“Kung kami lang gabugsay, mabudlay kay bug at. Pero kung mabulig kamu bugsay, mag-andar gid ta kag makaabot sa maayo nga lugar.”

These were the words of Mayor Lina O. Montilla as she addressed the youth-beneficiaries of the Kalinga sa Mga Batang Lansangan Project Year 4 launched on July 21, 2014.

Among them was 15-year old Jessica. Jessica works as a baby-sitter. She was kicked out of high school only two weeks after enrolment because of excessive absences.  Now, she had one goal on her mind: to finish college. She hopes to finish

Kalinga sa mga Batang Lansangan was conceived by Councilor Psyche Sucaldito in 2011 with the mission to promote and support youth and children’s hope through education. The program was sustained through the support of the city government. Kalinga sa mga Batanag Lansangan was finally institutionalized earlier this year through an City Ordinance 03-2014 to assure its sustainability.

This year, youth beneficiaries under Kalinga will attend Alternative Learning System (ALS) classes every Thursday and Friday for six months. The classes will be facilitated by mobile teachers from the City schools Division of Tacurong. Classes will be conducted in the City Crisis Intervention Center for Women and Children. Snacks and lunch will be provided every day. They were also be provided with school supplies and shirts to use as uniform. The Tacurong City Police Office, just like in the previous years of Kalinga, will provide free rides for the children every school day. This is to make sure that the children get to and from the center safely.

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An exam given at the end of the 6-month program will decide whether the children are ready for high school or college level.

The city mayor assured the children that there are scholarships and programs offered by the government to support their education if they decide to continue.

Honorable Sucaldito made it clear that the children’s hope does not solely rely on the LGU, the teachers or anybody else. Hope lies within the children’s hands. The conscious decision of going to school and persevering is the most important ingredient in their success.

“May pag asa ang tanan nga bata diri sa Tacurong,” said Mayor Montilla as she ended her motivational message. Perhaps this faith is among the essential ingredients to fuel the Kalinga children’s minds and hearts as they take on a new journey together.

by Pamela Barrometro