Stories of Change


Hanggang sa pinakamalayong paaralan

 July 12, 2018    

Written by Mary Jo Astrologo

 

Mary Jo M. Astrologo is one of the volunteers of CheckMySchool. She has been monitoring and visiting schools in Carmen, North Cotabato since 2015.

 

 

36900453_2133113233612525_6485533760946176000_n Kinakausap ni Mary Jo Astrologo ang mga mag-aaral ng Old Bentangan Elementary School

 

CARMEN, North Cotabato–– Let me start my story by saying: “All a good letter has to do is make you feel special.”

 

I am Mary Jo M. Astrologo, 30 years of age. I am proud to be part of the CheckMySchool advocacy.

 

Ako po ay nakapagtapos sa kursong Bachelor of Science in Commerce major in Manangement sa munisipalidad ng Kabacan at nang makapagtapos, ako po ay nagtrabaho sa Land Transportation Office (LTO) bilang isang sekretarya ng insurance agency ng LTO.

 

Taong 2012, umalis ako sa aking pinagtatrabahuan at naghanap ulit ng mapapasukang trabaho. Dahil sa pananalig ko sa Maykapal, binigyan niya ako ng panibagong trabaho sa aming lokal na gobyerno bilang isang enumerator.

 

Taong 2013 nang matapos ang aking kontrata sa LGU. Naghanap na naman ako uli ng panibagong mapagtatrabahuan at muling natanggap sa Municipal Civil Registrar bilang isang typist.

 

Taong 2015 noong napagdesisyunan kong kumuha nang panibagong kurso sa edukasyon. Doon ko nakilala si Mr. Ramel Palapo. Kaklase ko sya noon. Ipinakilala nya sa amin ang CheckMySchool at ang kagandahang naidudulot nito sa mga paaralan.

 

Tinanong nya kami kung gusto raw naming mag-volunteer para mag-ikot sa mga paaralan at alamin ang mga pangangailangan nito. Excited po akong sumali dahil sabi ko sa sarili ko panibago na naman itong experience sa aking buhay. Madadagdagan pa ang aking kumpyansa sa pamamagitan ng pakikipag-usap sa matataas na tao sa gobyerno.

 

Sa Carmen ako naitalaga bilang isang volunteer. Sa una nahirapan ako dahil ang hirap pala mag-ikot sa mga paaralan lalo na’t hindi safe ang lugar at malalayo pa. Kailangan mo ring mag-courtesy call sa LGU, PNP, BLGU at CAFGU.

 

Nahirapan rin ako dahil hindi pa noon kilala ang CMS. Dahil sa tulong ng memo galing sa opisina ng Schools Division Superintendent o SDS, mas napadali ang pagkuha ko ng mga detalye at mga litrato ng issues na aking nakalap.

 

 

36701835_2127764390814076_585429421406552064_n Maputik at lubak-lubak na kalsada ang kailangang daanan upang marating ang Old Bentangan ES.

 

Isa sa mga hindi ko malilimutan na karanasan bilang volunteer ay ang pagbisita sa New Bentangan Elementary School. Ipinagmaneho ako ng aking asawa ng araw na iyon dahil may kalayuan. Sakay ng single na motor, umalis kami ng bahay ng 7:30 A.M. Bukod sa malubak ang daan patungo sa New Bentangan, nakakalula rin ang taas ng bangin sa magkabilang gilid ng daan. Wala kahit isang bahay o tao. Mistula kaming nawala sa kabihasnan. Hindi mawala ang kaba ko dahil alam ko na mapanganib ang ganitong mga lugar sa aming probinsya.

 

Trust to the Lord with all your heart,” sabi ko sa aking sarili. Nakatulong din ang tibay ng loob ng aking asawa na patuloy sa pagmaneho hanggang sa makatanaw kami ng mga bahay.

 

Ang takot at pagod mula sa halos apat na oras na byahe ay para bang napawi dahil sa mainit na pagtanggap sa amin ng mga guro at mag-aaral ng New Bentangan ES. “Sa wakas, may NGO na nakarating sa kanilang lugar,” sabi nila. Hindi sila makapaniwala.

 

Sa pag-interview ko sa mga guro sa paaralan, nalaman ko na maraming bata ang hindi nakakapag-aral dahil napipilitan na silang magbanat ng buto upang makatulong sa pamilya. May mga bata rin na maagang ipinapakasal.

 

Ang marinig ang ganitong issues ang dahilan kung bakit patuloy pa rin kami sa paglakbay marating lang ang mga paaralan na tulad ng Old Bentangan. Malayo man o malapit, patag man o malubak, mabangin man o hindi, patuloy akong maglalakbay kasama ng aking asawa para maipadama sa mga mag-aaral at guro doon na may CheckMySchool na handang tumulong sa pamamagitan ng pagparating sa gobyerno ng kanilang sitwasyon.

 

 

36978782_2133113560279159_4397847422189961216_n Isa sa mga silid-aralan sa Old Bentangan ES.

 

Masayang-masaya ako dahil kahit ilang pawis ang aking puhunan, nakita ko naman ang development sa aming lugar sa tulong ng ibat-ibang ahensya ng gobyerno sa aming munisipalidad at probinsya.

 

Nagpapasalamat ako dahil naging parte ako ng CMS. Dumami ang mga taong nakakilala sa akin at sila mismo ay nagte-text sa akin para ipagbigay-alam ang mga nangyayari sa mga paaralan, problema man o developments.

 

Nagpapasalamat din ako sa aking pamilya lalong-lalo na sa aking asawa sa walang-sawang pagsuporta.

 

Nagpapasalamat ako sa CMS dahil mas napaganda na ngayon ang paaralan sa aming lugar. (Basahin ang kwento ng Bai Matabai Plang MPS and Kimadzil ES).

 

Higit sa lahat, nagpapasalamat ako sa ating Panginoon dahil kahit ilang bundok man o tubig ang aking lakbayin, parati syang nandyan para gabayan kami at ang iba pang volunteers.

 

To God be the highest Glory.

 

 

To the farthest school
Translation by James Nigel Panganiban

 

CARMEN, North Cotabato–– Let me start my story by saying: “All a good letter has to do is make you feel special.”

 

I am Mary Jo M. Astrologo, 30 years of age. I am proud to be part of the CheckMySchool advocacy.

 

I finished my Bachelor of Science Degree in Commerce Major in Management in the municipality of Kabacan. After I graduated, I worked as a secretary for an insurance agency of the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

 

I looked for another job in 2012. By the Grace of God, I got employed by our local government as an enumerator.

 

My contract with our LGU expired in 2013, so I went back to job hunting. I was accepted in the Municipal Civil Registrar as a typist.

 

In 2015, I decided to study again and get a college degree in Education. That was where I met Mr. Ramel Palapo. He was my classmate back then. He introduced us to CheckMySchool and the good it does for schools.

 

He asked us if we wanted to volunteer and visit schools to know what they needed. I was excited because I told myself that it was going to be a new life experience. It would also build my confidence as I will be talking to people holding high positions in government.

 

I was assigned in the Municipality of Carmen. I had a hard time doing school monitoring; the schools were far apart and there were peace and security issues in the area. You also needed to make courtesy calls to the Local Government Units (LGU), Philippine National Police (PNP), Barangay Local Government Unit (BLGU) and Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGUs).

 

At that time, school authorities were not aware of CheckMySchool. A memo issued by the office of the Schools Division Superintendent (SDS) made it easier for me to interview schools regarding the issues I had collected.

 

One of my most unforgettable experiences as a volunteer was visiting Old Bentangan Elementary School. My husband drove me to the place because it was a fair distance. Riding a motorcycle, we left home by 7:30AM. Aside from the poor condition of the road, there were also steep cliffs at either side. There were no houses or people along the route. It felt like being in the middle of nowhere. I was deeply worried because I knew that this kind of area was dangerous in our province.

 

“Trust the Lord with all your heart,” I told myself. My husband also was a source of strength until we caught sight of the first few houses.

 

My fear and weariness from four hours of travel were all but washed away by the warm reception we received from the teachers and students of Old Bentangan ES. They were glad that an NGO was finally able to reach their area. They could not believe their good fortune.

 

During my interview with the school teachers, I learned that many kids were not able to study because they were forced to work in order to help their families. There were also kids that were married off by their parents at an early age.

 

Hearing these kinds of issues encouraged me to keep making arduous trips to visit schools like Old Bentangan. Regardless of the distance, the difficulty of the terrain, or how perilous the journey is, I will continue to visit these schools with my husband and let the students and teachers know that CheckMySchool is always ready to help by letting the government know about their plight.

 

I am glad that through my hardwork I was able to see development happen in our community through the help of different government municipal and provincial agencies.

 

I am grateful for having been part of CheckMySchool. I became a well-known figure in my area and people would text me the condition of their schools or let me know of the most recent developments.

 

I’d also like to thank my family, especially my husband, for their continuous support.

 

I am grateful to CMS because it made our schools better. (See related stories of Bai Matabai Plang MPS and Kimadzil ES)

 

Most important of all, I would like to thank the Lord because he continually guided me and other volunteers through the entire journey.

 

To God be the highest Glory.

 

 


If there’s any issue, problem or anything that you think needs improvement in your school, let us know if CMS can help. Go to  http://www.checkmyschool.org/cms-can-help/.

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