Feb 20, 2014

Laguna children get new libraries and books

Manila Bulletin version

How does an organization rewrite the future of over 3,500 public elementary students in just one day?
If you visit the schools of Kabubuhayan Elementary School, Taytay-Malaya Elementary School, Crisanto-Guysayko Elementary School, and Yukos Elementary School in Nagcarlan, Laguna, a year ago, you would not find any school library. There would only be four seemingly abandoned rooms filled with rusty chairs, piles of outdated reading and reference materials, and dirty walls.
ELEMENTARY school students from Laguna enjoy the books and materials provided by AHON Foundation.
ELEMENTARY school students from Laguna enjoy the books and materials provided by AHON Foundation.
Nonetheless, over a year of hard work by the parents, teachers, and other members of the community, they were able to turn these rooms into child-friendly learning resource centers which will now serve as their libraries.
They finally reaped the fruits of their labor when this January, the Acts of Hope for the Nation (AHON) Foundation distributed P2 million worth of new reference books in the four schools. Last January 22, these four newly refurbished libraries were opened to the students of Kabubuhayan Elementary School. The ceremony was attended by local government officials led by Mayor Nelson Usuna and Vice Mayor Lourdes Arcasetas; the principals of the beneficiary schools, Cresencia D. Coronado (Taytay-Malaya ES), Elisa M. Arban (CGMES), Ramona C. Basa (Kabubuhayan ES), and Dr. Gregoria Bueno-Gutierrez (Yukos ES), Hector O. Tagaysay, AHON Foundation chairman; Harvey Keh, AHON Foundation executive director; and Councilor Amie Malabag-Hernandez, an AHON Foundation volunteer and Kaya Natin! Movement Core Group member who initiated this project; the head of the Parents and Teachers Association; and barangay officials.
“Hindi lahat ng nilalapitan namin ay pumapayag na makipag-partner sa amin kung kaya’t kami’y nagpapasalamat sa inyo. Nagbibigay kami ng mga libro to level the playing field between public elementary students and those in the private schools at kahit high tech na kayo, dapat huwag masyado kasi sa libro talaga kayo matututo. Sabi nga ni Bill Gates, ‘Of course I will give my children computers but I will give them books first,’” said Tagaysay.
For their part, Kabubuhayan Elementary School principal Ramona Basa said, “This is a dream come true for all of us. Due to our limited resources, we never thought that we would be able to provide these kinds of wonderful books for our students but because of the generosity of AHON Foundation, we now have a library that can help our students become at par with the best students of our country. Maraming salamat sa AHON Foundation at kay Councilor Amie Malabag-Hernandez sa malaking biyaya na ibinigay niyo sa aming lahat. Hindi namin ito malilimutan.”
The government officials, who played a very important role in this project, were also given the chance to speak their mind. Hernandez was thankful to the people of Nagcarlan for believing in her programs and the work she does as a councilor. She and Arcasetas were the ones who helped AHON Foundation identify the partner schools and gather resources for the renovation of the libraries. Mayor Osuna commended the two for their effort, to make the project possible. He also mentioned that they will try their best to approach other private companies and foundations to also help improve the education system of their town.
With the new books nestled in their libraries, over 3,500 students will now have a better chance of attaining their goals and ambitions for a brighter future. They are no longer left with a tomorrow of scarce learning bounded by dilapidated and outdated reading resources but one that is full of limitless possibilities as they explore new horizons through the pages of the books that they will be reading. For these students and their teachers, this is certainly a great way to start the year.
(For your queries and partnership concerns, please send an email to ahonfoundation@gmail.com or call (02) 433-1440.)

AHON article featured on the Manila Bulletin last February 2, 2014. 

Feb 13, 2014

Despite controversies, legitimate NGOs continue to bring joy to Filipino children

Despite controversies, legitimate NGOs continue to bring joy to Filipino children

Scam. Fraud. Deception. With the very controversial pork barrel issue circulating in the news today, these are just some of the ideas that Filipinos have started to associate NGOs with.

It is sad that a lot of legitimate non-profit organizations, foundations and sincere advocates working in this sector are now experiencing a hard time getting the public’s trust, unlike before. One of these organizations is Acts of Hope for the Nation (AHON) Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of Filway Marketing Inc. AHON Foundation aims to raise the literacy rates in the Philippines by developing newly refurbished public elementary school libraries.

With 93 partner public elementary school libraries, and over 250,000 student beneficiaries, AHON does not stop with just bringing books and children together. It provides free training to the partner schools’ custodians about basic librarianship. And recently, it held a storytelling event in an advance celebration of International Literacy Day

“Literacy is much more than an educational priority – it is the ultimate investment in the future and the first step towards all the new forms of literacy required in the twenty-first century. We wish to see a century where every child is able to read and to use this skill to gain autonomy,” says Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General
Keeping this idealism in mind, AHON Foundation, in partnership with the UNESCO Club of UP Diliman, invited grade 3 students from Ponciano Bernardo Elementary School in the UP Bahay ng Alumni to enjoy an afternoon of learning and fun. Education advocates, friends from Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance & Ethical Leadership, and the Philippine Center for Mass Communication decided to share one Saturday afternoon to volunteer as storytellers, food distributors, registration head, game facilitators, and documenters. Tessa Atentar, the barangay captain of Barangay Kaunlaran, was also kind enough to support this event by providing transportation for the kids to and from the venue.

The program started with the kids introducing themselves, and was followed by stories adopted from the fables of Aesop entitled, "The Greedy Fox," and "The Frog and The Ox." The first story was told by Shy Castillo who, with the use of her exceptional storytelling skills, was able to capture the attention of all the kids and taught them the lesson of greed bringing nothing but trouble to a person. Despite his timid nature and him feeling the pressure caused by the previous storyteller, Kimo Cea, the second storyteller, succeeded in narrating the story seamlessly by just imitating how animated and enthusiastic the previous storyteller was.

After hearing the stories, the kids were asked to use their creativity to invent a story of their own by contributing three words per child. With a 15-minute time limit, the students were able to produce a story of a rabbit looking for her deer friend but ended up meeting an injured squirel and helped him get medication. The students’ vocabulary and grammar were also put to challenge during the second game in which each of them were given a letter. They were divided into two groups, each having their own mentors. The rule was to create three, four, and five letter words, and use them in different sentences. Few, sum, bike, tao, pawis and wagi were some of the words formed during this activity.
Before the kids went home, they munched on the boxes of sweet treats and claimed their free game coupons from the event’s major sponsors, J.Co Donuts & Coffee Philippines, and Timezone. School supplies from the Hero Channel, and the Andres Bonifacio Foundation were distributed to those who recalled the moral of the stories read earlier in that afternoon, and the names of their Ate’s and Kuya’s who were present.

“Sobrang saya po. Gusto ko nga pong bumalik dito eh,” replied by one of the participants when asked if she enjoyed the storytelling.

The volunteers, in return, were given the opportunity to voice out their reasons for joining this cause.
"It's a fulfilling experience knowing that you've widened the kids’ imagination through a simple story," said Cea, the most active AHON volunteer.

“With how political controversies are going, we really should cling to the hope that lies with the next generation. They are worth investing in because soon they'll be taking care of our nation. Seeing their enthusiasm to learn last Saturday made me optimistic. We need more of it especially in light of all the negativity in our political scene,” commented by Danise Macaraya, another AHON Foundation volunteer .

As Harvey Keh, the executive director of AHON Foundation, stated in one of AHON’s library inaugurations, “Maraming mga estudyanteng galing sa public school ang nag-e-excel sa mga colleges at universities.” He is convinced that capitalizing on the aspirations of the 90% of the Filipino children who are studying in the public schools is one of the best ways of alleviating poverty in the country.

A lot of Filipinos may still doubt the intentions of organizations like AHON Foundation, but with the help of groups and individuals who share the same dream with us of a better Philippines, we will continue our pursuit of using the culture of reading and books as a weapon to build more libraries and fight illiteracy. More importantly, help build dreamers of this nation.

For more information about AHON Foundation, you can visit us at http://facebook.com/ahonfoundation to see what you can contribute to the fulfilling of this dream or you can also contact us at (02) 433-1440 if you would like to be part of our dream of helping every Filipino child learn how to read.

Thank you very much to ABS-CBN News publishing our article on their blog!

Feb 11, 2014

As a new school year opens, AHON strives to open more libraries

Published June 2, 2013

Letters can form words. Words can form sentences. Sentences can form paragraphs. Combined paragraphs can form stories. Every story has its values. And these values are important in molding one's being. But, how can the Filipino people obtain these values thatare meant to develop them?
To answer the question, what they need is to develop their reading skill. Parents do establish a culture of reading in their children at an early age. They teach their children at home and eventually send them to school for further guidance. As Harvey Keh, executive director of Acts for Hope of the Nation (AHON) Foundation said, learning how to read starts from flipping a page in a book. But how can Filipino children learn if there aren't enough books to read?
There are at least 40,000 public elementary schools all over the country, but not all of them has a library-a conducive place where they can read and learn. Or worse, there are no available books for the children to read at all. The government has allotted a budget for this, but it's not enough to sustain the need. However, there are existing organizations in the community which aim to fill in the needs of the schools to achieve better education.
AHON Foundation, a corporate foundation of Filway Marketing, Inc. is one of these organizations who aim to provide a better education to young Filipinos. It believes that young people are the hope of this nation so it aims to mold their young minds by filling it with values and principles that will help in their development. This is made possible through book donations to fill in the empty shelves of school libraries, and ensuring that students are able to utilize it.
At present, AHON has opened 70 public school libraries all over the country that benefit over 100,000 students. To continue their advocacy, they aim to open 20 more libraries this year. AHON identifies their beneficiaries through a series of ocular inspections of schools endorsed by the Department of Education (DepEd).
Schools who submit their application forms after the first ocular inspection commit to a one-month challenge to improve their existing library. This challenge is designed for them to prepare, refurnish, and improve their libraries to a more child-friendly place of learning. It also seeks to develop a sense of responsibility among school teachers and staff, the community, and the students to maintain the order of the library.
The number of people working in AHON is not large as in other organizations. But it does not hinder them from reaching public elementary schools. With the help of volunteers and donors, they are able to provide deserving schools with books.
AHON is continuously looking for potential beneficiary schools, as well as willing individuals and institutions that may help them through donations.
If letters form words, words form sentence, sentences form paragraph, paragraphs form stories, and stories with values and principles; then an advocacy can lead to a decision to support, a decision can lead to action, and this action can lead to the fulfillment of a dream. In this case, it is a dream to enrich the minds of young Filipinos.
If a book bearing the values, principles, and knowledge that will help develop not only the individual but also the country is the dream of every Filipino child, isn't the ability to give and be part of the fulfillment of this dream a privilege? Decide, act, take part, and together, let's fulfill this dream of the Filipino children.
For inquiries and donations, you can contact AHON Foundation at (02) 433-1440 or visit AHON Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ahonfoundation.

BY: Issa Paulmanal
(The author is a senior Development Communications student at the University of the Philippines-Los Banos.)

Feb 6, 2014

Christmas gifts for the children of CamSur

Manila Bulletin Version
Christmas came a little bit earlier – and a whole lot brighter – for the children of Camarines Sur as Acts of Hope for the Nation Foundation (AHON) and Philippine Toy Library (PTL) opened libraries of books and toys in selected communities and schools across the province.
AHON Foundation inaugurated its 87th, 88th, and 89th partner libraries last Dec. 12. The three beneficiary schools Ocampo Central School, Grandview Elementary School, and Union Elementary School, represented by their principals, gathered at the OCS Pavilion to open their newly refurbished libraries to their pupils. The ceremony was attended by the AHON Foundation chairman Hector O. Tagaysay, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Gerona Robredo, Public Schools district supervisor Lowel Bisenio, as well as the teachers and parents.
“Mapalad tayo na mayroong AHON Foundation na tumutulong sa atin na pagyamanin ang kaisipan ng mga batang Bicolano kung kaya gamitin natin ang mga librong ibibigay nila. Ayos lang na masira ang mga ito basta nasira sa sobrang paggamit,” Congresswoman Robredo told the students.
Tagaysay pointed out that the books given to them are the ones which are used in top educational institutions in the country such as the Ateneo de Manila University, St. Scholastica’s College, Miriam College, and Xavier School. These reading materials will help them explore new places by looking at its pages.
Our utmost gratitude to Manila bulletin for publishing one of our articles!