RISING FROM THE DEAD

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“We now live outside of the cemetery,” says Anna B. Villegas, 32, apparently with proud air about her.

Anna is referring to the Manila North Cemetery (MNC), where her family used to live. To her and thousands of others who reside there, the life-goal has been to be able to own a house or at least rent a place outside of the MNC.

Anna’s dream came true because of the $4,000 livelihood grant that the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) received recently from the United Methodist Women (UMW).

On March 8, 2017, the grant was distributed to 13 recipients and Anna was one of them. She immediately bought a pedicab for her husband, Joselito, who now uses it to collect recyclable materials like plastic and glass bottles in Manila North Cemetery and neighboring communities.

Before acquiring the pedicab, the Villegas couple were caretakers of tombs in MNC.

“It was difficult living in the cemetery, especially when it rains and floods,” narrates Anna. “It is not safe there and there are a lot of drug addicts around.”

She says she and her family are now “happy to live in Caloocan City” albeit, still making both ends meet.

“Our monthly room rental is P2,000 plus P1,000 for electricity and water. My husband earns an average of P300-P400 a day, enough to meet the daily expenses,” she discloses, adding that Joselito works six days a week.

The Villegas family is blessed to receive a scholarship grant from a Korean national that benefits three of her four children, thereby augmenting the family income. She proudly says that her children are honor students: Krishen Keith Althea (Top 3), Kyle Dustin (Top 6) and Kristel Keith (Top 9). The youngest is yet to go to school.

Anna has her church, San Pancratio Parish in Caloocan City, for linking her to the generous Korean benefactor.

Anna wants the best for her family. Though she is a graduate of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Housekeeping Course, she wants to prioritize taking care of her family instead of working abroad.

She keeps on learning and has attended workshops on candle-making, fabric conditioner-making and dishwashing soap-making.

She is also a parent-leader of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) City Link since 2012.

Indeed, Anna is worth emulating. She and her husband continues to strive to improve their lives, and the first step came when they brought their family out of the cemetery.

 

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HONORING GENERATIONS OF DORMITORY RESIDENTS

by Rev. Dr. Fe M. Torio

Text: Exodus 3:10, Deuteronomy 8:7-10, John 17:9-11,

I Corinthians 12:8-10, Romans 12:6-8, Ephesians 4:11

 

 

The celebration of anniversaries enable us to remember the times in the past, the accomplishments of the present, and the dreams of the future. It is then a privilege and honor to have been a part of the past here at KKFI from 1978-1982, in hoping to be of help for its goals at present, and to p articipate as long as I am able for its dreams in the future, with God’s help.

For our message in this 67th anniversary, I would like to invite you to be blessed and grasp the challenge of being honoured. When I asked about the theme or main topic, the first would strike the most, “Honoring.” I said to myself: I don’t deserve to be honoured.

However, the situation in the Roman state in the time of Paul reminded me about something” Menenius Agrippa convinced the lower class in earlier Rome that although they are less noticeable members (like the stomach), they were necessary; the upper and lower classes had different roles but equal importance; also, the Stoics said that the universe was like a body; and that, Paul referred to the unity of the body not to keep one group down but to tell all the Christians in Corinth to respect and appreciate one another.

Just a solitary eye or foot is useless, so is any member of a foundation or church apart from other Christians.

First, each member has a measure of faith. (Romans 12:6-8)

Second, each members is commissioned to carry out a mission (Ephesians 4:11)

Third, each member is sent to go. (Exodus 3:10)

Fourth, each member is to receive honor and be blessed (Deuteronomy 8:7-10)

Let us consider the points one after the other before you are invited by sleep. This hour is an holy hour. Just wake up when time comes for us to bond together for our favourite activity in our dorm events: Eating time. Yes, I remember fully that there is no activity without it. We always contribute for it.

 

First, each member has a measure of faith (Romans 12:6-8)

Each of us here has a measure of faith. Whatever then is our profession or has become of ourselves after we came from this institution, returning here to celebrate together again, is a measure of faith. We did what we can in proportions to our faith. What is faith? Faith gives us the important rules for life: to know ourselves, accept ourselves, to accept the gift that God gave us, and to use that gift as it is his or her bounded duty and his/her God-given privilege to make his/her own contribution to the common good.

We do not get very far in this world until we know what we can do and what we cannot do. An honest assessment of one’s own capabilities, without conceit and without false modesty, is one of the first essentials of a useful life.

We trusted this institution to help us fulfil our dreams. We have faith that we can make it, and we did! We have learned from our ups and downs in our studies, in our relationships with others – our fellow dorm residents, the staff and business office, our visitors, our school environment and all around us – how to handle them in connection to our daily needs, and in our growth towards maturity especially in stretching our time, cash allowances, as well as brains so that, we will succeed in our endeavour to  finish requirements on time and if late, prevent ourselves away from failure, the least that we would like to happen to us in our stay in the dorm.

And most of us, we have faith in God who guides and gives everything we need during our stay her through its ministry to each and every one of us, remember?

When somebody celebrates his/her birthday, we pray and sing for them; when one is sick, a dorm resident officer will offer a visit or prayer; when one’s allowance is delayed, the staff shared a hand to lift one’s predicament. The faith of each one is measured by meeting each one’s needs, and to God be the glory. You have been a part of these activities, you deserve the honor today.

Second, each member is commissioned to carry out a mission (Ephesians 4:11)

There is a spark of God in every living creature. Thus, you are commissioned to carry out a mission, as God has mission to love the world. Paul is saying here that a man must accept himself; but even if he finds that the contribution he has to offer will be unseen and unknown, without praise and without prominence, he must make that contribution, certain that it is essential, and that without it, life and the world can never be what they were meant to be. Our families, our workplace, our churches, name it and you have it, without YOU and I WHO SUBMITTED TO A MEASURE OF FAITH IN GOD, each one of us, LIFE AND THE WORLRD will never be WHAT THEY WERE MEANTH TO BE.

Sometime, I marvel why people had charisma. It is because God gave the gift to you, and thus, you are called to be an instrument to use such gift for those whom He loves and cares. Don’t you like that? We are commissioned to carry out a mission. Such mission is for you to discover and uncover. Maybe, some of us had been nearing the end of the fulfilment of such mission. Others maybe are still starting while still others, they are on the process of the full blast of accomplishing what had been entrusted to them. Whichever we belong, we are to be faithful in carrying them out.

Brothers and sisters, we share a common focus and basis of authority as bearer’s of Christ’s message, out mission. We are therefore sent to go.

Third, each member is sent to go (Exodus 3:10)

Paul is really saying that whatever gift a man has, that gift comes from God. He calls the gift charismata. In the New Testament, a charisma is something given to a man by God which the man himself could not have acquired or attained. It is a personal, individual gift given to him by God. In point of fact, life is like that. For example, a man might practice for a lifetime and yet never play the piano like Kentner or Pouishnoff. These men has more than practice; they have the something plus, the charisma which is the gift of God. Do you have that something plus? If you have, what would you do? We are sent to go! Our skills was not so much achieved as given. We owe it to God, and we need to use it. The motive to use such something plus should not be by our own personal prestige but the conviction to go and share to others in need, our neighbors.

Daily, we can share Christ to others so that they can know Him in their hearts. Daily, we can be bringers of service to our fellowmen in whatever way we can. Daily, we can spur others on to the joy of life in Christ by our encouragement. Daily, we can be simple and generous, delights in the sheer pleasure of giving for giving’s sake, without desire of gold or promise of self-satisfaction.  Daily, we can have sense of responsibility and zeal in their hearts. Daily, we can give grace through forgiveness, based on love and kindness.

Yes, daily, we go about our life as usual, but with a measure of faith, we are commissioned to carry out a mission to go. Ultimately, we are motivated and developed to go and be responsible daily.,

Fourth, each member is to receive honor and be blessed (Deuteronomy 8:7-10)

Were you able to watch MISSION POSSIBLE from 12 midnight to 12:30 last July 18? Yes, after sharing her experience of being widowed twice at the age of 19 and left with four children, and moved on with the help of ABS-CBN. What about that? What have we done this past 67 years or so? We do receive honor and be blessed by God.

Let us review the promise of God to the Israelites:

  1. A land of wheat and barley, vines and pomegranates and fig trees, olive trees, and honey
  2. A land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper
  3. You shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land He has given you.

These promises will be ours also as we continue to obey the voice of the LORD our God. What is the voice of God? Therefore, Go:

You and I should have a feeling of indebtedness to God. The more we recognize our indebtedness, that we are blessed and received honor, the deeper should we desire to share for that service, even if it meant death. In Philippines 1:21 Paul said: For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

My dear friends, fellow former dorm residents, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are endowed with the privilege to stay and be a part of this institution. We left successful with the courses we took and the life to chose. Now, we returned not only to reminisce and celebrate, but we are commissioned to carry on, keep on going, doing faithfully whatever had been entrusted to us to do by God.

With high technologies at present, still I believe we have a role to play in pursuing our dream for a better world. Let us have a share and participate for this goal. Our prayers, talents, resources, time and gifts – let us use to honor God above all.

Congratulations to one and all! May God continually bless us all, dorm residents and KKFI Family without them, we are helpless. Thank you again for giving yourselves unselfishly for us whom our parents entrusted to your care. May God empower you more, now and in the years to come.

Happy 6th anniversary.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

 

 

NURTURING DORMITORY RESIDENTS THROUGH THE DECADES

by Goody Mercado
Chairperson, KKFI Board of Trustees

(This message was shared as the Welcome Remarks to the 67th Founding Anniversary of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. yesterday, July 20, 2017 where the management honored the dormitory residents from 1950 to 2005.)

 

KKFI anniversary celebrations have become an annual event that the members of the Board of Trustees and the staff look forward to. Every year, the management could think of twists that surprise everyone. I remember anniversary celebrations that recognized the past Executive Directors, Board members, loyal staff members, institutional and individual partners, and, last years, ALS passers.

This year, we are honouring an unsung hero in the whole scheme of things of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. I’m referring to the Kapatiran Dormitory. We honour, too, its staff, past and present. Together with them, of course, are the dormitory residents who, through their patronage of the Kapatiran dormitory, wittingly or unwittingly financed the social development programs of Kapatiran.

You see, 100 percent of the income of the Kapatiran dormitory goes to the budget for programs, which help various marginalized and underprivileged groups in Manila, Bulacan and other places. This is the day we recognize and honour them. Congratulations!

Our theme is, “Nurturing Dorm Residents through the Decades.” I wonder how many students and reviewers the Kapatiran dorm have housed through its 50 or 60 years of existence. And I wonder where they are now. They must be successful and rich by now. Wherever they are and whatever economic state they are in, I guess this anniversary celebration is for them.

This may also serve as a prayer that they will continue to enjoy health and life abundant wherever they may be. Now, to those who are presently here, I heard we are in for a big surprise. I believe the staff prepared something special for us. I heard this is not just a simple celebration but a feast! Not necessarily a feast of foods (although they have prepared delightful array of them), but of period songs and dances made to satisfy our ears and eyes. I guess they are determined to make this day truly unforgettable. We will see by the end of the day.

I do hope they won’t disappoint us. Am I jumping the gun on you, my dear staff members? I’m sorry.

Kidding aside, I welcome you all to the 67th founding anniversary of KKFI, otherwise known as our beloved Kapatiran. Under the leadership of Nancy, we expect more success, more abundance and more fun for many, many years to come!

Thank you and enjoy!

CELEBRATING LIFE

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

Mommy Elena Godito, who has been with the Day Center for Older Persons or “Day C” since 1989, always looks forward to anniversary celebrations of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) for a special reason. “Day C members always present a special number during these celebrations,” Mommy Elena reveals. This year, however, she will not be able to join the group’s dance presentation “due to my age.”

But as in the past, she is still excited to witness this Thursday’s special event because “this time, it’s different.” The forthcoming 67th founding celebration of KKFI, to be held in the KKFI Compound on P. Paredes Street, Sampaloc, Manila, honours the “alumni” of KKFI dormitory who made the KKFI dorm their “home away from home” from 1950 to 2005.

To spice up celebration, the staff and program beneficiaries will perform popular dances from the 50s to the 90s. The Day C members, in particular, will do the 60s.

“I am both excited and nervous,” expresses Mommy Geneal “Jean” Santiago. “It is my first time to dance and I am not really good at it.”

But she and the group has been practicing religiously every Monday and Friday since the last week of May and she hopes their hard work will pay off come performance time. They are 16 in their group with Mommy Marietta “Mayette” Asedillo, 80, being the oldest and Ate Zenaida “Baby” Ordiz, 56, the youngest.

All of them say they are excited and will do their best. They say they are enjoying the practices because they discovered the real meaning of “teamwork.”

“We all help each other,” Mommy Mayette says in the vernacular. “Nobody reprimands anyone who commits a mistake.”

“There is unity here,” say Ate Baby. “I feel that I am safe with the Day C group. I feel I belong,” she added.

They are one in saying that the dance instructor/choreographer, Pio Llenado, is “the best.” They say he is patient, a good teacher and very supportive.

When told that those who saw them in practice have this opinion that they have more than a fair chance of winning the much-coveted first place, they could not believe it. They say they are just enjoying the camaraderie. Indeed, the Day C ladies are just having fun. They are celebrating life, meaning they are already winners this early. ####

KAPATIRAN DORM IS ‘HOME’

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

For the Dormitory Assistants, the Kapatiran dorm is “home.” They say the camaraderie they developed among themselves makes them want to stay in Kapatiran forever. They say they simply cannot walk away from it.

Rowena “Weng” Gaffud, Fatima “Mommy Fath” Leoncio, Marilou “Malou” Angoluan, and Judith Ramirez, had been with the KKFI dormitory for 12, 11, 10 and 3 years, respectively.

 

DA
From left: Mommy Fatima “Fath” Leoncio, Ate Marilou “Malou” Anguloan and Ate Rowena “Weng” Gaffud

“KKFI dormitory is my ‘home away from home’. I sleep more soundly in the dorm than in my own house,” says Mommy Fath.

Her fellow Dormitory Assistants, agreed. “KKFI is our family,” Malou states. “I will never exchange for anything the fun I experience here, although our job is no joke.”

The DAs take care of the more than 200 dormitory residents, mostly university students and reviewers staying in Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI). They say it requires an enormous amount of patience to do so because the new generation of young people are, well, different.

“The millennial kids are different,” Weng reveals. “The previous generations were more respectful and obedient.”

Indeed, taking care of residents requires a lot of patience. Mommy Fath narrated that there are residents who every now and then try break the curfew rule. They will wait for the on-duty DA to turn in for the night, then will try to elude the security guard on duty to exit the compound. Although they sometimes succeed in their misdeeds, they run the risk of being scolded once the DAs find out about what they did. The violators are often repentant, though, knowing that their house “mothers” have only their safety in mind.

Judith vividly remembers the time when a resident got sick. “I had to bring a resident to the hospital. I had to stay with her for the whole night in the hospital. I even advanced the money for medicines.”

She says they have to suffer through hunger and sleeplessness during those times of emergency. She, however, quips that those sacrifices were part of the job.

There are upsides, however. “There were cases when they give us food as a token of gratitude for bringing them to the hospital,” Judits says.

Kapatiran is indeed “home.” “We had petty quarrels like real families but these are quickly resolved,” says Mommy Fath. “The staff are like real brothers and sisters. The residents are my children.”

“I remember when a resident gave me a bouquet made of Choc-Nut chocolates for Valentine’s Day. It was like my own child giving me a gift,” recounts Mommy Fath.

“It is fun to serve,” says Weng. “We explain to the residents that their payments are used for programs and services when they check-in.”

The memorable events for the Dorm Assistants are the parties and the Friday movie marathons while having dinner. They say sharing a meal with the residents is, indeed, memorable. Despite the hardships and the petty quarrels, Kapatiran dorm is “home” where everyone is happy. As Malou describes the feeling: “Walang hanggang kasiyahan.”

LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCES

by Nancy C. Nicolas

 

“It was a life-changing experience,” I told the staff members during the Monday morning worship of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI). I was referring to my month-long stay in Maui, Hawaii to study evangelism and discipleship in the prestigious Haggai Institute.

Yes, you read it right—one month. The punishing mental calisthenics forced my brain muscles, dormant for some time, to move. Which should be a welcome development, I guess.

This brings me to what I learned about the things that occurred during my prolonged study leave. On the staff’s part, they also endured muscle punishment, but this time, however, not the mental variety. And not only muscles but also joints and ligaments. Not to mention the bruises their individual egos suffer every time someone comments about their performance.

You see, all departments of KKFI–the staff, volunteers, regular participants and even some KKFI dorm residents—are expected to come up with their respective presentation during the 67th founding anniversary celebration of the Foundation this coming July 20. And just like the celebrations in the past few years, this year’s celebration is expected to be as spectacular, if not more.

This year, KKFI is honouring the KKFI dormitories, which is a very crucial part of its existence. Without it, the social development programs, which has brought a lot of praises and honour to Kapatiran, would not be as far-reaching and effective. The dorms are the lifeblood of KKFI programs.

So, it is easy to surmise that the staff, volunteers and dorm residents have been practicing their dance presentations. That was actually the idea—to represent the decades of existence of the dorms through dances. Hence, the muscle pains, etc.

During the worship, Ms Nitz Nicolas echoed the sentiments of other staff. “Please allow the staff continue our practice sessions even after the anniversary celebration, would you?” she asked me. Obviously, in spite of the pain, they experienced joy in the activity. Aside from that, she said, it brought the staff closer. This means they now work more harmoniously together. Hence, they are motivated to accomplish more for the KKFI that ever before.

I was amazed by the news since I was set to intentionally integrate evangelism and discipleship in every program and activity of KKFI and I would need them to be motivated in helping accomplish this end, which is one of the commitments to Haggai Institute.

So I didn’t hesitate to tell Ate Nitz and the staff, “Of course, I will support your proposal. I have no reason to discontinue a good practice, especially if it will help KKFI in reaching its goals.”

I felt good about these developments. Like them, I found joy, too, despite going through pains. But patience, indeed, is a virtue. At the end of the tunnel, one will find joy.

So it was not only I who was undergoing a life-changing experience in Hawaii these past few weeks. Unknown to me then, my staff was also experiencing the same. Now that the teamwork and motivation of KKFI staff stronger than ever, we are ready for another level of achievement.

The KKFI, too, will start a new year in its life. It must prove that, in spite of its age, it is still driven for success, still eager to assist the needy, flexible and open enough to try new things that will lift up the lives of the poor and glorify God.

TRULY A ‘HOME AWAY FROM HOME’

by Dorothy Grace Daroy-Marcelo

 

It was summer of 1996 when me and my Mom travelled the land and sea from the beautiful island of Mindanao to Manila to pursue my studies.  I was one of the few blessed ladies around the country to receive a scholarship from Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation, Inc. and it was my first time to be a thousand miles away from my family.

As scholars, we were given the opportunity to live and stay at the Hugh Wilson Hall Dormitory which is within the KKFI’s compound. The room I shared with 5 other scholars was big enough for us and we were like sisters living in a big house! Our Dorm Managers whom we fondly called “Mommy” were like our second moms who looked after us. We always ran to them whenever we needed something. And because of that, I was able to adapt quickly within my new environment and built strong relationship with my fellow residents.

Graduation
Dorothy Grace Daroy-Marcelo during her graduation

I remembered a lot of memories, one incident I should say is that when it flooded we helped our dorm managers in putting the things in higher places then cleaned the lobby and the KKFI compound when the water subsided. It took team work to get things done.

I also enjoyed those times when we needed to help in manning the reception where we were able to mingle with other residents and learned the reception duties. And on the naughty side, when we have to do our laundry in the bathroom though it was not allowed and we need to hide our laundry from our dorm managers.

I have a lot of people that I remember, can’t name them all – to name a few KKFI staff: Mrs. Priscilla Atuel, Mrs, Nellie Mercado, Dr. Cindy Ang, Ate Lina, Mommy Pinay, Mommy Evelyn, Mommy Eda, Mommy Ugay, Kuya Joltz, Kuya Melchor, Ate Malou, Ate Glenda, Kuya Danny, Rev. Ruby-Nell Estrella, and the 39 scholars of batch 2000 and some from batch 1998.

KKFI dorm that time was clean and spacious (not crowded compared to other dorms around university belt), conducive for learning, with different facilities to use, safe and secured.  I stayed in 4th floor for 4 years, had to climb up and down the stairs everyday before I moved to 3rd floor when I was already working. We only have electric fans, no air-condition units at that time, no elevators.

KKFI playground
Dorothy Grace Daroy-Marcelo, seated with her classmates at the KKFI grounds.

KKFI has played a great role in my life – being a recipient of its scholarship, I was blessed to complete my studies and finished with high grades. Living closely with over 50 scholars from all over the Philippines in the entire 4th floor made me learn and adapt with different cultures and personalities. I learned to become more independent and develop trust with other people apart from my family, building strong relationship.  I was able to manage my studies and other responsibilities assigned to us as scholars, helping KKFI with its programs with the elderly, children, drug dependents and building community as well as growing spiritually.  With my experience at KKFI, I have continued to work in various UMC institution i.e. Northwest Metro Manila District office, Mary Johnston Hospital before I left to work abroad in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

image1
She has been living in the UAE for 10 years where she improved her interpersonal skills working with a multicultural environment, making an impact in people’s lives in her chosen career.”

I didn’t had chance to visit KKFI since I left the Philippines in 2007 but I believe that there are a lot of improvements, looking at the pictures online and would love to visit and stay as transient should I get the opportunity when I go home for vacation.

For me KKFI is truly a home away from home, it was a comfortable haven for me and their staff were friendly and considerate to us, they treated us like their children/younger sisters – we’re like a big family! My family also didn’t worry much when I was in Manila because they know that I live within the United Methodist Church’ institution and that I was taken care of even we’re miles apart.

As a UMC institution, KKFI plays a big part in transforming lives of people from little children, to youths and the elderly. I commend the staff and members of KKFI for their dedication and commitment in serving people and God and I hope and pray that KKFI will always be true to its mission in seeking the lost and feeding the hungry, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I hope that KKFI will continue with the scholarship and drug rehabilitation program (not sure if this is back in place) which was stopped during/after our time.

I would like to congratulate KKFI on its 67th Anniversary and I pray for longer years to be at service to the nation. May our good Lord continue to bless its programs and mission and showers His abundant blessings to all.  To God be the glory!

 

(Dorothy Grace Daroy-Marcelo is among last batch (1996-2000) of the Scholarship Program under the tenure of Mrs. Priscilla R. Atuel, fifth KKFI Executive Director. She studied Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Major in Marketing at the Philippine School of Business Administration, Morayta and stayed on in the dorm for another 2 years. Dorothy is now working as Cluster Recruitment Manager for the Wyndham Hotel Group in Dubai, UAE. She has been living in the UAE for 10 years where she improved her interpersonal skills working with a multicultural environment. She is actively serving in The First United Methodist Church in Dubai.)