One School Bag at a time

Monday morning, 11-year-old Norwell Jake slipped into his oversized white sando and green shorts, his clothes barely able to fit his skinny figure. Today, he and his mother will drop by the INPH service center of Magdalena, Laguna to pick up another set of school benefits he is going to receive as an INCAP sponsored child. 



Despite the fact that he has been receiving gifts for the past five years, Norwell can’t help but to feel excited over the school supplies, bag and shoes he is going to get. Magdalena is a remote and rustic community situated at the rolling countryside and a ride to the marketplace takes a heavy toll for his mother who is 5 months pregnant. She does not have to travel far to get his supplies ready for the school year.



Norwell’s small frame and humble form inadvertently masks his great dedication on his studies. From Grade 1, he is consistently on the Top 10 of the class. He also participates in Math competitions by representing his school and his district. The pride and joy of his family, he aspires to be a pilot someday.



That is why for him, every school item given, every pen and paper, notebook and pastel, reinforces his will to complete his studies and bring a brighter tomorrow for his family. 


Norwell isn’t the only one who was excited to begin the new school year. 15-year-old Mary Juliet Amocoy, a high school student, was pleasantly surprised to receive these gifts even though she recently lost her sponsor. A consistent honor student, she credits her achievements to IN’s continuous support for her education. “Yun pong tulong na binibigay ng IN, mas nakatulong po sa akin para ganahan sa pag-aaral kasi po bilang estudyante, mas gaganahan po kami sa pag-aaral kung kumpleto po yung gamit namin, Masaya pong mag-aral kung kumpleto at maayos ang mga gamit.” (With the assistance and school supplies we are receiving from IN, we became more motivated to finish our studies. It’s more fun to learn when you have all the things you needed for school.)


She also cited the importance of being INCAP child to her emotional and social well-being. “Nagkaroon pa po ako ng mas madaming kaibigan at nakatulong po ito emotionally and spiritually gawa po ng mga bible studies na tumutulong po sa amin. Mga camps na pinupuntahan po namin. Mas nabuo pa po yung pagkatao ko.” (Being an INCAP child helped me emotionally and spiritually through bible studies and camps. I found new friends and I felt I’m growing as an individual.)


   Christine Jane Barcheco, fondly called Jaja by her       friends, is a girl from the highland community of Mascap, Rizal who also received the much needed school gifts. With tears on her eyes, she hugged the bag to her chest as she thanked the sponsors from the bottom of her heart.“Nakakatulong po ng malaki ang IN dahil po sa mga gamit po, sa mga sapatos po na hindi po naming kayang bilhin ay nabibigay po nila. “Nagpapasalamat po ako dahil malaking tulong itong binibigay nila sa amin.”


 “It’s really a big help for us. My family can’t afford the school supplies and shoes and these are freely given to us. That’s why I’m so thankful for all these things” 


It is part of the Filipino culture to place education in the highest regard. Families and parents adorn their walls with plaques or certificates of graduation of their children as a source of unmistakable pride. Much like any developing country, indigent families in the Philippines heavily invest on their children’s education, even if it means making both ends meet. In the countryside and rural areas, there is a big sacrifice in both the parents and the child’s part to continue one’s studies, especially with the isolated location and deficiency of classrooms.



In an editorial published at the Pinoy Press last 2010, it is estimated that 80% of the Philippine population is earning P46 a day (less than 2$). The writer posed this big question:  how can a family afford the school uniforms, the transportation to and from school, the expenses for school supplies and projects, the miscellaneous expenses, and the food for the younger children?


This issue is still prevalent in the faraway communities like Rizal, Laguna, Leyte and Albay. However, with the ongoing support for their education on a regular basis, more and more children are encouraged to burn the midnight oil to pursue their dreams for a better life.


College student Ruvelyn Penaso beautifully summarizes the effect of the assistance she is receiving in one statement: “Syempre po, kung may tumutulong po sa’yo at kung may naniniwala sa’yo na matatapos mo ang pag-aaral, maniniwala ka din sa sarili mo na matatapos mo siya and nakakataba po siya ng puso.” (When someone is helping you with your education, and that someone believes on you, you can’t help but to believe on yourself too and in that way, you became more motivated to study. You can’t afford to let that someone or yourself down.)


It is investing on a child’s dreams and future, one school bag at a time. 




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International Needs Philippines
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