Bunye: Father Rocky's street children

JAMES Augustine Dino, a culinary arts graduate, was personally chosen by Chef Alain Ducasse to work in his famous Le Jules Verne restaurant in Paris, France.

Benedict Sabularse and Edmar Sumera, ballet dancers, are considered rising stars in Ballet Academy in Cannes, France and in Hamburg Ballet school in Germany, respectively.

Robbie Bron, Rene Malleza, Oxenola Adimar, all automotive graduates, had successful stints in the Middle East and are now living in Australia with their families.

Maricar Peñalosa, a member of the Manuvu tribe in North Cotabato, is productively employed in a BPO.

What do James Augustine, Benedict, Edmar, Robbie, Rene, Oxenola and Maricar have in common?

Years ago, they were malnourished, shabby, and frightened children whom Father Rocky Evangelista rescued from the streets. The good priest took them under his care at the Tuloy Foundation hoping to transform them into responsible contributing members of society.

Father Rocky has been hugely successful. For the past 25 years, Tuloy Foundation has taken under its wing around 20,000 street children who, otherwise, would have been at risk of becoming perpetual burdens of society or, worse, criminals.

Father Rocky's formula was simple: Gather these children in a caring and nurturing environment, provide them with their basic needs, give them basic literacy and technical-vocational skills training and initial job

placement. More important: teach them to dream and make them realize those dreams via value and spiritual formation.

Of course, it was easier said than done.

Father Rocky started in 1993 with only 12 street children in a small room in Don Bosco Parish Compound in Makati City.

He was assisted by young volunteers, all professionals in their field.

To support his advocacy, Father Rocky said he had to become a "professional beggar."

"I am not ashamed to admit it. I beg and beg. But I beg for others."

Father Rocky begged the DSWD, and the DSWD acceded, to lease to the Tuloy

Foundation an idle property in Alabang for 50 years, renewable for another 50 years. Thus, Tuloy Foundation was able to move to a bigger training venue in 1997.

Then Father Rocky begged some more. He asked friends, companies, even total strangers. Somehow they responded.

In one fund-raising occasion, an attendee was so moved by Tuloy's advocacy that he responded in a dramatic fashion. He removed the Rolex from his wrist and turned it over to Father Rocky. I also happily donated a major portion of the proceeds of the then-on-going Mayor Toting Bunye golf tournament to Tuloy.

It is not difficult to understand why benefactors share their time and resources with Tuloy. They immediately see where their donation goes. Father Rocky is also very transparent is accounting for every peso (or dollar) in alms received.

The Tuloy Foundation in Alabang now houses 10 residential structures, a school and administrative building, technical-vocational skills workshops, a culinary arts center, a center for recreation and the arts, a multi-purpose sports center, an ecological productivity zone (tiered vegetable garden), a chapel and even a world-class football field.

Tuloy Foundation in Alabang is currently supporting around 800 in-house students. Tuloy also opens its sports facilities to out-of-school children from Muntinlupa and Las Piñas.

Tuloy Foundation offers a DepEd-approved non-traditional curriculum, using Alternative Learning System (ALS) modules that provide basic competencies in Science, Math, English, Pilipino, Religion and Civics.

It also offers a Tesda-approved 18-month program (inclusive of on-the-job training) in the following courses: Automotive Servicing, Refrigeration, Air Conditioning Servicing, Computer Hardware Servicing, Electrical Installation and Maintenance, Baking, Dress-making and Call Center Readiness.

Part and parcel of the Tuloy program is sports (basically football and touch rugby) which Father Rocky considers vital in teaching discipline and teamwork. He says it is also good therapy for former street children who need to vent negative emotions in a more productive way.

Already, Fr. Rocky is seeking to further expand the reach of Tuloy Foundation.

Tuloy recently expanded to Angeles City in Pampanga in a one-hectare property with an initial 22 students and another satellite unit in Soro-soro, Biñan City, Laguna.

Also, Tuloy has three mobile classrooms (offering short courses in Consumer Electronics and Basic Computer Literacy) that regularly traverse Laguna, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan, Occidental Mindoro, Leyte and Cagayan de Oro City in cooperation with the Philippine Army's Civic Military Operations Regiment.

The work of the "professional beggar" has not gone unnoticed. The list of awards and recognitions received by Tuloy Foundation, both from local and international bodies, is just too long. But let me just mention that In 2007, Tuloy Foundation was adjudged by the Muntinlupa City Government as The Most Outstanding Organization "for significant contribution to the life of Muntinlupeños through acts of service and generosity."

Note: You may email us at totingbunye2000@gmail.com. You may also "like" us on Facebook at "Speaking Out."


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