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Turning rough diamonds into gems

Don Bosco Makati jubilee year

THE SCHOLARS are in high spirits on arrival in Manila, eagerly looking forward to a life-changing experience. Contributed Photo

Don Bosco Technical Institute-Makati marks its 60th year—its diamond jubilee—by welcoming into its fold 61 students from Leyte and Samar.

Initiated by the Don Bosco Makati administrators, “60 Scholars in 60 Years” is the school’s contribution to the massive and lengthy rebuilding effort in the areas devastated by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” last year.

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Although the program had initially meant to choose only 60 grantees—known collectively as the Tacloban Scholars—there are actually 61 beneficiaries who come not just from Leyte’s capital city and the municipalities of Jaro, Dagami, Tanauan, Palo and La Paz but also from neighboring Samar, the places most devastated by the powerful storm.

Fr. Dindo S. Vitug, SDB, technical director of the Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET) center, is project officer of the scholarship program.

The school also started the Alternative Learning System (ALS) in October last year to help school dropouts in the area.

According to Vitug, a total of 70 ALS students are now preparing for the Accreditation and Equivalency examinations.

Don Bosco initiated the scholarship program for typhoon victims, Vitug said, because the school “believes that sustainable assistance like education and skills training is an appropriate mode to transform the lives” of the grantees and their families.

Early this year, Vitug, Hertz Pura of Porsche Philippines and John Valeria, Don Bosco guidance counselor, went to Tacloban to conduct testing and interviews of applicants at Liceo del Verbo Divino (formerly Divine Word University).

Vitug said the turnout was “overwhelming.” Informed about the program by Msgr. Ramon Aguilos, the Palo archdiocese superintendent of schools, 256 applicants showed up.

Good job prospects

But despite the apparent eagerness of the prospective applicants, the Don Bosco team felt it necessary to stress the nature and advantages of technical-vocational courses and the opportunities for employment in skills training.

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The team discussed the programs and courses available at Don Bosco and how, although scholars would train for only 15 months, their employment prospects were brighter than those of some people with college degrees.

Vitug said the young people were offered training options in four areas: automotive, fitter machinist, electro-mechanical and refrigeration and air-conditioning.

Through testing and interview, Vitug’s group selected 61, including six girls. Of this number, 28 went into automotive technology, 19 into fitter machinist technology, 10 into refrigeration and air-conditioning technology, and 4 into electro-mechanical technology.

Vitug said the 15-month training would include 10 months of intensive, in-school technical training and 960 hours of on-the-job training. The scholars would enjoy free board and lodging during their stay in Don Bosco Makati.

He said the 15-month skills training would be challenging, combining both academic and technical requirements. However, he was confident the Tacloban grantees would survive the rigors of the training and would finish their courses.

Porsche Germany, through Porsche Training and Recruitment Center Asia (PTRCA), paid for the airfare of all 61 scholars although PTRCA, which aims to train highly qualified automotive service mechatronics to work here and abroad, picked only 16 scholars for its own purposes.

PGA Cars, exclusive distributor of Porsche vehicles in the Philippines, pledged assistance to 24 scholars, Vitug said.

Six scholars were “adopted” by Propeller Club of Manila, which is committed to support the maritime industry through the education and skills training of future mariners.

Additional assistance

Vitug said other Don Bosco Makati benefactors and industry partners offered educational assistance and were committed to help provide for the scholars’ food and other requirements.

Alexander Rodillas, 21, an ALS graduate whose father is a factory worker, said his scholarship would help him achieve his dream to be a seafarer and travel to other countries.

The fitter machinist trainee and scholar of Propeller Club of Manila said their house was swept away by the storm surge and they had to swim their way to a stronger and higher stone house.

After the deluge, the family lived in a shanty a few meters outside of the no-build zone that they rented for P300 a month.

Rodillas said he hoped to buy a piece of land for his parents and help send his sister and a niece to school.

Felixander Sudario, 19, had been working as a pedicab driver for 10 years to support the family. He said only their bamboo floor and dirty kitchen survived Yolanda’s fury.

Now training for refrigeration and air-condition servicing, he said he wanted to give his family their own piece of land and a nice house.

Vitug said the scholars, after their 15-month training, would receive certification from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) that would qualify them for national and international jobs.

Vitug said the graduates would be free to accept any job offer as they were under no obligation to return home. Most of the scholars were certain to be hired by their sponsors, he added.

The 61 Tacloban scholars joined 800 other scholars of Don Bosco Makati.

Aside from the flagship “60 Scholars in 60 Years” program, Don Bosco Makati has also taken steps “to make the school more responsive to greater challenges in offering quality education” to celebrate its diamond jubilee.

Envisioning a bigger and fully equipped training center to cater to more poor students and prepare for the demands of senior high school, the institute is currently constructing a four-story building that would house the automotive shop, lecture and laboratory rooms, ALS center, library and multipurpose function rooms.

As it marks its 60th anniversary, Don Bosco Makati recommits to its mission to serve the poorest of the poor through education and skills training for the underprivileged youth.

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TAGS: Diamond Jubilee, don Bosco technical institute-makati, Learning, Scholars, Typhoon Yolanda
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