KKFI Student Ministry

by Pastor Maricel Monceda-Osias

 

“We want you to make KKFI your home away from home.” This is the phrase we usually say to the students and reviewees upon entering KKFI dormitories. These words are one way of telling them that we are family; that they belong to a family. And families do care for one another.

This is why KKFI,  through the Pastoral Concern Department (PCD), make sure that students and reviewees who stay in our dormitories, as part of our family, are taken care of. We strive to achieve this through the following programs:

  1. Care Group

Care Group is done from Tuesday to Friday every week. At least one group (2-5persons) meets every day. Groups include both resident students (regular residents) and reviewees (those who are staying for months for board exam reviews). Care Group  session involves reading of the Bible together, letting the Bible speak to them, sharing their life-experiences, struggles, goals in life and so on. The more frequent the group meets the more the group’s members become closer to one another.

The sense of having a support system is very much appreciated by members of the care group. This is also a venue where they will be able to express who they are without bias and prejudice. It is in this group that they will not only learn how to receive care but also to give care to some struggling members of the Care Group.

Some of them get to meet Christ here in KKFI while some strengthen their relationship with Christ here. Mitzi Ann Fornez, a Care Group Leader who just passed her Physical Therapy Board Exam at Guam, USA last December, said: “Care group changed my life. It is here in KKFI Care Group that I got to know Christ better. I might have gone through a lot in life but I realized that I became stronger because of these experiences.”

  1. Counseling

The Chaplain’s office provides counseling to struggling students and reviewees staying in our dormitories. As they share their life’s struggles during Care Group meetings, we talk to them individually, providing them with emotional and psychological care based on their situation.

I remember Adrian Alima, a seaman from Zamboanga City, who was very thankful for the counseling given by the KKFI. He was a hostage survivor when his parents and members of the family were shot dead before his very eyes by armed men in his hometown. Upon leaving KKFI he said “Salamat kaayo Pastor, nakaginhawa ko gamay” (Maraming salamat Pastor. Nakahinga ako ng kaunti.)

  1. Broadcast Ministry

Scheduled every night (5:30-6:00 p.m.) Broadcast Ministry tries to bring students for a moment to God through evening devotions and prayers aired over KKFI’s paging system. The chaplain together with the dormitory “mommies” (dorm assistants) take charge of the said ministry. This program provides an ample opportunity for the students to hear the word of God speaking to them despite being busy with their daily activities.

Leo Buscaglia rightly puts it when he said: “Too often we underestimate the power of touch, a smile, a kind word, or a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Indeed, KKFI is trying its best to turn someone’s life for the better by doing the mentioned acts above. By God’s grace, we will continue to do so.

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Sa LikhAral, Parehong Natututo ang mga Guro at Estudyante

ni Ruffame A. Todoc

Hindi ko alam kung ano ang aking naramdaman noong mabigyan kami ng pagkakataon ng Likharal na maranasang maging guro.

Sa LikhAral ay nagturo kami sa mga kabataan tungkol sa Mabuting Balita ng Panginoon. Ipinahahayag namin sa aming mga estudyante ang salita ng Diyos gamit ang Bible verse at story-telling, Kadalasan ay pinapalitan namin ang mga pangalan ng mga tauhan sa mga paborito nilang cartoon character upang maaliw at makuha nila ang improtanteng aral sa kuwento.

Ang pinag-aralan naming children’s song at dance ay mahusay at matagumpay naming naisalin sa kanila. Tinangkilik ito ng mga kabataan.

Ginagawa naming mas kaaya-ayang pakinggan at kaaliw-aliw ang aming pagkukuwento nang sa ganoon ay mas madaling maunawaan ito ng mga bata.

Nagpaplano kami upang hindi nainip ang mga bata at mas lalo silang mag-enjoy. Mayroon ding snacks, na alam naming pinakakaabangan ng mga kabataan.

Kadalasan, kami ang naghahanda at gumagawa ng mga activities, mga arts at mga kuwentong mula sa Bibliya sa nakakaaliw na paraan.

Sa Amado V. Hernandez Elementary School sa Tondo namin ito ginanap.

Ginagawa namin ito upang mapaunlad ang mga kaalaman nila sa mabubuting gawain. Naglalayon ang Likharal na mas malapit sila sa Panginoon at habang bata pa sila ay magkaroon na sila ng kaalaman sa mga magagandang bagay na ginawa ni Jesus.

Nagbibigay kami ng awards bilang pasasalamat sa mga kabataang nagbibigay ng talino at upang ganahan ang mga ito na sumali sa susunod na LikhAral. Sa ganoong paraan mas darami pa ang magkakaroon ng interes sa ginagawa namin.

Naglalaan kami ng apat na oras—alas-8 hanggang alas-12 ng tanghali—sa aming pagtuturo.

Maraming mga kabataan ang dumadalo sa aming pagtuturo at ang sarap ng pakiramdam kapag tinatawag, nayayakap at tinuturing ka nila na tunay nilang guro.

Masaya at excited nila kaming sinasalubong. Gigil na gigil ang mga kabataan na simulan ang aming pagtuturo.

Ngunit hindi lamang sila ang nakikinabang. Ang mga guro nila—kami—ay tunay ring nakikinabang at maraming natututunan.

‘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.

 

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.