by: Lesther Pangilinan (2KK Scholar)
"Ang kahirapan ay hindi hadlang upang makatulong ka sa iba, tumulong sa iba ng walang hinihintay na anumang kapalit." hindi lang sa materyal na bagay tayo pwedeng makatulong sa iba, pwede din tayong tumulong sa pamamagitan ng pagbabahagi ng kaalaman, talento at pagbibigay ng matatamis na ngiti sa kanila.” Lesther Pangilinan, a 2KK YAPAK leader, said when asked about what he learned best from being a Kapatid.
A Kapatid tutee since kindergarten and eventually a YAPAK Leader scholar since his third grade in 2006, Lesther is now graduating in BS Physics at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. He shares how 2KK has molded him to be a great person.
The oldest among 4 siblings, Lesther had been the family’s breadwinner after his father died a few years ago. He became a part-time NGO assistant to sustain his and his siblings’ studies and continues to be a working student, which he is proud of.
Being one of 2KK’s most active scholars, he had led in implementing honor and discipline among fellow scholars for three years. With 2KK as his training ground, he has adopted the same ideals upon becoming the president of PUP’s Physics Society.
“Sa 2KK ko natutunan ang maglingkod nang may puso,” he said. “Lahat ng natutunan ko sa 2KK, ibinibahagi ko sa society namin.”
Lesther plans to work as a resident meteorologist or in the public service, seeing both as an opportunity to help others and make a positive change.
“Gusto kong mag-serve sa tao. Gusto kong mahanay sa pinakamaiimpluwensyang tao para maging inspirasyon sa ibang kabataang kagaya ko,” he said.
Finishing his studies started with a dream. Now, Lesther encourages every child to dream and aim high.
“Dapat yung mga kabataan huwag matakot na mangarap nang mataas. Huwag nilang isiping hindi nila kaya. Once na may pangarap ka, may pupuntahan yung buhay mo. Yung dadaanan mong tuwid at yung pangarap mong yun [ang] magiging motivation mo,” he said.
“Di lang naman ikaw magtatrabaho mag-isa. May mga taong tutulong sa’yo gaya ng [mga] kaibigan at pamilya mo. Nasa sa’yo na lang din kung paano matutupad ang pangarap mo,” he also added.
by: Lesther Pangilinan (2KK Scholar)
Last September 2016, alongside with my co-scholars, we visited one of the famous museums in Metro Manila - the National Museum of the Philippines, located in Ermita, Manila.
The National Museum is an institution that is currently preserving the national collections made by infamous and famous painters, sculptors, writers and other artists, as well as contemporary ones. The National Museum has sections like the National Art Gallery, Museum of the Filipino People, Planetarium and the Regional Museum.
The Museum gave us students the opportunity to see these precious artworks made by our fellow Filipinos. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to visit all of the sections I have mentioned. We just went to the Museum of the Filipino People and the main hall of the National Museum. Even so, I was very glad that these creations was collected and handled carefully, and I think that it is a good way to bring inspiration to young generations, when they see the works that have been made by their ancestors. I believe that it is also good to have these in display for every Filipino, and for other nationalities as well, showcasing our history and artworks done by our fellow men.
Seeing these pieces made my heart flutter with anticipation and excitement. I have wondered how people lived in the old times. Pondering what materials they used and how they used it. I was also astonished and confused by my own questions. And I even wondered if my drawings and writings could ever be displayed together with these creations.
Written by: Jastine Rosit
“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
It is one of Aristotle’s words of wisdom. Certainly, the heart and the mind are intertwined in the true essence of education. Feeding the mind with overflowing knowledge while leaving the heart empty would not capture what education is truly about. Thus, it requires a great sense of mission and dedication to teach both the mind and the heart. For thirteen years, Tulong sa Kapwa Kapatid Foundation (2KK) is transforming lives and living out this holistic definition of education.
2KK is helping our fellow Filipinos in “realizing dreams through education”. This mindset motivates and propels every member of the organization to be an instrument of change for more than a decade. They enlighten the path of the underprivileged youths who are living in the shadows of poverty. They give hope through education; through education they build dreams; through building dreams, they build better, happy, and more empowered lives and homes.
Let us take a look on one of the stories of hope - a small leap of faith that led to big ripples of change.
Mickel Dublin ,19, is one of the scholars of 2KK. He is taking up BS Criminology, and he is walking through his childhood dreams of being a policeman.
For this senior college student, “education is not only gaining knowledge. It is also [about] having discipline and love [with what you do].”
Tracing back to 2008, Mickel has started his journey with 2KK. He was just an eleven year old child who viewed his dreams as unreachable stars; the clouds of doubt and uncertainty filled his thoughts.
“Before, I don’t believe that I can reach my goals in life,” he shared.
But through the help of 2KK, his outlook in life has changed. He has mustered every ounce of courage and optimism in his system. He has realized that there are ways to achieve his goals and he would not walk through it alone.
He regains his strength and will power to take little steps forward. He carries his dreams in his pocket as his journey begins. It may be challenging and tough but Mickel is very eager and inspired to reach his goals.
“I want to become a law enforcer someday and I will achieve it because 2KK is helping me,” he said.
“It is also my wish to have a simple family and to live in a simple house, and get a permanent job,” he added.
One of the most valuable lessons that he received from 2KK is to always set a vision and to always prepare himself to cross the path that will lead to his destination. No one can tell him that he cannot do it because he just needs to whisper to himself that he has the potentials to make it. He also realizes that he has his fellow kapatids who will guide and support him.
“Thank you so much to 2KK for your love and trust, and for believing in us that we can achieve our goals in life and be a successful person,” he gratefully said.
Just like how we define education that traces its core in the heart and the mind, Mickel personifies this meaning. He also wants to share the learning and opportunity that he received as one of the scholars of 2KK. This is his way of educating and imparting the life lessons that he obtained.
“I want to serve the community. That’s how I’ll payback the help of 2KK to me.”
Undoubtedly, he acknowledges that “educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” It is by continuously loading his tank of information and filling the spaces of his heart that he truly learns.
He is our kapatid and he has been with us all through this time. It has been thirteen years of being in mission to educate (the heart and the mind), and every year, our family grows. In as much as we plant seeds of hope and inspiration, we reap dreams coming to reality.
To be a YAPAK Sponsor, click here to find out more.
by Trisha Balan
Filipinos are fond of nicknames. I have quite a few. My name is Trisha but I am called Shasha, Chubs, Twizzie, and many others that I would not like to discuss. My favorite nickname, however, is Ate Trisha, which translates as "older sister Trisha." It was given to me by my 45 younger siblings.
In the gritty, crowded heart of Metro Manila, tucked away from the expensive high-rise buildings and suburban paradises of the middle class, there sits an impoverished community, surrounded by mounds of garbage and decay. This small community is called Payatas and it is home to my 45 little brothers and sisters. They are not related to me by blood, but they are my family through Tulong Sa Kapwa Kapatid (2KK), an outreach organization that aims to provide more opportunities and values education to the youth in Payatas. Every other Saturday, I am given the chance to guide and teach these children life lessons they can carry with them for the rest of their lives. For the past four years, I have learned to become a teacher, a guidance counselor, an event organizer, a playmate, a friend, and an older sister to these kids. Payatas proved to be my best classroom. I might not have learned how to solve algorithms or how to analyze a villanelle poem, but I did learn how to be all these things for my brothers and sisters. Being an older sister is my talent and it is my passion. As the youngest in my biological family, I never thought it was something that I would be good at, but I soon discovered that caring for others is something built within me. As Ate Trisha, I get to see into the minds of my little brothers and sisters. I learn about their lives, discover their dreams, and I grow to care about them. As an older sister, I think of myself less and it gives me purpose in life.
Despite my interest and my passion for this cause, more than once, my friends and even members of my family have told me to quit my organization and to pursue different interests. They believed it was a waste of my time to be with these kids, that I had nothing to gain from being with them. What they said was true, I had nothing to gain, but I did get to find out who I was. I could have done a lot of other things if I was not involved with these children. I would have led a very different life, but I do not regret it. I love being Ate Trisha. I became who I am because of my little brothers and sisters.
Gandhi once said, "the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." I was lucky enough to find myself through these kids. Being Ate Trisha makes me feel close to them and it makes me feel unique. They have given me my identity. Being an older sister may not sound special, but to me it is. After all, who else can say that they have 45 younger siblings?
To be an "Ate" or a "Kuya", a Kapatid, you can volunteer here.
By: Charmaine Lim - Perth, Western Australia
I signed up for this excursion not knowing the language, having no clue where or what EK was, and not knowing much about 2kk. I was a sojourner in the Philippines, who chanced upon Randy from 2kk on a visit to a Gawad Kalinga community in Escopa.
‘You get to sponsor a child to go to Enchanted Kingdom!’ was #2kkgoestoEK told to me in a nutshell.
I thought about my first time to Disneyland, when I was but a girl of 12 and my parents took us to America for a family vacation, and how that became the highlight of my childhood. I thought about the children living in Escopa who are rarely given an opportunity to go somewhere as far away (or as close by, depending on your perspective) as Laguna. So I readily agreed, and two weeks went by before I returned to Manila and embarked on my Enchanted Kingdom adventure with people I have not had the pleasure of meeting yet.
Due to my inability to speak the language, I was kind of, semi-hoping, half daring to hope that the child I would be assigned to would be young enough that we had to communicate in half-sentences and made up words. What happened instead was that I was partnered with a child who was not only able to speak, could speak very well, and whose favourite subjects were Maths and English, so Cathlene was probably the best surprise I could have asked for.
On top of that, our team leader Micah decided we should hang out in a group, so not only did I get the company of one small person, our group shared several, ranging from ages seven to eleven.
A picture speaks a thousand words, and they inexplicably show we had an enjoyable time, climbing bridges, waiting in line for rides. What the pictures failed to capture were the experiences we shared that remain closest to my heart. I am not sure who enjoyed the day more: the children or myself. We shared lunches, ice cream, drinks and dinners. Cathlene and Jhanice happily taught me how to count from one to ten in Tagalog. We rode on ‘kabayos’ to finish the night off. We watched the fireworks under the stars together in silent awe. Cathlene told me her favourite song was Jessie J’s ‘Flashlight’ so we held hands and sang that all the way to the Ferris Wheel. We rode the waterfall ride, where we screamed for dear life before erupting into laughter as we disembarked.
I took away more than just the opportunity to give one child an experience, and an opportunity to play 'Ate' for a day. I walked away with a sense of unity and collectivity that children have the power to bring, and for that, I am humbled and grateful. Thank you, 2KK for bringing me together with some of the best people that I had the pleasure to meet. And thank you to Carla, Jay, Kristine and Micah for taking me under their wing. Most importantly, thank you to Kian, Cathlene, Jhanice, Aaron and the rest of the 2kk children for making this trip to the Philippines the most memorable of them all.
by Fernando Miguel V. Carlos
A lot of people try to find different ways in helping those who are less privileged than they are, sometimes through means of charitable events or monthly donations. But truly, nothing is more valuable than the gift of education. That is why when I was given the opportunity by 2KK to teach kids in a public school about literature and the love for it, I immediately accepted their offer.
As much as it was an exhilarating and new experience, I also feel blessed with being surrounded by so many fun and bright kids. To be honest, I was terrified at first when thinking about the prospect of making a lesson plan or how my team mates and I would facilitate more than 20 kids. But thankfully, the people from 2KK were very accommodating and clear about how we should interact with them. They were patient and very helpful when it came to the logistics of it.
On that day, before we got to the venue - a jeepney ride from UP Diliman to a Escopa, Quezon City - they told us that the most important part about the whole experience was to have fun with the kids. That placed me at ease. To the 2KK group, the whole exchange was not solely about teaching these kids about literature, but rather to spend time with them and give them all our attention and love.
Before everything started, the other participants and I could not help but feel a bit stressful, with the traffic, materials needed, and the scorching heat. But when we actually got to meet the kids and talked to them, all these worries seemed to melt away. Their smiles and cheery demeanor had some kind of magical effect on us, brushing away all our anxieties and fears, allowing us to just enjoy our time with them. But we did not just teach these kids about poems and literature: we also played with them, talked to them, got to know who they were and their stories. Even though we were the ones asked to teach them, all of us would agree that we, too, learned something that day.
My personal realization about the whole experience was that no matter how insignificant you think your actions are, never underestimate the effect your small acts of kindness can do for these kids. For some reason, we’ve bloated up this idea that we need to fix and help all the broken people and homeless families in our country with one big swoop, that we need to come together and think up some big plan to save everyone in one go. But I believe that no matter who we come across with or whatever we do, just giving someone your attention is one of the biggest things we can do.
I would like to say my thanks to the people in 2KK for blessing me with the opportunity to go out and bless others. It is safe to say this will be one of the many outreaches I will be doing with 2KK.
A poem by JM Q. Dela Cruz
Bata sa lansangan gutom ang kalamnan
Sabik sa magandang kinabukasan
Nakatago sa mga ngiti ang damang kahirapan
Busog sa pangarap
Gutom sa karunungan
Nagsilbing palaboy sa lansangan
Sinong may kasalanan?
Tanging nais ay sumulat lamang sa pisara
Pero tila ang ginhawa sakanila ay nagsara
Kayat sa katotohanan silay pikit mata
Walang malay sa salitang pag asa
Sino ang may sala ako, ikaw o sila ... hindi TAYO
Tayo ang nakapikit at mga palad ay sarado
Bakit di natin baguhin ang maling istilo
Tumulong ng walang kapalit at
Maki kapwa tao tayo kapatid
Wag ipagdamot ang pag ibig kaibigan
Yan ang tanging kailangan ng ating kababayan
Baguhin ang sarili
Gumawa ka ng mabuti
Upang bukas may magandang tayo maani
Magtiwala ka sa Diyos di ka niya pababayaan
Dahil pangako niya sa atin di niya tayo iiwanan
by Tamia Reodica
It has been almost a year since the first 2KK Goes to EK, but I could never forget how much of a wonderful day it was - the most memorable thing being the smile that stayed on the face of Cy, my kapatid for the day.
2KK Goes to EK truly put the fun in fundraising. It made me see up close how important it is to give brilliant young minds such as the 200 kapatids these great memories, stories they'll take with them along the way to their bright futures. The kapatids were so game to do anything, which made things extra enjoyable. Every little thing, even the small ones (like the stuffed toys won from the parlor games), meant the entire world to them, so you could imagine how much going to EK was a great experience for them.
Aside from being able to give the 200 kapatids a day of magical memories, it was also a chance to bond with strangers who became friends, friends who had the same love for reaching out to those in need. The entire day had a nice atmosphere that felt like home and every volunteer was well taken care of. It was also wonderful seeing the 2KK team in action - I was in awe of how they were a family of different people who constantly work hard to put their time, effort, and love into teaching kapatids. The unique thing about 2KK is that even the scholars - the kapatids - are part of the family themselves. They also don't just teach these children academics, but even the ability to dream for themselves despite the poverty they may face.
2KK Goes to EK is a one of a kind experience and anyone with a love for helping and making others happy will enjoy it!
by Trisha Ann Frances Balan
They say you never forget your first time and thanks to my own little miracle named Milagros, I will never forget my first time in Enchanted Kingdom. Since I'm the youngest in my family, I'm not used to taking care of another living, breathing human being. I'm always the one being taken care of. As you might imagine, that makes me a little self-centered and quite inconsiderate. On June 6, 2015, however, I was given the serious responsibility of ensuring Milagros' safety and making sure she has good time. I've been with 2KK for quite a while and I've taught the kids countless times, so I thought this would be relatively easy.
It was not.
I had to follow her wherever she went and trust me that girl can run. There were rides I wanted to go on, but she didn't want to, so I had to stay with her. I had to make sure she was always hydrated. I always asked her hold my hand so she wouldn't get lost. It was the definition of stressful. I actually had war flashbacks to all of the times when I gave the same kind of stress to my older siblings. It made me appreciate them so much more. Even if I was frantic and frazzled half of the time, Milagros and I still had an amazing day together. We played games while waiting in line. We chased the Wizard around the park for a picture. We made each other laugh with our corny jokes. We tried to get soaking wet on the Rio Grande Rapids (she was drenched, I was not). We rode all the rides she loved again and again until we both got dizzy and slightly nauseous.
Come 8 pm, we were tired out of our minds, but when the fireworks began she ran all the way to the end of the parking lot and, of course, I ran after her. We stood side by side as the sparks flew across the sky. I glanced to my right and I saw her bright eyes shining in wonder and fascination at the golden lights. And, in that simple moment, I had forgotten all my stress and fatigue. I felt happy because I was able to give this sweet little girl the best time of her life. After the fireworks show, Milagros had me crouch down and she said to me, "Parang Pasko lang yun! Salamat po talaga, Ate Trisha!" Then Milagros hugged me like I was really her older sister and I tried so hard not to cry.
This event changed me on a level I cannot even begin to explain. When I first walked through those EK gates, I was a self-obsessed "bunso" in charge of a little girl. When I walked out, however, I was truly an Ate, constantly nagging and fiercely protective of her younger sister.
I believe that God sends us miracles not to save us, but to change us into better people. Safe to say Milagros was my miracle. She changed me from a Bunso to an Ate and for that I will always be grateful.
by Knut Anders GjersØe
Throughout the weeks after first volunteering with 2KK, people have started asking me this question with weird grins on their faces: "Why are you so excited for the weekend, going to Payatas?". I would have to say that it's a feeling, a feeling that you are able to do something truly wonderful, a feeling of coming into a community that embraces each other and wants to grow together. Engaged and enthusiastic volunteers and Kaps merge as such when we meet during the weekend, and the sessions are filled with energy, laughter and positivity. And we all know that we upskill ourselves in matters of good values and knowledge of the world.
You truly get a perspective of life when doing this kind of work. During one session, I was teaching my group of Kaps the word "unfortunate", and asked if one of them could use it in a sentence. "It was unfortunate when our our house burned down and we had nowhere to live," one of the Kaps said. How she said it and how the other Kaps showed that they knew how that feels really struck deep with me. This is one thing that many of them have seen, and they know that it can possibly happen in the future as well, because of their living conditions. In that moment, it felt like reality. The sessions always teaches us something, like testing our perceptions and training ourselves to be kind and helpful in all scenarios: for example, by doing role play, where we project how to act towards the disabled (which is played by a fellow Kap). Here, I could clearly see the Kaps starting the role play by teasing the disabled person, which somehow might be a normal thing, transitioning on welcoming and caring for that Kap playing as the disabled person. They did it naturally and I could see how they knew this was the right thing to do.
The work 2KK does for these kids is very valuable exactly because it brings out these values in the kids. When the Kaps go home and to school with these values, I believe the community where they live in would become better. You can see that several of the former Kaps continue with 2KK as volunteers themselves, which is a clear sign of how they truly want to build on these values and contribute to the next generation. By joining 2KK I've challenged myself and learned a lot about what I can contribute. I feel great being around this community of prospering these values. More than anything, the 2KK group wants you to feel good and enjoy yourself.
I work as project coordinator in a maritime company here in Manila. By being put to challenges in work and your everyday environment, as well as having to make friends and create your own happiness in an unknown and different place, you understand better who you are and what you can do. And by combining working and volunteering with 2KK, I feel like I can accomplish anything, take on challenges around the world with people from all over, because when you realize that you can enjoy and do great work wherever, you can do anything and go everywhere.