PBSP, PhilAm Join Hands to Help Basilan Pupils

This early, Fahad is upbeat to pursue a course that is science-related after high school. “Sana mabigyan ako ng pagkakataon na kumuha ng kurso ayon sa hilig ko (I hope I will be given the chance to take up a course according to my liking),” he added.

He was among the countless school children assisted by PhilAm Foundation. ABC aims to help poor children affected by armed conflict as an offshoot of the Abu Sayyaf’s “iege of Lamitan town” in June, 2001.

As a child who misses his father after a long while, Fahad has only his mother to accompany him on his last day in school. This moment is special for the family as they share together the joy of success after years of toil.

Fahad Guilok confidently went up the stage together with his mother and humbly received his Academic Excellence Award for Science and Health during their Graduation Day in Lamitan recently.

Implemented by the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) in partnership with the Dominican Sisters of the Holy Rosary, the ABC project continues to touch the lives of indigent children in Lamitan.

PBSP Mindanao Chair Paul Dominguez said in a statement that PBSP’s continuing interventions in education “are our humble expressions of support to young Mindanaoans’ quest for a better future. Education continues to be our priority as we pursue Mindanao’s full development.”

PBSP has worked for over 30 years in harnessing private sector resources to alleviate poverty across the country.

Among all the subjects in school, Science fascinates Fahad. And that day as he received his award, would be a special one for it affirmed his love to discover new things. “Gusto kong tumuklas ng bago”, (I want to discover new things), he said. “Masaya ako pag may experiment kami kasi may matutunan ka pagkatapos mong gawin ito” (I’m happy whenever we have experiments because you will learn and discover something after doing it), he confided.

Fahad was among the 422 graduates of Lamitan Central Elementary School (LCES) who marched together with their proud parents in Lamitan.

Youngest among the seven siblings, Fahad relies on his mother Teresita for help whenever there are difficult assignments to make. His father Salvador has left to find a job in the Middle East to help support the growing family needs.

Having a father away from home is difficult. “Nanay ko lang talaga ang matatakbuhan ko pag may kailangan ako. Kung gabi, nanay ko ang tumutulong sa akin pag mahirap yung assignment ko” (I have only my mother where I could run to if I need help. At night, it’s my mother who helps me review my difficult assignment), he said.

During more difficult times, he would walk to school together with the other kids in their neighborhood. “Nagbabaon na lang ako para hindi na ako uuwi nang tanghalian” (I have to bring my lunch box so that I will no longer go home during lunch time), Fahad said.

Their sacrifices have not been in vain, for after years of walking to school and sometimes skipping classes when he doesn’t feel well, Fahad can now face a more challenging experience when he enrolls in high school this coming June.

Aside from receiving the Academic Excellence award in Science, he was also chosen as one of the Boy Scouts of the Year for his active participation in scouting activities and one of the Service awardees. He represented their school in both district and division level Science competition and was the Fifth Honor in their batch.

From the experience of Fahad and his schoolmates, what used to be the burden of education has been lightened through the scholarship grant, which comes in the form of school supplies, bags, uniforms, shoes and school fees.

The ABC project has a deeper meaning other than learning the basics in education. PBSP project managers believe that the project enables young citizens to acquire knowledge now to better face the challenges ahead as they build a peaceful and progressive community in this once war-torn place.

Indeed, says Dominguez, the experience of the young scholars in Lamitan is a “concrete manifestation how business and civil society could work together to effect positive change in children’s lives in the conflict-affected and depressed areas of Mindanao.”

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