A facebook wall post that changed the lives of 200 kids in Zamboanga

I never quite understood Public Private Partnerships (PPP) until Jay Jaboneta shared me this touching story of over 200 elementary students living on that dot of an island in the middle of the Zamboanga gulf fronting Basilan . To be exact, the address is Layag-Layag, Brgy. Talon-Talon, Zamboanga City.

These kids go to Talon-Talon Elementary School in Zamboanga City. I have heard of kids walking by foot for kilometers on end to attend school. In this place, it is different. At times, these kids literally swim their way to school. Who wouldn’t feel sorry for these kids. They are eager to learn but the trouble it took to attend their school moved Jay.

Jay felt so much compassion upon learning that they have to swim about a kilometer everyday just to make it to school. Such a display of perseverance and the love for education by these kids moved him to post in his Facebook wall. Josiah Go saw Jay’s message and initiated a mini-fundraising campaign that raised P70K. Anton Lim of Tzu Chi Foundation – Zamboanga volunteered to find boatmaker and lead the effort to build it. CENRO-Zamboanga donated the log. Boatmaker from the community in Layag-Layag ‘donated’ their labor. PPP in action.

In no time, Jay witnessed the fruits of his initiative five months later when Lim informed him of the turnover. The boat’s name is Bagong Pag-asa” (New Hope), to signal a new beginning for the kids in recognition of their determination to obtain an education no matter the hardship.

They are now discussing on how to help more than 500 families who are informal settlers that have fled Sulu. Their houses are on stilts and their main industry is seaweed farming. Almost everybody helps out in the seaweed farming even working on a Sunday.

This is a clear example of PPP in action.

Liittle things can change this nation. It can start with sharing dreams in a Facebook wall. Who knows like-minded facebook friends will band together to act on it.

Let’s keep on helping those kids.

Here is an updated image indicating the location of the kids who swim to school in the village of Layag-Layag, Brgy. Talon-Talon, Zamboanga City.

Here is a more descriptive story from the Zamboanga Times.

Wednesday, March 30. 2011

A life-changing facebook wall post

by Michael Vincent D. Cajulao
ZAMBOANGA CITY — Technology can make or break man. It depends on how we utilize it. As technology advances, so are the limitless possibilities for man take advantage.

Nowadays, social networking is rather at its unbelievable peak. Almost everybody is into it. There is Facebook, Twitter, and other kinds of networking.

This networking-mania is actually a mixed-bag. While most use it for connecting with family, friends and loved ones, some unscrupulous people use it to their advantage. Thus, it can make or break us.

But more than connecting with other people, such technology can also be used to REACH OUT to those who are in dire need. And a great example of this is the touching story of the pupils from Layag-Layag settlement in Barangay Talon-Talon.

It all started as a simple wall post in facebook by Jay Jaboneta, the New Media Manager of the Presidential Communication Operations Office (formerly Office of the Press Secretary), on October 30, 2010, one day after visiting the city.

Jay, in his post, told the story of the perseverance of the pupils from Layag-Layag settlement, swimming across the sea just to go to school daily.

In our short telephone conversation Jay narrated the perils these students have to go through every day.

“I felt so much compassion for the kids learning that they have to swim about a kilometer everyday just to make it to school. Such a display of perseverance and the love for education by these kids moved me”, Jay said.

After posting the story, Mr. Josiah Go read Jay’s wall post and instantly felt the need to act on it. Mr. Go started a mini-fund raising activity for the kids.

A week after, volunteers headed by philanthropist-veterinarian Anton Lim, proceeded in raising more funds to come up with a project. The project? Build a boat that will ferry the kids back and forth to school. He partnered with Tzu Chi Foundation, a Chinese non-profit organization whose primary concern is to lend a helping hand to those in need. Together, they raised the remaining funds needed to complete the project.

Mr. Lim found a boat-maker in Abraham Mawadi, who was recommended by Barangay Kagawad Jesse Jamolod. When everything was set, Mr. Josiah Go transferred the fund to Mr. Lim on December 2010.

Needing of first grade materials for the boat, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources IX donated logs for the project. A deed DENR Regional Executive Director Arleigh Adorable is more than happy to do.

New Year started, and so was the actual building of the 25-seater (for kids) motorized boat.

Time flew fast when Jay received a call from Mr. Lim asking him to come to the city for the turnover ceremony of the project.

He flew from Manila Friday afternoon to the city. The following day he called me about it. He invited me to go but, unfortunately, I have an equally important activity to attend to. We had a short conversation and hearing him speak from the other line, I can feel the joy in Jay’s heart.

Jay was clueless as to when the project will be turned over. All he knew is there were initiatives being undertaken to help the kids.

Last Sunday, the kids were treated to a very big surprise. But it wasn’t only the kids. Jay was also full of excitement to see the fruit of his simple wall post.

“I didn’t think it would be this big of a project. I just received a call from Mr. Lim telling me that the project would be turned over to the community. I’m just very happy for the kids”, he enthused.

Finally, Jay saw the project. But more than that, he was happier to see the overwhelming joy in the smiles of the kids, the parents, and the community in general.

The boat’s name? “Bagong Pag-asa” (New Hope), a fitting name for the community cherish. And it all started in a simple wall post.

It’s just one of the many ways how technology impacts lives. Well, in this case, in a positive way. It’s how we use technology to advance the welfare of others rather than take advantage of them.

Again, technology can make or break us. In this situation, man chose to make lives better than break them apart. (MVC/PIA9-Zambo City)