Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mano Amiga Teachers' Day Off

The partners and donors of Mano Amiga Academy recently had a rare opportunity to step into the teachers’ shoes for a day. In an event aptly entitled Teachers’ Day Off, several CEOs, businessmen, and even a thespian and a congresswoman, volunteered as guest teachers in Mano Amiga and taught different subjects like English, Science, and Catholic formation.

“We came up with this activity as a creative way to thank our teachers for the wonderful work they are doing in the school, and at the same time, to show our partners how far Mano Amiga has come in a year”, Development Director Lynn Pinugu shared. “It was fulfilling to see our partners connect with our students in the classroom and to hear them thank the Mano Amiga teachers afterwards for their hard work and dedication.”

Volunteers for the two-day event include Noel and Lally Trinidad, Acie Romero-Salas with her daughter Paloma, Lorenzo Ocampo (Petnet, inc.), Amanda Lim, Anay Zalamea, Yssa Fernandez and Xavier Javier (Western Union), Dee Chan, Eileen Navarro and Jeffrey Santos (Handyman), Zarah Perez (Starbucks), Cong. Lani Cayetano, and Mano Amiga President Amb. Jose Macario Laurel IV.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

An Invitation: TEACHERS' DAY OFF

Did you ever have the itch to teach?
Do you have a hidden talent for storytelling, arts and crafts, or making science experiments?
Do you adore kids and do they love you back?

If you said yes to any of these questions, then Mano Amiga Academy needs YOUR help!
Interested? Contact us at 09063361663

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Giving Kids an Early Christmas

an article by Ruel de Vera for Sunday Inquirer Magazine

A Philippine version of the Mexico-originated schools that seek to transform lives through education, Mano Amiga Academy just commenced its second school year with 60 impoverished students accepted for Kindergarten and Prep. This is almost double the 35 that the school started out with. “Most of our students and families from last year chose to continue on with Mano Amiga, and we take that as a sign that we’re doing well and that the community is noticing,” says Mano Amiga Director Ramon Austria. Due to its current size, Mano Amiga, which is located in Taguig City, cannot accommodate all the applicants –something they hope to change in time. The school is currently housed in a Habitat for Humanity building that they are swiftly outgrowing, especially since Mano Amiga plans to add one school level a year.

For the full article, click here:

Monday, October 19, 2009


The Regnum Christi Women in cooperation with Jollibee and PB Dionisio, recently hosted a screening of Julie and Julia to raise funds for Mano Amiga Academy, a school that provides international quality education to children from low-income families. The event, which was held at Powerplant Cinema, drew more than 300 movie buffs and foodies alike and raised over P200,000 for the Mano Amiga Scholarship fund.

Dressed in complete Chef’s outfits, the organizers welcomed the guests at the door of the theater with gourmet sandwiches that were based on two of Julia Child’s recipes. Additional chips and a bottle of Orchard Fresh were also distributed.

“I can’t thank everyone enough for supporting our cause,” shared Lynn Pinugu, Mano Amiga Academy Development Director. “You have our full commitment that the funds raised will be put to good use in helping transform the lives of the students and families we cater to.”

“In just thirteen months of operations, Mano Amiga is already creating positive change in the community,” event organizer Cristina Pena said. “We are excited to see how much more it will accomplish after a few years. We believe in the project and we will continue to find different ways to support its needs.”

The Julie and Julia movie benefit was sponsored by Jollibee, PB Dionisio, Orchard Fresh, Pancake House, and Cooks Exchange.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Calendar Of Activities: October 2009

October 14:

Screening of 'Julie and Julia' sponsored by the Regnum Christi Women to benefit Mano Amiga Academy
7:15pm, Cinema 6, Powerplant Mall

Starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, the movie is about the intertwined lives of female chef, Julia Child and food blogger Julie Powell as she attempts to cook each of the 524 recipes in Child's cookbook. Each ticket costs 700php and comes with Gourmet food and drink. Proceeds will be used to provide educational assistance to the 60 students currently enrolled in our school.

October 17:
Student Enrichment Activity

Be a Mano Amiga Ate or Kuya for the day. Interested volunteers may contact Mina Herrera at 09178463655


A Personal Account of the Flood by Fr Daniel Polzer, LC

September 26 began like most Saturdays at our house of apostolate in Manila. It was raining constantly but nothing unusual. I remember commenting to Fr Eric at breakfast that it had rained all night and it woke me up several times.

After breakfast, Fr Eric left for Everest Academy for the weekly ConQuest boy’s club meeting. I decided to go for a walk even though it was raining. The rain was coming down steadily but that is something you get used to in the Philippines during the rainy season.

After I showered, someone rang the door bell to warn that the street was flooding and I moved the car that was in the street into the car port. Magallanes Village, where we live, has a drainage creek skirting the western perimeter. When it rains hard the street almost always floods so I was not alarmed. I sent a text cancelling my appointment and said that I might not be able to get out.

The water reached the curb and then started flooding the drive way. After a while the water entered the chapel, and I thought I better start moving things from the living area to the bed rooms which are two steps up from the rest of the house. When I was moving the television, my foot splashed in water. It was already coming in through the front door. At that point I decided to consume the Blessed Sacrament, just incase. I shut the power off and moved what I could into the bed rooms.

I started putting things up as high as a could, putting anything valuable on top of desks and beds, removing books from the bottom book shelves and putting them up above. I texted Fr Eric to stay at school and not to come home. I could see out my window that people were wading down the street chest deep in water. Water started coming in from my bedroom window which is about ten inches above the floor level. At that point I decided it was time to leave. I packed a bag with some clean clothes, toiletries, my breviary, wallet and cell phone and left the house. I crossed the street to our neighbor’s house in water chest deep with my bag over my head. The Ocampo family has a second floor so I figured it would be a safe place to stay.

I could see from their second floor balcony that our house was flooded up to the top of our front gate. Our two cars were submerged under water. There was very little news, just that the flooding was very bad. We prayed a rosary. I tried to help by entertaining the youngest child, Nino, by playing games with him.

I spent the night at the Ocampo’s house. By midnight the water had subsided and the street was a layer of mud. The next morning I crossed back over with Mr. Ocampo to see how things were. The glass door in the chapel was broken. There were things from the kitchen in the back yard. Our dining room table had floated into the living room. The things I had put up on the beds were all dry because the beds had floated. The floor was covered with mud. At first I thought we had lost just about everything.

Fr Eric arrived, a little disappointed that he had missed it all. We got to work cleaning up. Several Regnum Christi members came by to help. In the end the damage was not so bad as it first appeared. We were able to save a lot of the furniture. We moved most of the furniture to the new property we recently purchased where we will build our permanent residence. The house in Magallanes is no longer livable. The doors are warped and the floor is beginning to come up. Most of the cabinets are falling apart because they were made of plywood.

Many, many people suffered much worse then we did. Some people still have their houses submerged under water. Large parts of the city were not affected at all and are functioning normally while other parts are disaster zones. Relief stations had been set up in many of the schools to collect goods and distribute them to flood victims. Everest Academy has been collecting goods from the students and distributing them.

The Filipinos are a people accustomed to disaster and hard times. They have a great deal of resilience and a deep faith. They will bury their dead, clean up and continue with life. It is hard to see people who have very little lose the little they have. Some are angry, some are sad, many are smiling and playing in the water. Everyone does the best they can and life goes on.

We will be talking about the flood for years to come. It has affected almost everyone in one way or another from those who lost everything to those who have much and have generously contributed to the relief effort. One day, unexpectedly, people’s lives were shattered, many perished in the raging waters, others clung on to life until they were rescued. God knows why he allows these things to happen. He Knows how to bring out the generosity of a people.

*The families from Mano Amiga were relatively unaffected by the flood. Sadly, some of the employees lost their homes. Mano Amiga Academy conducted a relief drive to help the employees as well as other victims from Taguig and Marikina.

English for All

Mano Amiga Academy recently offered English classes for Adults to the parents of Mano Amiga students and to the other residents in the surrounding community. Administered by the Center for East Asian Languages, classes offered were both basic and intermediate. Those who volunteered their time to teach the class include the Center’s head, Patrick Ong, along with Jasper Ong and Raffy Inocencio. The program began with one-on-one interview with the students as well as a written test in order to determine their proficiency.

The parents found the sessions fun and interactive. The teachers reinforced the lessons by giving them daily worksheets and by asking them to put on skits and to write essays on different topics. They also had to write a journal entry everyday which they were asked to share in front of the class.

The teachers focused on helping the students improve their grammar, punctuation and sentence structure. For the intermediate section, special lessons for job interviews and English usage in the work place were given.

“It was truly heartwarming to see the enthusiasm of the parents.” Patrick Ong said. “We hope that after these sessions, they would to continue to be committed to improving their English proficiency by constantly practicing what they learned.”

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mano Amiga Academy opens a Community Library

by Crissie Malay

So much are stimulated when the first few pages of any book are read. The mind wanders and creates a mental picture of the scenes and stories described. It’s as if the senses are awakened and an entire world comes to life. When Mano Amiga Academy opened the doors to its library last June 6, 2009, they had tarpaulin posters around the Habitat area calling passersby to tickle their minds with a book. With the objective of creating a community library as a learning center for students and avid readers, opening the library hits something deeper: one that enriches the soul.

The Library Project was spearheaded by dedicated volunteers, Mina and Amor Herrera, who collected and catalogued the thousands of books now displayed on the shelves. Though the rain poured, it did not stop the many children who came to witness the opening. Making the library inspiring and interesting was what kept the Herrera twins, Denise La O’, Aina Lim, Dennis Sabado, Ramon Austria, and myself busy for the past month before its opening. Shelves were built, new furniture was installed, and the walls were covered with murals depicting scenes from stories.

We were very fortunate to have Ms. Lyn Danao from the Adarna House come and give storytelling activities. Her dynamism and enthusiasm for the stories she read brought auditory learning to a higher level. Our very talented Mr. Dennis Sabado has developed a sideline in storytelling as he read a story of Pilandok with intense multifarious emotions. The children applauded, laughed, and actively reacted to every stimulus our readers made.

In addition to the list of activities laid out for the opening, what made the day even more exciting were the very filling snacks from Breadtalk™. Not only was the day about filling the mind, it was also about nourishing the children’s tummies. Afterwards, the children were brought to the library for the orientation. As soon as the children removed their slippers and entered through the green door, they unanimously cried, “Ang ganda!” Phew! All that hard work paid off and that tops the cherry.

Though there is still work to be done, with a few things to tweak here and there, I think all will be accomplished in time. There is just so much to be thankful for, and it doesn’t take awhile to count the many blessings we’ve been given. I’m simply happy to be of service to this community and to be part of Mano Amiga’s advocacy for quality learning, which extends its influence over positive changes in the community’s cultural and spiritual life.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009


MAY 23, 2009- You’ve heard of telethons and marathon fundraising events, but have you ever heard of a dance-a-thon?

Mano Amiga Academy, a school in FTI, Taguig that provides international quality education to underprivileged children, recently hosted the first ever Mano Amiga Dance-a-thon which raised funds for 9 full scholarships for School year 2009-2010.

Held at Il Ponticello, Makati, 12 teams totaling to 60 participants volunteered to dance for 5 hours straight and raised money for Mano Amiga Academy by getting their friends, family, and co-workers to pledge a certain amount for their participation in the dance-a-thon.

Over 250 people attended the event to pledge for the dance-a-thon participants. Known dance groups like Company of Ateneo Dancers (CADS), Funky Roots and The Philippine All-Stars performed for free all throughout the night to motivate the teams to keep on dancing.
Participants were each given a “Dance-a-thon survival kit” which contained a can of Nescafe Ice Coffee, a bottle of Tropicana Twister, a bag of Tostillas, doughnuts from Krispy Kreme, and other goodies to help them last through the night. Gift bags from Glitterati, Maybelline, Mizuno and Havaianas were raffled off every hour, keeping the crowd pumped up.

The winning team, which was composed of Isabel Saldana, Regina Vivencio del Rosario, Patrick Santos, Cristina Yambao and Paola Cortez, raised P13,000 for the Mano Amiga Scholarship fund from the pledges they got. They won an overnight stay at Microtel Boracay, gift certificates from Sangria Boracay and The Spa, and Vegan cupcakes from Kitchen Revolution.

Saldana, a regular volunteer at Mano Amiga Academy’s outreach activities said that she joined the Dance-a-thon because she has seen firsthand how the school has improved the lives of the children it caters to. “I really believe that the project’s focus on providing quality education and development services can help transform the poor communities in the Philippines.”
“Winning all these awards was a nice bonus though,” Saldana adds with a smile.

The idea for the Mano Amiga Dance-a-thon was born when a group of regular Mano Amiga volunteers had lunch to come up with new ideas to help generate awareness and raise funds for the school.

“There were more traditional fundraising event ideas that we initially considered,” Mano Amiga volunteer and Dance-a-thon organizing committee member Army Padilla said. “In the end, we decided to have a Dance-a-thon because we wanted something fun and creative that would also create a lasting impression.”

“We were intimidated at first by the idea of having to dance for 5 or 6 hours straight but we were having so much fun, we completely forgot about it after a while,” 2nd place winner Patricia Ocampo shared. Her team raised P12,300 for the scholarship fund.

It costs P23,600 a year or about P65 a day to send one child to Mano Amiga Academy for one whole year. The Dance-a-thon raised enough money for 9 full-year scholarships. Aside from local pledges, the organization also received donations from the participants’ friends and relatives residing in the U.S. who pledged small amounts ranging from $10-$50.

“We are overwhelmed by the success of the event, most especially by the support we had received from the Mano Amiga partners and volunteers.” Mano Amiga Academy Institutional Development Manager Lynn Pinugu said. “Their constant support and enthusiasm truly inspire us to carry out our mission of improving lives and transforming communities.“

Mano Amiga Dance-a-thon was sponsored by Il Ponticello, Globe Telecoms, Microtel Hotels and Resorts, Asya Boracay, The Spa, Neutrogena, Tropicana Twister, Nescafe, Maybelline, Enervon-C, Kitchen Revolution, Mizuno, Glitterati, Tostillas, Havaianas, and Sangria Boracay. With special thanks to Solar Sports- Dance-a-thon’s official media partner.

Feel free to contact us at 882-5019 or at

Sunday, May 17, 2009

6 more days til M.A.D

Help us send more students to Mano Amiga Academy!
Join the Mano Amiga Dance-a-thon happening this Saturday (May 23) at Il Ponticello, Valero
Step 1: Form a team
Step 2: Get pledges
Step 3: Try to dance for 6 hours straight ( at least one member of the team has to be in the dance floor for the 6-hour event. a good strategy is the key! :))

The team that raises the most pledges will win:
Free Overnight stay at Microtel Boracay, P5000 GCs from The Spa, and GCs from Sangria, Boracay!

And oh, please come up with a unique name for your team because on the night itself, you can also ask the crowd to pledge for you!

yay so excited!

For more info: please get in touch with Christine Violago at 09064200553

Monday, March 30, 2009

Let's Go MAD 2009!!!

To learn more about our event, its mechanics and how to pledge, just click on the images below! :)

Not your ordinary Saturday

Every other Saturday, Everest Academy Nurse Irene Frayco takes on a different role. She exchanges her white cap for a creative hat, and teaches the Mano Amiga Academy students fun art activities.

“I’ve always loved kids. But the main reason why I’ve been volunteering regularly for Mano Amiga is because I am inspired by the students’ eagerness to learn,” Irene shared.

Irene is one of the volunteers who visit Mano Amiga Academy two Saturdays a month to participate in the Student Enrichment Program which consists of activities that combine values formation, language, and arts.

Volunteers from different age groups lead the students in singing, storytelling, sports, and arts and crafts.

“The aim of the enrichment activities is to reinforce and complement the lessons that the students are learning during the week,” Institutional Development Manager Lynn Pinugu said. “We hope the Saturday sessions would help develop our students’ talents, social skills, and self-esteem.”

Held simultaneously with enrichment activities, is the Values Formation program for the siblings of Mano Amiga students as well as older kids from the nearby community.

According to School Prinicipal Ramon Austria, the idea for the program was born when older kids would gather outside the school, hoping they could participate in the activities for the Mano Amiga students.

“They were very enthusiastic about learning and we wanted to nourish that interest,” Ramon said. “Since we can’t accommodate them in Mano Amiga, we decided that concentrating on character formation would be a good way for us to help them.”

Values Formation programs attract 70-80 regular attendees. The kids are divided into groups of five-eight, with the Mano Amiga volunteers serving as their big brother or sister for the day.

“The most fulfilling part about volunteering is seeing how much the kids have improved in just a few months,” Irene said with a smile. “We really have big hopes for these children.”

Interested in being a volunteer? Please feel free to join us every other Saturday at Mano Amiga Academy, a school that provides high quality education to children coming from low-income families.

For more information about Mano Amiga Academy, please contact Lynn Pinugu at 882-5019 or at

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ayala Foundation-USA is now Mano Amiga's partner

For those living in the US who are interested in supporting Mano Amiga Academy, you can now donate to us via the Ayala Foundation USA website. :)

To donate via credit card just visit:
Kindly indicate that you're donating to us by choosing Mano Amiga Academy, inc. in the drop down selection of organizations.

For cash and checks, just visit:
Please don't forget to fill out the donation form which you could download here:

AF-USA Welcomes Two New Partners!
2/22/2009 Ayala Foundation USA
Ayala Foundation USA welcomes two new partners in nation- building. Congratulations to Mano Amiga Academy, Inc. and Filamer Christian College, Inc.

Mano Amiga (Helping Hand) schools are international schools from pre-school to Grade 12 that cater to children from poor communities. Having grown into a network of 30 schools in 8 Latin American countries, Mano Amiga directly makes an impact on the lves of more than 17,000 students and their families.
Mano Amiga Academy in Taguig City is the first Mano Amiga school in the Philippines. It opened its doors last September 2008 to poor families. Currently, their greatest challenge is to find scholarships for poor students. Funds that will come through Ayala Foundation USA will be used to support the educational needs of the children by providing them with school materials and enabling them to attend formation programs and enrichment activities.

Congratulations to our new partners in nation-building!

complete version of the article may be viewed here:

Kickin it with Futbol Funatics

Last March 14, Mano Amiga Academy students were able to play football for the very first time, thanks to the Football Day camp sponsored by Futbol Funatics.

Co-founder and Head Coach Candice Grey organized the outreach activity after she met the Mano Amiga Academy students during her visit to the school last December, “We wanted to introduce football to them and to give them a chance to experience a fun activity that would provide them with physical and mental benefits.”

Candice, with two other coaches, taught the students the basics of the sport, some drills, and led them in a football game

“It was a day of recreation and healthy competition for our students,” Mano Amiga Development Manager Lynn Pinugu said. “It was heartwarming to see our students having fun and trying out something new, an activity that they wouldn’t normally have access to because of their socio-economic situation.”

Mano Amiga Academy is Everest Academy’s sister school that provides high quality education to children coming from low-income families. If you would like have more information about the school, please contact Lynn Pinugu at 882-5019 or at

Futbol Funatics offers classes at Everest Academy on Mondays from 2:30-3:30pm. For more information, please visit:

Monday, March 9, 2009

Trip to Fun Ranch with Living Dreams

A Feature on Mano Amiga Principal, Ramon Austria

Right Hand Man
By Ruel S. De Vera
Sunday Inquirer Magazine
AS a child, Ramon “Mon” Austria knew what it felt like to be uprooted. Born in Quezon City, he was only 4 when his family moved to the Federated States of Micronesia, where his father Rolando took a job as state physician on an island called Kosrae.
“Only a few people can boast of having spent their childhood frolicking on some island—and I’m one of them,” says Austria. “I could swim whenever I wanted because in Kosrae, you’re never more than five minutes away from the ocean.”
It was education—a theme that would pervade much of Austria’s life—that brought him back to the Philippines after four years. Years after this idyllic childhood, while taking up management economics at the Ateneo de Manila, Austria thought about doing a bit of volunteer work after graduation.
He was drawn to the Regnum Christi, a lay movement within the Catholic Church that provided him an opportunity to be involved in the youth apostolate in Washington, D.C. for a year.
This experience started him on the road to a teaching career, a path the 24-year-old Austria confesses had never crossed his mind.
“Are you kidding?” he says incredulously when asked if this was something he had all planned out. “There’s no money in teaching.”
His eventual work among young students he explains away as "divine intervention." He was never too keen on working with children, he says, and yet he wound up doing just that in Washington. “Little by little, I learned to love working with children,” he clarifies. “It’s something that just happened.”

And what Austria initially intended to be just volunteer work gradually steered him on a set career path. Returning from Washington D.C., he signed up to teach religion at Beacon International School in Taguig City. After two years there, he embarked on a project that was meant to change lives through education, in perhaps the same way that his life had been changed.
Click the link for the full article