I cannot wait for more hours (or days) for me to write about the outreach programs executed by my Personal Development students. I have decided (prior to the event) that if these will be done successfully, I will cancel the final examination and will replace it by the activity instead. STEM 2 (Slate) decided to conduct the program in Open Door Christian Academy in San Pablo, a social institution for children and orphans. Meanwhile, STEM 4 (Quartzite) conducted theirs at Nazareth Bahay Pag-ibig, a home for the Aged, also in San Pablo. It was so good that the stars and the universe has conspired that my two PerDev classes/sections didn’t conduct the programs simultaneously for I really wanted to witness both classes on how they will execute their plans and its immediate outcomes. STEM 2 began at 8am and ended around 10am while STEM 4 started at 11am-ish and ended at around 12:30pm.
Children in the orphanage were abondoned by their parents/families, abused by others and even some family members, turned over by the DSWD and some were just left by private people in the institution. It broke my heart to hear such stories. How can people neglect these wonderful children whereas they are all adorable and sweet? How can they leave them alone without letting them feel that they are loved and remembered? I dunno. They might have their reasons. But whatever they may be, it is and will never be acceptable for me.
STEM 2 gave me an outstanding accomplishment. Regardless to say, we are never new to typical children’s party, parlor games, mini programs, gift-giving and all. But this one was quite different for me. The children have already established a close relationship and rapport with their “Ate’s” and “Kuya’s”. It felt so good to see children without biological families smiling and laughing over the mini party they conducted. You’ll see how can a pair of slippers change their moods; how can a party bag lift up their spirits; how can a simple shoebox make them feel that there is someone who actually cares for them. You’ll see how happy they were– they were grinning from ear to ear.
Mae, 18, one of the children, asked me if I am their teacher while my students were performing their jingle. I immediately responded “Oo”. She smiled and asked me what grade already are they. I answered, “Grade 11 na, baby. Ikaw ba?” “Ah may grade 11 na po ba? Grade 12? 13? 14? Grade 4 po ako, Mam”. “Hanggang Grade 12 lang, baby.” I asked her what is her favorite subject. She answered me with “Math po.” I pointed my students whilst saying “Sila din. Math favorite nila.” She smiled and told me, “Sana po maging kagaya nila ako..”
Witnessing the genuine smile of the children along with STEM 2 gave me tons of enthusiasm and joy. I am honored that I had the chance to see the innocence in their every laugh and tears. You’ll see in these children how grateful they were for the gifts they have received from my students. You’ll see how happy they were from watching the mini-program the class has conducted. You’ll see a sense of serenity in their eyes amidst the chaos in their hearts. It was very overwhelming that the little things STEM 2 brought gave a thousand smiles, immeasurable laughters and tons of joy.
My other PerDev class, STEM 4 (who also happened to be my advisory class) prepared a short and simple program. They sang classic OPM songs, prepared lunch and simple gifts for our Lolos and Lolas. I saw that each of them are assigned with some specific tasks and that became a strong backbone for the success of the program. Everyone participated and I must admit that I didn’t expect them to be as sincere and as involved as what I saw recently. If you know my STEM 4, you’ll totally understand what I mean. They are far, far different in the Home for the Aged a while ago from their other selves in the classroom in their everyday monotonous, chaotic lives. Everyone was enjoying their companies with Lolos and Lolas. And you’ll see that they are acting like everything was not about their grades per sé or just to fulfill the requirements I mandated. They were there to bring simple joys and share happiness with the elderly. And you’ll see this in their eyes. Onserving them close and from afar, I am certain that everyone was sincere in doing their tasks. They never hesitate to offer their hands when Lolos and Lolas needed help. They were sincere in attending the needs of the elderly. Some of them (including my hard-headed men) shed a tear in their eyes. That moment, they all really made me proud.
We were about to leave the place when a Lola caught my attention. She was crying. One of my students asked her why. She answered, “aalis na kasi kayo..” We promised to come back before christmas and give a little present for them again. It broke my heart into pieces. I think she’s terrified of being left behind over and over again. I think seeing people leaving her is a pain she cannot handle anymore. And it stings a lot more inside.
STEM 4’s activity was somehow heartbreaking for me. Seeing elderly being taken cared of by a social institution instead of their families is a pain in my heart. This also reminded me of my Nanay who just passed away recently– on my birthday. By merely seeing them, I can see a vivid picture of the last few years of Nanay on Earth. It was heartbreaking for me to see them living a routinary life inside the home without their families by their side. I myself can never afford to see my parents being taken cared of by others instead of me when they get old.
It was truly overwhelming that my students get to foster a sense of love and respect for the elderly. I was thankful that everyone participated and became a part and parcel of the success of this activity.
This is the beauty of Personal Development. We don’t always get to develop all by ourselves. We develop through learning from others– listening to real-life stories, getting a glimpse of others’ lives, hearing the noise of the surrounding and the vibe it brings. We sometimes complain about everything, f*ck this goddamn life and take things for granted. We ignore the beauty we get from life, ignore the melody and forgets to sway with it, not knowing that these little things are the biggest happiness of some.
We normally study about life in various perspectives. We talk about the vulnerable sectors of the society. We discuss concepts and theories we read from the textbooks and the handouts. We recite. We report. But more than these, it is essential that we see things in its most profound sense– see life in the actual scenario, learn to live with it to the fullest and thank God for the gift of life.
This, indeed, is an early christmas gift for them. Thank you for an outstanding performance, STEM 2 and STEM 4! I am so proud of you all. Cheers on your success!
(Photos aren’t all mine. Credits to Alena Guia, Darla May Montalbo and Bianca Uy)