New normal alumni homecoming

A HOMECOMING is always an exciting and inspiring event. It is a celebration of friendship, joyful memories and dreams weaved. For the Assumption School of Davao Alumni '76/'80, preparations for a grand reunion of batchmates have been in the pipeline since last year. Excitement was brewing for months among high school classmates, after all, this year is the 40th year after graduation.

That is until the pandemic came. The plan for the homecoming was stalled, for months the health crisis was priority discussion among the alumni. Given the alumni's formation from the Assumption School to be responsible citizens, the members were quick to respond to requests for assistance from batchmates who are medical frontliners. The continuing and urgent challenges faced by other sectors did not fail to catch the attention of the alumni group. Everyone was of one mind in acknowledging the setbacks and limitations thrown at the education system by the pandemic.

Partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) Davao Region was forged. Through the Adopt-A-School Program of DepEd, the alumni group distributed much needed school and hygiene supplies to public school learners in rural areas of Davao. One of the partner schools, the Paquibato National High School (PNHS) received yellow pads, ballpens, bond papers and Wi-Fi modems for use by teachers and learners on October 12, 2020.

For one teacher of PNHS, Editha Estrella Blanco, the project hits so close to home as she is one of the alumni members. Despite the challenges of teaching in one of the most indigent and conflict-stricken areas in Davao, she confides that leaving her profession never crossed her mind and she is very thankful that the ASD Alumni group will support the needs of the learners in her school.

DepEd's Adopt-A-School Program aims to augment its mandate to provide quality education to all Filipinos and encourages the private sector to become active educational collaborators.

Dr. Warlito Hua, who heads Deped Davao Region's Education Support Services, expressed gratitude to the group. "We are very happy that your group decided to partner with us, indeed our learners in the rural areas need plenty of support and your endeavor will ensure continuity in their learning process," he said.

The former directress of ASD, Dr. Iris Melliza, a prominent educator and peace advocate in Davao said, "The endeavor is surely commendable. ACD must be proud of it."

Big corporations like Brother Philippines was quick to support the endeavor through one of its top executives who is part of the alumni group.

This gesture of generosity and compassion to fellow Dabawenyos was lauded by Davao City councilor and committee for education chair Pilar Braga. "Your Adopt-a-School is admirable, a step in the right direction of 'paying back'. The world is in need of men and women who have the compassion for the less privileged," she said.

More than a thousand students from five different schools in rural areas in Davao City are expected to benefit from this project. The Luyan Elementary School in Barangay Tambobong will receive hygiene supplies like footbaths, alcohol and thermal scanners in addition to school supplies like bond papers, printer, and toner which can help in the delivery of modular learning. The school serves 100% Obu-Manuvu children and has only 3 teaching personnel. When the school was established as an IP school in Davao, they used a multi-purpose nipa hut to hold classes until DepEd and the Davao City Government led the construction of the school. Luyan Elementary School has no maintenance and other operating expenses budget to buy health and hygiene supplies, so they are very happy to learn about the donation of the alumni group. Two schools in Marilog District will also receive donations from the alumni. Pupils in the Pamuhatan Elementary School are from the Bagobo tribe and most parents are farmers.

"Donations of the alumni group will support, remediate, and supplement the learning of public school pupils," said James Penalosa, Head Teacher of Pamuhatan Elementary School in Marilog.

Matigsalog, Bagobo, and Visayan children in the Balite Elementary School could not reach high school due to lack of income from their parents.

The vision and aspiration of education are no longer in the sole hands of educators and the government. It is equally in the palm of each individual who sincerely hopes for a nation properly educated and well equipped to take on the task of nation building. Although the Covid pandemic has rearranged our lives, for the ASD Alumni batch '80 and '76, its 40th homecoming celebration goes on, and it is through a very special and unique way of making children smile and feel assured that their learning will go on despite the pandemic. After all, education should be the great equalizer.


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