Silid Aralan Inc.
When I was a kid I used to play “sapi-sapian” with my playmates. It means I would act like I was being possessed growl, drool (for added effect), and run like an escaped convict. The other kids are then tasked to hold me down, pray over me, and chase me when I managed to break free. I also liked to stage a beauty contest. I’d gather my sister, cousins, and some of the other kids from our neighborhood. I’d cut out sashes from cartolina or manila paper, use the crown that we wore during flores de mayo, and then host a make-believe beauty pageant. Then there was doktor-doktoran where I’d play a doctor and my playmates as patients. We had an old stethoscope and boy do I love having that thing around my neck. In other days, when I want to play alone, I’d cover my lower body with a blanket, roll and glide on the floor, and pretend that I was a mermaid.
These games weren’t merely a source of entertainment for a young Marjorie, it was my way of living my dreams. I wanted to be an actress, a beauty queen, a doctor, and a mermaid. As you can see I’ve no problem dreaming the impossible and I wish I just meant the mermaid part. The universe though didn’t humor me so I ended up as a writer. But dreaming big is normal, we all have ’em and the younger we are, the bigger the dream is. So imagine meeting a kid whose goal in life is to become a house helper. That’s one of the shocking realities that I learned from Silid Aralan Inc., the most recent beneficiary of Pinoy Bloggers Outreach (PBO).
June 1st, I joined my fellow PBOers in Rizal for another outreach activity. I think we were all expecting to see a school so confusion set in when we were directed to a mall. We learned that Silid Aralan Inc., the subject of this activity is not a school per se but an after school program and it is located inside Montalban Town Center. Founded by Arcie Mallari, SAI’s mission is to help academically challenged students who are underprivileged. Presently, it has 12 sites across the country.
Arcie shared SAI’s history and the present endeavors that the foundation is doing to further its cause. SAI came into being following Arcie’s exposure to the disheartening conditions of Payatas residents where he lived for three years. Majority of the people are illiterate, kids don’t finish school, and even when they do go to school, they couldn’t receive the best education. Because life is hard, the children no longer aspire to go to college, limits their ambition to finishing high school, and then start working to earn for their families. This explains why these kids didn’t dare to dream big, setting themselves to becoming a household help, a messenger, driver, or other low-paying occupations that didn’t require a diploma.
These kids inspired Arcie to create a venue that would help and motivate them to value education, and use it as a tool to rise from poverty. Hence, the birth of SAI in 2007.
After hearing about these things, I suddenly found the energy to complete our task for the day. See, I didn’t get enough sleep the night before and travel time to Rizal took us about an hour or two, making me more lethargic than I already was. But gaining an insight on what the foundation is trying to accomplish gave me the push that I needed to do what I had to do that day. It is one undertaking that is so worth my time and effort.
After Arcie’s talk, we turned over the donation, composed of school supplies.
Then the prelude to wall painting, sanding the wall. The walls had yellow paint and sanding helped to make the repainting easier. While others were sanding the paper, Arline and the kids painted over the outlines on the wall.
Then came the fun part, the painting of walls! I’m not kidding it was so fun it felt a lot like we were playing. I took one of the roller brushes then had the time of my life turning the wall into blue. I think I found a hidden potential, a fall-back career maybe? Hehehe…
The kids made the drawings on the wall, which I found to be cute. Brownie points for those who can tell the characters in the picture below!
We were done after two hours or so. More than the fact that painting turned out to be a fun thing to do, I liked this event because it felt like I was contributing something to the good cause of SAI. Not only did I discover a future career I was also able to help make that room conducive to learning! Hurrah! Hehehe… But kidding aside, for me it is not just an ordinary a room. It’s a beacon of hope for these kids who used to believe they didn’t deserve to aim higher and accomplish something of grand scale in life.
Maybe one of them will become an actor, a beauty queen, or a doctor. Or who knows, maybe someone would become a mermaid. Now wouldn’t that be interesting? What’s important is that these kids would start dreaming again and not be afraid to dream big.