Tibaldo: Baguio-ness and the city’s street children

Consumers atbp.

IN MY bid to mark or tag historical sites in Google Map as an amateur guide, I identified places such as the Baguio Post Office, the Baguio Cathedral, the Mansion House, Burnham Park and the old skating rink.

I also marked houses of prayers outside the city like the Manaoag Cathedral, the Sta Maria Church of Ilocos Sur and the chapel at Nalseb, Tublay in Benguet. While tagging the Our Lady of Atonement to which my family belong as a parishioner,

I am once again reminded of my youthful dream to repair or replace the damaged stained window glasses that shows biblical images. Stained Glass is an ancient art form made of cut colored glasses welded together by molten lead that is now replaced by colored resins applied in acrylic glass. Today, one can now see a figure of Mother Frances Cabrini, an Italian nun who is known as the Patron of Immigrants and the first American Saint. I was President of the Save our School Children Foundation which was being supported by the New York based the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus when we had the stained glass window of Mother Cabrini Installed with the insistence of Sister Patricia Spillane and interventions of the late Bishop Carlito Cenzon.

As part of its history, there was an awakening of consciousness about the rights of the child in the Philippines in1985 particularly Baguio City and it was during that year that the Save Our Street Children (SOSC) was conceived and organized by a group of concerned Baguio City residents of varied professions and affiliations from government, civic and educational institutions.

I was then with the Philippine Information Agency-Baguio when my office was tapped by SOSCFI to show educational movies at one hallway of the Marbay Shopping Complex. I became part of the founding group when I joined a soup kitchen project initiated by the Zonta Club of Baguio. The film showing became an added activity of the Zontanians during their soup kitchen project that caters to minors peddling items at the city market to help augment their family income.

Representatives from the academe, law enforcement service were involved and I remember Dr. Joe Brown of DepEd, Dr. Josefina Domingo of SLU and Sgt. Jovita Garcia of BCPO who were among the core group when we started meeting at the Our Lady of Lourdes Church at Kisad Road.

In 1986, the SOSCFI was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and with a five-year aid from UNICEF, the organization went on full force with various programs for empowerment of the street children and their families. The SOSC survived on a meager resources and “hand to mouth” existence for the organization’s Saturday Soup Kitchen which served as a come-on to the out-of-school youth as well as in-school youth who sell plastic bags and/or vegetables and serve as baggage carriers in the market to augment their family income.

SOSC had no permanent address for many years and the soup kitchen program were in various places including the Rizal Park, the market place, Park, the driveway of the Red Cross, the ground of the St. Louis University High School Department and many others.

The Save Our Street Children Foundation, Inc was finally accorded a legal personality by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on February 7, 1990 surviving on a “hand to mouth” existence for about seven years until the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (more popularly known as the Cabrini Sisters) heard about the SOSC and decided to collaborate with the organization in 1993.

Among the original members who saw the development of the foundation were; Dr. Thelma Leal, Fe Muller, Cely Gapuz, Precy Acoba Ver, Josephine Lapira, Betty Fangasan, myself and the three earlier mentioned with Ma. Ximena Rivera as the volunteer secretary. More volunteers later joined SOSC and it included priests like Fr. Benedict Castaneda.

When I was President of SOSCFI from 2002 to 2005, I had a chance to attend a Cabrini Mission General Assembly in New York to help the sisters defend our proposed operational budget. During that conference, I observed the growing concerns of African mothers and their children being afflicted with the dreaded AIDS even at birth and I realized the necessity for the MSC to leave the Philippines for a more important mission. Thanks to the MSC mission, have purchased a permanent shelter for the programs of SOSCFI at Camdas Subdivision and we have conducted many reconstructive surgery medical-dental missions with Interplast Australia which has medical practitioners from a Cabrini Hospital. Using the operating rooms of the Baguio General Hospital and Benguet General Hospital, the Australia based doctors actually skipped their vacations just be able to come to the Philippines to with their medical own apparatus and medicines with our volunteers serving as their support unit. In May 2010, the new Board of Trustees decided to change the name of the organization from Save Our Street Children Foundation, Inc. to Save Our School Children Foundation, Inc.


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