Education is unquestionably one of the basic human rights everyone should attain. In the country, a huge percentage of the youth sector are not attending school, did not obtain a college degree or post-secondary course, and do not have jobs. Family problems, financial incapacity, and lack of interest are some of the main reasons behind a significantly high number of out-of-school youth.
In the June 27 episode of Iba ‘Yan, host Angel Locsin delved more into the life of a devoted teacher who remains hopeful of providing a bright future for the education of the youth, and the narratives of students who continue to strive hard in hopes of reaching their dreams. In Sitio Baloc of San Pablo City in Laguna, more than 150 families depend their everyday lives on collecting garbage. What can really give hope to the future of the community is the hard work of the people, especially the dreams that children hold for the future of their families.
Angel went to Don Arsenio Escudero Sr. Memorial School where she met Roberto ‘Bob’ Latag Mitra, the school’s head teacher. Even though he hails from the province of Quezon, he has known very well the situation of the community in Sitio Baloc. He shared the first time he saw the school in 2016 - the surroundings were still unclean that students had a hard time focusing on their studies. During that time, Bob found out the school did not have any source of water, thus, he found a way to provide it, and even extended the flow outside so more people can benefit. That was when Bob realized the community really needed someone to lead them.
When Angel arrived at the school, they were having a “Brigada Eskwela” event and she told the good news to Bob that they were willing to help them in any way they can to make sure that the school is virus-free and a safe space for learning. Angel noticed that they had a small enrollment kiosk and Bob said they were actually in the process of collecting the enrollment forms that parents from the community filled up. And those enrollment forms were to be distributed to teachers so they can be the ones to enroll the children online since the community does not have source of electricity. The doors and windows of the two classrooms were broken and unusable. But since Bob made sure that he will improve the facilities of the school, more parents were encouraged to still enroll their children. The institution is even known as the “only solar-powered school in the city.”
Since the school will specifically apply modular distance learning, administrators and teachers had to prepare a classroom setup where parents will receive the printed modules for their children and instructions as to how to follow the said mode of learning. Angel helped them to disinfect the chairs and tables, and put plastic covers around the tables to observe safety protocols.
One of the volunteers who helped was an alumna of the school. Her name is Diana Aranzado, 18, and she said her family lives near the school. Diana shared that her mom insisted that their lives should not forever depend on working at the dumpsite. She became emotional when she recalled how people would question why she and her siblings still continue their studies despite their situation. While they were having their lunch, Laguna Third District Representative Sol Aragones surprised them and donated face masks, sanitizers, and vitamins for the teachers and students. The school was also given dividers and bond papers that would be very useful.
After that, Angel announced another surprise. The team gave the school two printers ready with ink so they can print the online modules, and 200 packs of relief goods that came from the Sagip Kapamilya Relief Foundation. The 200 bags had facemasks, face shields, and vitamins in it. Moreover, they added 2500 more face masks. To Bob, Angel handed a brand new laptop and to the teachers, teaching kits with complete set of learning materials were given. It did not end there because the school was also given a flatscreen television with a hard drive containing educational programs. Bob couldn't contain his happiness as he extended his deepest gratitude to the show.
Angel then accompanied Diana on her way to their home. As they were walking, Diana told Angel about some of her experiences as a student outside Sitio Baloc, and these experiences were not the ones she would like to reminisce about. She told Angel, her schoolmates would often mock her about living in a dumpsite. “Andyan na mga taga Baloc, bulok” - these were the words of her schoolmates which would always trigger Diana and make her lose her temper. But she admitted that is what makes her strive even harder so that in the future, she can help them rise from poverty. And Angel commended her for the right attitude. When they arrived home, they saw Diana's mother washing their clothes. She even got emotional when she told Angel how she badly wants all of her children to finish their studies.
Angel also visited another student of the school, and she’s actually none other than Ahriel Leysa. Angel found out that Ahriel would always have a hard time studying at home because of the absence of electricity. The top student said her dad just recycled a flashlight that she saw from the garbage so that she could use it when she studies. If the recycled flashlight fails to work, they will just use their gas lamp as their light source. Ahriel’s mom, Jennylyn Leysa, expressed how proud she is of her daughter. Despite the very tough situation they’re in, she is still grateful that they get to provide the needs of Ahriel and more importantly, that her daughter is healthy.
The kid shared that she dreams of becoming a teacher and a nurse so she can be of service to her community. Ahriel showed a sweet and touching gesture to her mother when she told her how happy she is for the support she gets from her parents, and she promised that she’ll try her very best to finish her studies. Since Ahriel would always be at the top of her class, Angel gave her a little gift, a Barbie doll, which is actually Ahriel’s favorite.
As the day almost ended, Angel gathered Bob, Diana and Ahriel’s families to give her final surprises for them. For Bob, Angel announced Iba ‘Yan will be giving him 30 solar lamps to power up the school and community. The families were also given financial assistance from Congresswoman Sol Aragones and gardening kits from ABS-CBN’s Bantay Kalikasan. As for Diana and Ahriel, they are now few steps closer to their dreams to finish their studies as the City Government of San Pablo granted them college scholarships.
Don’t miss Iba ‘Yan, hosted by Angel Locsin, Sundays at 6:15pm on the Kapamilya Channel.