(We are re-posting the the article on Eureka Joy Bueno, a loyal dormitory resident who stayed at the Kapatiran dormitory from 1997 to 2014 as part of the 67th Founding Anniversary celebration. This was first published in the 2013 Annual Report.)
Eureka Joy Bueno is one of the “big sisters” at the KKFI dormitory. She came to Manila in 1993 to continue her studies at the Philippine Christian University. She was a transferee from Saint Paul University.
In 1995, she worked as a secretary for a Chinese couple who owns a hardware business. It was in May 1997 when she decided to reside at KKFI to be with her younger sister, who was a resident from 1996 to 2000.
Joy was taking up a master’s degree in counseling at the De La Salle University (DLSU) when she was admitted to the KKFI dormitory.
Her family learned about KKFI dormitories from their pastor’s wife whose daughter had a reservation at KKFI. Since she was accepted at Mary Johnston College, they thought of transferring their reservation to Joy’s sister.
Joy said she likes KKFI because it gave her a safe place to stay.
“It has been home for me and I also found my second family here in the person of housemothers and dorm residents,” she said.
The dorm had a lot of activities to offer, such as acquaintance parties, Christmas parties, and most of all the weekly cell groups that started in 2004 and lasted up to 2008.
“It opened doors and increased my network of friends,” she pointed out.
Joining KKFI program and activities strengthened her passion to reach out to the community.
Her personal dream is to be a channel of blessing not just to her own family but to the community. She also wishes that her family will also feel the same passion she has in reaching out to people in need.
“KKFI has helped me see others as I see myself. To be more giving and to think of others’ needs first before one’s self,” she said.
She expressed hope that KKFI will continue its mission and vision to empower the people in the community.
Her message to KKFI staff, donors and stakeholders: “I would like to commend the efforts that KKFI staff put into their work — their going beyond the call of duty to serve and to be excellent in their work and for providing a warm and friendly accommodation for residents like myself. To the donors and stakeholders, I say, ‘thank you and may you be richly blessed for your generosity’.”
(In celebration of the 67th Founding Anniversary of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI), we are featuring several notable former dormitory residents in our blogsite. Dr. Marie Pearl Cabrera-Francisco’s 17 years stay in the dormitory is indeed notable. We are re-posting her story which was featured in the Second Semester 2015 issue of the Kapatiran Newsletter.
Who would want to stay in a dormitory for students for 17 long years? A student, might spend from four to six years tops,but 17 years?
Believe it or not, a young lady doctor stayed at the dorm of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) called the Hugh Wilson Hall once upon a time.Starting late 1970s, in fact. Actually, she stayed in KKFI a year longer than she did in her hometown, Olongapo City.
No wonder Dr. Marie Pearl Cabrera-Francisco called the Hugh Wilson Hall “my home.” She said sheenjoyed her stay at the dorm immensely all though out for almost two decades.
Dr. Marie Pearl said the canteen’s foodswere like those she her mother prepares at home.Even how the dorm’s house mothers took care of her reminded her of her own mother’s unwavering affection.
She remembered how the house mothers would encourage the dorm residents to study well. Though at times they were strict, the residents knew that it was their way of disciplining them.
She added that at the dorm, inter-rooming was prohibited to ensure privacy among students, especially during at night. The house mothers would always see to it that everybody was in their respective rooms during bed time.
Visiting hours lasts only for an hour starting at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. After that visitors were not allowed anymore.
She was a freshman Psychology student at Far Eastern University in 1978. She continued her studies, took up medicine proper and graduated in 1988. She could have transferred to a more expensive dormitory after finishing her medicine studies, but she decided to stay at KKFI Hugh Wilson Hall. She went on to earn her residency training on Family Medicine at the Far Eastern University (FEU)Hospital until 1995.
Dr. Marie narrated that during her time at Hugh Wilson Hall, all residents were required to eat breakfast at the huge dining hall. Before breakfast was served at 6 in the morning, a reading from the Upper Room was read. The Chaplain assigned each resident to read.
The huge hall had plenty of study tables with a piano. The sound of the piano, particularly to Dr. Marie who played the piano herself, helped them unwind from the school requirements.
Actually, that was something she was proud about, what she considered to be her greatest contributions to KKFI—that she became a pianist there for 17 years at the dorm during worship services and in every event conducted in the dorm.
Also as a medical student, she helped residents who were sick and ill. She found it fulfilling to do such acts of service to other people.
During her time, the Chaplain conducted various activities and ministries among students. Bible Study sessions, prayers, and vesper services every Wednesday and Sunday helped them grow spiritually. Dr. Marie said her relationship with God grew intimately during this time.
Other activities at Hugh Wilson Hall which they really enjoyed were the welcoming of students in mid-June, the organization of student council in July. September is the big sister and small sister (monito-monita). December was the traditional Christmas dinner wearing formal dresses. The month of February was a Valentine Day dance at the gym, while March was recognition day honoring graduates and awardees among the residents. These activities made the relationship of the residents closer and stronger.
“We are a family at KKFI, I was really at home!” she reminisced.
She fondly remembered the time when the Kapatiran management provided dormers with telephone lines. She was reviewing for the board examination at that point and access to other reviewees outside the dorm made life so much easier for her.
Truly, Kapatiran, she said, was a place where Christian values are formed compared with other dormitories around the University belt which are run in a business like.
“It’s nice to be home again! I missed this place. It has been 20 years now since I left KKFI,” said Dr. Marie.
She and her husband, Mabini Francisco,with their 15-year-old daughter, Katherine, came last June 16, 2015 from Stockton, California to visit KKFI. The Franciscos were with members of a medical mission team
While talking with KKFI and have known the noble and
She came to know that Kapatiran has changed a lot since her dorm days. During a talk with Executive Director Nancy C. Nicolas, she learned about the expanded ministries of KKFI, especially to the disadvantaged children and youth. She said she was challenged to come back.
“Lord willing, our medical mission team will come back to help KKFI in one of its projects and ministries,” Dr. Marie said.
She said she would be thrilled to attend a reunion with old residents of Hugh Wilson Hall. She said that the KKFI dorm have produced so many doctors, dentists, lawyers and even a beauty queen.
“Her name is Lorna Legaspi of Centro Escolar University. She won the Mutyang Pilipinas for Miss Asia Quest in 1988-1999,” she recalled.
Her ultimate dream for Hugh Wilson Hall, a candidate for National Heritage Award, is its renovation. She was sure former residents like her would chip in to a renovation fund.
After all, who wouldn’t want “her home” to be renovated?
After the People Power Revolt in mid-1980s, the Philippines was flooded by the international funding agencies with aids to help rebuild democracy after a decade and a half of dictatorship. As a consequence, non-government organizations (NGOs) sprouted like mushrooms after a rainy night of thunderstorm. In the 1990s, however, the wind (or more accurately, the attention of funding Gods from the United States, Europe and Japan) shifted direction, leaving the foreign fund-dependent Philippine NGOs drained of their all-important life-blood.
This trend went on up this day and the civil society in the country is still reeling big-time. The tragic fate of many of our NGO-colleagues make us appreciate more how blessed Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI), formerly the Methodist Social Center.
We especially are grateful for having pioneers and leaders who had the foresight so secure the sustainability of the Foundation. I am particularly referring to KKFI founder Ms Madaleine Klepper, Mrs. Ruth G. Prudente, and Mrs. Nellie Mercado. The former was granted by the Women Foreign Missionary Society of the United States the land where KKFI is now located which was formally transferred to KKFI when Mrs. Prudente initiated the incorporation of KKFI in 1971. Meanwhile, the latter built a 4-storey building and the financial system that ensured its sustainability.
In 1950, the late Ms Klepper initiated programs on P. Paredes Street in Sampaloc, Manila to have a place to serve the poor women and children of Manila who were widowed and orphaned by the recent World War 2. It was a time when some of the biggest schools and universities—the Far Eastern University, the University of Santo Tomas, the University of the East, etc.—started sprouting the area.
It was not long when the KKFI started offering its facilities as a dormitory to the schools’ students, many of whom came from Metro Manila suburbs and provinces. Who knows how many lawyers, doctors, teachers, nurses, engineers, pastors, deaconesses and other professionals have made the KKFI dormitory their “home away from home.”
I started to work in KKFI six years ago. The six anniversary celebrations were conducted differently. This coming July 20, the Foundation celebrates its 67th founding anniversary and this time, it is honouring the role of the dormitory (and the dorm residents past and present) in the life of Kapatiran.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the rentals and fees of dorm residents have been KKFI’s lifeblood that have allowed it to do what it was meant to do—provide assistance and services to the poor and the marginalized sectors of the Philippine society. Perhaps these students have been doing it unwittingly but, still, they are that important. Hence, the decision to make the 67th founding anniversary of KKFI a tribute to the four-building complex, the people managing and working in it and especially the past and present residents.
I say it’s about time. That is why the Board of Trustees and management of KKFI are leaving no stone unturned in order to make the tribute a memorable. Even the staff members, the volunteers and even the residents themselves are now busy practicing their respective presentations, promising to surprise everyone come July 20.
We expect at least 200 participants who will come to the KKFI compound to join us in this special occasion, which will start at 2 o’clock in the afternoon up to six o’clock in the evening. The grandeur that we expect the celebration to be is only fitting since the dormitory, although remaining in the background all this time, will at last occupy a place it so richly deserves—the spotlight.
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.
A 60-year-old mother of three sons, a good wife, a reliable provider, and a person with a good heart. That’s how residents of Manila North Cemetery (MNC) describe “Nanay” Lilian Tiglao. This impression was not different from that of the staff members of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI), who know her as a trustworthy, dependable and very strong woman.
Physically, though, Nanay Lilian looks very ordinary—her skin is tanned, her hair is cut short and blond, and she’s uncommonly thin, which she attributes to lack of nutritious food to eat. It is apparent that she has survived life’s many, many trials. But there’s one thing about her that’s remarkable—she always wears a beautiful smile.
She lives in a mausoleum inside the MNC with her husband and grand-daughter. Her sons have left them after they decided to take their respective live-in partners. Nanay Lilian provides the basics needs of the family and spends for her grand-daughter’s education, as well. She earns by scavenging and taking care of the tombs in MNC, from which she is paid P50 a month by the family of the deceased.
“Age does not matter. I can take good care of my granddaughter and help other young children too,” Nanay Lilian said.
“Masaya ako kapag nakakatulong ako sa kapwa ko.”
God’s provision has kept her family alive all these years, that’s the only way she could explain how they have been surviving. Despite her predicament, Nanay Lilian has a dream—for these young children to finish their studies so that they will be capable of helping others.
It was 2011, when Nanay Lilian came to know about KKFI through one of its social worker, Vince. She became a fan instantly, a firm believer of what KKFI is trying to achieve. She could tell that her dream and KKFI’s objective are aligned. So, she has made it a point to always get involved in its activities. Wherever KKFI needs her help, she was always there to give a hand.
Nanay Lilian, indeed, has been making herself available in almost all the activities of KKFI in MNC. She is even an active member of the SAMANTAGANOR, a group of caretakers of tombs and mausoleums inside the Manila North Cemetery (MNC) that KKFI helped organize.
In June 2016, she became an assistant teacher for the Supervised Neighbourhood Play (SNP) Program in MNC. The SNP is a home-based early childhood service for children ages 2-4 years old. It utilizes play as an approach in providing early stimulation activities that are developmentally appropriate for each target age of children in the community. It helps children develop relationships, skills, social values, self-confidence, self-respect and self-expression through unstructured time for play and socializing using the SNP manual of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Every day Nanay Lilian goes to house-to-house to fetch children and ensure that they will attend their classes. Even when sick, she still helped the main teacher handle the young students, teaching them how to write, draw, count and sing. She said she felt utmost fulfilment in what she does.
By helping KKFI, she is able to uplift the children by helping them finish their studies. Nanay Lilian does not feel she’s too old to extend help to the needy. She’s not the type who limits one’s self, especially when it comes to giving herself to others. She said that even a smile, a warm hug, or simple greeting of “hello” can impact the lives of young children. “These children only need our acceptance,” she said philosophically.
Charm Alcantara, Administrative Assistant of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) said she is so thankful for the opportunity to be part of this year’s retreat of Kapatiran. She said she loved everything about it, but she gave special mention to the culminating team-building activity.
“The experience was a blessing to me,” she said. “Being able to say ‘Thank you’, ‘I’m sorry’, and ‘I love you’ to my co-workers made me feel at peace with myself. The simple act of hugging and sharing of thoughts and ideas made me feel at ease and at home with them.”
Indeed, the team-building games last May 26-27, 2017 at the White Beach and the Hotel La Solana Suites and Resort in Puerto Galera was a hit.
James Aguilar agreed with Charm. “The team-building games were fun! We had a wonderful bonding time.” James, being a new member of the KKFI family, observed with amazement at how those supposedly in top of hierarchy among the staff mingled with the rest, including him. “I came to know people from other departments better,” he said. “I saw and enjoyed God’s beautiful creation. I enjoyed seeing the sea beds of corals and different colorful fishes.”
And who would not enjoy the games! They were, indeed, fun and challenging. The team-building started with the “Marshmallow Race,” where the participants each pick a marshmallow using a toothpick in their mouth and feed the next participant while their hands are at their back.
“This game was enjoyable,” said Melchor Roque, Maintenance Assistant, in the vernacular. “I had fun while eating yummy marshmallow.”
The next game was the “Spelling Game,” where all the participants had to spell words using their bodies to form letters of the alphabet while lying down in the beach.
“I belonged to the losing team in this game,” says Mommy Eda Acierto, Dormitory Manager. She added, “We had a hard time because everybody wanted to coach everybody. The instructions should come from only one person. That was one important lesson we learned. But overall, the team-building games were great and fun. We got to know each other well.”
The third Game was the “Sand Castle,” where each participants had to run to the sea and dive to gather sand and run back for about eight meters. The team who built the tallest castle won.
“I had difficulty in this game,” says Melchor. “I hit a rock when I dove.”
Mommy Eda seconded saying, “Diving for sand is very difficult because of the force of the waves.”
“I was assigned as a watcher in this game,” narrated 64-year-old Kuya Danilo “Dan” Tangonan. “They thought I would have difficulty because of my age. But when I tried, I was able to scoop a lot of sand.”
Kuya Dan said he had so much fun because he was able to join the games. In previous years, he and others who volunteered to cook for the staff were too busy to join. This time, however, the package included meals.
Malou Angoluan, Dormitory Assistant, narrated how excited she to see Puerto Galera for the first time, but that was instantly dampened by the sight of the original resort KKFI had booked. Her disappointment, however, turned to ecstasy when the staff transferred to La Solana, which is much, much better than the previous venue.
Malou expressed her happiness in seeing and experiencing unity in KKFI. Everyone showed their real selves especially in saying, “Thank you (for being there),” “I love you (to show the importance of each other),” and “I’m sorry (for having the wrong first impression).”
Definitely, everybody enjoyed the retreat and team-building. It was a time to bond and to get to know each other. We are one and together we lift each other.
It seemed curious, but I observed that the staff and volunteers who joined the retreat and team-building of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro shared a common theme in their assessment of the recent activity—GRATITUDE.
Literally all of them were in the thanksgiving mode—expressing their gratitude to God, to KKFI and to their respective families.
In that respect along, the May 25-27 retreat was a success, although the event did not start with flying colors. The venue on the first day was a trial, to say the least. The original venue was not as beautiful as depicted in its website. And that is an understatement.
Despite the initial disappointment, we trudged on and conducted the planned activities. We are reminded that God is with us.
We started with the retreat by reading the Bible text:
22Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
The first activity was writing in “Post-it” papers and discussing in groups the things we were thankful for. We had a good discussion on how grateful we are to God and His daily provisions. We had long lists in our Praise List.
Then we placed our lists in a paper heart on the floor. As we sang songs of thanksgiving, we felt God’s faithfulness and that His love is not consumed, it new every morning, great is His faithfulness.