By Evan Mariano

At the onset of the pandemic in 2021, most everybody were isolated in their homes. A handful of ladies from AC HS ’69 got together and agreed to ‘dip their toes’ and get active in assisting underprivileged families who found themselves struggling as businesses closed and income levels suddenly dropped.  The problem was these ladies didn’t know where to begin.  As luck would have it, they discovered a new feeding program just put in operation.  Kabisig ng Kalahi, an established NGO headed by Ms. Vicky Wieneke, had just designed  a Food Share Program and she immediately provided information to this motley group of senior ladies how private groups could participate in a program that would provide rice to 30 selected families for 3 months in joint cooperation with the LGU and the DSWD.  The ladies were merely tasked to oversee the program and check on the families’ from time to time.  A gardening activity was also begun to see if the families could provide their own vegetables by planting.  

From these small programs undertaken within a short time frame, a whole new paradigm of assistance opened as the group now became aware of important needs they could provide to this community in Hagonoy, Taguig.

The Barangay Friends membership has grown to more than 20 today mostly from Class ’69 and just as a good seed grows that is planted on good ground, the BF extended the rice program from 3 months to another 2 years.  Other major NGOs and sponsors came in to help like Ancop of Canada.  In 2021 an Education Program was initiated. It would provide one-on-one tutoring to slow learners.  The educational situation in many places in the country had also seen learning growth rates drop and modules were hard to learn.   When a foundation associated with learning programs heard of the Barangay Friends’ thrust, the Jesus V. del Rosario Foundation came in to donate several laptops and strategic logistics to enable the group to set up and develop a modern curriculum for very young children.  Several tutors were hired and online lessons were given daily as the covid raged on.  This year, a Livelihood Program called ‘Sew Much to Do’ was begun with the assistance again of JVR Foundation who provided several sewing machines, materials and an economic plan to get 12 mothers trained and readied to be the first batch of sewers of relief bags.   The flow of good tidings continues as members who reside here and abroad gives refrigerators, more pcs, books, pencils, erasers, and all kinds of materials for the programs benefitting the Hagonoy community.   Starting with just a wish to ‘see where you can fit in’, the Barangay Friends has discovered that their experience base provides them with a new context….it takes a gradual and steady process, little steps of insight that unfolds before you until you understand the saying: it take a whole community to raise a child that will later on be a productive part of that same community. 

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