Armando De Leon, 38 years old, didn’t know how to read or write. He spent most of his life on the streets. A “kariton’ was his definition of a house. His family would take shelter under bridges and abandoned buildings when a typhoon would hit the Metro. His story represents one of the most common cases of illiteracy and poverty in the country.
It was his everyday life until a Regnum Christi missionary took him out of the streets to give him a better life. His family was bathed, fed and given a decent job to start over his life.
Armando or Kuya Arman as how he is fondly called, now works for Bistro 3846 as a dishwasher. During the summer, a generous Everest parent Mrs. Jehan Rodriguez started teaching Kuya Arman and his son Cyrus how to read and write. The lessons were held everyday. In the most ironic circumstance, Kuya Arman and his son Cyrus are classmates.
In an interview, Kuya Arman shared his thoughts and experiences.
1. Why do you think is it important to read and write?
Mahalaga po para hindi maging ignorante at mangmang kung san ka pumunta. Tulad po ng simpleng pagsakay sa jeep. Kailangan tanungin saan papunta dahil hindi makabasa. Si Cyrus naman importante para sa anak ko na matuto siya para paglaki niya hindi siya maging palaboy na katulad namin kase wala kaming pinag-aralan. Gusto ko makapag-aral siya, makatapos siya at makapagtrabaho siya ng maganda. Pangarap ko po kasing may makita na may nag-aaral akong anak.
It is important to learn to read and write so you don’t become ignorant and illiterate. As simple as riding a jeepney, I need to ask where is it headed because I could not read. For my son, Cyrus it is important for him to learn so he doesn’t have to be like me, I lived in the streets because I was illiterate. I want him to be educated, to be able to finish school and land a decent job. It is my lifelong dream to see my child going to school.
2. How did you feel when you could not read or write?
Ang liit ng pakiramdam ko. Parang wala kang alam sa mga tinatanong o wala kang masabi yung ignorante ka hindi mo alam kung ano yung nakasulat sa harap mo dahil gustuhin mo man at subukan ko mang intindihin hindi ako makapag-basa.
I felt small. I didn’t know what people were asking me or I couldn’t say anything because I was ignorant. I completely do not know what was written in front of me because even if I would like to understand it, I couldn’t read.
3. What has changed in your life?
Malaki dahil ngayon na natuto na ko , yun bang naiintindihan ko na yung mga bagay, si Cyrus kung pagsisikapan niya makakapag-aral siya. Si Cyrus kase yung unang anak kong makakapag-aral kung sakali.
A lot has changed especially now that I could read. I could understand things. My son Cyrus, if he would work hard, he may be able to go to school. Cyrus would be the first among my children to be able to go to school.
4. What is your message to Mrs. Rodriguez?
Nagpapasalamat po ako ng malaki kay Mrs. Rodriguez kasi tinuturuan niya po kami. Malaking bagay yun para sa amin kasi yung buhay namin andun sa tinuturo niya. Tulad ko matanda na ko hindi na ko makakapasok sa eskwelahan pero malaking bagay kasi yung matuto andun lahat yun e, pag natuto ka magkakatrabaho ka ng maganda o makakapag-aral ka. Kaya nagpapasalamat po ako kay Mrs. Rodriguez.
I would like to sincerely thank Mrs. Rodriguez because she taught us. It is a big deal for us to learn because our life depends on it. I’m old and I won’t be able to go to school anymore but it is important to learn. If you learn, you will be able to land a decent job, or you will be able to go to school. This is why I’m really thankful to Mrs. Rodriguez.
For Mrs. Rodriguez, teaching is about transforming lives. For Cyrus, it is learning his ABC’s could help him land a Mano Amiga scholarship that could help build his dreams and his future. For Kuya Arman, learning how to read and write could help him maximize his skills to better provide for his family and keep them from living on the streets. #