Some Christmas gifts from Saipan
“When we learned about the CGMA project and the alarming classroom shortage in the Philippines, the group unanimously decided it was the most worthwhile project to support,” says Nicolas B. Loste, president of the Filipino Community Foundation Inc.-Saipan.
The group’s 2003-2004 Simbang Gabi Committee, chaired by Eduardo C. Caranzo, immediately initiated the fund raising. “Last August 2005, the Committee’s two-classroom building donation was inaugurated and is now being used by students of Lalawigan Central Elementary School in Borongan, Eastern Samar,” says Caranzo.
The group’s treasurer, Alicia E. Abueme recalls: “Through the efforts of various coordinators and support from CNMI Archibishop Tomas Camacho, Filipino clergy and attendees of the Filipino Simbang Gabi at Mount Carmel Cathedral, we were able to accumulate sufficient amount for the construction of the classrooms.” Saipan is part of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands or CNMI.
Danilo L. Domingo, chairman of the Simbang Gabi Committee 2005-2006, adds: “With the completion of the classrooms and seeing their benefits to the Filipino children, our group is even more encouraged to work for another classroom building donation in the near future.”
“We laud the CGMA project and its implementers for giving us Filipinos abroad a concrete and vital medium with which to share our blessings with Filipino children back home and to ensure for them a better future through better education,” they add.
The fundraising efforts in Saipan are coordinated by Consul General Wilfredo Maximo and POLO representative Joan Lourdes D. Lavilla.
The CNMI chapter of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (UPAA) also funded a school building for Calamba National High School in Laguna. “The UPAA is an academic nonprofit organization that aims to invest in education,” says chapter president Janet Villagomez.
After raising funds to construct one classroom, UPAA-CNMI tied up with Saipan businessman Glicerio Arago and the Marianas Filipino Women’s Association to be able to complete CGMA’s standard two-classroom module, which was inaugurated last July 2005.
“Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. Through CGMA, UPAA was given the opportunity to share the gift of education to the children of Calamba, Laguna. UPAA will continue to support education-oriented causes and welcomes opportunities to make a difference in the educational development of the Filipino youth,” Villagomez adds.
When Labor Attache Araceli A. Maraya, who used to be posted in Saipan, introduced the CGMA project to Saipan-bsed businessman, Jerry Tan, he did not hesitate to support the project. Maraya is now based in Milan.
“From a very young age, my father encouraged everyone in our family to have an appreciation for education and social responsibility – two things that can make a great difference in the quality of life where we live, work and do business,” says Tan. “Today, the company that we started many years ago has grown to be a global business, and we are indeed very fortunate to be able to give some back to the community.”
His company, Tan Holdings, donated two classrooms to Dau Central Elementary School in Mabalacat South, Pampanga, which was inaugurated in January 2004. In addition, Tan made a separate personal donation for another classroom. Together with the donation from Al Ahliya Labor Supply based in the United Arab Emirates, a new CGMA school building was inaugurated in Capas National High School in Tarlac in March 2004.
“This makes it especially meaningful for us to have an opportunity to be part of this project. We hope that many more young people will benefit and lead happier and more productive lives because of the improvement in the education system that this project brings,” Tan says.