Thursday, April 19, 2012

Teachers' Day OFF 2012: Music, Culture, and Environmental Conservation

Held annually, Mano Amiga’s Teachers' Day Off gives partners and donors a chance to step into the Mano Amiga teachers’ shoes and to immerse in the school’s learning environment.

The celebration this year is a 3-day event which includes teaching of different subjects such as music, environment, and culture. Save the Philippine Seas founder Anna Oposa taught the children about the sea and sharks while P-3 founder Mark Bantigue showed the kids the basics of playing the guitar. 
Professor Henry Calilung along with Starbucks Philippines CSR head Zarah Perez gave a talk about the state of the Philippine environment and the importance of conservation.  Afterwards, they guided the pre-schoolers in the planting of three saplings of Apitong, a critically endangered Philippine native tree.
Youth volunteer Miogi Abejuela flew in all the way from Washington D.C. just to share the heartwarming story of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree while Hapinoy’s Michelle Pabalan instilled in the students’ young minds the importance of entrepreneurship. The three-day activity concluded with a fun Carnivale-themed activity as volunteers from the Phinma H.E.R.Oes Network introduced the children to Brazil and its culture. 
Mano Amiga Academy is a school that provides high quality education, health, and development services to children from marginalized families. The school, located in Taguig City, is part of an international network of 30 Mano Amiga schools distributed around eight countries. “We believe that the best way for our students to learn is through exposure and immersion,” Development Director Lynn Pinugu shared. “The Teacher’s Day Off activity gives our donors and kids a chance to bond and learn from each other’s experiences.”

A child will always amaze you with their ways of thinking and the questions they ask; and the Teachers’ Day Off activity yielded the most interesting questions. As Mr. Bantigue recalls, the question that struck him was “How did you learn to play guitar well?” He said, “It created the natural avenue to hammer down the value of practice, hard work and perseverance despite discomfort and trials.” The funniest request made by a kid was when a 2nd-grader asked him to play a Justin Bieber song.“I had to remind myself that I was with children. I was ready with the snark but I kept it positive. It was a taste of what's relevant in their world,” He added.
Mr. Abejuela found the students’ fast comprehension truly admirable. “They understood everything about the story – especially one that has a deeper theme within. I’ve never been more impressed by a group of children,” he said. “It wasn’t very hard to gain their attention. Having them laugh every once in awhile kept the attention long enough to end the story. They’re all very disciplined, and I was thankful for that.

The things the volunteers shared may not be recorded by history but they will surely be cherished in the children’s hearts. Mano Amiga will continue to celebrate Teacher’s Day Off every year. They will continue to provide this enriching and meaningful experience for the kids and the volunteers as well.

“I appreciate the opportunity that Mano Amiga provided me. To see everything in action made me admire the work even more – and I have become more devoted to the cause because of it. Even if I am contributing a small amount – I am proud of it, and will continue to do as much as I can for Mano Amiga,” Mr. Abejuela added.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Dance Basics offers free Ballet lessons in Mano Amiga Academy two Saturdays a month. The teachers saw great potential in Three Mano Amiga students namely: Jazailah, Joshua, and Camille. They received a scholarship to undergo a more intensive training and to join the ballet company's year-round recitals.