Saturday, April 30, 2016

Urban Yogi 2016 for the benefit of the Mano Amiga library

Hundreds of yogis gathered as early as 6:30am at Ayala Triangle Gardens for Urban Yoga 2016, organized by Urban Ashram Yoga. 

The event featured a whole morning of yoga classes taught by local and international teachers, for the benefit of Mano Amiga Academy. This was Urban Ashram's way of raising funds for the shelves and chairs at the new Mano Amiga library, while promoting over-all wellness among urbanites. 
Urban Ashram scholar Jazailah Cababat performed ballet for the Yogis as a way of giving thanks 
Urban Ashram founder and Mano Amiga Ambassador Maricar Holopainen cheerfully welcomed the crowd.
Classes were well-attended- with yogis not minding the scorching heat.
International teacher Joan Hyman has been firm supporter of Mano Amiga, consistently choosing the school as a beneficiary of her community classes.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Volunteer Spotlight: Good Code with the Mano Amiga Kids

Mano Amiga volunteer Steph Rosalia spent an afternoon teaching our students how to Code. She shared her experience and learnings with us.

I came across Mano Amiga Academy last year through a post on Instagram and got inspired to volunteer. I don't have any artsy or crafty skills to save my life so teaching arts and crafts (the staple volunteer activities) was out of the question. 

What could I contribute? I know! I could volunteer to teach kids to code. I have been doing that for years. Teaching kids, on the other hand, 0 years. But that's alright, I'll figure it out along the way, I said to myself. So with the passion for volunteerism ignited plus a whole lot of naivete and caffeine thrown in the mix, I sent an email expressing my interest to do a weekend of coding classes for the school using the free curriculum from

The Good Code team with their students for the day.
Things were, more or less, going according to our plans that Saturday afternoon. We had just introduced two computer science words – “algorithm” and “programming” and were getting the kids ready for the first group activity, graph paper programming. All of a sudden, things went teetering on the brink of disaster. Everyone started teasing and squabbling with each other. We urged the kids to behave and fall in line but we were essentially ignored. I looked over to Gen to signal for help as I felt panic starting to creep in.

Thanks to Carl's quick thinking and Gen's experience of handling unruly kids, the kids settled down. We were able to continue on with the activity and finished the coding lessons without any problems. Our energies were spent but we were pleased with what we saw from smart and eager students– specially with how they worked together to solve the puzzles. We've barely scratched the surface on teaching the kids how to code, and we're excited for more adventures with them.

Here's what I'll be keeping in mind for the next time:
  1. There's no such thing as perfect timing. Or is there? 
    It took me awhile from seeing that Instagram post about Mano Amiga Academy to actually taking action and volunteering. It's okay.  Just take that first step eventually.
  2. Things seldom go the way one imagines. 
    One has to plan it out and then learn to improvise. Enough said.
  3. Even if you've got all the passion in the world, you definitely need your friends to help you. I'm grateful for my awesome co-volunteers – Gen, Anna, Ash and Carl and Claud. They did most of the hard work and I have much to learn from them.
  4. This is not about you. 
    Sure, sharing and volunteering makes us feel we're good people. But the bottom line is – this is not about us feeling good about ourselves, this is for the kids.
Benz, Grade 5, showing off his Good Code stickers
We look forward to continuing the rest of the lessons with them and the other students. And we're excited to see what awesome things the kids will think of creating or coding along the way. 

To learn more about the Good Code, visit