In Bulacan, students are helping studentsBy Stephen Norries A. Padilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The bayanihan spirit finally gave a remote public school in Bulacan its own library.
In a project called Pambatang Buklatan 2012, college students of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City, set up a library at Pinac-Pinacan Elementary School (PES) in San Rafael, Bulacan. The project will benefit some 200 pupils from kindergarten to Grade 6.
The project is an initiative of UP Lakan, a nonstock, nonprofit organization of UP students who hail from the province of Bulacan.
In accepting the new library, PES officer in charge Maria Divina Valderama expressed her gratitude to the organization for choosing their school as a project beneficiary this year.
Pambatang Buklatan is one of the major projects of UP Lakan that aims to help other students get a quality education. UP Lakan chair Marvin Bentulan said the project started in 2005 to “promote academic excellence in the province of Bulacan … and to help develop the students’ passion and love for reading.”
They chose PES after consultations with the regional office of the Department of Education in Bulacan, which determines which public school needs more help with facilities and equipment based on performance and location.
Bentulan said beneficiaries were not only poor, but were usually from far-flung villages.
Valderama said many PES students could not attend classes for lack of money. “And we really are short of books. We do not allow the students to bring the books home…”
The UP Lakan provided PES with two bookshelves for the donated textbooks on such subjects as mathematics, science, English, music, arts, physical education, values education; teacher’s manuals, references (dictionary and encyclopedia), storybooks, magazines and journals, etc. Board games, maps and a globe were also given to the school.
The organization spent close to P20,000 for Pambatang Buklatan, which it raised through its other projects and marketing campaigns. Some books were donated by members and alumni, Filipinas Heritage Library and private schools. UP Lakan also conducted book drives and bought some reading materials with its own funds.
Members covered the books with plastic before delivering them to PES and helping set up the library.
After the handover, UP Lakan organized parlor games for the pupils. It also presented a short play about a naughty boy’s adventure, “Ang mga Bola ni Niko Bibo,” which was written by a UP Lakan alumna, Judee Bendiola. Grades 5 and 6 students presented a dance number.
Each student received a canvas bag containing school supplies, such as pencils, pens, paper and notebooks after the short program.
“All the stress and the sleep deprivation we endured (preparing for the handover) instantly disappeared when we saw how happy the kids were and how they were enjoying the program,” UP Lakan vice chair for external affairs Christian Darwin Valencia said.
He almost cried when a student approached him and said, “Salamat po, kuya. Balik po kayo. (Thank you, big brother. Visit us again.)”
Valencia, who had attended public schools, said Pambatang Buklatan taught him a lesson. “I thought I was already miserable then because my school lacked books, but after seeing the situation here I realized that my condition before was nothing compared to this. There are many schools out there that need help, but help doesn’t come to them.
“It doesn’t matter how young you are if you want to help other people. So long as you have the drive and you really want to give, nothing is impossible.”
Other UP Lakan projects for students from Bulacan include CATalinuhan, a college admission test review for graduating high school students, and Timpalakan, a competition among secondary schools that consists of quiz bees, essay writing, poster making and oration.