Before the repairs in one of the Unisan MGS classrooms repaired by PTA
The classroom renovated through PTA assistance
Meeting under the tree with the Barangay Kagawad of Sitio Unisan, school teachers, and CMS Coordinator.
Facade of the newly constructed classrooms
Water tank for rainwater collection and for the water system.
Story by: Charrie Joy Villanueva
NUEVA VALENCIA, GUIMARAS – Our journey in helping public schools in Guimaras started in Unisan Multi-Grade School. The faces we saw back then were faces full of frustration. The school teachers and parents thought that help would never come. Their school is located on the island barangay of Guiwanon – a place that is only reachable after an hour by boat, followed by a hike through rocky terrain.
Back in 2014, CheckMySchool volunteers were able to help Unisan Multi-Grade School secure funding for the repair of a classroom that was damaged by Typhoon Yolanda. Since that time, “a lot of blessings kept pouring in” according to Ma’am Ligaya de la Cruz, the school’s teacher-in-charge,
We visited the island schools of Nueva Valencia again back in September 4. Municipal Council Member and Committee Chair on Education Atty. Paul Vincent de la Cruz, CMS provincial coordinator Mrs. Ana Eva Villanueva, and other CMS volunteers joined the visit. This time around, developments in the school were already evident. What’s more, we were met with good news during the visit.
The Municipal Government of Nueva Valencia recently funded the repair of classrooms for Unisan MGS. DepEd Engr. Gencianeo informed Mayor Emmanuel Galila about the DepEd Division’s budget allotment, which they then used to improve the water system for Unisan MGS and all other schools in the island.
A different set of classrooms were repaired using funding from DepEd’s regular infrastructure fund. These repairs consisted of roof replacements, roof re-framing, ceiling repairs, wall finishing, and classroom repainting. Another classroom was repaired using the PTA fund.
A new school building is scheduled to rise in Unisan MGS, according to Engr. Gencianeo. The new classroom buildings will address the increase in the school’s enrollment, based on their records.
According to Ma’am Ligaya, the CheckMySchool video reached and touched many private individuals. They came to the island school and donated some amount to address the needs of the school. External assistance like that was a big help, especially because their school head also manages the Panobolon ES, which is located in a different island barangay.
However, the school still had other unresolved issues, according to Ma’am Ligaya. They received donations for a laptop and printer from the ABS-CBN Bacolod City, but the school still does not have electricity. Additional toilets were still needed, as well as improvement of their pavilion.
Councilmember De la Cruz quickly responded and promised to talk to Mayor Galila about the solar panel that the local government could provide. Unisan MGS and Guiwanon ES could be potential recipients for this porject. Regarding the repairs for the pavilion, we told them to draft a resolution duly signed by the PTA president and be sent out to the office of Rep. Lucille Nava. We can help follow up this request.
When it was time to leave Unisan MGS, warm smiles from the pupils and teachers was what sent us on our way. I would like to believe these were smiles of hope because they know that there are people who are trying to find ways to help them.
I recall Ma’am Ligaya saying, “Hindi naman daw talaga sabay-sabay na dumarating yung blessings. Kahit paambon-ambon lang, basta meron.” (“Blessings do not come all at once. They come little by little, but they eventyally do”). Like before, she was teary-eyed as we spoke because she knows they will soon receive solar panels for the school.
As for our volunteers, the journey continues. We are all more eager each day because we see our hard work bearing fruit. Like what Loreto Gandecela said, “Kung hindi kami mag-volunteer, sino? Wala man kami ma-expect na kapalit, masaya na rin kami kasi nakilala kami ng mga tao bilang CMS volunteers na handang tumulong para sa mga bata.” (“If we don’t volunteer, who will? we don’t expect anything in return, but we’re still happy because people remember us as CMS volunteers who are alwaus ready to help”). Edited by: Vincent Romero