May 29, 2019 – Weeks before the start of a new school year, we found a group of teenagers busily posting tarp-papel (tarpaulin-sized banner made of papers) of a dance event at the gate of Vicente P. Villanueva Memorial School in Dasmariñas City. Each of them wears a green shirt with a quirky print of a pencil and what appears to be their organization’s name: “Young Alumni.” When asked what the activity is for, the teenagers said they are raising funds for the Brigada Eskwela in their alma mater. They plan to buy emergency kits for their schoolmates and instructional materials for their teachers.
The story of Brigada Eskwela at Vicente P. Villanueva Memorial School is proof that that we need not look far to find the bayanihan spirit at work in our schools. At the forefront of the movement to mobilize resources and support for their fellow learners in preparation for the school opening are the bright and passionate young alumni of VPVMS aged 12 to 19. Guided by their parents and teachers, these young volunteers share their time and efforts not only in organizing fundraising activities, but also in cleaning the classrooms and other facilities in the school.
Kahit bata, may magagawa
“Nabuo po ang VPVMS Young Alumni Association noong 2017. Through Brigada Eskwela, gusto po naming makatulong sa aming paaralan at mga kaklase. Naniniwala po kami na kahit bata, may magagawa,” Mark Joshua Garcia, the association’s president, shared.
Mark graduated from VPVMS in 2013. As an alumnus, he is committed to give back to his alma mater in whatever way he can. Along with other alumni, he organized the “Baktian for a Cause,” leveraging on the popularity of the Caviteño dance to raise funds for Brigada Eskwela. They were able to generate more than P13,000 which they used to buy whistles and school supplies for the students. Aside from the donations, the group also took part in the disaster awareness and readiness campaign in the school.
Brigada Eskwela, also known as the National Schools Maintenance Week, gathers stakeholders and volunteers from different sectors to share their time and resources in ensuring that public schools are clean, safe, and ready for the opening of classes.
In VPVMS, officers and members of the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) are avid supporters of the program. Year after year, they show up in the school to do repair and maintenance work and participate in seminars on school health and safety. This set a good example for the young alumni, who took inspiration from their parents and showed support for Brigada Eskwela in their own way. “Bawat sektor ng pamayanan ay may malaking impact sa paaralan. Halimbawa, ang kabataan, active sila at willing tumulong. Lahat ng kakayahan at tulong ay ibibigay nila, kahit sa maliit na paraan. Nakita naman natin sa Young Alumni,” Mrs. Marjorie Salas, PTA officer at VPVMS, said.
Apart from learning the value of volunteerism and unity, the young alumni of VPVMS also serve as role models to their fellow youth and students through Brigada Eskwela. Their collaborative efforts demonstrate how they all belong to a community that shares the responsibility of maintaining a school environment conducive to learning.
Matatag na Bayan Para sa Maunlad na Paaralan
In 2018, VPVMS received over P591,920 worth of donations and labor rendered by 1,835 volunteers. The bayanihan efforts of the school’s stakeholders and volunteers were recognized as VPVMS was awarded as the Best Brigada Eskwela Implementer for elementary-medium school category at the division level and placed 3rd in the regional level.
This year, VPVMS doubles its effort to address the needs of its 1,042 learners and 34 teachers. With the continuous support of the alumni, parents, teachers, and community partners, the bayanihan movement grows stronger, bringing positive change to the school and the lives of the Filipino youth.
By: Anne Katherine G. Cortez
Senior Education Program Specialist/ Division Brigada Eskwela Coordinator
City Schools Division of Dasmariñas