The late US President John F Kennedy once said “don’t ask what your country can do for you. Ask instead, what you can do for your country.” This famous line motivated not only me but I guess 90% of the people living on the planet. If you belong to the remaining 10% then think of what the 90% did.
This quote serves as a paradigm to TMA (Taga Milagros Ako), a Facebook page created by Mark Tambal last 2010. The founder’s mission is not only linking people from Milagros but let them be part of whatever project the group may have in the future in which TMA-BULIG (Taga Milagros Ako – Building and Uplifting the Lives of In need Groups) came into existence.
Collaboration of 3 Private Groups
While the Philippines is on the verge of investigation of the PDAF Scam, three social network groups met online on January 28, 2014 not to keep pace with the anti-pork barrel movement but to make stand on their respective groups’ missions. MKET (Masbatenos, Kabataan, Edukasyon, Turismo) together with 4D3 Enterprises expressed to TMA their plans for the province of Masbate. The core group agreed the proposed project to be held in Milagros before the opening of school year 2014 – 2015. The joint project dubbed as “amBAG ko sa Milagros” catered the thirty nine (39) elementary schools in different barangays wherein around two thousands incoming grade one pupils received bag, school supplies and T-shirts. It was a very heart touching moment witnessing the joy not only with kids but the parents who accompanied their children coming from a far. Listening to the parents stories on how they get in and what they gone through to reach the area where distribution is taking place will really melt your heart, other walked how many kilometers under the heat of the sun and others crossed the river yet they told us it was worth it walking the distance for their kids.
After this successful outreach program, “we are planning to launch more projects in due time not only in Milagros but for the whole province of Masbate“said Engr. Dennis Cruel, founder of MKET. “The reason why I chose grade 1 because looking back my time as first grader, I don’t have a piece of paper, pencil and I have not seen a bag in my elementary years due to poverty. I never stopped going to school just because I don’t have those things thus it drove me more to give importance to education despite the poverty that I was going through during those days and encouraged me in doing business and this experience molded who I am today,” shared by Ms Kath Arcenas-Nuhs, 4D3 admin.
Allocating Budget and Finding Sponsors
We started campaigning for the said cause shortly after the meeting and I can say that looking for good Samaritans in apropos to the project was not easy. Surprisingly, we got a positive response from Milagrenos who were now working and living abroad. More than a hundred showed their support to our planned undertaking. “Damo-damo man na salamat sa padayon na pagabulig sa aton mga kabataan sa Milagros. Kun dili sa iyo mga ideas kag sa mga maayo na kaburot-on, dili ini maisasakatuparan,” said Susan Sia-Estipona of New York, USA.
“Naiintindihan ko kag nababatyagan an kadipisilan san buhay sa aton. I’m happy to be a part of this program and to be of help. Thanks,” added by Delia Delman Ramos of Windhoek, Namibia. They were just but a few of our local sponsors who motivated us to push through in making a difference for Milagros. Ironically, most of our benefactors prefer not to mention their names and identity as they believed that being generous to others in silence is more genuine and satisfying. “We are so grateful for the positive feedback of our sponsors,” said Jovyleen Asebuque, TMA administrator.
TMA – Train, Motivate and Act.
Meanwhile, on May 20-21, 2014 TMA-BULIG conducted a seminar – workshop for recreational reading and creative writing. This two – day workshop entitled as “ANI: Milagros Harvest of Young Talents” was held at the Conference Hall of Milagros West Central School, aimed to mold more and enhance the skills of students specially those who wanted to pursue their careers in journalism and broadcasting. To inspire the participants, we invited our very own Enrique Sia Villasis to be the keynote speaker. Mr. Villasis is an awardee for three consecutive years of Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature and currently working at ABS-CBN’s Creative Department. Milagros future writers thanked TMA-BULIG for this opportunity that made their summer vacation worthy and productive.
One of TMA-BULIG missions is to help the youth and the unemployed to find jobs abroad. Janessa Medina-Bacolod, Recruitment and Operations Manager of Aboitez Jebsen Company in Manila, is continuously helping the Filipinos in fulfilling their dreams of working abroad and her priority applicants are definitely from Milagros, her hometown. “To the students, don’t just aim to finish school, aim to earn by having a job!” Janessa was quoted as saying. Another Milagreño who keeps helping our “kahilungsod” is Cherrylyn D. Rosero, a Senior HR Officer in a group of hotels based in Dubai, UAE. Modesty aside, these two UP graduates from Milagros had already sent numbers of Milagrenos abroad particularly in the Middle East. “This is the area where I can be of big help to jobseekers from Milagros so I am doing this because of opportunity given and I know how it feels of being jobless..so why not help them in my own little way,” Che said.
Walk the Talk Quietly
After three months of working between the groups, sponsors, suppliers and volunteers, the goods were distributed to the young bloods of Milagros on May 21-26, 2014. Kath Arcenas and Jovyleen Asebuque who flew all the way from California and Texas USA, respectively, personally handed the bags to the kids.
34 kids from Bonbon Elementary Schools waiting for their crocs shoes from Rise Above Foundation (8AM May 21, 2014)
10 kids from Matanglad Elementary School (9AM May 21, 2014)
34 kids of MR Espinosa Elementary School (1PM May 21, 2014)
Marcel Espayos and Ron Passion, both admins of 4d3 were also present. “I thought madali lang ung job but nung nasa field na kami nakakapagod, napakainit, maalikabok, so many hindrances but we surpassed and it’s all worth it when we saw the laughter in their face while extending their gratitude. I know was just a small thing but it would be of big help for those who cannot afford to buy those stuffs. I can’t express my happiness in fulfillment of this activity.” said Marcel. Volunteerism really worked on this event and wouldn’t be nice to see how people from all walks of life gathered and facilitated to make project successful.
44 kids of Tawad Elementary School pose with the volunteers (8AM May 23, 2014)
58 kids from Capaculan Elementary School (9AM May 23, 2014)
43 kids @ Cayabon Elementary School (10AM May 23, 2014)
Jovyleen Asebuque poses with the kids and volunteers. @Milagros West Central School (8AM May 24, 2014)
101 kids from Milagros West Central School (8AM May 24, 2014)
Kath Arcenas makes sure that school supplies are inside the bag. @ Taisan Elementary School
75 kids from Taisan Elementary School and 25 kids from Pamangpangon Elementary School (8AM May 24, 2014)
96 kids from Bangad Elementary School (10AM May 24, 2014)
82 kids from John Miller Elementary School (10AM May 24, 2014)
Milagros East Central School- 45 pupils, Capaclan Elementary School- 13 pupils, Tinaclipan Elementary School- 27 pupils, Vicente Oliva Sr. Elementary School- 54 pupils, Jose Aninang Primary School- 9 pupils
(8AM May 25, 2014)
A dance number from one of the schools of Milagros East District (8Am May 25, 2014)
Their way of thanking the sponsors and volunteers.
On behalf of the three groups, we would like to thank the following people for their unwavering supports, unselfish services and for getting involved in this unprecedented project. First, our anonymous sponsors, MKET and 4D3 admins, Sheila S. Madronio, Nina E. Francisco, Nonoy Bacolod, Melinda A. Orlet, Father Henry Dalanon, Ms. Ghe Canete, and Rise Above Foundation of Happy Valley, Cebu City. Our school facilitators, Ms. Gemma Lagaras, Manjie Arcenal and Jocyven Mesa. To our unknown volunteers, teachers, Arcenas family, and lastly, to someone who said “I am the way, the truth and the life”, may Your name be always glorified
“I am still in disbelief up to this very moment that TMA is really making a difference, certainly living up to its description, reconnecting to its kapwa – Milagreño by these overwhelming activities from outreach programs to skills development. And I am very certain na dili lang ini hasta didi na lang kundi damo pa san maabot, mas daragko pa na mga proyekto kalooyan lang kita san Mahal na Ginoo. Maski kanay ginasabi ko an akon mantra na “basta may ginamaw-ot, may makakab-ot’, basta usad kamo tanan sani na mga pagmaw-ot. sigurado damo pa kita san makakab-ot,” says Mr. Tambal. “Sa mga kahilungsod ko and even to those who are technically non- Milagreño who were one with us, my unlimited gratefulness for the trust and continuous support to whatever we are up to. Sabi ko gani, “waran mabulig sa Taga Milagros kundi kapwa nya man lang Taga Milagros.” Padayon lang po kita san aton siyak na, TAGA MILAGROS AKO. Salamat po san damo damo gayud kag Dios Mabalos,” he added.
Indeed, love, hope and happiness are things worth sharing to our birthplace and TMA will always empowers its members for progressivism in Milagros.