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Babysitter Finished ALS, Now Prepares For College

While her peers were at school, learning new things and skills, Malou Lom-oc was busy handling errands and household chores as a kasambahay. Undeterred and driven by her dreams, she continued her education through the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the Department of Education (DepEd) at STI College Ortigas-Cainta.

The journey was challenging for her but she was determined to help her family. From cleaning the house to babysitting—she juggled work, school, and everything in between. Despite the odds, she remained motivated and recently passed the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) Test in April 2016. Grounded by her values, Malou is one step closer to reaching her goals as she readies for an Accountancy course in college.

ALS aims to provide school dropouts, like Malou, a chance to complete basic education for free, in a mode that fits their distinct situations and needs. An A&E Test passer may then move on to secondary school or pursue college.

Labor of Love

Born to a family of six and living on a meager income—with a carpenter father and a homemaker mother—Malou Lom-oc made the decision to leave her hometown, Ormoc, to work at a young age. She was 15when she started to labor for households around Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Malou is now residing in Cainta, Rizal where she works as a babysitter and a part-time cashier at her employer’s meat shop. Albeit already earning for herself and her family, she firmly believes that a college diploma can open more and better opportunities.

The ALS journey

Although underprivileged, Malou was blessed with employers who supported her plans to pursue her studies. They enrolled her at Francisco P. Felix Memorial National High School as a Grade 8 student.
Through her principal, Malou learned about the ALS program at STI. Almost four years behind as she should be in college today, Malou let go of the regular schooling and signed-up for the program to prepare for the A&E Test.

In collaboration with DepEd, STI College Ortigas-Cainta is only one of the STI campuses nationwide which serve as Community Learning Centers (CLCs) in the delivery of ALS. Aside from providing classrooms and facilities, STI teachers and personnel also dedicate their time to share their knowledge as volunteer learning facilitators. The said campus piloted the implementation of ALS.

Living a few blocks away from STI, Malou walked every Saturday to attend her classes. Her employers became part of her support system throughout her ALS journey. They even checked her exercises as she reviewed her modules and read notes during weekdays, notably when the A&E Test was just around the corner. As she recalls, “Kapag tulog na yung alaga ko saka ako nagbabasa. Basta kapag may chance, nagrereview ako.”

Her final words

Amid all the struggles, this big dreamer from a humble town shows resilience and persistence. She keeps her hopes high not just for herselp but for her loved ones as well. When asked what advice she can offer to others, she points out, "Huwag kang sumuko. Tuparin mo ang pangarap mo. Magtapos ka ng pag-aaral." From facing her obligations as a babysitter to fulfilling her duties as a student, Malou's journey is a long way ahead. This is not yet the end as we expect greating things coming to her.

 
WeatherPhilippines Bags Prestigious Sustainability Awards

WeatherPhilippines Foundation General Manager Dave Michael V. Valeriano, accompanied by Aboitiz Equity Ventures Corporate Branding and Communications Specialist Rohj Mariano, accepts the ACSSA 2016 Award for Product and Service Innovation from One Million Lights Philippines Country Head and Co-Founder Mark Benjamin Lozano

July 21, 2016, Marriott Hotel Manila - WeatherPhilippines Foundation emerged as winner in the Product and Service Innovation Category at the recently concluded ASEAN Corporate Sustainability Summit and Awards (ACSSA) 2016.

This was the fourth prestigious award received by WeatherPhilippines from an international award-giving body since 2014.

About the ACSSA 2016 Awards

The ASEAN Corporate Sustainability Summit 2016 Awards program aims to support organizations in the process of evaluating their sustainability strategy, performance, and goals. It also aims to inspire comprehensive exchange of ideas and best practices in Sustainability in the ASEAN region to identify field models for Sustainability Excellence.

About WeatherPhilippines Foundation

WeatherPhilippines complements government’s nationwide efforts on disaster risk reduction, and aims to help build a #WeatherWiserNation that uses weather information for socio-economic and sustainable development.

WeatherPhilippines provides the country with a premier weather sensing and forecasting system made possible by technology, inclusive partnerships, and engagement.

Founded in 2012 by the Aboitiz Foundation, UnionBank, and Meteogroup, it delivers free, more localized, and accurate weather information accessed through weather.com.ph and WeatherPhilippines free mobile application.

As of June 2016, WeatherPhilippines has deployed 780 Automated Weather Stations (AWS) nationwide, partnered with more than 568 LGUs and private sector companies, and has trained more than a thousand public and private sector partners on weather.

This CSR initiative of WeatherPhilippines is made possible through the financial resources of the Aboitiz Foundation and UnionBank as well as the following platinum donors:  SM Investments, ICTSI, Vista Land, Nickel Asia, LBC, and Ayala.

 
Kabuhayan sa Gulayan Farmer’s Training Program launched in Batangas

Philippine Geothermal Production Company Inc. (PGPC) launched the first Kabuhayan sa Gulayan Farmer’s Training (KSG-FT) Program in the Agri-Park and Organic Learning Center of Sto. Tomas, Batangas in Brgy. San Vicente on July 20, 2016.

Attended by more than 80 farmers, the launch was graced by the PGPC VP for Asset Management, Nap Saporsantos, together with the President of Harbest Agribusiness Corp. Mr. Arsenio “Toto” Barcelona.   Several Sto. Tomas local government officials were also present during the event headed by its Municipal Administrator, Atty. Arth Jhun A. Marasigan and Hon. Florence Mabilangan, committee chairman on Agriculture.

Guests and participants also joined the ceremonial transplanting of seedlings in the demonstration farm after the simple program.  The demonstration farm will be used by the trainee farmers for their hands-on training on high value crops production for three months.

The KSG-FT Program, in partnership with the Sto. Tomas Local Government Unit and Harbest Agribusiness Corp., aims to upgrade the agricultural knowledge of small-scale farmers in Mak-Ban in order to produce quality, safe, high-value, and high-yielding vegetables and fruits while teaching them to become self-sufficient. Under this program, the KSG farmer scholars will attend the 12 weekly sessions to be trained on modern farming methods and technologies through lectures and hands-on training. The sessions will also include values formation, capability building and social entrepreneurship.

One hundred farmers from the geothermal barangays in Sto. Tomas, Batangas are expected to sign up for the training.

This is the second project jointly undertaken by PGPC and Harbest Agribusiness. The first project was part of PGPC’s post-Yolanda rehabilitation efforts where Harbest, through the SM Foundation Inc., trained more than 100 farmers in Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island in Cebu under the Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan Farmers Training Program.

 
MWF and Scholastic Partner to Give 20,000 Vis-Min Pupils a Balanced Education

In full support of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) remarkable efforts to provide quality education for future nation builders, Manila Water Foundation (MWF) and Scholastic made it possible for more than 20,000 pupils in the Visayas and Mindanao regions to have access to a better and more balanced learning by donating books to several public schools in Cebu and Davao.

Each school year, public schools make sure that they are well prepared and equipped to welcome pupils for another 10 months of learning as they open their doors to more than 90% of the country’s student population. Remarkable improvements have been manifested over the years. However, there are matters that they cannot solve overnight. One of which is the insufficient amount of reference books and textbooks in schools. According to a 2015 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report, the government continuously increases the budget for education each year since 2010, to address this problem. DepEd also engages in private-public-partnerships (PPP) to further improve the situation.

Before these efforts were pursued, Principal Erlinda De Silva Quinto of Rizal Elementary School in Tagum City discussed how their pupils needed to share books to cope with their studies. To aid the situation, teachers search and download lessons from the Internet which they reproduce so that all pupils will have their own set of learning materials.

May grade level na hindi pa kumpleto [ang mga aklat kaya] nagre-research ang mga teacher. We reproduce kung ano yung nakukuha nila sa Internet para lahat ng bata magkaroon,” (“Some grade levels are lacking in books. Thus, the teachers download lessons from the Internet which they then reproduce so all pupils will have something to use for their studies.”) she explained.

With DepEd’s guidance, neighboring schools in the city are also dedicated in overpowering the same dilemma. OIC Principal Josephine Palaca of Magugpo Pilot Central Elementary School and Principal Siony German of Magugpo Pilot Imelda Elementary School explained why the deficient supply of textbooks and reference books is crucial in molding young minds and the steps they do so that the pupils are not shortchanged.

Malaki talaga ang epekto ng kakulangan ng books. Kung kunwari magturo lang kami tapos walang follow up at walang materials na nababasa ang mga bata mahirap kasi hindi naman tayo pareho ng learning style,” (“The deficiency in books has a tremendous effect on the pupils’ learning. If we only give lectures and leave the kids with nothing to read, then some might have a hard time understanding the lessons due to differences in learning style.”) OIC Principal Palaca stressed.

Principal German also quipped that, “Sobrang nakakaapekto ito sa pag-aaral ng mga bata. Halimbawa may assignment, ang nangyayari ‘yung teacher kailangan talaga isulat lahat para kahit di na magdala ng book masasagot ng mga bata,” (“This situation really affects their learning.  When teachers give assignments, they need to write it down so each pupil can comply even without the books.”)

In the nearby islands of Visayas, schools and pupils also share the same experience. According to Principal Jesus Conde of the Ramon M. Durano Sr. Foundation – Science and Technology Education Center in Danao City, Cebu Province, “kulang talaga [ang mga libro]. ‘Yung isang libro maraming mag-aaral ang gumagamit. Insufficient talaga kaya kelangan talaga namin [ng karagdagang libro].” (“One book is being shared by a number of pupils. Thus, we really need additional books.”)

Fortunately, these schools were chosen to be some of the recipients of the books from MWF and Scholastic. A turnover of donation was held on June 24, 2016 at the DepEd office in Tagum City. Back in March, the books allotted for the province of Cebu were also turned over at the DepEd headquarters in the cities of Cebu and Danao. Said books are part of the pledge of Scholastic during the Foundation’s celebration of Global Handwashing Day in 2015 wherein the pupils of the recipient schools also participated in, as well as a reiteration of the MWF’s steadfast commitment to further DepEd’s laudable initiatives to continuously improve the country’s educational landscape. Various information, education, and communication (IEC) materials were also given in line with the Foundation’s advocacy to make proper handwashing a lifestyle, especially for children.

“Walang kupas ang aming pasasalamat. Grabe talaga ang biyaya na natanggap namin dahil ang mga aklat ay instrumento [para matuto ang mga kabataan sa aming paaralan],” (“We are very thankful. This is a huge blessing because these books are instruments for our pupils to learn.”) OIC Principal Palaca remarked with gratitude.

“Maraming salamat po talaga for choosing us as one of the recipients. Sobrang natuwa kami, kasi meron pa palang mga taong ganito [na handang tumulong] kahit na ang layo namin,” (“Thank you for choosing us to be the recipient of the books. We are glad to know that there are organizations who are ready to help us even if we’re far from the city.”) Principal German gleefully stated.

Principal Nida Jordan of Severo Duterte Memorial Elementary School in Danao City highlighted the importance of the book donation while expressing her gratitude. “We feel so blessed that we are one of the recipients of the books from Manila Water Foundation and Scholastic. The kids really enjoy reading and doing the activities in the books. Books are very important especially nowadays when there is a real need to keep the real love for reading because it will help the children improve their comprehensive skills,” she shared.

The book donation has a good combination of reference, textbooks and storybooks. With this, Principal Quinto shared that their school can now start putting up a library where their pupils can read and learn. She also mentioned her intentions of promoting the value of reading books even now that the Internet and gadgets are almost available to all.

“The books are still [relevant]. Kasi kapag walang kuryente paano? Di ka maka-access [lalo na at] palagi kaming may power interruption. (The books are still relevant especially since we always experience power interruptions.)  [Thus], the school, the pupils, and the community in general are very thankful that the Manila Water Foundation and Scholastic chose our school to be the recipient of the books for the use of the children. These books can help the children enrich their vocabulary and travel [through] reading,” she stated.

The Department of Education Tagum City Division along with Tagum Water, a subsidiary of the Manila Water Company, were in charge of selecting the school recipients based on their need and number of enrollees. Present during the book and IEC turnover are (from L-R) Tagum Water Board of Directors Representative Alma Uy,RN, MBA, Department of Education Division of Tagum City Chief Education Supervisor and OIC Principal of Magugpo Pilot Central Elementary School Josefina Palaca, Ed.D, Magugpo Pilot Imelda Elementary School Principal Siony German, Manila Water Foundation Program Manager for Water Education Xavier Cruz, Magugpo Pilot Central Elementary School Master Teacher Esterlina Batingal, and Rizal Elementary School Principal Erlinda De Silva Quinto.

 

 

MWF Executive Director Carla May Beriña-Kim (4thfrom left) spearheaded the book and IEC donation turnover in Danao City. Officials from DepEd and the local government unit of Danao City together with principals and pupils of the school beneficiaries were also present during the turnover.
With her are (from L-R): Secretary of Danao City Mayor Adano Roble, DepEd Division of Danao City Assistant Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Leah B. Apao, DepEd Division of Danao City Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Rosalie M. Pasaol, Ceso V, Cebu Province 5th District Board Members Hon. Miguel Antonio A. Magpoale, and Hon. Jude Dorano Sybico, together with some principals and pupils from beneficiary schools)

 

 

Xavier Cruz, MWF Water Education Program Manager, talked about the different advocacies of the Foundation during the book and IEC turnover in Tagum City.

Rizal Elementary School Principal Erlinda De Silva Quinto shard her plan to use the donated books in putting up a library in their school during an interview.

 
Villar SIPAG, BeamAndGo, CBCP Fired Up on Empowering Anak OFWs

Villar SIPAG (Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance) in partnership with BeamAndGo and the Episcopal Commission for the pastoral care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI) of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, has launched its new project entitled “Learn and Go: My Ticket to an Empowered Life.” The project is a seminar-workshop that addresses the needs and challenges faced by the children of OFWs. Villar SIPAG, which is known to be very dynamic in providing assistance to distressed OFWs, has extended its programs to the families left behind especially the children who are most affected by separations in the family.

A group photo of the Anak OFW with Sen. Cynthia Villar, Fr. Resty Ogsimer, Mr. Albert Christian Go and facilitators.

Sen. Cynthia A. Villar explained the irony of the OFW situation wherein a person leaves the country to be able to provide the finances of the family but such move tears them apart due to the distance between members. “The main problem is that the OFWs leave their children and the family has a hard time coping. It’s so ironic that they earn money for their children yet their families can end up broken. May pera pero wala yung guidance ng magulang.”

Sen. Cynthia Villar delivered an inspirational message to the Anak OFW, encouraged them to become good children because it will make their OFW parents happy and satisfied with their sacrifices and hard work abroad.

Realizing the complexity and immensity of the problem, Villar SIPAG has chosen to work with partners like BeamAndGo and CBCP with the belief that such partnerships are necessary since these partners have their own lines of expertise. Villar SIPAG is fortunate enough to meet companies and organizations that possess the same advocacies for the welfare and progress of OFWs and their families. “The foundation does not know everything and that’s why we’re happy with this partnership with BeamAndGo and CBCP. This is a worthy effort so that all the hard work of the OFWs will amount to something because their children were given a good life,” Senator Villar concluded.

Anak OFW participants coming from the Dioceses of Manila, Makati, Mandaluyong, Novaliches, Caloocan and Antipolo.

Fr. Resty Ogsimer, CS, of CBCP-ECMI, agreed on the high probability that the Anak OFWs can be led astray when a parent is not around. The situation becomes even worse when both parents work away from home and there is nobody else left to take care of the children except the aging grandparents who may not have the strength and patience to discipline a new batch of young people. Subsequently, Fr. Ogsimer emphasized the fact that the OFW sector is now considered vulnerable, thus needs guidance and assistance from the other sectors of the Christian community.

Fr. Resty Ogsimer, gave a glimpse at the situation of Filipino families with members working overseas, the challenges of separation and the vulnerability of the OFW sector.

The seminar laid discussions on the different issues concerning the Anak OFWs. Ms. Vanessa Cartera, whose father was an OFW, touched and shared on the Perks and Challenges of Being an Anak OFW. Mr. Albert Christian Go, former OFW and presently SVP of BeamAndGo, gave practical tips on saving, budgeting and wise spending. Agent Francis Senora of the NBI, presented the prevalence of cyber crime in the Philippines and gave tips on how the youth can be protected. Dr. Raymond Joseph Escalona talked about health and wellness, proving that Anak OFWs can take care of themselves in terms of proper nutrition even without their parents. Lastly, Ms. Marianne Madelaine Mencias, author of “What’s Your Life’s Masterpiece,” has inspired and motivated the children to continue to reach for their dreams and ambitions and lead an empowered life not only for their selves but also for their hardworking parents who sacrifice abroad for their bright future.

Learn & Go will be a series of seminar-workshops for the Anak OFWs that is intended to be implemented in every community of the country because there is no town in the Philippines that OFWs don’t exist. The program aims to equip the Anak OFW with a good sense of individuality, independence and maturity so that they may lead an empowered life and so that they can influence kids like them to live the same way. At the end of the activity, children shall be inspired to become better individuals, to give importance to the hard work of their parents and to fulfil their aspirations despite the challenges of being an Anak OFW.

Mr. Jonathan Chua, President of BeamAndGo, puts it, “What we’re trying to do in this event is we want to impart the skills and tools to the youth to understand how hard their parents abroad are working and it’s important to be wise with money. The hard work, the ability to overcome obstacles, their sacrifice and love for their families – those are the basic values, the basic ingredients to make a better person, a better family and a better society.”

The empowered looks of Anak OFW after the successful and fruitful seminar.

 
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