Christmas lives in street kids’ haven on Leveriza | Inquirer News

Christmas lives in street kids’ haven on Leveriza

/ 01:44 AM December 10, 2011

If Christmas is for children, then it literally is just around the corner of Leveriza Street in Malate, Manila.

It has been so for the last 25 years when Bahay Tuluyan started sharing the spirit of love, joy and goodwill with street children in the Malate area.

With a new building, aptly colored green, Bahay Tuluyan has found a home on Leveriza to continue fostering all-year-round cheer and hope for kids of poor families, and expanded its advocacy by tapping communities to promote and protect their rights.


Richard Burgos, a member of Bahay Tuluyan’s board of directors, told the Inquirer that the nongovernmental organization advocates the promotion and respect for children’s rights enshrined in the United Nations charter.


Bahay Tuluyan, which used to operate out of neighboring Malate Church, was founded in 1987 in response to the growing number of street children in the Malate area.

Its temporary home also along Leveriza Street began as a drop-in center, where children could use the bathroom, rest, eat or play. As many of the children had nowhere to sleep, the center quickly developed into a temporary shelter.


New, effective ways

Looking for new and effective ways to reach out to street children, the center developed an alternative education program using what they called the “Child-to-Child Approach” by tapping participative learning and cooperative work for children.

Bahay Tuluyan relies on support from its local and foreign development partners—international NGOs, corporate partners, community organizations, academic institutions, foundations and individuals—to sustain its programs and services.

“For the outreach program, we provide games and a feeding program. When the children leave, we make sure they are more assertive when it comes to knowing their rights,” Burgos said.

The Bahay Tuluyan building was inaugurated on November 11. It has a crisis center that provides emergency and short-term accommodations to children in need of special protection, a drop-in center where children living or working on the streets can take a bath, play, rest, eat and access social services, and a training center for community education and income generation. Its heart is the Makabata Guesthouse and Café.

The guesthouse is managed by Chef Aldrin Marasigan Gamulo, who previously worked as food and beverage manager of Crown Regency Hotel.

Gamulo is currently training nine out-of-school youths, aged 17 to 21, in hotel and restaurant management at the facility that targets tourists looking for affordable food and accommodations in Manila.


A tie-up with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) is being eyed so trainees can get accreditation from the agency to increase their chances in landing long-term jobs in the future.

“We want to get these kids off the streets by making them productive so they can reach their full potential,” Gamulo said, adding that the project is under Bahay Tuluyan’s Independent Living Skills Program (ILSP).

The ILSP was created to address the difficulties children and young people face when they leave home and become independent. It has since evolved to address the needs of community-based out-of-school youth.


The goal is to empower young people with comprehensive skills and knowledge to assist them to break out of the cycle of poverty and abuse and to live independently.

“What we are offering at Makabata Guesthouse and Café is a child-safe, wholesome environment,” he said. The guesthouse has 14 rooms to accommodate visitors, including families, housed in five floors.

Melanie Reyes, 21, of Barangay 707 Zone 78, has been training under Gamulo for seven months and is among the first batch of trainees.

Melanie first heard of the organization from a friend. She started as a youth educator under the Bahay Tuluyan’s mobile unit, a brightly colored custom-built van that visits children in different areas around Manila providing alternative education and feeding street urchins.

“When I heard about Bahay Tuluyan from a friend, I decided to volunteer.  We went around Manila three days a week for three weeks, teaching street children to be aware of their rights. Later, I was asked if I wanted to train at the guesthouse,” she said.

Under Gamulo’s stewardship, she developed skills in cooking, housekeeping and managing a pension.

Apart from Asian fusion cuisine, trainees like her were taught how to prepare Western-style gourmet dishes for their future American and European guests.

A high school graduate, Melanie plans to pursue a college degree in hotel and restaurant management or computer science, with Bahay Tuluyan’s help.

“Before I joined Bahay Tuluyan, nobody in my neighborhood knew it existed. Now, my barangay (village) is actively supporting the organization’s activities,” she said.

50,000 children

Bahay Tuluyan’s new home is expected to benefit at least 50,000 children over the next decade, with the benefit anticipated to spill over to another 70,000 children, families and their communities.

The organization has two existing homes in Victoria, Laguna province, for girls and younger kids and another in San Antonio, Quezon province, for the boys, where they are encouraged to go back to school.

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“Going back to school makes the children more prepared for the future,” said Burgos.

TAGS: Leveriza

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