Mabalacat, Pampanga -‐ After the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, the Aeta community were forced to leave their homes in the mountains and dwell in the lowlands. Several Aeta communities were placed throughout Pampanga to serve as their new home, so they could, just like everyone else at that time, start rebuilding their lives.
One of the Aeta communities probably most known to public is Sitio Monicayo in Mabalacat, Pampanga. This is a small and quiet community composed of more or less 500 residents. To date, the dwellers here have already established a stable living condition where access to electricity and potable water is in place. In the center of this community you’ll find Monicayo Elementary School.
The school was built in 2006 through the help of LGU’s and private companies. Back then, the school only offered grades 1 to 3. According to Mr. Maynor Manaloto, the school head from 2009 up to the present, their initial challenge was more on how they were going to convince the children to try school and study. Given the environment that they were accustomed with, children were taught to either hunt or plant crops instead of attending school. But the educators believed that, Aeta kids are no different from any kids out there. That inside every Aeta is a curious child that longs to explore and learn. However, not everyone is given the proper venue and tools to do so.
But because of the continuous support that Monicayo Elementary School gets, a conducive learning area was built, and students started pouring in. The school now offers curriculum for kinder to grade 6. They have a total of 121 students and 6 teachers. On top of that, Monicayo Elementary School has 100% graduation turnout.
Monicayo kids saving the day with their smiles
Save the Kids PH
The opportunity to support continuous learning to empower and uplift the lives of the Aeta children was one chance that Save the Kids PH could not pass up. To help meet the need and feed the curiosity of Monicayo’s growing minds, Save the Kids PH donated not just books but a whole library to the school.
Spearheaded by the foundation’s president Margarita Te and vice president Martin Alindogan, Save the Kids PH travelled to Sitio Monicayo on February 15, 2018 with books, shelves, TV set, and snacks on hand.
A warm show of hearts
The day started with a library clean-‐up. Margarita, Martin and some highschool volunteers wasted no time upon their arrival in the school. With sticks and broom on hand, they started clearing up a room full of dust and started to tidy up the area. While waiting for the shelves and books to arrive, Martin had the chance to mingle and talk about basketball with the boys. Astounded with Martin Alindogan’s height, the kids flocked around him while he taught them basic basketball tricks. On the other hand, Margarita Te bonded with the girls by reading them a story from an old book she found in one of the classrooms.
When the book shelves arrived, Margarita Te and Martin Alindogan together with the community volunteers started to set up the library. More than 1000 new books donated by individuals and publishers that Margarita and Martin solicited from were neatly stowed on the new shelves. A TV set complete with a DVD player was also securely placed in one corner of the new library. Once done, a simple ribbon cutting ceremony was conducted to formally turn over the new library to Monicayo Elementary School.
Monicayo Elementary School library’s ribbon cutting ceremony
The activity did not just end there. In store is another surprise from Save the Kids PH. With the help of the teachers, parents, and a number of barangay officials, Monicayo Elementary School students were treated to a snack of burgers, spaghetti, and drinks. In return, the students performed a traditional Aeta dance to show their gratitude and appreciation for their new library from Save the Kids PH.
Students performing a traditional Aeta dance
The library is just one of the initial projects of Save the Kids PH for Monicayo Elementary School. With programs geared towards empowering children to help equip them towards a better future, Margarita Te and Martin Alindogan promised the kids that they will be back with more surprises in tow. Martin promised a basketball match with the kids while Margarita will do a summer literacy camp plus arts and crafts activity with the girls. Save the Kids PH plans to launch the summer camp for the elementary students on April. Aside from this, a line of future projects are in store in partnership withES and the HS Technical Vocational School.
Martin Alindogan and Margarita Te bonding with Monicayo kids
Margarita Te and Martin Alindogan are schoolmates from International School Manila. They are the front runners of Save the Kids PH – a youth led, non profit organization with the mission to help displaced and disadvantage Filipino youth to find better opportunities for learning and development towards a brighter future. Save the Kids PH works hand in hand with Save the Girls PH, also headed by Margarita Te and Rebound.PH led by Martin Alindogan.