Bayanihan sa Brigada Eskwela 2016: A Diary of an Everyday Hero

Since I started my journey with iVolunteer Philippines, it has been at the top of my mind that I will not just work for the organization, but I will also get to be hands-on in doing the work with the communities that we help. But apart from that, I also expected to meet new people, go to new places and do something that I never thought I could do. And so, our promise of being an everyday hero starts here.

Bayanihan sa Brigada Eskwela

Brigada Eskwela is an annual program of the Department of Education in preparation for the opening of classes. Last June 4, Saturday, a group of selfless volunteers, including myself, united to set an adventure in helping out teachers in setting up classrooms and creating an exciting atmosphere for the students. Our encounters and realizations exceeded our expectations and everyone experienced a one-of-a-kind bayanihan even for just a day.

It was a very worthwhile experience for all of us, who got to spend the weekend helping out public school teachers at Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Elementary School in Commonwealth, Quezon City and Bitik Elementary School in Valenzuela City. This activity also gave us a chance to exchange stories with our fellow volunteers, learn new lessons from each other’s experiences, and to leave our own mark by giving a fresh start to the students on their first day of school.

Volunteer to See a Glimpse of the Real World

(Eden Rose Hernandez, Aljenica Ocampo, and Katleen Ramos, Education students and aspiring teachers, helping out in painting classroom chairs)

We also met three Education students named Eden, Aljenica, and Katleen, who chose to spend the day volunteering for Brigada Eskwela. They saw it as an eye opener on what it was like to be in the real world as Education students and soon-to-be teachers. Others may choose to spend time with friends than volunteering because it is hard and tiring, but for them, as future educators, they were more than willing to help create the best learning environment for the new batch of students this school year.

“It is the time to go beyond our comfort zone and explore by helping other people,” Katleen added. Indeed, it was meaningful and memorable for them to volunteer for the first time, and their adventures of helping the world doesn’t end there.

Commitment Beyond their Profession

We also had the chance to talk with Teacher Jenneth Molinilla of Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Elementary School in Commonwealth, Quezon City. While we were working, she shared her story of her selfless commitment to her job, and we realized that teachers like her go beyond their roles to ensure that their students receive the best quality of education. “It’s just amazing to see these teachers pour their time, minds and hearts to their work, as seen in how genuinely happy they were when we showed up at their schools asking for what else they needed help with. They don’t mind shelling out their own money and spending extra time working, because they have found fulfillment in what they do.” Shares Celina Baylon, one of the volunteers.

The best part of Brigada Eskwela was to receive heartwarming gratitude and meaningful stories from our dear teachers whom we helped during the activity. What we did like cleaning classrooms, painting doors, chairs and other parts of the rooms, and setting them up for a new look may have been quite small for us, but it was so meaningful for these teachers to see that there are still people who are willing to help without expecting to receive anything in return.

Volunteer to Fulfill and Inspire

My fellow volunteers’ stories and insights last Saturday made me realize that we can also enjoy the concept of bayanihan and learn a lot from working together. We may have been tired by the end of the activity, but seeing each other having fun along the way fueled us up after a long day.

Miguel Gomez, one of my fellow volunteers shared: “iVolunteer presents us with several chances to attain fulfillment by simply giving time and effort to volunteer in service for others.” This made him realize that doing even the smallest things can lead to fulfillment. “As long as what we do is for the benefit of others and not just for one’s self, a simple hue of fulfillment may be attained,” he added.

According to Celina Baylon of iVolunteer, it was also a wonderful experience working with her fellow volunteers. “To get to know people who value the same causes as you reminds you that what you are doing is relevant. And in turn, you inspire each other to continue to learn more on how you can start change and face issues bigger than yourself.”

This was also her first time to join the iVolunteer team in an activity out on the field. “I’ve been helping out through managing iVolunteer’s blog for the past few months, but haven’t had the chance to actually attend a volunteer activity, so I’m very thankful to have been part of this year’s Brigada Eskwela, together with other iVolunteer members, which was such a fun and worthwhile experience.”

For the Love of Giving Back

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(iVolunteer Staff at Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Elementary School and Bitik Elementary School)

I believe that the main objective of Brigada Eskwela is to give back to the community. Those teachers we met may not have been our own teachers back in the day, and we may have come from different schools, but we should also look out for the ones devoting their life to service, such as these teachers who have committed to guiding their students across all their years in school.

Seeing the world change in a good way little by little can give us something that money can’t buy. I believe it starts with ourselves and through our actions. And together, we can bring new hope to these students, not only by joining Brigada Eskwela, but also through leading them to a better future, as we welcome another school year for them.

by Jennilyn Redublo

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