On June 2014, the Haligi ng Bata, Inc. (HBI) and the Trafigura Foundation jointly visited – for the first time – the San Agustin Elementary School and the San Agustin community in San Fernando, La Union – the sites of the 3-Year School and Community Development Project locally implemented by HBI and funded by Trafigura.
Joining them in this field visit is Peter and Geraldine Carney – the husband and wife team behind Exposure Media Productions Philippines. Working with Trafigura, Exposure PH gave a face and portrayed the story of the project’s aims, its stakeholders, and what the project has done and will do for the improvement of the lives of the San Agustin students.
Aside from documenting the San Agustin School and Community Development Project, Exposure PH and Trafigura also told the story of another development project in Cebu with another development organization Eau et Vie. Take a gander at their story here:
To know more about Exposure Media Productions Philippines, please visit their website – http://exposure.ph/. To get in touch with them, shoot them an e-mail at email@example.com. Exposure PH is also on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
HBI would like to thank Exposure PH for sharing with us the finished videos and for bearing with our bare land trip accommodation during their visit.
The project which started last January 2014 aims to improve the health, education, and livelihood status of 600 marginalized and underserved community members and 805 schooling children in San Agustin. To achieve this aim, the project will improve access to functional & clean toilets, increase health & hygiene awareness, implement school improvement programs, improve the parents’ skills and capacity to earn income, and empower and unite the school (its teachers and volunteers) and community (its members and leaders).
Nine months in and these are just some of what has been achieved by the project:
As of September 2014, the project continues to be of service to 812 enrolled elementary students and at least 200 community members and parents. Future projects include school improvement projects (school canteen construction, school clinic development, major school repairs), capacity building activities (seminars on carpentry, plumbing and basic electricity for community parents so they can repair created toilets), and livelihood training for mothers.
Like most local non-profits, the Haligi ng Bata, Inc. (HBI) believes that little girls with dreams become women with vision. This fervent belief is one of the many reasons why HBI with the help of IH-Germany and its donors make sure that little girls with dreams are being supported by the Child Sponsorship Program so that in the future, they can transform their dreams into their realities.
Irish Erika Madera, 10 years old, is one of the little girls who are sponsored children of HBI and IH-Germany. She may be one of the many girls who are HBI sponsored children, but in her family she is the only daughter. The child, fondly called Kikay by family and friends, has six brothers: four are older and two are younger than her. They live in a small makeshift house in the PRIDAKAS community located in Quezon City, Metro Manila. Kikay’s father works as a maintenance man while her mother is a full-time housewife who tends to Kikay and her brothers’ needs.
When asked by HBI how it is growing up with six brothers, Kikay said that “it’s very okay, because I get along well with them. Plus I have instant friends with my siblings and instant playmates with my younger brothers. Also, my mother and I are very close because we are the only girls in the family.” Her mother said that she is thankful to have Irish as her only daughter because “even if she is still young, I have someone who helps me at home and someone I can talk to about dresses and keeping the house clean.” Kikay’s father also said that he feels blessed to have at least one daughter because “she is more showy and affectionate than her brothers. When I go home from work, she always gives me a hug which makes all the hard work worth it.”
Indeed, her parents are working hard to provide them with a better future. But with only one income, the Madera Family finds it difficult to provide all the needs of their children. “That is why we are thankful to HBI, IH-Germany and Kikay’s sponsor because the support provided to her ensures that she continues getting an education which we hope will give her a better life,” her parents said. Kikay is now a Grade 4 student of the Holy Spirit Elementary School – a public school in the community – and considers English as her favorite subject because “I like pronouncing English words correctly and I like writing in English.” Her grade average is a steady 82% out of 100% but she makes sure that she studies all her lessons so that she can get higher grades. As a way of giving back to HBI, the child’s mom is also an active HBI Area Volunteer who assists HBI during project activities like distribution of school supplies, health kits, and conduct of livelihood seminars.
Irish Madera dreams of being a school teacher when she grows up. When asked why, she said “because I want to be a good example to children – I want them to know that even if you are poor, you can dream and you can work hard to reach that dream.” With that said, HBI through the support of IH-Germany and their donors will continue fostering the dreams of Filipino girls through the Child Sponsorship Program so that they can become women who overcame poverty in their pursuit of a better and more fulfilling life.donors will continue fostering the dreams of Filipino girls through the Child Sponsorship Program so that they can become women who overcame poverty in their pursuit of a better and more fulfilling life.
On January 17, 2014, the partnership between Switzerland’s Trafigura Foundation and Philippine non-government organization Haligi ng Bata, Inc. (HBI) became official. Through this newly-forged partnership, a 3-Year Development Project, dubbed The San Agustin School and Community Development Project, will soon become a reality in the San Agustin Poro Point area in San Fernando, La Union, Northern Philippines.
The aforementioned project, which will begin on January 2014, aims to improve the health, sanitation, education, and livelihood status of 805 schooling children and 600 coastal residents. The project sites would be the San Agustin Elementary School and the San Agustin coastal community. The project was planned and designed to have a school & community-based approach. It will help the school improve their infrastructure and school services, while helping the community with their sanitation and livelihood problems. This will be different from dole-out projects because sustainability will be ensured by school-community livelihood projects that would provide additional income to community participants, and a source of improvement funds for the school.
The San Agustin School and Community Development Project marks HBI’s first foray into implementing a sustainable development project in La Union’s capital city. Haligi ng Bata, Inc. or HBI is a non-stock, non-profit, non-sectarian, and non-government organization in the Philippines. HBI is a duly-registered non-profit entity with the Securities and Exchange Commission and is licensed, registered, and accredited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Established in the year 1984, HBI operates their various development projects in Metro Manila, La Union, and Negros Occidental where over 2,500 children, families, and schools benefit.
Mrs. Leticia L. Magaan, HBI’s Executive Director, is leading the HBI Team in the implementation of the San Agustin School and Community Development Project. “It is a great honor and privilege to be partners-in-service with The Trafigura Foundation. Rest assured that we will give our very best work for the project so that together we can help improve the state of the San Agustin School – its students and teachers, and the San Agustin Community.”
On the other hand, project funding partner Trafigura Foundation is the corporate social responsibility arm of global commodities trader Trafigura. The Trafigura Foundation was launched in November 2007 in response to a widely held desire amongst those who work for Trafigura to make a real and lasting difference in the world. The Foundation supports sustainable development programs along the lines of sustainable development, education & integration, and health in more than 30 different countries and has funded 35 programs in 2013 alone while granting US$ 32 Million in program funds between November 2007 and December 2013.
At the core of the Trafigura Foundation is an indefatigable desire to make the world a better place by having a genuine impact on the projects they support. Certainly, Trafigura Foundation has found another partner in HBI, geared toward achieving their goals.
*Know more about the San Agustin School and Community Development Project in our future posts.
Recently, the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Region 6 Unit Head – Madam Perla Haro, conducted a Field Visit to the Bayanihan-Habitat Village in Talisay City, Negros Occidental. Madam Haro’s visit is in line with the Haligi ng Bata, Incorporated’s application for renewal of their DSWD License to Operate, Registration, and Accreditation.
Madam Haro was welcomed in Bacolod City by the HBI Community Worker, Mr. Elizande Gonzales, and the HBI Area Leaders headed by its president, Mrs. Ninfa Rivera. The purpose of Madam Haro’s visit is to personally inspect and check the reported HBI programs and activities in the Bayanihan-Habitat Village. The village has been supported by HBI since the year 2005, first through the Child Sponsorship Program (2005-2009), and now through its Group Sponsorship Program (2010-present). More than 100 families are supported with education, health, capacity-building, and other auxiliary services. Lately, a TESDA scholarship program was implemented for out-of-school youths and high school graduates who wish to know practical skills so that they can be gainfully employed. All these development programs were made possible by the Dutch Help-Parents – a group of Dutch sponsors who have helped in building the families’ houses through Habitat for Humanity, Negros Occidental.
During her visit, the HBI team headed by Mr. Gonzales went and checked the Bayanihan-Habitat community where the HBI supported families reside; the Bayanihan-Habitat Elementary School where majority of supported children study; the HBI Bayanihan-Habitat CSP Center where HBI holds office and where major activities like the Supplemental Feeding Program are implemented; and the Concepcion Elementary School which is also supported by HBI through provision of books and educational supplies for non-supported children. According to the HBI Team, Madam Perla Haro is impressed with the Group Sponsorship Project and with the active involvement of all project stakeholders – the children’s parents, the children’s teachers, and the community members and leaders. As far as she is concerned, HBI and the Dutch Help-Parents have done a good job at improving their beneficiaries’ lives and at the same time empowering and uniting the children’s parents and teachers, and the Bayanihan-Habitat community. Lastly, she was impressed as to how much development work was done in spite of the relatively menial program budget available.
Below are some photos of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s visit to the Bayanihan-Habitat Village in Talisay City, Negros Occidental.
Teaching is the noblest profession – no one becomes great without a teacher’s guidance and nurture. Ask anybody about their favorite teachers – those who really made both small and big differences in their lives- and we bet that you would get funny, amusing, and inspiring anecdotes about how a teacher believed in their potential even if others didn’t.
In the Philippines, teachers not only teach their students various lessons in different subjects, they also serve as the students’ second set of parents. They worry if their student is absent for a prolonged period of time. They give food to students who went to school with not even a glass of water for breakfast. The short of it is that the Philippines is lucky for having teachers that go beyond the call of duty. But with that comes the sad reality that majority of teachers have to use their own personal money just so they can buy food for their pupils and classroom materials that would help in effectively teaching their students.
Such is the case of teachers in Seng-ngat Elementary School. Located in the outskirts of Sudipen, La Union, this public elementary school is home to 180 students who are sons and daughters of tenant rice and tobacco farmers. The school’s principal, Mrs. Lailani Olpindo says that “it’s actually quite hard to be a public school teacher in the province. The school is almost always at the bottom in the priority list since bigger public schools in the urban and major cities get support first. Whatever is left goes to schools like Seng-ngat – small public schools far from the scrutiny of the media. It’s a good thing we have an HBI and an ICARE-Australia who help us.”
The Seng-ngat Elementary School is supported by HBI and ICARE Australia via various School Support Programs such as provision of books, kindergarten materials, classroom materials, and instructional materials. Mrs. Zeny Muchong, the HBI CSP Teacher in Seng-ngat Elementary School, said that “all these support are very, very, very welcome. But what we teachers are most thankful for are the kindergarten materials and the teachers’ instructional materials. Because of this, we don’t have to save money to buy chalks, papers, and other office supplies.”
The Kindergarten level became mandatory for all public elementary schools under the new K+12 Education Curriculum which was implemented in the Philippines in the year 2012. “That’s a nice program actually because Grade 1 students who graduated from Kindergarten already know how to read and write,” said Mrs. Olpindo. “The problem though is that the Department of Education didn’t even provide Kinder materials, books, and educational toys for the children. So in the end, it’s the teachers who have to buy all these things. Imagine, teachers don’t earn that much – if we get 12,000 pesos a month, that is already considered lucky. A Kindergarten Teacher only earns a stipend of 4,000 pesos a month. But in spite of that, we buy the materials; we buy the toys for the benefit of the children. With HBI and ICARE helping us, the load has become very light. On our end, we will try our best to use these materials given to us for the children.”
The kindergarten students using the kindergarten materials couldn’t be happier. “We learn a lot,” said one child. “ABCs, counting from 1-50, reading story books, sharing toys, food, and books, and not crying when Mama is not inside the classroom…” said another tot when asked what he learns in Kindergarten class. At the end of the day, HBI is happy that they can help the teachers and students of Seng-ngat Elementary School to study, learn, play, and grow together.
On May 30, 2013, Madam Naomi Spencer – a donor of ICARE-Australia, paid a personal visit to her sponsored child, Warren Gracia. The Haligi ng Bata, Inc. (HBI) team, led by Mrs. Letty Magaan, fetched Ms. Naomi and her husband, Mr. Alan Robinson, in their hotel on the morning of May 30, 2013 to go to the Gracia Family’s humble home located in the hinterlands of Castro, Sudipen, La Union. On the way to the child’s house, Ms. Spencer and Mr. Robinson exchange pleasantries and stories with the HBI team which provided both parties with clearer and broader pictures of who they are and what they do.
Upon arriving in the Castro Community, the group was met by the HBI Area Social Worker, Ms. Rea Rabe, and the Castro Community HBI Area Leader, Mrs. Marlyn Guzman. From the Castro Community Center, Ms. Spencer and Mr. Robinson together with the HBI Team walked to Warren Gracia’s home. After a short walk, they reached the child’s home where they were welcomed by the child’s father, sister, and of course, Warren. The boy was, at first, shy to meet Ms. Spencer and Mr. Robinson. Ms. Naomi then explained to Warren and his father that he is actually being sponsored by her and her son, Jesse. To this, Warren said thank you very much for supporting him and his family. He then invited Ms. Naomi to come inside their small house. Inside, Ms. Naomi asked Warren where he sleeps, eats, and studies his school lessons. The child gamely toured his sponsor inside his small home. Ms. Naomi also noticed school awards like Most Behaved Student, Most Obedient, and Academic Honorable Mentions, that Warren received. She said she’s proud of his achievements and is very happy that the child’s family is very proud of Warren’s achievements.
Ms. Naomi also came bearing gifts during her visit to Warren. She presented him with inspiration books complete with daily reflections and meaningful bible passages. Warren also received a Bible complete with an inspiring handwritten dedication from Ms. Naomi. Also, he received magazines about Australian wildlife and a drawing/sketching pad complete with coloring materials. Warren was very happy to receive all these additional gifts from his loving sponsor. He even read an inspirational entry in one of the books given to him by Ms. Naomi. Warren also excitedly showed Ms. Naomi two of his pet cats which she appreciated because he became more comfortable and relaxed as the visit progressed. She also visited the Gracia Family’s kitchen and toilet, just so she can have an idea as to what Warren’s everyday life looks like.
At the tail-end of the visit, Ms. Naomi shed tears of joy as she confessed that this was an overwhelming and inspiring experience. On his part, Warren and his dad expressed that they will never forget how their sponsors visited them on a hot summer day in 2013. In parting, Warren said to an HBI team member that Ms. Naomi and Mr. Alan’s visit reminded him of one of his favorite Bible quotes that is very apt – “It’s Ephesians Chapter 1, Verse 16 – ‘I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.’ I already underlined it in my new Bible.”
*Every month, the Haligi ng Bata, Incorporated (HBI) will run a short post highlighting key project participants who have made a good and lasting impression to HBI’s various activities and beneficiaries. This post is written by none other than HBI’s Operations Manager, Mrs. Monnette Zaragosa.
I have been with HBI for 20 years, first as a Social Worker & now as Operations Manager. In this time, I’ve worked not only with other development workers but also with normal folks– mothers, laborers, and teachers. I think a reason for our success is that wherever we go– be it in a cramp slum area or a remote farming or fishing community, there are school & community members who participate in projects even if they have to do more than their share & not get anything in return. Working with these everyday people, these everyday heroes, inspires me to do my very best work so that their schools will improve & poor children will be ensured of a good education & a fighting chance at better lives.
Recently though, one of the everyday heroes I had the honor of working with is Mr. Perlito Coloma – Principal of Luzong Norte School, a public school in a farming area of Bangar, La Union, Northern Philippines. Through CO-OPERAID’s Rural Reconstruction Project, the school’s typhoon-damaged 3-classroom building with canteen was repaired & is now used by 200 students & teachers. Parents were also provided with livelihood support: hog-raising & rice bank projects that will not only help them, but also the school in repairing & maintaining classrooms. Mr. Coloma’s story is one for the books: he lost his wife to cancer at an early age leaving him alone to raise their child. Shortly after, he developed cataracts which impair his vision. In spite of these, here is a man who is a dedicated school principal, a loving father & an active project stakeholder. Being a single parent myself, I know how hard it is to balance family & work, yet Mr. Coloma seems to have found the right formula to a happy family life & work success. As he continues with his role as a father of a school & of a young girl, he gains the respect of teachers & parents.
With these said, it is no surprise that I’m now one of the many who see him as a living reminder that integrity, resilience & kindness still exist in our world.
In the year 2008, the Rissing Elementary School is everything a public school shouldn’t be – underequipped, underfunded and unmaintained. Before the Ylenia Foundation, CO-OPERAID and HBI started their four year Adopt-a-School Project, the school had limited to no facilities: five school buildings in need of major repairs (one of which was condemned and infested with snakes); insufficient number of classrooms for the schooling children; no working water system; no sanitary toilets; no canteen; no clinic; no library; no computers, and a severe lack of textbooks and classroom materials & equipments that affect the children’s education.
When the Ylenia Foundation, CO-OPERAID and HBI began their adopt-a-school project in the Rissing Elementary School on 2008, they all knew that it will take a lot of time and resources (both material and technical) for all the needs of the school, its students and their families to be implemented and put in place. With so many problems hounding the school, it was quite a challenge to figure out where to start improvements and how to implement them.
But after four years of implementing the project, the Rissing Elementary School of the year 2012 is now the public school other schools in the La Union province aspire to be: a school with complete sets of instructional materials for their students; a well-equipped school with a classroom for each grade level and with a working school water system, library, canteen, and toilets; a school that provides additional services like tutorial classes, drum and lyre skills and computer classes to their students; a school with an active Parents and Teachers Association; a school that is home to students who are consistent high scorers in aptitude tests and academic meets; and most important of all, a school that students enjoy being in. The students go to school daily with all their school needs taken care of and their parents continue to strive harder to expand the livelihood support provided by the Adopt-a-School Project. On the other hand, the teachers continue to give their very best efforts in teaching their students and helping them become productive Filipino citizens.
In summation, if not for the valuable support of foreign implementing partner, CO-OPERAID Switzerland, and more importantly the project’s funding partner, the Ylenia Foundation, HBI and the Rissing Elementary School’s teachers, parents and students would not have gotten the chance to accomplish any of the steps of the adopt-a-school project. The project may have only lasted for four years but the improvements and the changes in the school, and in the lives of the students and their families will last for many years to come. It has to be said that indeed, something good can come out from something terrible. The untimely passing of young Ylenia Lenhard led to the creation of the Ylenia Foundation which quickly worked on providing the Rissing Elementary School, Bangar, La Union with needed school support and the Rissing parents with the means to improve their capacity to earn more income – all these for the benefit of the Rissing Elementary School children who, after 4 years of being aided by the project, now have a chance at brighter futures.
The table on this gallery will show the various program statistics of the HBI, CO-OPERAID Switzerland and Ylenia Foundation’s Adopt-a-School Project implemented in the Rissing Elementary School from September 2008 to August 2012.
It has been years since Typhoon Ondoy (international name Ketsana) and Typhoon Pepeng (Parma) brought devastation, agony and loss to the Philippines. Right after the typhoon, the Haligi ng Bata, Incorporated, through the support of their partners-in-service, provided immediate help to affected communities through the provision of relief goods, house-repairs and livelihood programs – all of these have and continues to help the typhoon victims get back on their feet and live productive and meaningful lives.
But the typhoons not only victimized houses – numerous schools were also affected. Classroom buildings, roofs, equipments and materials also fell play to the typhoons’ strong winds & flooding. Aside from this, schools that were used as evacuation centers reported that most of their equipments (lavatories, chairs & desks, classroom materials, books & workbooks) were damaged because of negligence & carelessness on the part of some evacuees.
Without a doubt, schools are considered as an integral part of any community for they serve as the second home of the children. With this in mind, HBI through the support of their trusted partner-in-service, CO-OPERAID Switzerland and the Swiss Solidarity Foundation, have formally began implementing the Rural Reconstruction Project for Typhoon-Affected Schools in La Union. The project’s general aim is very simple – reconstruct typhoon-affected schools so that their schooling children would have better, safer and more equipped second homes.
On September 1, 2010, HBI officially began the Rural Reconstruction Project through a Contract Signing with the principals of the target schools/project areas. In total, 8 public elementary schools from the hinterlands of Bangar and Luna, La Union are recipients of the project.
The 8 schools aided by the reconstruction project are the Rissing Elementary School, Sinapangan Elementary School and the Luzong Sur Elementary School – all in Bangar, La Union. Rounding up the list is the Busel-Busel Elementary School, Bungro-Sucoc Integrated School, Ayaoan Elementary School, Pila Elementary School & Tallaoen Elementary School – all in Luna, La Union.These schools were all badly affected by Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng resulting to heavily damaged classroom walls, roofs, windows and equipments. Looking at some of the photos of the mentioned schools, it is indeed hard to imagine that these classrooms are conducive to learning and safe to house schooling children.
The Rural Reconstruction Project aims to ensure that these schools will become a suitable second home to elementary school students. In a nutshell, the reconstruction project is an Agency-Driven Reconstruction in-Situ (ADRIS) approach wherein a non-government organization hires a construction company to reconstruct & rehabilitate damaged schools in their pre-disaster location. Aside from providing the schools with reconstructed school buildings, the project will also provide educational materials and technical resources on basic building maintenanc, specifically along the lines of building-wiring, flood prevention and termite-infestation.
As mentioned earlier, the project became official on September 1, 2010 through a Contract Signing. Present in this momentous event is the HBI team led by its Executive Director & Chairman of the Board, the Department of Education represented by Region 1 Administrative Director Mrs. Dominga Lim, the partner construction firm – the Alberto S. Sison Construction Company, and the 8 principals from the 8 schools. These 8 principals are:
Mr. Romeo Ancheta – Principal, Bungro-Sucoc Integrated School, Luna, La Union
Mr. Fernando Apolinar – Principal, Sinapangan Elementary School, Bangar, La Union
Mrs. Stela Balala – Head Teacher, Ayaoan Elementary School, Luna, La Union
Mrs. Editha Carbajal – Principal, Busel-Busel Elementary School, , Luna, La Union
Mrs. Josephine Jacobe – Head Teacher, Rissing Elementary School, Bangar, La Union
Mr. Victorino Leal – Principal, Pila Elementary School, , Luna, La Union
Mr. Fernando Monis – Head Teacher, Luzong Sur Elementary School, Bangar, La Union
Mr. Henry Palma – Principal, Tallaoen Elementary School, Luna, La Union
Once the contracts were signed, HBI and the Project Contractor started all reconstruction works in the eight schools. By January 2011, all the schools’ identified typhoon-damaged facilities have been completely rebuilt.
The project did not end once reconstruction works were finished. Since HBI believes that sustainability is the key to ensure that the reconstructed facilities would be used for many years to come by many students, new school materials and equipments were provided to the schools. More importantly, HBI with the support of the schools, organized a group of school and community volunteers per school collectively known as the Building Maintenance Committee (BMC). The BMCs were then trained by vocational school teachers along the lines of carpentry, plumbing, building-wiring, electricity, termites-control and disaster management for six months. The BMCs were also provided with seminar materials and tools and repair equipments.
Once all the project activities were implemented, HBI conducted a Community Score Card Evaluation Process with all the stakeholders from the eight school beneficiaries. This was done to establish accountability and to evaluate all project players. The Community Score Card Evaluation Report for the Phase 2 Project will be tackled in another website article.
As an accredited and licensed Philippine non-government organization, the Haligi ng Bata, Incorporated submits an annual accomplishment report which states all accomplished projects and program statistics to the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Today, we are sharing with you our accomplishments for the year 2011.
In our various project areas in the Metro Manila region, 1,258 HBI-sponsored children received school supplies, school bags and school uniforms. In addition to this, 350 non-sponsored but equally indigent schooling children from various Metro Manila schools received school support in the form of school supplies and P.E. uniforms. To ensure that schooling children of under-equipped public elementary schools will have a chance at having a well-rounded education, HBI through the support of their various partners-in-service provided three Navotas public schools with library books, kindergarten books, Grades 1-6 textbooks, instructional materials for teachers, sports and P.E. equipments, gardening tools and industrial arts equipments.
To safeguard the health of the children, 1,294 sponsored children in Metro Manila were provided with multi-vitamins for the entire year. 661 sponsored children also received health kit supplies containing soaps, hand sanitizers, baby powders, ail cutters, comb, toothpastes and toothbrushes among many others. HBI also continued implementing the Financial and Medical Assistance Program which is open to all sponsored children and their families. 320 undernourished children also participated in supplemental feeding and mass feeding programs. Lastly, community-based medical check-ups were conducted for 307 community members in the impoverished Navotas community of Adelfa.
Other important programs along the lines of Community Empowerment, Livelihood Projects and Christmas Activities were also implemented in the year 2011. The tables below will show the various HBI programs and the beneficiaries served during the 2011 implementation period:
In behalf of all HBI sponsored children and their families, we would like to thank all our partners-in-services, volunteers and donors who made all these programs realities. Here is to hoping for more years of developmental work for the benefit of poor Filipino children – their families, communities and schools.
This is what a typical elementary school in a province looks like: it’s in the middle of a field; its buildings, seriously damaged by rains, floods and termites, are over 50 years old; the school playground, surrounded by tall grasses, is home to rusty swings and slides; it doesn’t have enough teaching supplies and most of them do not even have their own library; most likely, it doesn’t have functioning comfort rooms.
This is what a typical student in a provincial elementary school looks like: she is small for her age and malnourished; she goes to school, not in her uniform, but in worn down clothes because her parents – who are either farmers or fisherfolks – do not have enough money for food and supplies, how much more for school uniforms; she goes to school either barefoot or wearing thin slippers; at times, she fails to attend her classes since she has to help her parents in the field or take care of her younger siblings; she has a hard time coping with her school lessons because she’s hungry; her friends are most likely, just like her.
The typical elementary school and the typical schooling child are realities in the Rissing Elementary School. The school is located in the sleepy town of Bangar, La Union. It caters to 184 typical schooling children whose parents are farmers who rent farming lands that give them meager income. The school has five buildings – four of them built during the 1960s and 1970s – that are in need of major repairs. Some have become unsafe to house schooling children, there is even one building that is infested with snakes.
Find out more about the Rissing Elementary School in the next page.