Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Rock n' Recycle

As early as October, the school was bustling with Christmas spirit as the students worked like elves, preparing their own Christmas corners and rock band presentations.

The Mano Amiga team and students pose eagerly in front of the Gingerbread house made from recycled paper, candy wrappers and cardboard. 
In line with the holiday season, Mano Amiga announced a school-wide contest for Christmas-themed corners and rock band presentations that made use of recyclable materials. This challenged the students to use their creativity, imagination and resourcefulness in creating decorations and instruments. All the students gamely participated, eager to show their masterpieces at the school's annual Christmas party.

With a little help and supervision from their parents, the students collected various recyclable materials - bottle caps, used juice pouches, cardboard boxes, old CDs, scratch papers, newspapers, clam shells, tree branches and more - and pieced them all together to create wonderful works of art.
Plastic bottles were unrecognizable and given new life when used for a Christmas tree. Old tree branches and egg shells were uniquely transformed into winter lanterns. Old cardboard boxes were used as reindeer and Santa Claus figurines.
These works of art adorned the Mano Amiga classrooms and hallways throughout the Christmas season.

Grade 6 Rock n' Recycle Band

Recyclable works of art were also used as musical instruments during the Christmas Rock n' Recycle concert. The Mano Amiga community was treated to a musical feast from the different grade levels as each presented their own rock band. Rock stars emerged with drum sets made out of water containers, recycled glass xylophones and tambourines made out of ice cream tubs. Each showcased their creativity and talent in singing.

Grade 3 Rock n' Recycle Band

To end another fulfilled year, the whole Mano Amiga community came together in merriment. In celebration of all the winners and the year that was, the community gathered in the annual Mano Amiga Christmas Party. Smiles and sounds of laughter were evident throughout the community as we celebrated the Christmas together.

Mano Amiga Christmas Party winners with their Unilever gift packs

From the whole Mano Amiga Academy community, a Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Peter Pan is Brought to Life for Mano Amiga Academy

Scenes from Ballet Philippines' Peter Pan. Photo courtesy of Spot.PH
"The curtain opened and everyone screamed in excitement!" Says Nicole, a Mano Amiga fifth grader, with wonderment after she and her school mates watched Ballet Philippines' most popular work -- Peter Pan.

The Mano Amiga students gasped loudly in amazement when they saw the characters fly. Scenes from Ballet Philippines' Peter Pan. Photo courtesy of Spot.PH
The sudents first met Peter Pan through the pages of the school's library book. Last December 12, his story came alive right in front of their eyes when they were able to watch the show at the CCP Main Theater. Together with their teachers, they watched in amazement as they followed his adventure in Neverland with Tinkerbell, the Darling children and the Lost Boys.

This opportunity came as an early Christmas gift to our students by one of our long-time partners. Together with Mano Amiga, they share the same vision of providing worthwhile opportunities to our students that enrich their sense of culture and compliment the learning they encounter in the classroom.

Mano Amiga's drive to provide its students with quality education extends beyond the learning they get from books. Their holistic development is also nourished with various enriching activities that are not just limited to music, arts and sports.

Mano Amiga students with their Peter Pan tickets.

The students, along with the entire audience, all sang and laughed with the energetic actors as they followed the story of the boy who would not grow up. They witnessed his journey beyond the second star to the right that took him flying around the theater and into fights against the evil Captain Hook.
They also saw his adventures,  through song and dance, with the Lost Boys and Darling children - Wendy, John and Michael.

All this coupled with the 3D background of the whole show created a window of learning for the students.
This allowed them to use their imagination and appreciate the value of creativity and the many ways it can be expressed. This also provided them with an avenue to explore different talents and other means to express oneself.

Mano Amiga Academy students happily converge for a photo after the show.

"I enjoyed watching Peter Pan in the theater and when they perform again, I hope to be able to watch. It was such a fun and memorable experience." Nicole says after asking for her view on the show.

Opportunities such as this create lasting impressions and memories for our students; ones they will carry with them and talk about for days on end.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


some of our Mano Amiga ambassadors in attendance (L-R)
Entrepreneur & Yoga Teacher Maricar Holopainen, 
Educator & Lifestyle Writer Cat Juan Ledesma,
and Actor & Restauratuer Marvin Agustin

When Mano Amiga first started in 2008, we only had 19 Kindergarten scholars. Now, seven years later, we have grown to 97 scholars from grades 2 to 6. As we continue to expand, we envision a steady growth of one grade level every year until we are able to reach 600 students from the Kindergarten level to the 12th grade. One of the ways we envision to achieve this goal is by first transferring to our new location by mid-2016.

Through the generosity of our donors and friends, we were able to acquire a 2,350-sq.m property in Paranaque City. The property will be the site of the new Mano Amiga Academy campus.

To fund some of the cost of the construction of this new campus, Mano Amiga Academy organized a fundraiser brunch called #tellyourfriends last October 28. Tickets were sold at Php 1,500 each where proceeds would go into the funding of one library chair.

#tellyourfriends was a brunch event where our guests experienced good food and enjoyable conversations with other guests, while getting to know more about Mano Amiga Academy. Apart from raising funds for the new school, our aim was to also provide our guests with a personal glimpse of where we are now and where we are headed. Guests dined over an autumn-inspired food selection perfectly curated by The Bowery, BGC. 
Executive Director of Mano Amiga, Lynn Pinugu, providing 
guests with insights and updates on the school

#tellyourfriends was also an avenue for Mano Amiga Academy to officially launch our website and invite our guests; which included media, fashion and lifestyle personalities, to spread the word about our cause. 
On each of the tables were small cards with our students' wishes and dreams which was cause for topics of conversation among our guests who took time to write them personal letters of encouragement. Not one card was left empty.
guests of #tellyourfriends writing letters to the students
Our aim with the fundraiser brunch was to be able raise enough money for 100 armchairs. By the end of the event, our humble goal was tripled with the amount we were able to receive which raised us enough money for 300 armchairs! Thanks to all our supporters, we are now another step closer to completing our permanent campus in Paranaque. 

Our brunch was featured on the Inquirer last November 24. Read all about it here.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mano Amiga is 7 Years Old!

September 24 was a day of celebration as we marked Mano Amiga Academy's seventh birthday. A milestone all on its own, it also marked our last foundation day in our home for the past seven years before our big move next year.

Commencing the day's affair was the Eucharistic celebration officiated by our school chaplain, Fr. Duc Bui, LC. This year's theme was Reminiscing the Past, Building a Better Future - a reminder of how far we have come as a community and how our roots have shaped us to where we are today. Opening the program was a dance number of 80's medley performed by the teachers and administrative staff.

Kicking off the students' performances who were assigned highlights from past school years as the theme of their presentations, were our sixth graders. As the first batch of students of Mano Amiga Academy, the sixth graders, who were dressed up as little girls and boys, presented their own spin on the nursery rhymes taught to them by their first class adviser. The fifth graders presented a fresher take on the United Nations festivities of the year assigned to them. The fourth graders on the other hand, went for a more dramatic approach as they presented the ravages brought upon by Typhoon Ondoy. Not one to disappoint, our third graders did a medley of cheer dancing routines for their presentation. Last but not the least, our second graders performed a colorful and unique presentation of the Papal Visit - complete with their very own Papa Francesco on his pope mobile.

Top photo: Grade 6 Presentation, Bottom left photo: Grade 4 Presentation,
Bottom right photo: Grade 3 Presentation

Top left photo:Grade 2 presentation, Top right photo: students' thank you message
Bottom photo: Grade 5 presentation

In closing, the whole Mano Amiga community was treated to heartfelt letters of gratitude prepared by the students, teachers and board members who have been a part of our journey from day one. This year's foundation day may have been a little bittersweet, as it marked the end of our stay in our home for the past seven years; but it was also a beautiful celebration of reminiscing our past as we continue to build a better future.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

First Day High in Mano Amiga Academy: The long wait is over, seize the Day!

Carpe diemis a Latin phrase usually translated in the English language as “seize the day”, and that was exactly what the Mano Amiga kids did last 3rd August, 2015, as they welcomed the new school year.  Coming from an unusually long summer vacation due to Mano Amiga’s adapting the August school calendar, the kids couldn’t hide the excitement as they enthusiastically approached the new learnings and discoveries that the new school year has to offer.

During the day, lots of fun and fulfilling activities were done to kick off the beginning of the new academic journey for the kids. The day began with a mass which was how the Mano Amiga kids and teachers started off the school year right. After the mass, they all proceeded to their respective classes, enthusiastic and expectant of an amazing journey this year. 

While it seemed to be dreadful for most school kids these days, the first day of classes turned out to be much anticipated by the kids of Mano Amiga. An evidence to this is how non-reluctantly each of them took part in the activities during the day; which included an earthquake drill during the afternoon, in participation with the country’s preparation for “The Big One”. While some adults as reported in the news, didn’t take the drill seriously, the Mano Amiga kids took it by heart with excellent obedience to the instructions given to them – another reminder for us that the best time to educate members of the society about anything is probably while they are still young.

             As part of the first day of classes as well, the teachers announced to the kids the programs and activities that are in store for them for the entire year. “The classroom buzzed with excitement when my students found out that we will be having the SRA Reading Laboratory Program this school year. A great avenue indeed for the kids to love reading more!”, recalls Teacher She, one of the Mano Amiga teachers.

One of our Grade 6 students remarks, “Do what makes you learn things”. Hearing this, we realize the importance of giving the kids activities that bring out the best learner in each of them: much more, starting off the school year with activities that put the kids in the learning grind. This joyful thirst of the Mano Amiga kids towards learning and education is what fuels the Mano Amiga team to pursue more excellence in the work that we are very privileged to do.

            With the exciting changes and new discoveries that the new school year brings in, the same goal remains at the core of the school. Here’s to a new year of creating change and transforming lives. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Oplan Linis sa Mano Amiga

It is always a true sight to see that the parents of our students are involved not just with their children’s upbringing and development but with the school as well. Last school year our parents were very responsible and active with our sweat-equity program – rendering more than the required 2 hours of service and actively volunteering to chaperon during enrichment activities. And even if another school year has come and gone, their active spirit has remained evident. A testament of this would be the turn-out of parents who came and prepared the school for the opening of another school year. 

Mano Amiga Academy also participated in the nation-wide Oplan Linis or Brigada Eskwela campaign. The last week of July was focused on preparing the school for another school year that would begin in August. Each day of the week the teachers and parents of each level worked hand-in-hand to clean the classrooms and facilities of the school. Not one spot was left unattende d as they swept, mopped and attended to every nook and cranny of the rooms. Apart from cleaning they also took care of preparing the facilities and other learning materials that the kids would be using for the year. They made sure every arm chair and table were in good condition, ready to be used by the students. They made sure also that the various school supplies were well restocked and organized. They were even careful to add new curtains to our classroom’s windows and cover slips for our computers that served as an additional flair to the room on top of its useful function. A week’s cleaning may have been quite a tough job but their labor of love would surely leave a lasting impression on their children. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

On Solid Ground: Our Site Visit to the Mano Amiga Campus

Over the long summer break we gave our students, teachers and some of our parents a special treat. We took them to the property site that would soon be our new home in Better Living, Paranaque. Evident on their faces were pure excitement and joy upon seeing where they will soon be going to school.

Upon arriving at the site everyone was free to roam around and explore. The children were left with their creativity and in no time found corners of their own to play in. One such corner was the old pond nestled on the property which was teeming with some of Mother Nature’s creatures and some abandoned water toys. The children enjoyed themselves by conjuring up stories as to how they might have ended up in the pond. All around the children’s cheerful voices could be heard as they went running around the property, swinging on hammocks and climbing on trees.

While the children were having a good time of their own, our teachers on the other hand took to the fruit-bearing trees sprawled around the property and took turns picking from them. A crowd favorite was the duhat tree which they particularly picked a lot of as souvenirs of the day’s visit.

Under the shady trees our parents took comfort in and here they prepared the little feast we shared together. Bowls of ginataan which some of the mothers prepared together were passed around as everyone shared their excitement, reactions and hopeful stories about the new site.

With tummies full, everyone went home with a happy heart. Although it may be bittersweet to be leaving our home for the past seven years, an exciting adventure for the whole Man o Amiga community awaits in our soon-to-be new home.

Raising a generation who cares for the environment: one kaliKLASRUM at a time

            Sea and Advocate (SEA) Camp is one of the current projects spearheaded by the Save Philippine Seas, a movement to protect the country’s rich but threatened marine and coastal resources through the IEC activities and community-based projects. Last year, as culmination for a whole year of SEAcamping, the organization in coordination with the US Embassy, chose a number of citizen-driven environmental projects to be implemented. One of these is KaliKLASRUM.

            KaliKLASRUM is a water conservation module developed by Luzon Seacampers Jude Cuntapay and MM Maglasang which aims to educate Filipino children on how to care for the environment at a young age. The exciting news is that KaliKLASRUM has chosen the Grade 6 students of Mano Amiga Academy to be the members of its pilot class.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Experiencing a better way to learn - Mano Amiga meets The Ultimate Learning Accelerator

                No, it’s not a robot. Not a monster. Not a superhero too! The Ultimate Learning Accelerator (TULA) is actually a group of people who “vaulted in” to help students unlock their full potential and learn academics while having fun. Collectively, TULA is an innovative after-school learning center designed to help students in being the best learners they can be. 

                During the current year, TULA came to Mano Amiga to hold a pilot class of their various programs on Math, English, and other academics. The Mano Amiga kids enjoyed learning about creativity, writing, and other skills that are valuable as they pursue to be professionals in their own fields. TULA is more than just academics – they also instill to the students the value of discipline, determination, optimism, confidence, and curiosity – things that blend really well with Mano Amiga’s goal to instill values formation in the children’s hearts.

                “I learned about being creative and working fast”, says Neil Ramos, one of the Grade Four students who participated in the TULA activities. Another student is Shaine Ursos who recalls learning how to write fast and be respectful.

                Building and developing 21st century skills may not be as simple as it seems, but with programs such as TULA collaborating with schools, kids not only learn effective academic techniques, but also learn to be interactive and mindful of their fellow learners as they discover new things about the world around them. With this method, learning isn’t just plain academics, but about creating a comfortable and enjoyable environment for learners. As TULA comes to Mano Amiga to spread this idea, our Mano Amiga kids did not just learn a lot, they also felt happy about learning new things.

                “What I enjoyed [the most] is being creative and playing with my classmates; it makes me happy”, says Cristalyn Regilme, one of the TULA class participants. Happiness, enjoyment, and learning may not always be used in one sentence, but for the Mano Amiga kids to have such a wonderful experience is worth being inspired with.

                Come to think of it, TULA may just be a superhero after all. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Mano Amiga Students are the Newest Junior Environmental Scouts in the Metro!

The MPIC team spent a morning with our students last June 5 by teaching our students the importance of protecting our bodies of water. Shore it Up is MPIC’s CSR Program which promotes the restoration of the ocean’s resources and awareness of the importance of biological diversity.

Volunteers from MPIC partnered with our students to make artworks on how they perceive what a clean and healthy environment in the city looks like. 

Also under the Shore it Up initiative is the Junior Environmental Scouts Program- teaching the youth about the importance of caring for our bodies of water, particularly how to rescue, restore and revive them. This program involves the youth as ambassadors of change in their respective communities. The morning’s activities culminated with the awarding of the group with the best presentation and the induction of the Mano Amiga students into the Junior Environmental Scouts Program, one of the few to be inducted in Metro Manila.


Monday, April 20, 2015

PGH Outreach: Bringing Hope and Joy

Last March 21, the grade five students of Mano Amiga together with their teachers, visited the pediatric ward of the Philippine General Hospital. They got to exchange stories, perform a song and dance number as well as give gifts to the patients and their family. They also gave out handmade rosaries and a prayer for the fast recovery of the young patients. Despite the pain that they are experiencing, the patients of the pediatric ward were all smiles as they welcome their visitors with open arms.  

 “One of the most celebrated moments in human life is having a healthy offspring. To watch them grow, well-nourished and loved. To be there for them while they learn about what is life as they age year after year. Also one of the most devastating and soul-crushing part of it, is to see the opposite of it all…

We recently visited the Philippine General Hospital Pediatric ward where I had the opportunity to see and reflect on the children and guardians’ situation facing each day to surpass the misery of having to wait every minute for a result and hoping to bring their sons and daughters home healthy and well.  

There is nothing more devastating than for mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, legal guardians to watch their little ones stuck in a hospital bed. A life that’s full of promise, to go to school, to play, to graduate and to be someone someday is unlikely to happen to some kids that has crucial cases. Guardians sleep patiently on Monoblock chairs to gain strength and enough rest for the next day’s duty. Some of them sleep under the bed, and endure all the discomfort of rest rooms just to be there by their children’s side. A painful image of tiny little arms of premature angels plunged with hard needles, unaware of what might happen. Their innocence is the only thing that’s keeping them from the frightening sound of incubator machine. This, well in fact struck me deep as I was also once confined in the same apparatus. The struggle of a mother waiting for a miracle echoed in my mind when my very own story narrated subconsciously. It was not easy.

We have a lot to be thankful for; as God has chosen people to withstand the trials to test the mightiest and bravest of hearts, and purity of the spirit. These children remarkably laugh about the aches and tears, and as I have seen, they are the example of emotional and mental strength. Learning from their experiences is the blessed message from God; to be humble and to be genuinely giving while we are still walking and living here on Earth. The PGH children`s ward has taught me a great deal of how to understand why my life leads me to where I am right now. As an educator of young minds and to my fellow teachers as well, I am proud to say I was given such honorable responsibility. 

Let us all hope and pray for these children same as other children we know to have a fruitful life, to have a chance to go outside and embrace great challenges they deserve.
I am thankful for that precious moment, as God never fails to give us beautiful signs of hope and encouragement to move on. I also hope that people who have lived enough may be able to provide assistance to these little warriors. Let’s love them enough how our heart can give and take, God will provide the rest.”  – Teacher Sheryl

Visiting PGH was a blessing. I realized that I am very lucky. I can go to school, play with my friends, and do enjoyable things that other kids can’t. I saw how the children suffered through their sickness. I say their mother crying because they find it difficult to see their children suffering. I will continue to pray for them. I wish I could visit the children again so I could help make them happy again.” – Tricia Laurynne Parallag

 “We offered them prayers, we also danced, sang, and told stories to them. I saw that the children were very happy even when they are sick. I pray that God will heal them so their parents will be happy.” – Sydney ToreƱa