Tuesday 26 September 2006


BIBO is an acronym for Bata Ikaw ang Bukas Outreach. It is a program spearheaded by ANLP-Makati in coordination with Sun for All Children (an NGO) that holds English and Math tutorial classes for 30 underprivileged kids in Baseco. I have volunteered as a Math tutor and I have been attending it for 3 consecutive Saturdays now.

I remember the first time we went to Baseco. Though I had had some ideas on my head on what the place would look like, I was still disheartened when I saw it. I still find it hard to understand how they "multiplied" in that area. You see, Baseco was a shipyard before and it's been land-filled (actually more like garbage-filled) to make it "livable" by our less fortunate brothers and sisters. Thousands of families live there and there are an average of 4-5 kids per family. The first time I went there, it rained the night before. So the area was muddy and we had to be really careful not to step on loose ground so as not to have our shoes submerged into some murky piles of garbages. It was an ala-extra-challenge experience, I tell you, as we fought not to lose our balance trekking to the venue.

On the 2nd Saturday, the venue was moved near what they call the "sea wall". We now have to pass by this meter-wide strip which is more passable than the previous one. But it's advisable not to get too friendly with the kids playing around the area. Or else they might just grab you saying "swimming tayo, Ate!" and push you to dive into the garbage-ladened Manila bay, ewww!

I was assigned to teach a group of kids that started with 5 but now they're 8 :) Last Saturday, I went there armed with stronger conviction to teach my kids Math and to make them absorb the lessons no matter what it took. I thought it would just be another normal tutoring day for me, but I was wrong. Something happened that I didn't expect. Because we did something different that day... Instead of tutors taking snacks together with other tutors and all the kids eating together as a bunch, the tutors and the kids assigned to them ate their snacks together. While I was eating my sandwich, I noticed a couple of my kids not eating their chocolate cakes. I just thought maybe they weren't hungry yet. But then Christian (the most lambing boy in my group) approached me, asking for a plastic. So I asked, "What for? Di nyo ba gusto yung cake? Di nyo kasi kinakain eh...". Christian, in his sweet and innocent voice answered me, "Ate George, iuuwi ko po kasi sa amin. Ibibigay ko sa mga kapatid ko. May plastic po ba kayo?" And all the others chorused, "Ako din po Ate George, penge ng plastic."

Shocks, I was dumbfounded. Because the kids, who I believe rarely get the chance to eat a free cake, still thought of their siblings at home! Heck, if I were them, I would gladly gobble down my cake without a second thought! Simply amazing, diba?

I told my co-tutors about this and they said they had noticed that before. So we'd usually serve two snacks because if we'd only serve one, most of the kids would never eat it because they would bring it home for their siblings. So, the tendency is, they'd still be hungry until the end of the tutoring session. I was humbled upon hearing that. I initially thought I would be the one who would teach them some Math lessons. The kids taught me a greater lesson in life - that it's possible to be unselfish and to care for your loved ones even in the midst of poverty.

The next time I'll go there, I vow to get to know my kids some more. I want to know more about their families, their dreams, what makes them laugh and what makes them cry. I hope I can make a difference in their lives just like the way they have touched mine.

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