By Arlene Ching
Dagupan City– I am a 50-year old architecture graduate, married and have three children. I run a private company that takes on construction and interior design projects in Pangasinan and nearby provinces.
I am also a “volunteer”; this is another credential that I have learned to embrace. Through volunteering, I was able to use my professional skills as an architect and business owner not only for my personal benefit, but for the common good.
My membership in a non-government organization, RECITE or Responsible Citizens, Empowered Communities and Solidarity towards Social Change, provided me the opportunities for volunteering. Through RECITE, I came across ANSA and became involved in two social accountability projects, namely the Citizen Participatory Audit (CPA) and CheckMySchool (CMS). I started as a CMS coordinator in 2015, where my monitoring work has now reached 100 schools in Pangasinan.
Our CMS engagement enabled us to assess school facilities, identify issues and implement solutions that help improve the quality of public education in our province. I witnessed many school officials and local executives at work, doing their best to fulfill their mandate despite limited resources and other challenges. I saw how they worked hard to address various school needs and issues.
As an architect, the issues about school buildings and structural facilities particularly appealed to me for an obvious reason. As a businesswoman and citizen, ensuring that we get most out of the taxes we pay through efficient delivery of quality public education services has been my utmost concern.
And as a Christian, my social accountability experience in monitoring public schools made me live my faith by promoting honesty, justice and integrity in government. My talents and skills are gifts from God, and therefore I should use them to help my community without expecting anything in return, but only for the love of God.
I am grateful that, through CheckMySchool, I was able to harness the spirit of volunteerism and channel my energies in a more purposeful manner beyond the call of my business and profession.