The summer of 24

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By Ramon Dacawi

Benchwarmer

Friday, May 31, 2013


MOST of the 24 girls who signed up for the city’s Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) initially expected to be doing messengerial and office work.

They ended up weeding, potting seedlings, tending young trees and building firebreaks to protect growing pine planted at the Busol watershed by children under the city’s Eco-walk environmental awareness program for kids.

They ended up developing friendships that, they swore at the end of their month-long labor, are bound to last. Their experience in manual labor also made them realize how difficult it is to earn for their school fees this coming school year.

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“Noong una ninais ko talagang sa upisina ako mapunta, nguni’t hindi talaga lahat ng gusto mo ay nasusunod,” wrote 16-year old Michelle Mateo in her assessment report last Tuesday. “Kahit mahirap ang aming ginawa ay masasabi kong madali dahil kasama ko ang aking mga bagong kaibigan…at talagang natutuhan kong hahirap talagang kumita ng pera.”

“It’s my first time to work (summer job) and I knew that it’s so hard to work because I’m too young to help my parents in (easing) financial problems,” admitted Angelica Maicle, incoming senior at the Baguio City National High School.

“I already understand how difficult it is to earn a living,” agreed 16-year old Ma. Apple Valenzuela, who will take up accountancy at the St. Louis University. “This working experience made me realize that earning money is not that easy,” seconded Annie Rose Peckeng.

“It is definitely hard to earn money; that is why my respect for my parents increased,” wrote Cleo Coleen Calalo, incoming high school senior at the St. Louis School Center.

“Unang araw pa lang namin sa Busol, sumama na kaagad ang pakiramdam ko,” recalled Queenielyn Logronio, 16, and incoming freshman in forensic science at the University of Baguio. “Isang linggo kami doon kaya unti-unti na akong nasanay.”

Memorable to Angelica Mhae Quinto was learning how to establish fire lanes to protect seedlings planted by kids under the Eco-walk program.

“This opportunity has opened my eyes (to the) reality that money is not that easy to find,” scribbled Risa Soriano, 15 and incoming senior at the BCNHS. She wrapped it up with a lesson: “Sometimes our expectations fail and our dreams depart but we should always keep in mind that what we are doing in (the) present determines our future.”

It was the same lesson that mayor Mauricio Domogan shared in his message to the over 270 SPES students at the end of their month-long work at the city hall multi-purpose center. Orphaned in childhood, Domogan struggled for an education by working as a laborer in road repair and in the mines.

Dahl Angelique Canete, 16, an incoming tourism student at UB, remembered that on her first day in Busol, “I didn’t have someone to talk to except my former high school classmate, but in my head, I was thinking ‘SPES would be fun’”.

Expectations of hardships in field work “vanished as laughter filled the air and each and everyone of us learned to form new ties as friends,” said Alpha Ray Maicle, who will take up chemical engineering at SLU.

Mariel Sumerbang, who will study at King’s College, said they enjoyed working for the food and the jokes they shared but more for “the friendship and love we experienced.”

“Hindi ‘ata makukumpleto ang araw namin kapag hindi kami nakakita ng insekto, o-od o kaya naman ahas,” said Shyra Marie Estigoy who will take up accountancy at SLU. “I have been exposed to many creatures like insects, birds, worms and snakes,” added Arlene Corpuz, incoming senior at the BCNHS.

For incoming fourth year Verna Sheila Leyco of the Magsaysay National High School, “I learned to interact with the environment, manage the time (to) work and (to) rest. It was very memorable.”

“Nothing is difficult when we work as a team,” noted Johnalyn Joy Mackay, 15 and incoming senior at the Pines City National High. “As we got closer and closer, it’s not easy for us to be separated with my co-SPES workers,” revealed Jaena Padilla who has enrolled in culinary arts.

Sixteen-year old Angela Kim Cruz, who will take up communications at the University of the Philippines, somehow summed up the experience:
“”With the kind of group we have, I expected that things would go on smoothly. But then I learned that just like the different kinds of plants, animals and other organisms striving to live in the ecosystem, we have different characteristics, of which each and everyone should deal with. “Some are sensitive and thorny like the “makahiya”, humble and flexible just like a bamboo while others are strong and firm yet still in need of protection and proper caring like the great Baguio Pine. But whatever characteristics we have and differences we own, all of us need to adapt to the environment we are living in, which means we should be flexible and sensitive.”

(Email: mondaxbench@yahoo.com for comments)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 01, 2013.

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