Mas Maaliwalas na Bukas ang Dulot ng YLEAD

ni Axel Mendoza

 

Matagal nang problema ng mga taga-Tondo ang droga. Tila hindi ito matapos-tapos at hindi mapigil-pigilan.

Doon sa Tondo, ito na ang almusal, tanghalian at hapunan ng mga kabataan. Okey lang ang hindi kumain sa buong maghapon basta “makatira” lamang.

Ibebenta nila ang lahat upang maka-“score” lamang, maging ito man  ay ari-arian o kahit ang sariling nilang anak, para sa mga may edad na.

Madaling ibenta ang droga sa Tondo. Kaya’t pinipili ng iba na ito ang ilako upang magkapera kaysa maghanap ng marangal na trabaho.

Ang isang programa ng Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) na may katawagang Youth Leadership, Education and Advocacy for Development (Y-LEAD) ay naglalayong mag-adbokasiya laban sa masamang epekto ng droga sa buhay ng mga tao, kabataan man o hindi na.

Nagbibigay ang mga kabilang sa programang Y-LEAD ng mga impormasyon sa mga kabataan man o mga magulang upang balaan sila sa pwedeng mangyari kung gagamit at magpapatuloy gumamit ng pinagbabawal na gamot.  Naglatag kami ng mga alternatibong gawain imbes gumamit ng pinagbabawal na gamot.

Nag-organize ang Y-LEAD sportsfest para sa mga kabataan. Dito ay naglaro ng basketball at volleyball ang mga kabataang dati’y nakikita lamang na sa mga kalsada at “tumitira” ng solvent.

Sa sportsfest ay natutunan nila ang kahalagahan ng pagkakaisa at “teamwork.” Halata ang pagod sa kanilang kilos ngunit makikita rin sa kanilang mga mukha ang kasiyahan na dati’y mailap sa kanila.

Bukod dito ay tinuruan din ang mga bata tungkol sa masamang idinudulot sa buhay ng paggamit ng bawal na gamot. Tinuruan din sila ng kagandahang-asal. Natutunan nila kung paano rumespeto sa mga nakakatanda at makisalimuha sa mga kapwa bata. Higit sa lahat, ipinakilala sa kanila si Jesus Christ.

Bago ito ay tinuruan ang mga kabataang lider ng disiplina at kung paano mapalago ang sariling mga kaalaman.

Alam naming maraming talento ang mga kabataan ng Tondo. Kailangan lamang nila ng tiwala at paggalang sa sarili upang lumabas ang kanilang pagiging malikhain.

Bago natapos ang proyekto ay nagkataong idinaos ang piyesta sa Tondo at dito nagkaroon ng pagkakataon ang mga bata at kabataan ng Tondo na mag-perform upang mapanood ng lahat ang kanilang kakayahan.

May mga sumayaw, may mga kumanta, at may mga umarte sa pamamagitan ng teatro.

Sa pamamagitan ng mga gawaing ito mula sa proramang Y-LEAD ng KKFI ay maraming kabataan ng Tondo ang magkakaroon ng panibagong pagkakataong makaangat sa buhay imbes na malugmok sa bawal na droga.

 

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Sa YLEAD, Hinuhubog ang mga Kabataang Leader

ni Allain Canlas

 

Ang pagiging isang “leader” ay isa sa mga bagay na aming natutunan kung papaano gampanan bilang isang kabataan. Ating alamin kung paano kami nahubog sa Youth Leadership Educate and Advocate for Development (YLEAD) bilang isang Kristiyano.

Ito ay inumpisahan ng aming dating Program Director ng Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) na si Sir Rex Dayao at ipinagpatuloy hanggang sa ngayon nila Sir Vince Eliver at Ma’am Love Gagno.

Kinabibilangan nito ang mga ALS student na katulad ko upang mabago. Kung ako ang tatanungin kung papaano ako nabago, ito ay dahil na rin sa aming mga “facilitators.”

Una ay si Sir Rex na siyang nagpamulat sa isang tulad ko na hindi imposibleng umangat at magtagumpay sa buhay. Ito ay dahil siya mismo ay dati lamang isang kabataan mula sa hirap at ngayo’y naabot ang mga pangarap.

Ikalawa ay si Ma’am Love na siyang nagturo hindi lamang sa akin kung hindi sa mga katulad ko na matutong magmahal at umibig sa kahit na sino mang kapwa mo tao, Kristiyano man o hindi.

Ikatlo ay si Sir Vince na siyang tumayo bilang isang ama na nagmamahal sa kaniyang mga anak.

Isa sa mga estudyante na kanilang naging iskolar ay si Margoh na nag-aaral bilang isang pulis. Nagangarap ako na maging tulad din niya balang araw.

Ang mga aktibidad na aming ginagawa sa Pulilan, Bulacan ay napakarami katulad ng “Spider Web,” paglusong sa putikan, paglusong sa fish pond at napakarami pang mga nakatutuwang mga gawain.

Kami ng mga kapwa ko mga ALS student ay unang nag-seminar upang mahubog maging leader. Dito ko natutunan na hindi pala imposibleng magtagumpay sa kahit na ano mang mga pagsubok basta’t sama-sama ang bawat isa.

Ang Gilead ay isang lugar na napakaganda dahil ang paligid ay payapa at ang mga tao ay mababait at marunong makisama. Tinuro nila sa amin ang disiplina at kung papaano mo makikilala ang iyong sarili bilang isang tao.

Ang mga lugar na aming kinabibilangan ay may kani-kaniyang mga proyekto. Ang mga halimbawa nito ay tulad sa Tondo, ginawa nila ang T.A.T.A.Y. project na layong maipakita kung sino ba talaga ang mga kabataan ng Tondo.

Sa Paredes Street ay inilahok namin ang “self awareness” roon upang kanilang malaman kung ano ba talaga ang mga karapatan ng isang indibidwal lalo na ng isang kabataan. Kapag ito’y naumpisahan na ay magbibigay ng pondo ang KKFI upang ito ay maisakatuparan.

Inaamin ko na hindi ito ganoon kadali sapagkat sabi nga ni Sir LJ ang pagiging isang “leader” ay palaging may halong pagsasakripisyo.

Una sa aming mga adhikain kung bakit naming hinihimok ang mga kabataan na sumali sa aming mga isinasagawang mga proyekto ay ang mailapit sila sa Diyos. Oo, masasabi ko na iyon ay hindi ganoon kadaling gawin, lalo na sa ngayon na puro mga “gadget” na ang hawak-hawak ng mga kabataan at hindi libro o bibliya.

Sa paggawa namin ng aming mga kani-kaniyang mga proyekto ay natuklasan ko rin na sa ganitong mga gawain lumalabas ang sari-saring mga emosyon at kung saan ay hindi na nagkakaunawaan ang bawat isa ay nagkakaroon ng ng mga alitan. Pero sa kabilang banda ay amin itong naisasaayos at naipagkakasundo ang himutok ng magkabilang panig na may hidwaan sa bawat isa.

Sa bandang huli ay mas pinapatatag kami ng mga ganitong sitwasyon kung papaano namin paiiralin ang pagiging leader ng bawat isa. Nang dahil rin dito sa nasabing proyekto na aming isinasagawa matapos ang YLEAD ay natutuhan ko kung papaano magpakumbaba at humingi ng tulong sa iba. Higit sa lahat ay natutunan ko kung papaano ko pakalmahin ang sarili ko sa mga hindi ko inaasahang mga pangyayari.

Kaya sa ngayon, ang masasabi ko lamang ay sana maipagpatuloy pa ang YLEAD hanggang sa mga susunod pang mga henerasyon naming mga kabataan upang mas marami pang mahubog at mabago na mga kabataang tulad ko.

Sa LikhAral, Parehong Natututo ang mga Guro at Estudyante

ni Ruffame A. Todoc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living Her Dream

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“You live in a cemetery?” a member of the panel of judges incredulously asked 18-year-old Wendilyn Aliwalas. That question startled Wendy, who was nervous enough that she thought she would faint. Her thoughts were racing.

“Don’t they believe me?” She thought her dream of being picked for scholarship by the Soroptimist International of Mandaluyong was doomed.

“I never experienced being so nervous as I was during the interview,” Wendy narrated. “There were other applicants and I don’t know if their stories touched the hearts of the judges and mine did not.”

It turned out that her fears were unfounded. Indeed, Wendy’s story moved the judges so much that they picked her for the scholarship. They were impressed with her when she said that her fondest desire was to finish her studies so she will be able to find a stable job and build a house outside of the cemetery for her family.

But her blessings did not stop there. Last, February 13, 2018, Mrs. Ruth Flores informed Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) that Wendy won an award again and became a regional awardee.

Now more than ever, her dream is within reach.

Wendy is now a second year student of BS Office Management at the Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST). Her father, Glenn, 39, is a construction worker with no permanent employer. He sometimes moonlights as a tomb engraver to augment the family income. Her mother, Irene, is a stay-at-home mother. At the time of the LYD awarding, Glenn was unemployed. On top of that, he and Irene were in the brink of separation.

Wendy is the second of four children. Her eldest brother, Robin, 21, is a school dropout who has his own family to feed. Their younger sister, Jenalyn, 14, Grade 8, is also a KKFI scholar while the youngest brother, Rhaizen, 8, is in Grade 2.

Wendy has been a KKFI scholar and she is required to render volunteer services by helping in the implementation of programs such as the Alternative Learning System and Youth Leadership, Educate and Advocate for Development (YLEAD).

Joharrah Eunice Mae Rafanan, KKFI Community Development Worker, describes her as a reliable, industrious, flexible and responsible leader. Wendy helps out in the efficient implementation of the two projects. She is a known as disciplinarian and her authoritative demeanor makes an effective leader among the young people.

Last year, KKFI recommended Wendy to the Soroptimist’s “Live Your Dream” (LYD) Program through Mrs. Ruth Flores, KKFI’s corporate secretary. Mrs. Flores is a member of Mandaluyong Chapter of Soroptimist International, an organization that aims to empower women. It is present in 28 geographic regions all over the world.

The LYD Award is given to financially needy young women to help finance their education.

In her online application to the LYD, Wendy wrote about how hard it was to live in a place such as the Manila North Cemetery that has no adequate supply of water and has no electricity, aside from the fact that it was almost impossible to enjoy privacy there.

Wendy also fears for her safety from sexual abuse due to the proliferation of drug addicts and drunkards loitering in the streets. She wrote that to ensure  her  safety,  her  mother fetches her at the cemetery’s gate when she goes home at night.

The two social workers of KKFI, Vicente Eliver and Flora Mae Tatoy, wrote references that added points to her application. They wrote how conscientious Wendy is as a student, hence garnering good grades. They also related how helpful she is in the implementation of KKFI programs.

Wendy’s wonderful traits and attitude, indeed, allowed her to live her dream.

 

From Battle Scars to Glorious Stars

by Larren Jo N. Basilio

 

“There will be an ALS exam on October 2016,” it was announced; but it did not take place. It was postponed to March 2017. Later on the exam was moved to April, then July, August, September and October. It finally took place in November 2017.

“There will be an ALS exam on October 2016,” it was announced; but it did not take place. It was postponed to March 2017. Later on the exam was moved to April, then July, August, September and October. It finally took place in November 2017. One can imagine the anxiety the members of the unfortunate batch of Alternative Learning System (ALS) suffered throughout those eight postponements, which spanned two long years. The waiting period usually takes five months, 10 at most.

ALS is a government initiative that aims to help overaged out-of-school youth (OSY) accelerate to 7th grade or 11th grade. A number of KKFI scholars have passed those exams and are now studying in formal school set-up.

Past ALS exams included 50% of multiple choice tests from five learning strands and the other 50% is comprised of essay exams. The passing score for multiple choice exam was 75% and you need to get at least a score of 3 out of the possible perfect score of 5 in order to pass the essay exam. But the most recent one was different. Without consulting the stakeholders, DepEd changed the rules.

There still was the 50% multiple choice exam but, in lieu of the essay exams, the students were made to submit their “portfolios.” This “portfolio” should include 50 essays, 50 answered modules, exams and quizzes, pictures of families and other information about the learner, projects with essays, livelihood seminars or trainings, and arts and crafts.

We were given only two weeks to complete the portfolios, including their required trainings. The alteration totally caught everyone off guard. Some learners had to quit their all-important part-time jobs to spend sleepless nights to prepare their portfolios. It was a total risk on the learners’ part. Their families scolded them for over-extending their studies, aside from the unending requirements, dates and deadlines that tested their patience and purses.

Since most of them came from urban poor communities and broken families, it was a difficult, tumultuous and expensive journey. They were mocked. Their confidence withered. The postponements brought anxiety to a lot of learners. Many experienced depression and some even became suicidal. A number quit altogether but some plodded on.

Finally, 63 learners from Batches 3 and 4 took the exam. The excitement turned to frustration when they found out that the actual exam was totally different from the DepEd-issued reviewers they were required to study.

We, the instructional managers, were speechless with shock. Only one among the 63 passed when the results were announced last February. On the national scale, the passing rate dropped from 55% to less than 10%. Where did things go wrong?

Unexpected things happened, like when the policies were changed mid-stream without consultation; the portfolios, it turned out, had no bearing on the results, of the test questions 50% came from the formal education curriculum, such as math and science; the ALS students were all along taught in Filipino and asked test questions in the mother tongue, but the ALS exam questions were written in English, and the passing score for ALS remained at 75% while that of the formal education was at 50%. There were protests and petitions online demanding that the passing score for ALS exam be changed to 60%.

“Na-train kami bilang isang atleta pero sinabak kami sa giyera,” a learner quipped. But there was no time for moaning for we only had two weeks to prepare for another exam, which was set in February 2018. The DepEd released the topics for the next ALS exam.

To our surprise, the topics were way different from the ALS curriculum. Higher percentage of the learning strands were totally different from original announcement and prescribed reviewers. And there was not enough time to study them.

We had to scramble for the next two weeks, although we knew it was not enough. Three days before the exam, a light came that brightened the dream of every ALS learner. The DepEd granted the request to lower the passing mark for ALS exam to 60%.

Needless to say, we were overjoyed. We have 24 ALS passers as of posting time. The star starts to illumine and the joy is uncontainable. With this rejuvenated spirits, 25 learners retook the exam last February. They may expect the results to be announced two months after. It is still a long way before the end of the journey, but they know the destination is reachable. They still need to master the subject-verb agreement, the difference between planets and stars and other subjects but they learned so much more. They learned how to be patient in real life, to never surrender, to strive and to keep stoking the fire because success can be just around the corner.

No one guaranteed anybody that they would not suffer scars when they journey in life. But one is assured that, if one will display patience and determination, he or she will enjoy the illumination of the stars for the rest of his or her life.

EDUCATION LEADS TO A BETTER LIFE

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.

CANDLE OF HOPE

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.

LJ2
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.

LJ3.jpg
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.