Batang Mindanaw

MINDANAO DAILY MIRROR · 2000 JUNE 13  

Do you have old (or even new) school stuff that you can afford to give away? Notebooks (even used ones, with clean pages still remaining), pens, pencils, bags, textbooks, dictionaries, uniforms, shoes - anything that can be used? Then think about giving them to children of war now living in evacuation centers in Cotabato and Maguindanao. Last Saturday my kumare Carol Arguillas of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Mirror's own Amy Cabusao launched the Batang Mindanaw drive at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA). The aim is to enable youngsters to go to school even in the midst of conflict. These kids have little going for them, but at least if they learn they will have a better grasp of the future.

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Batang Mindanaw was born before the present conflict in Central Mindanao even began. The burden in the organizers' heart was that many children in Mindanao do not go to school simply because they have no school supplies. Carol and Amy say the idea was initially to encourage the kids to study by giving them what they need (books, notebooks, bags, etc.), even if these are used. When the conflict broke out the immediate need that had to be addressed was giving evacuee children the education they deserve - even in war conditions.

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Since the children (and in most cases even their teachers) are living in evacuation areas, there is also a great need to provide them with makeshift classrooms. A total of 170 are needed in several areas, with each 36-square-meter unit costing P13,000. For this the organizers are looking for corporate sponsorship, and takers are very welcome.

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Batang Mindanaw is coordinated by media practitioners. The drop-in center for used (and new) items is at the PIA inside Magsaysay Park. Start collecting those still usable items and make a difference in the lives of the children living in evacuation centers. For inquiries you can call Julius Valmores at 226-4087, or email Carol Arguillas at carolinq@dv.weblinq.com.

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On an entirely different note... On Sunday my wife and I were invited to The Marco Polo, Davao for brunch - this time along with our son. There was no particular occasion; marketing communications officer Nikki Serrano said they just wanted us to sample brunch at Café Marco as well as have our son join the Kiddie Chefs Club. Brunch was great, but what we really enjoyed was the Club in which children were taught how to prepare different dishes. Last Sunday it was pizza; a number of children volunteered and prepared their own toppings. I think the parents who were watching also learned a thing or two about pizza-making. In the end the chef actually baked the pizza, and it was so good my son ended up eating more of it than he did at brunch. The Kiddie Chefs Club is an ongoing program, so there is still much to be learned in the coming Sundays.

©2000 Jon Joaquin. All rights reserved.