

Mga maralita’y tulungang umasa

Kapag nagtulong-tulong, lahat ay makakaya

Ibangon ang nasa dusa’t hilahil

Si Cristo ang Halimbawa natin.

 

 

Living Her Dream

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“You live in a cemetery?” a member of the panel of judges incredulously asked 18-year-old Wendilyn Aliwalas. That question startled Wendy, who was nervous enough that she thought she would faint. Her thoughts were racing.

“Don’t they believe me?” She thought her dream of being picked for scholarship by the Soroptimist International of Mandaluyong was doomed.

“I never experienced being so nervous as I was during the interview,” Wendy narrated. “There were other applicants and I don’t know if their stories touched the hearts of the judges and mine did not.”

It turned out that her fears were unfounded. Indeed, Wendy’s story moved the judges so much that they picked her for the scholarship. They were impressed with her when she said that her fondest desire was to finish her studies so she will be able to find a stable job and build a house outside of the cemetery for her family.

But her blessings did not stop there. Last, February 13, 2018, Mrs. Ruth Flores informed Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) that Wendy won an award again and became a regional awardee.

Now more than ever, her dream is within reach.

Wendy is now a second year student of BS Office Management at the Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST). Her father, Glenn, 39, is a construction worker with no permanent employer. He sometimes moonlights as a tomb engraver to augment the family income. Her mother, Irene, is a stay-at-home mother. At the time of the LYD awarding, Glenn was unemployed. On top of that, he and Irene were in the brink of separation.

Wendy is the second of four children. Her eldest brother, Robin, 21, is a school dropout who has his own family to feed. Their younger sister, Jenalyn, 14, Grade 8, is also a KKFI scholar while the youngest brother, Rhaizen, 8, is in Grade 2.

Wendy has been a KKFI scholar and she is required to render volunteer services by helping in the implementation of programs such as the Alternative Learning System and Youth Leadership, Educate and Advocate for Development (YLEAD).

Joharrah Eunice Mae Rafanan, KKFI Community Development Worker, describes her as a reliable, industrious, flexible and responsible leader. Wendy helps out in the efficient implementation of the two projects. She is a known as disciplinarian and her authoritative demeanor makes an effective leader among the young people.

Last year, KKFI recommended Wendy to the Soroptimist’s “Live Your Dream” (LYD) Program through Mrs. Ruth Flores, KKFI’s corporate secretary. Mrs. Flores is a member of Mandaluyong Chapter of Soroptimist International, an organization that aims to empower women. It is present in 28 geographic regions all over the world.

The LYD Award is given to financially needy young women to help finance their education.

In her online application to the LYD, Wendy wrote about how hard it was to live in a place such as the Manila North Cemetery that has no adequate supply of water and has no electricity, aside from the fact that it was almost impossible to enjoy privacy there.

Wendy also fears for her safety from sexual abuse due to the proliferation of drug addicts and drunkards loitering in the streets. She wrote that to ensure  her  safety,  her  mother fetches her at the cemetery’s gate when she goes home at night.

The two social workers of KKFI, Vicente Eliver and Flora Mae Tatoy, wrote references that added points to her application. They wrote how conscientious Wendy is as a student, hence garnering good grades. They also related how helpful she is in the implementation of KKFI programs.

Wendy’s wonderful traits and attitude, indeed, allowed her to live her dream.

 

The Roller Coaster Ride of Being an ALS Teacher

by Joharrah Eunice Mae Y. Rafanan

 

I had no idea what ALS was. In fact, I didn’t even know what the acronym stood for.

All I remember was that our speaker at a youth camp, an officer of the United Methodist Youth Fellowship, approached me and asked: “Gradweyt ka na, di ba? Gusto mong maging IM?”

That was how I came to be an Instructional Manager (IM) of Alternative Learning System in the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) eight months ago.

I’m telling you, it was a roller-coaster ride!

I was truly excited in discovering the wonders and virtues of ALS. I found out it was a holistic approach to teaching children and youth who otherwise could not avail of formal basic education. I really felt like a superhero, saving all those children from certain doom of poverty and ignorance.

Imagine what these little angels picture me to be when I was the one who actually hand to them free allowances for their school supplies and transportation expenses. Plus, ALS provides them a safe place where they can play and act like children that they are.

Aside from the joy of knowing that I’m helping these children, I also enjoy other things that go with being an IM. Like the love that I feel from them when, last October, they surprised me and my co-IM with a Teachers’ Day Party. They gave me gifts and they even cooked “biko” for me.

It was a real blast!

But being an IM is not exactly all bed of roses. There were struggles. Real ones. The least of my problems was the difficulty of teaching children and youth who have gone from formal education so long that learning became foreign to them. One needs to repeat lessons again and again for the students to learn them. I had to adjust to their capacity. IMs. Indeed, need patience. Lots of them.

Being an IM is more than being a teacher, I remember my friend telling me that people “don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  And I am in a perfect place of meeting people from different walks of life who have different stories to tell. I observed that, at their young age, the ALS students are already carrying the burden of earning for their respective families.

Jane, a student of mine, was sexually abused while staying at her employer’s house.  There’s another. JP, 12, doesn’t know how to read and write but he is good at computation since he is a vegetable vendor.   Rhianne, a hardworking student, has been working in canteens since she could remember. She grew up providing for herself.

They are all ALS students, they all have dreams, they all have capabilities but the urgent need to earn money hinders them from attending our classes.

How can you think of graduating from school when you don’t have food to eat?  How can you convince them to stay and finish the ALS program when their families are hungry? You cannot educate a student with an empty stomach.

Important as they are, these concerns are secular. Others may scoff at me, but I am more concerned about their spiritual well-being.

If I have my way, I would certainly like them to attend our care group sessions regularly.  Why? Because these sessions, although they may not change their life-situations, the care group sessions can certainly change the way they look at their lives. That’s a lot, if you ask me.

Free dinner aside, care group is a wonderful emotional support for any person. And there are other similar activities that could help students grow spiritually. For example, the KKFI has this activity called YLEAD or Youth Leadership, Educate and Advocate for Development.  It aims to train leaders to go and help their respective communities.

With all the ups and downs of being an IM, why do I love it so much? One of the many reasons is Zennie.

Zennie is a shy 18-year-old who couldn’t hurt a fly.  She was like an unborn chick too afraid to come out of her shell. But since I was able to develop an emotional bond with her, she began to open up and stepping out of her guarded comfort zone. That’s when she started discovering her potential.

Zennie is a gifted poet. She was as surprised as I was when she realized it. Her confidence grew and along that her circle of friends. Now, she is one of the most adored students in her batch.

Children like Zennie made me love my job. If you have your own “Zennie,” wouldn’t you love to be an IM, too?

 

From Battle Scars to Glorious Stars

by Larren Jo N. Basilio

 

“There will be an ALS exam on October 2016,” it was announced; but it did not take place. It was postponed to March 2017. Later on the exam was moved to April, then July, August, September and October. It finally took place in November 2017.

“There will be an ALS exam on October 2016,” it was announced; but it did not take place. It was postponed to March 2017. Later on the exam was moved to April, then July, August, September and October. It finally took place in November 2017. One can imagine the anxiety the members of the unfortunate batch of Alternative Learning System (ALS) suffered throughout those eight postponements, which spanned two long years. The waiting period usually takes five months, 10 at most.

ALS is a government initiative that aims to help overaged out-of-school youth (OSY) accelerate to 7th grade or 11th grade. A number of KKFI scholars have passed those exams and are now studying in formal school set-up.

Past ALS exams included 50% of multiple choice tests from five learning strands and the other 50% is comprised of essay exams. The passing score for multiple choice exam was 75% and you need to get at least a score of 3 out of the possible perfect score of 5 in order to pass the essay exam. But the most recent one was different. Without consulting the stakeholders, DepEd changed the rules.

There still was the 50% multiple choice exam but, in lieu of the essay exams, the students were made to submit their “portfolios.” This “portfolio” should include 50 essays, 50 answered modules, exams and quizzes, pictures of families and other information about the learner, projects with essays, livelihood seminars or trainings, and arts and crafts.

We were given only two weeks to complete the portfolios, including their required trainings. The alteration totally caught everyone off guard. Some learners had to quit their all-important part-time jobs to spend sleepless nights to prepare their portfolios. It was a total risk on the learners’ part. Their families scolded them for over-extending their studies, aside from the unending requirements, dates and deadlines that tested their patience and purses.

Since most of them came from urban poor communities and broken families, it was a difficult, tumultuous and expensive journey. They were mocked. Their confidence withered. The postponements brought anxiety to a lot of learners. Many experienced depression and some even became suicidal. A number quit altogether but some plodded on.

Finally, 63 learners from Batches 3 and 4 took the exam. The excitement turned to frustration when they found out that the actual exam was totally different from the DepEd-issued reviewers they were required to study.

We, the instructional managers, were speechless with shock. Only one among the 63 passed when the results were announced last February. On the national scale, the passing rate dropped from 55% to less than 10%. Where did things go wrong?

Unexpected things happened, like when the policies were changed mid-stream without consultation; the portfolios, it turned out, had no bearing on the results, of the test questions 50% came from the formal education curriculum, such as math and science; the ALS students were all along taught in Filipino and asked test questions in the mother tongue, but the ALS exam questions were written in English, and the passing score for ALS remained at 75% while that of the formal education was at 50%. There were protests and petitions online demanding that the passing score for ALS exam be changed to 60%.

“Na-train kami bilang isang atleta pero sinabak kami sa giyera,” a learner quipped. But there was no time for moaning for we only had two weeks to prepare for another exam, which was set in February 2018. The DepEd released the topics for the next ALS exam.

To our surprise, the topics were way different from the ALS curriculum. Higher percentage of the learning strands were totally different from original announcement and prescribed reviewers. And there was not enough time to study them.

We had to scramble for the next two weeks, although we knew it was not enough. Three days before the exam, a light came that brightened the dream of every ALS learner. The DepEd granted the request to lower the passing mark for ALS exam to 60%.

Needless to say, we were overjoyed. We have 24 ALS passers as of posting time. The star starts to illumine and the joy is uncontainable. With this rejuvenated spirits, 25 learners retook the exam last February. They may expect the results to be announced two months after. It is still a long way before the end of the journey, but they know the destination is reachable. They still need to master the subject-verb agreement, the difference between planets and stars and other subjects but they learned so much more. They learned how to be patient in real life, to never surrender, to strive and to keep stoking the fire because success can be just around the corner.

No one guaranteed anybody that they would not suffer scars when they journey in life. But one is assured that, if one will display patience and determination, he or she will enjoy the illumination of the stars for the rest of his or her life.

Ang Trahedya at Pag-Asa ni Nene

ni Raquel Fabre

Bilang isang volunteer worker ng Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI), bahagi ng aking trabaho ang magturo ng Supervised Neighborhood Play (SNP) sa Longos, Pulilan Bulacan. Doon ko nakilala si “Nene” (di tunay na pangalan), apat na taong gulang.
Mahiyain si Nene, bihirang kumibo. Akala mo ba ay takot sa tao. Para sa akin, isang mala- king palaisipan si Nene.

Minsan, inakbayan ko ang kanyang nakakatandang kapatid at ikinagulat ko ang reaksyon niya dahil tila natakot din siya akin. Nahihiya ba sila? Natatakot?

Dahil dito ay nagbigay ako ng aking oras para sa mga batang ito. Nais kong makilala pa sila nang husto.

Isang araw, nabalitaan ko na nagkagulo sa bahay nila. May na-rape daw na isa sa kanila. Hindi ito halos matanggap ng kanilang ina. May mga pagkakataong mas gusto pa niyang magpakamatay. Ngunit nakakuha siya ng lakas upang lumaban mula sa kanyang mga anak.

Sa aking pakikipag-usap kay Nene, ang biktima ng pang-aabusong sekswal, ay may napansin akong mas malalim na sugat. Limang taon pa lamang pala siya ay sinimulan na siyang molestiyahin ng kanyang sariling ama.

Tila nakikipag-patintero siya sa loob ng maliit nilang bahay, parating umiiwas na maulit ang nakakasulasok na karanasan sa kamay ng sariling ama. Dumaan ang ilang taon ay nanatili ang takot niyang mapag-isa. Takot rin siya sa lahat ng lumalapit sa kanya at sa mga humahawak sa kanya.

Si Nene ay isa lamang sa maraming batang nakararanas ng mga bagay na hindi nila dapat pinagdadaanan, lalo pa’t sila’y nasa murang edad lamang. Kaya pala gayun na lamang sila umiwas kung inaakbayan ko sila. Ngayon ay nauunawaan ko na kung bakit.

Nang lumaon, nagkasundo ang magkapatid na ipakulong ang walang-pusong ama. Sa pagdaan ng mga araw ay lalo ko pa silang nakilala, si Nene at ang iba pang dumaan sa kanyang pinagdaanan. Dalawa pang batang babae na nakaranas ng katulad na mga pangyayari kasi ang nakilala ko magmula noon.

Bilang volunteer worker ng KKFI, naging katuwang ako sa paghahanap nila ng katarungan para sa isang baluktot na pangyayari. Sa tulong ng ating social worker ay sumuporta rin ang KKFI sa kanilang pangangailangang pinansiyal.

Habang buhay nang nakatatak sa isip at puso ng mga pamilyang biktima ang mga pangyayaring iyun sa buhay nila. Ngunit naniniwala ako na hindi nagtatapos doon ang istorya ng kanilang buhay. Hangga’t may mga nagbibigay sa kanila ng lakas ng loob ay kakayanin nilang umahon sa pagkakalugmok upang mabuhay nang may kabuluhan.

Ito ang pag-asang pinanghahawakan ng KKFI kaya’t patuloy itong tumutulong sa sa mga katulad ni Nene.

A Day to Remember for Child Development Center’s Kids

by James Monsyler Aguilar

Last October 27 was a day the young students of Kindling Kids’ Functional Intelligences (KKFI) cannot easily forget because it was full of fun not only for them but also for their parents.
On that day in the gymnasium of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc., the children made their “Nanay” and “Tatay” smile and vice versa.
That day the parents were able to set aside their domestic problems and just focus on playing and bonding with their kids. It was also an opportunity to meet and know more about other parents.

family day2.jpg
During times like this that we affirm that the family is, indeed, our foundation and source of strength. A table cannot stand without the support of its legs. The family is the legs of the table that allows the latter to carry so much weight.
At the start of the day’s program, I reminded the parents that their children need “me with nanay and tatay time.” Without that precious quality time, children might not be strong enough emotionally to tackle life’s vicissitudes.
Most of the parents admitted that work eat up much of their time for their kids. Work is that culprit that robs time for bonding with their children, helping them with their assignments, following up on their assignments, etc.
That’s how rare and precious the day we had when we came to celebrate the family. It was a chance for them to somehow mend the emotional wound caused by absences and fill up those missed moments of fun with their children.
Unknown to the parents, I rehearsed the children for a dance performance. Imagine the look in the former’s faces while they watched their kids dance gracefully and sing the song, “Beautiful Life,” with much enthusiasm.
But the surprise did not end there. After the presentation, I called all kids backstage to give each of them a stem of rose and a wall clock each. Rose, of course, signifies love for their parents and the clock implies their request for more quality time.
“Mahal na mahal ko po kayo, Mama, Papa,” every student told their parents.
Touched to the core, the teary-eyed parents kissed and hugged their children ever so tightly.
The parents turned to me and said, “Teacher, grabe ka!” I knew I made them happy. “Teacher, pasasayahin namin ang mga bata.”
And with that promise, they joined the kids in their fun games. For a day, at least, the parents, too, acted like children. And their kids loved it! It didn’t matter to them if they looked silly. The important thing was to make the Family Day memorable one for their kids.
When the game started, the parents eagerly and excitedly participated. I could feel their energy. They played many games like Body Buddy (wherein one forms words using their bodies). They even hopped, crawled and jumped at their kids’ command. Those were moments to treasure!
The underlying message of the day-long fun activities was not lost—every child must be blessed with a family of whatever shape (a family with a single parent, with separated parents, with “lolo” and “lola,” and even with same-sex parents) because the latter makes the former happy.
Meal time came and yet they could not wipe away the smile on their happy faces nor can they help but burst to hearty laughs and cheers as they talked about the day’s experiences.
I felt fulfilled. Somehow, the Family Celebration, albeit only once a year, had succeeded in its objective—to strengthen family ties and make the children feel they are loved and blessed with a family by our gracious Lord.