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!

NEVER TOO YOUNG TO LEAD

by Rex M. Dayao

 

I was on my way home one night of October 2016 when the jeepney that I am riding suddenly stopped. Three men had been shot dead. They, according the police, were drug users and pushers.

Drug users and pushers are considered the main culprits for crimes and illegal acts in the Philippines. While a part of me was at peace knowing that there were three less criminals in my community, I cannot help but worry about the lives that were lost because of not being given the opportunity to change, or perhaps given another option.

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YLEAD participants had to cross the “Spider Web” without touching the wires. Once a teammate touches the wire all of them have to repeat the process.

Our passionate President, Rodrigo Duterte launched a “war on drugs” with the fear of our country being a narcotic state. Since the launch, at least a million of Filipinos, majority are youth, have surrendered and are now being rehabilitated through a multi-sectoral approach.

More than 30 million Filipinos are in the age of 15-35. At least 20 million were not able to finish schooling and have limited access for jobs, or have no jobs at all. The lack of options gives these youth the ample time to engage on vices, gang wars or drug abuse.

This is the rationale that inspired Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc (KKFI) to develop a program that provides opportunities for the youth to learn about leadership, education, advocacy and development.

Youth, Lead and Advocate for Development (YLEAD) is a program that enables the youth to be a catalyst of change in their respective communities.

YLEAD was launched in September 2015 and was attended by 75 young leaders from communities in Manila and Bulacan. The seven groups were able to implement projects in their respective communities, to address challenges in education, economic and environmental concerns. It is good to note that majority of our Alternative Learning System passers undergo the YLEAD training, thus making the training relevant in shaping young leaders.

On its second year, the program team identified seven mentors composed of KKFI staff and Global Mission Fellows. To aid in facilitating the YLEAD Camp, 22 young facilitators applied and were competently trained to assist the mentors and co-participants.

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Barangay  Tibag group plans for their YLEAD project

Last October 25-28, 2016, 85 young leaders gathered at Gilead Training Center in Pulilan, Bulacan to learn more about themselves, their peers and their respective communities.

Ms. Nancy C. Nicolas, KKFI Executive Director opened the training by relaying her story of leadership. She said that her mother exposed her to national trainings provided by the United Methodist Church. Said experience propelled her to be the National President of United Methodist Youth Fellowship of the Philippines (UMYFP).

She told young leaders to never stop initiating change and believe in themselves amidst challenges.

The training was highlighted with the seven core groups presenting their community projects which aimed to provide people in their communities the knowledge and services they need to have a better life.

Axel Supleto, one of the participants said, “YLEAD is life-changing. I am thankful that I was able to attend. I was able to know myself better and I have the opportunity to do something for my community.”

While many fall victim of drugs and lack of opportunities, KKFI tries to find ways to create options out of challenges. YLEAD is a program that unleashes the power of the youth to be involved and prove to everyone that they are never too young to lead.

MAKING WEAKNESSES INTO STRENGTHS

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“There are people who look down on me. Therefore, I made my weaknesses into my strength. ” says Algin Tan, 17.

Gin, as he is fondly called is gay. He experienced discrimination due to his gender preference. He knew when he was in grade school that he had a female heart in a man’s body. But he says his family especially his parents supports him. Outwardly, he looks happy but he has some insecurities.

He stopped his schooling due to an unexplainable illness. He had skin sores that lasted five months. Due to embarrassment, he went to Nueva Ecija, a province north of Manila, to recuperate. He was in fourth level of high school then at the San Roque National High School in Navotas, a city north of Manila.

Their family also experienced financial lack. His father, Avelino, is a laborer and his mother, Ma. Gina, is a “kasambahay” (housekeeper.) Gin has a sister who is in second level of college.

He learned about the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) from his aunt.

“I really want to continue my studies so I enrolled in ALS,” says Gin. “I want to get a good paying job so I can help my family,” he added.

Surrendering never entered his mind. He is set on his goal to pass the Accreditation and Equivalency (a & e) examination.

When asked what he did to pass. He answered “I prayed and encouraged myself I could do it.”

“I feel blessed and proud to be me,” exclaimed Gin. “I am ready to achieve my dreams. My passing is a sign for me to achieve my dreams.

Indeed, he did it. He passed the A & E examination and has enrolled in a university to take up BS Accountancy. People may looked down on him but he never made it an obstacle in achieving his dreams. He made his weaknesses into strengths.

FOR THE LOVE OF GRANDMA

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“The Alternative Learning System (ALS) will help me get a better-paying job with which I would be able to help my family. ALS would also widen my knowledge,” says Mark Anthony Tado, 16, in Filipino.

Mac, as he is fondly called, enrolled in the ALS of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) in Tondo, Manila because he wanted to finish his studies. He learned about the program from his grandmother who frequents the Barangay Hall to avail of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the government.

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Mark Anthony Tado left with batchmate Ian Leonardo Sabdao

Mac grew up with his grandparents. His mother, Laila is now living in Bacolod and has her own family. Mac has three half-siblings.

He stopped schooling after the second level of high school due to financial constraints. Both his grandparents are no longer working.

Mac idolizes his grandmother, Lola Anlay, whom he considers his inspiration. She took care of him despite her ailment. She is the reason why he refrained from bad habits and vices. He hopes to earn to help his Lola soon.

Mac admitted that his cousins did not believe he will not be able to pass the Accreditation and Equivalency examination. He even thought of giving up the ALS to take care of his grandmother.

But he really wanted to finish his studies. So he persevered and did his best. His folder which is full essays and mock tests is a testament to his dedication.

Mac wanted to become either a seaman or a basketball player who is included in the roster of a team included in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), the premier professional league in the country.

But first, he said he wanted to get a college diploma from the University of the East (UE) then work hard so he can buy a house and a car of his own. But before that, he knew he has to take a more practical and realistic step– enroll in a Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) course, have a job the soonest possible time, earn and save.

Mac will do whatever it take to offer the best for his grandparents, especially Lola Anlay.

PERSEVERANCE IS THE KEY

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

Jay Legarda of Malabon City was forced to stop studying because he had to work and help the financially strapped family. It was a decision that he had to make with a heavy heart.

But deep inside him, there is a gnawing realization of a truth in the worldly and capitalistic reality we are in—only education can get anyone a better-paying and stable job. If he could only reach this point, the poverty that his family is trapped would give him and everyone he loves an all-important respite.

The 22-year-old young man knew that his attention and efforts must focus on his education and on how to finish his studies.

Then he learned about the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) through his brother, Rolegie, who attended. It was a blessing! Now, he has a chance to finish his high school studies as soon as possible and at the same time continue assisting his family financially.

Deriving inspiration from his parents and girlfriend, Jay was more than determined to pass ALS. Just like other ALS students who were able to pass, he must persevere. He knew that was the key to success—perseverance.

“I borrowed and read the modules and answered the sample questionnaires there. I learned how to write essays correctly. I also read and re-read the questions to make sure I understood them during the Accreditation and Equivalency (A & E) examination,” Jay said.

He added: “Because of my preparations, I somehow knew I would pass.”

Then, came the day of reckoning. Despite the confidence, the jitters and the butterflies in his stomach would not go away. The moment he learned that he successfully hurdled the test, the joy was indescribable!

“There were thousands who took the A & E exam and I was one of the few who passed,” he said.

Jay never thought of giving up because he knew “no one succeeds by giving up.” He thanked the Almighty God for guiding and giving him wisdom. He knew God is faithful.

Now, he plans to enroll in a Welding Course at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to get a national certification. He plans to work and save in order to get a criminology degree in a university.

Indeed, career and financial success is within sight. Everything is different now. A year ago, this wasn’t so, when everything was foggy and Jay was not sure where to go to reach his destination.

Perseverance did and Jason knew it.

 

CORRECTING ONE’S MISTAKES

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“They are my inspiration,” declares 23-year-old Jonalyn C. Villaruel, referring to her two lovely children.

She was in her third year in high school when she dropped out of school early, blaming this misfortune on early pregnancy and bad influence of peers. However, she refused to accept that having a family that she had to care for was a hindrance in finishing her education.

Then, a life-changing blessing from God came into her life. It came in the form of three staff members of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) who visited her in her house. They told her about the Foundation’s Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program.

Jonalyn’s “angels”—former KKFI Community Development Worker Arvin Reyes, St. Peter United Methodist Church (UMC) Coordinator Ana Martin and former KKFI Instructional Manager Lovely Joie Orgado–convinced the young mother to try ALS.

They did not need to take too much effort, though. Jhona immediately enrolled because she immediately realized that ALS was the answer to her prayer. But it was not all bed of roses for Jhona.

“Nahihirapan po ako sa pag-aasikaso ng anak ko. Kapag may pasok po sa ALS ay isinasama ko na lang po sa St. Peter. Pagdating ng 4:30 o 5:00 p.m., nagpapaalam na po ako kasi magsusundo pa po ako ng anak sa eskwelahan,” she relates. (I would bring my youngest child to class with me because I found it difficult to look for someone to take care of my child. I also would ask permission to leave the class early to pick up my eldest from school)

She learned to manage her time the most efficient way in order to cope. Whenever she was not able to attend classes, she made sure that she reviewed the lessons at home. She also read modules during her free time.

She was ecstatic upon learning that she passed the Accreditation and Equivalency examination given by the Department of Education last April 17, 2016. Now, she is planning to enroll in college and find a good-paying job for her family.

When asked if she is ready to reach her goals, she answered: “Handa na po dahil sayang ang pahanon.”

Jhona is currently completing the requirenents for a 15-month training in bookkeeping at the Don Bosco TVET Center in Tondo, Manila and to be certified by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). She hopes to be a Certified Public Accountant someday. Their classes start November 2016.

Indeed, one’s mistakes can be corrected. Jhona is now steering her life to a brighter future.

ANSWERED PRAYER

by Rolly Boy Rejano

Translated by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“My name is Rolly Boy R. Rejano. I am 17 years old and I live in Tondo, Manila. I describe myself as a happy, simple, helpful, respectful, loving, and shy guy.

“My mother is Racquel Rejano, 34, a food vendor and my father is Rolando Rejano, 39, a jeepney driver. I am the eldest of three children. My siblings are Ledielyn Mae and Ruby Lance.

“Life is not easy but my parents continue to persevere to earn a living. Somehow, they are able to provide our daily needs.

“Despite the daily provisions, I lost focus and was influenced by my friends to cut classes and later on stop schooling altogether. I even had vices then.

“I almost lost hope, but two years later, I learned about the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. in our Barangay Hall. I really wanted to finish my studies so I enrolled in the program.

“ALS is not easy. I persevered and studied hard. I was really determined to pass so no thoughts of giving up entered my mind.

“What I did to pass the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) examination was, first, I prayed, second, I reviewed and last, I focused on understanding the test questions so I could answer them correctly.

“And my prayers were answered by Jesus. Indeed, I was very happy to know that I passed the A&E exam. Now, I can slowly but surely achieve my dreams. I plan to continue my studies to become a seaman someday. This has always been my dream since I was a child. My inspirations are my parents and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“I want to earn enough money for my family. I know everyone wishes to have a better life. But this is my promise to parents.

“I am ready to face the challenges in life.  I know Jesus is faithful and will guide and give me wisdom. In His time, I will achieve my dreams.”