by Glenda B. Gutierrez

Geraldine Maguddato, 22, says her Alternative Learning System (ALS) credentials helped her find a job. Aldine, as she is fondly called, was able to attend ALS classes for a few months, from September 2015 to April 2016.

“I was 17 when I stopped schooling. I was then in the second level of high school. With ALS, it just took me a few months to graduate,” she said. Immediately after, she took the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) examination of the Department of Education (DepEd) and passed.

Almost instantly, she found herself being accepted as a sales lady at the 3F Family Savers in Carriedo Street in Manila.

Aldine said she was not able to attend formal high school because her family could not stay in one place for very long. They had no permanent residence. She remembered forcing to move out of their house in Quiapo because it was up for demolition by the police. They squatted in a private property whose owner thought of developing the land.

They could not afford a better place. Her father was an electronics electrician and he did not earn enough to pay the monthly rental fee for even a room decent enough for his family. Aldine knew the story very well—several delayed payments followed by eviction. This thing happened so many times that Aldine lost count.

She learned about the KKFI ALS program from Alyssa Ocampo, her aunt’s neighbor with whom she was staying temporarily. Alyssa, who just passed the A&E exam, encouraged her to try it. Aldine could tell how positive her friend was who just recently was able to pass the entrance exam of a college.

Aldine thanks KKFI for the opportunity to finish high school and to learn other new skills learned. She became a participant of KKFI’s Youth Lead, Educate and Advocate for Development (YLEAD) camp held in September 2015.
“I learned how to become a leader in YLEAD,” Aldine said, beaming. The leadership skills she learned probably helped her in finding a job. However, she had to resign eventually because of low salary despite the management plan to promote her to an officer-in-charge of sales. In any case, this knowledge that the company’s management had recognized her potential made her confidence grow.

In YLEAD, Aldine leaned the value of responsible financial management. She has since saved for her education and plans to take up Hotel and Restaurant Management course in the near future.

“I would like to thank KKFI, especially Sir Vince Eliver, who encouraged me to continue my studies. All my needs in the ALS were provided for free,” Aldine said.

“I also thank all the KKFI staff who showed only kindness to me.” She proudly boasted that she has a new job now. “I have been hired at Isetann Department Store,” she said. “I only need to submit my high school diploma and other requirements.”

Indeed, education is a means to better life. Like Aldine who was able to use her high school diploma to get a better-paying job, more young people may follow her footsteps and enrol in KKFI ALS program.

The KKFI is currently conducting ALS sessions for the residents of Sampaloc, Tondo, Manila North Cemetery and Navotas City.



by Larren Jo N. Basilio

After a 10-month hiatus, my fate brought me to Manila once more. Peacefully living in the isthmus of Bataan where I enjoyed the fresh air, morning breeze, and green pastures, my body longed to respond to my first call–service—both community involvement and youth empowerment.

Teaching is part of our family heritage. Most of us are involved in this ministry. In fact, for the last eight years, I was part of 6 Daily Vacation Church Schools in Bataan. I used to teach in Sitio Boracay, which is the total opposite of Boracay in Aklan. Houses there are made with wood planks. The community is quite isolated that one needs to take a short ride on a raft. Everything in Sitio Boracay is superlative.

Haunted house, vampires, manananggal, white lady, name it. These were the first words that popped in my mind on my first attempt to visit Manila North Cemetery as Likharal teacher. I stared puzzled at every mausoleum filled with appliances, mausoleums that serve as flower shops and sari-sari stores, and home for the living and the dead at the same time. It sounds crazy but, yes, it is real! For my longest time living in this world, it was the most shocking community I have ever seen.

Larren Jo Basilio, fondly known as LJ, leading in a prayer during the Likharal at the Manila North Cemetery.

My first day was disastrous. Nobody was listening. I tried every single strategy I usually do and nothing seemed to work. I asked one of my students, a nine-year-old, who was staring blankly at some object.

“Anong natutunan mo?” “Wala,” he replied, to my dismay.

“Ano na lang narinig mo sa kwento ko kanina?” I continued.

“Wala, hindi ako nakikinig. Iba iniisip ko,” he answered in a very strong voice.

“Anong iniisip mo?”

“Kung ano pwede kong pagkakitaan mamayang hapon.”

“Hingi ka na lang kila mama at papa mo.” I urged.

And he replied fiercer, “Baka ako pa nga magbigay doon e.”

I was at a loss for words for a moment. I didn’t know why but, somehow, I feel the burden that this child was bearing. He and his friends chose to stay away from the group. I continuously approached these boys and kept on feeling the atmosphere.

After some time they started sharing their stories. Most of them dropped from school and their ages are no longer suitable to their last grade level, making it harder for them to come back. Days passed and the class of 30 was divided into three.

“Bawal ang pangit sa grupo namin; dapat magaganda lang lahat,” an 11-year-old uttered.

A commotion broke out 20 steps away from me after class when another girl shouted “Gyera na!”

Emotions were stirred and one thing led to another, prompting a understandably nervous parent to whisk her daughter away from the scene.

Earlier during a game, a group refused to accept defeat and initiated a fight. I was caught off-guard. When confronted them, nobody wanted to take the blame. I tried to talk to both sides, but they both ignored me. What they wanted was to continue throwing punches at each other. I admit I was at a loss of what to do at that moment.

Teaching the good news (the theme of Likharal 2017 was “Tell the Good News”) was really a huge challenge! I could not even tell if my students learned anything. They seemed vent on denying me the pleasure of knowing they absorbed something, anything!, from me. I wanted to give up and let the week just pass me by. But then I was reminded of our Likharal’s lesson: the Lord empowered Paul, formerly known as Saul, to tell the good news perseveringly amidst imprisonment.

LJ (left with Flor Tatoy and James Aguilar teaching a dance during the LIkharal.

I was reminded that when Jesus called His disciples, they were not at their best. It is the series of tests that made them faithful followers of Christ. It is the series of tests that enabled them to see the unbelievable and fight for the doubtable. It is through and by faith that they were able to follow Christ while He was preaching, healing, and praying. And once when the disciples doubted, Jesus got up and calmed the storm.

“Bakit ka bumabangon?” One time Ate Love told me after a very tiring day of ALS class. “It is because you love and care for them.” That is the exact feeling I have for my Likharal students. This time I cannot be what I once was. I could not make them silent, I chose to be with them in making noise. As the saying goes, “If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em.” I chose to enjoy and learn what others see as a chaotic world. I mingled and tried to understand. I learned not to beg for what they cannot give. In a dim world, I lit a candle of hope, telling them that I strongly believe in their capabilities. I knew from the start that they might not memorize the things I taught them, but I trust that they will not forget them. What the mind can’t remember, the heart can.


FB_IMG_1494578213164ni Joanna Marie Merced
Matapos ang dalawang taong pakikibahagi ko sa “LikhAral” ng Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI), dumating din ang pinakahihintay kong pagkakataon ngayong taon na ito.
Dati ay tagasaway lamang ako ng mga makukulit na batang kasali sa LikhAral. Bukod nga pala dito ay taga-ayos din ako ng mga kalat at tagabili ng pagkain ng mga mag-aaral at titser na nagutom matapos ang dalawang oras na sesyon. Ngunit ngayon taong ito, iba na ang level ko. Isa na ako sa mga guro ng LikhAral!
Nag-umpisa ito nang anyayahan ako ni Ate Christian Love D. Gagno na maging bahagi ng “Trainor’s Training” na ginanap sa Baguio City ilang buwan lamang ang nakakaraan. Nakasama ko doon sina Flora Mae Tatoy at Raquel Fabre, na pawang staff ng KKFI. Maraming iba pa ang nakasali sa nasabing pagsasanay at sila ay pawang nagmula sa mga local churches ng United Methodist Church (UMC).
“Tell the Good News” ang tema ng Vacation Church School (VCS) ngayong taon, at ito ay pinag-aralan namin sa loob ng tatlong araw. Ang mga participants ng training ang may responsableng ipahayag ang nasabing mensahe. Naitanong ko tuloy sa aking sarili: “Kaya ko ba?”
Ito at iba pang mga tanong ang naglaro sa aking utak. Siyempre pa, kinakabahan ako pero, ewan ko ba, may galak akong naramdaman sa aking puso. Totoong natutuwa ako sa karanasang aking pinagdaanan sa Baguio. Nakakilala ako ng mga gurong may kanya-kanyang katangian at kakayahan. May masungit at may mabait. Ngunit hindi ko naramdamang hadlang ang iba’t ibang pinagmulan dahil iisa lamang ang aming layunin—ang maipalaganap ang Mabuting Balita sa mga kabataang lalahok sa VCS, o ang KKFI version nito na LikhAral.
Nakakatuwang isipin na may iba’t ibang pamamaraan upang ipahayag ang pag-ibig ng Diyos sa sanlibutan. Sa Baguio, nakita ko kung paanong pinagsama-sama ng Panginoon ang mga taong hindi magkakakilala upang magkaisa. Sadyang kahanga-hanga kung paano itinuturo ang pag-aaral ng mga kanta, ang paggawa ng mga bagay-bagay mula sa malikhaing kamay ng mga kalahok at ang paglalagay ng tamang aksyon sa mga liriko ng kanta.
Tinuruan kami kung paano magpatawad at humingi ng tawad sa mga taong nakasakit at nasaktan namin. Kung magagawa umano ito, masasabi mo na kung kaya mong magpalaganap ang salita ng Diyos.
Maaaring maiksi lamang ang tatlong araw sa ganoong klase ng pagsasanay pero ang mga aral na natutunan ko ay naipunla na sa aking puso at isipan. Siyempre, hindi natatapos sa Baguio ang aking pagkakatuto sapagkat ibinahagi namin nina Flor at Raquel ang aming mga natutunan sa mga kabataan mula sa Tondo, Manila North Cemetery at Bulacan. Ang isang guro ay patuloy na natututo habang siya ay nagtuturo.
Ang pinakamahalaga kong natutunan ay ang katotohanang Malaki ang impact ng tatlong araw na LikhAral sa buhay ng mga bata. Nakakagalak sa aking puso ang makita silang nagpupursigeng magawa ang iniatas sa kanilang gawain. Kay gandang tingnan na ginagamit nila ang kanilang malikhaing kamay, mga boses, mga kamay at paa sa pagsunod sa liriko at ritmo ng bawat kanta.
Wala ngang imposible sa Panginoon. Sino ang mag-aakala na 40 kabataan ng Tondo ang tatanggap sa leksyon ukol sa pag-ibig ng Diyos? Kaya’t ang epekto sa akin nito ay tagos sa aking pagkatao dahil nakakataba ng puso ang kaalamang mahal ka ng mga kabataang-Tondo.
Alam kong naituro namin nang maayos ang mga dapat matutunan ng aming mga estudyante, na siya namang magtuturo sa mga batang lalahok sa limang araw na pag-aaral sa Tondo, Paredes, MNC at Bulacan. At hindi nga nila kami binigo dahil maayos nilang naisagawa ang LikhAral sa mga lugar na nabanggit.
Nakakapagdulot ng ligaya na maisalin sa mga estudyante ang mga leksyong aming natutunan sa Baguio. Kung minsan nga ay nananaginip ako na nagtuturo ako at nag-uunahang sumagot sa tanong ang aking mga mag-aaral, sumasali sa bawat palaro, gumuguhit gamit ang krayola at papel at nagbabasa ng mga assignment.
Alam naming hindi perpekto ang aming mga nagawa. Maaaring may kulang. Pero tiwala kaming naihayag namin ang kailangang iparating na tema na “Tell the Good News.” Nananampalataya ako na ang bawat batang nakilahok sa LikhAral—sa kanyang bawat pagkanta, pagkembot sa saliw ng awit, pag-memorya ng Bible verse at pagpapatotoo na mahal sila ng Diyos—ay nakapiling ang Panginoong Jesus sa mga panahong iyon.
Alam ko na hindi natatapos dito ang mga katuruang inihatid namin. Sa kapangyarihan ni Jesus, ito ay simula lamang.



By Glenda B. Gutierrez


“I am happy because I have proven to myself that despite poverty, one can succeed,” shared by Hazel Dungog, 22 in the vernacular. “I was determined to succeed because I do not want to disappoint or break the trust given by Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) management and staff.”

Hazel, a KKFI scholar, is the first Alternative Learning System (ALS) passer to finish a four-year college course. She belongs to the first batch of students in Sampaloc, Manila who pioneered the ALS program of KKFI in August 2011.

Hazel Dungog during the graduations rites at the University of Manila last March 31, 2017

Last March 31, she graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Criminology from the University of Manila.

In my previous interview with Hazel in March 2013, I have seen how determined she was to achieve her dreams. She was teary-eyed when she narrated to the hardships she was undergoing.

She is eldest of five children of a construction worker. Though their mother helps augment the family’s income by accepting laundry and selling bananas, their income was not enough. Hazel had to stop going to school and help earn money.

“Before, my dream was just to graduate and pass the board examination and be a faithful and honorable law enforcer. Now, I want to give a better and comfortable life for my family,” expressed by Hazel.

“I am thankful to KKFI for being supportive. They even gave me a place to stay during my last year in the university,” added Hazel.

Hazel was referring to her one-year stay at Kapatiran dormitory when their rented room in Mayhaligue, Sta. Cruz, Manila was demolished. Though they were able to save money for the room rental fee and down payment when they stayed at their grandparents’ place, the room they could afford was too small.

She said she enjoyed staying at the dormitory where she was comfortable. She was a diligent student whose routine is dorm-school, home-dorm.

Most of all, she is thankful to KKFI for giving her a chance to finish school and achieve her dreams.

“I am grateful to see and know the importance of education,” she exclaimed. She added, “I am happy to experience the importance of unity in a group and to be able to participate in the activities of KKFI.”

Hazel was referring to her stint as a volunteer assistant teacher at the Child Development Center and as a teacher at the LikhAral (Create and Learn) Program. She was also able to experience the Lakbay-Aral and team-building activities for KKFI staff and volunteers.

Hazel, leftmost with her fellow Likharal teacher, Judith Ramirez and their students

At present, Hazel is working as a collector at the CMDCO Cooperative. She believes in the mission of CMDCO to help vendors expand their business and to increase their capital by providing loans to these vendors at low interest rates.

Hazel plans to continue working while reviewing for the comprehensive examination for would-be law enforcers. She intends to save as much as she can in order to help out in her family’s expenses.

She advised her fellow scholars and ALS students to continue what they started and to never give up and give in to trials and difficulties. She said they should focus on their dreams and be determined to succeed and not to break the trust given by KKFI and to prove that it did not make a mistake in helping them.

Her wish for KKFI is stability. She hopes KKFI will continue its mission of helping the needy and underprivileged. She prays that KKFI would have more recipients and beneficiaries.

“Thank you to all the staff of KKFI in the Administration, Resource Development and Program departments most especially to Sir Vincent Eliver, Sir Rex Dayao, Ma’am Nancy Nicolas, Ate Love Gagno and Ate Judith Ramirez,” as Hazel enumerated the staff who proved instrumental in her success.

“Thanks too to the donors and partners of KKFI like Ma’am Ruth Flores, Sir David Ahearn, Sir Philip Myers and to the LaGrange College.”

In conclusion, she thanked everyone for the unending support and assistance to the scholars and ALS students, saying, “May God bless you. Mabuhay po kayong lahat!”


By Nancy C. Nicolas

Executive Director


A loud cheer greeted the Rev. Olympia  “Oly” Hidalgo’s announcement during today’s (May 2, 2017) morning devotion of Kapatiran staff that she will stay as the chaplain of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI).

The Philippine Annual Conference (PAC), where the KKFI belongs, held its yearly meeting in Tagaytay Mission Camp in Tagaytay City last week. On the last day of the holy conferencing, Manila Episcopal Area (MEA) Resident Bishop Ciriaco “Cerrie” Francisco announced the church assignments of pastors and deaconesses. Some of them had new assignments and some were retained.

“You have to bear with me a little while longer,” she told the KKFI staff jokingly. Pastor Oly is set to go to Iowa state in the United States a few months from now (probably August 2017) to do mission work there as a United Methodist Church (UMC) church worker. It was an assignment she had been waiting for in more than a year.

Bishop Francisco’s decision was what exactly Pastor Oly was praying for.  She needed to be assigned within Metro Manila, at least, to allow her to work on her visa for her U.S. assignment. She was almost assigned to a mission church located in a remote part of Batangas. She had to ask for DS Max Gabriel and Bishop Francisco’s understanding and consideration in order to make her wish come true.

Of course, I am very happy to welcome back Pastor Oly, even if only for a few months more. I am also very glad that Pastor Maricel Osias, Pastor Oly’s replacement once she leaves for the U.S. sometime between this month and August, agreed to wait.

Rev. Oly Marcos-Hidalgo

Choosing the chaplain for KKFI must be a bit more difficult for the bishop. The chaplain of Kapatiran must possess certain qualities that should fit the position. Aside from the KKFI staff, the “congregation” of the chaplain includes the 300 dorm residents, the beneficiaries of KKFI program such as the students of Alternative Learning System (ALS) and scholars, the senior citizens who gather weekly to join the Day Center for the Elderly and the total population of the University Belt (U-Belt) in Manila where the Kapatiran compound is located.

I also glad to have female pastors as chaplains of KKFI. We are contemplating on coming up with an aggressive campaign against sex predators in the U-Belt. I had a chance to talk to an acquaintance who happens to be active in the fight against human trafficking and sexual abuse. I was aghast when he told me of pastors of the church and professors of universities who take advantage of their young female church members or students sexually.

Hence, a female pastor as KKFI chaplain is a preferred choice. She has a long list of things to do for the Foundation. Only one thing I can assure her: Working in KKFI as a chaplain is an exciting and memorable experience.

Again, I greet Pastor Oly a big “Welcome Back!” I am also looking forward to the time Pastor Maricel will start working for KKFI as the head of its Pastoral Care Department (PCD).

Pastor Maricel is not new to KKFI. She stayed with us when she, her husband Darryl and their cute one-year-old daughter was still looking for an apartment to rent. Pastor Maricel is from Mindanao, where she and Darryl, the Administrative Assistant of Bishop Francisco, first met.

Osias family
Ptr. Maricel Osias with husband, Darryl, and baby

When the bishop was re-elected last year, he chose the Manila Episcopal Area (MEA) and reappointed Darryl to the latter post. Hence, the whole Osias family needed to transfer from Kidapawan City to Manila. And, yes, the bishop also decided to appoint Pastor Maricel to the chaplaincy of KKFI.

So, to Pastor Oly and Pastor Maricel, the whole KKFI family says: “Welcome back home!”


by Rev. Julie Schendel

(Rev. Julie Schendel is one of the faculty members of the LaGrange College, Georgia, USA who participated in an immersion program of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) in January 2016 and January 2017. She is also the  Associate Pastor at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church. We are reposting her blog last Januaray 12, 2017 in so that more partners may be aware of our programs and services. Readers may visit her blogsite as she made a lot of posts in her 2-year stint at KKFI.)


Welcome to the world of Manila’s poorest citizens: Manila North Cemetery. Actually, even that’s being generous, since the government doesn’t recognize them as citizens. Since many can’t afford to be born in a hospital, they have no birth certificate, and therefore no identity. Their greatest hope to gain any kind of ID comes through baptism. They can use their baptismal certificate to prove who they are and start the process of becoming a citizen. How’s that for gaining a new identity? Get baptized, gain new life in Christ, gain new life in your community.

Manila North Cemetery (MNC) is 54 acres filled with beautiful mausoleums and 10,000 residents, above ground. There are countless other permanent residents encased in granite and concrete, serving as beds and tables for those who share their space to make their homes.

Most of the families that live in the cemetery are employed by the relatives of those buried. Wealthier families hire individuals to keep their mausoleums and crypts clean and free from vandalism. In exchange, they get to live there, rent free, and since there is no electricity or running water, there are no additional bills. Earning about $1 a day, families struggle to feed all their kids.

There are benefits to living in a cemetery besides the free rent. Everyone jokes that it’s peaceful, the neighbors are quiet, etc. It’s built on higher ground, so the space is less likely to flood during typhoon season. What might be most significant, for better or worse, is the sense of community. Most homeless living on the street may be scattered here and there, but never really feel like they have the support of neighbors. In the cemetery, everyone lives in close quarters. There are small stores along the corners to purchase snacks, toiletries, and other necessities. And there are people all around. Families pile in together, older siblings take care of the littles, and there is always someone nearby to help with laundry, motorcycle repair, or to teach the children. Since there aren’t always solid walls on the mausoleums, it’s hard to hide. Neighbors can call through your entrance gate, or simply look in to see if you’re home. While it may lead to a loss of privacy, there’s this sense that everyone’s in this together, and it brings a closeness to the community.


Erica, a KKFI scholar, showing us her home.

With everyone in such close quarters, it’s easy for things to get dangerous, especially for young girls. Fights break out, drunks can stumble into the wrong home or even intentionally abduct the women. Then there’s the stigma that comes from living in a cemetery. People on the outside shun most of the community. If children go to public school, they get teased and called ghosts or witches, accused of eating the dead. Most can’t handle the taunting and drop out of school, which kills their chances of ever breaking free from this environment. All the more reason for KKFI to step in and lead programs offering a glimmer of hope.

Our assignment was to lead 4-6 year olds in Supervised Neighborhood Play.

We were told these kids were ages 4-6, but their size made them look 2-4. It was a rainy day in the cemetery, so 32 kids were gathered together on an 8 foot square tarp, under a makeshift roof in the mausoleum.

At first, they weren’t too sure about their foreign visitors. They don’t get outside the walls of the cemetery much, and many have never seen people with skin as white as ours. A couple of kids laughed as we circled up and they saw my skin next to theirs. Pointing back and forth between our arms they giggled…”brown, white, brown, white.”

Once the games began, the giggles exploded, and the joy these children shared was contagious. If you ignored the crypts surrounding us, you’d never know these kids grew up in an environment worthy of nightmares. This was life for them, and they were resilient. I saw several kids fall flat on their face on the concrete, look stunned for a second, then jump up to brush themselves off and keep going, no tears or shrieks were uttered. Mothers or older sisters were always nearby, tending to the littlest and making sure they felt included in the group.

Despite the rough environment, these kids are bright and patient and loving. They’re quick to forgive, gracious to whatever is given them, and as curious and playful as any other children their age. After spending the day with them, I found myself inspired. After being shunned because others see them as different, they easily welcomed strangers into their homes and their lives. After scrounging for any advantage they can get, they’re quick to share with their siblings and care for their family. After growing up surrounded by death, they still strive for a future and keep finding life. And that is a beautiful thing.

The Privilege of Serving

Halie DeGuzman


Since being in the Philippines, the homeland I never knew, many people have asked me how I’ve enjoyed my stay.

I’ve been living with a host-family and interning with Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) for nearly three months and I have learned more during this time than I ever have before.

My experience with KKFI thus far has been educative, enlightening, and inspiring in many ways. I have learned not only about the way an NGO functions both organizationally and relationally but, more importantly, how those who have a heart for the poor and marginalized turn their “calling” into tangible work that improves the lives of families and communities.

I have been able to observe several of KKFI’s ongoing programs in various communities including the Livelihood Training in Tigbe, Supervised Neighborhood Play in Manila North Cemetery, the CDC kinder classes, and the ALS youth class.

While these programs are unique, the commonality between them is the beauty and authenticity of the people they involve.

The women in the Livelihood Training program, most of them mothers, are intelligent, eager to learn, and encourage one another.

The children in Manila North Cemetery have wonderful laughs and marvelous minds and their devoted parents only want the best for them.

The children in the CDC are so very malikut but bright, happy, and good learners. The ALS youth are incredibly cool teenagers who I admire for their desire and dedication to continue their education.

From spending time with each of these groups, I have learned that there is something to learn from everyone, regardless of their age, gender, or background. I am also extremely thankful for the welcome, hospitality, and care everyone here at KKFI has shared with me. I am thankful for those who have brought me with them into the communities or allowed me to observe their classes despite my limited capacity to truly help since I can hardly speak Tagalog.

All of the staff members have been very kind and patient in answering all my questions, taking the time to explain things, and, of course, making sure I eat lunch!

I love the way the staff and volunteers relate to one another like a family, as family is surely the most important virtue and value of life in the Philippines. And these relations are extended to the communities as everyone works together to bring about the peace, social justice, and progress of the Filipino people.

Maraming maraming salamat to everyone at KKFI for a wonderful experience so far.

I count it a privilege and blessing to learn from you and be welcome here.