CSAP Maahas Day Care Center: Ensuring access to learning for the children of CSAP Maahas

by Lindsay Anne Estacio

[FEATURE] On April 2, 2017, the Core Shelter Assistance Program (CSAP) Maahas Day Care Center (DCC) held its Araw ang Pagkilala at Parangal at the Maahas Covered Court with 53 students.

Among these students was  three-year-old Ayumie Divino who dreams of becoming a doctor “para makapanggamot ako sa may sakit.” Ayumie is the youngest among five children of Judy Mae Divino and Herman Divino. Ayumie’s four-year-old sister Zhandra Divino also studies at the CSAP Maahas DCC. Zhandra wants to be a teacher when she grows up. The Divino Family is from Brgy. Bambang and was among the families relocated to Brgy. Maahas due to the damage brought by strong typhoons.

Zhandra Mae Divino receives her award as Batang Magalang during her first Araw ng Pagkilala at Parangal.

After the damages brought by typhoons Milenyo and Reming in 2006 to residents of the barangays of Bambang, Lalakay, and Tuntungin-Putho were greatly affected thus, the Department of Social Welfare and Development Region (DSWD) IV-A in partnership with the Municipal Urban Development and Housing Office (MUDHO), Laguna Provincial Social Welfare and Development (PSWD-Laguna), and the Los Baños Municipal Social Welfare and Development (LBMSWD) pushed for the relocation of affected families under CSAP.

Under CSAP, residential units were constructed in Brgy. Maahas for the relocation of the families formerly residing in danger zones. According to Normita Linga, a former resident of Brgy. Lalakay, they have experienced flash floods and landslides before. “Dati kasi yung bahay naming nasa danger zone, pero ngayon ‘di na namin kailangan mag-alala [kasi mas safe na dito].” She also added that she liked their current community than before. For Linga and the residents of CSAP Maahas, having electricity in their area for two years now was a great help for the community.

Even Mila Nalana, also a former resident of Lalakay, is satisfied with their current home in CSAP. She said that it did not take a long time for them to adjust in their new environment. In fact, she even continued her business as a supplier of bedding and bed sheets for two of the well-known resorts in Los Baños. Despite of the improvements and the services set in place in CSAP Maahas, there are also emerging concerns for the residents. According to Nancy Benecero, parent of a CSAP Maahas DCC student and a resident of CSAP Maahas since 2006, dati, medyo tahimik pa dito at hindi pa medyo delikado lumabas-labas [sa kalye]. Ngayon, medyo delikado na kasi gawa ng mga sasakyan na pumapasok.

Despite all these, residents remain dedicated to encourage their children to continue pursuing their education in their new community. According to Linga “yung isang anak ko nag-aaral din siya dati sa Brgy. Lalakay. Noong umalis kami doon ay Grade 5 siya. Ngayon ay Grade 9 na siya Batong Malake National High School. Tapos yung isa kong anak, ngayon ay Grade 5 sa Maahas Elementary School.” For Linga, their lives improved when they were relocated to Brgy. Maahas. She explains that they also encountered  difficulties in starting a new life in a new environment. “Dati kasi mataas [ang lugar] doon sa amin, pero pagbaba mo [galing bahay], may kalsada na. Pero nung lumipat kami dito, wala pang kalsada kaya maputik. Pero ngayon okay na,” she added.

Most of these children from relocated families have continued to study in schools near them such as Los Baños National High School, Maahas Elementary School, and Maahas Day Care Center.

Since the CSAP site is relatively remote, Linga explained that students need to walk to school or spend money for transportation, which can be a concern to most of the students’s family. Ayumie’s older brother Zhyrus Divino, who is currently a Grade 4 student in Maahas Elementary School, “naglalakad lang po kami papuntang school. Malayo po pero, nasanay na rin po kami.” And just like his siblings, he also wanted to finish studying because he wants to be a policeman in the future “para po matulungan ko yung mga nangangailangan,” he said.

According to Leo Lapitan, the barangay administrator of Maahas, Brgy. Chairman Ferdinand “Jeck” P. Vargas and the barangay council requested for the establishment of the day care center at CSAP to setup a learning facility within the community.  The school construction started in March 2015. CSAP Maahas DCC opened for classes in July 2016.

According to Lapitan, the establishment of the CSAP Maahas DCC was a big help to the community, especially to families with preschoolers. The establishment of CSAP Maahas DCC is supported by the Presidential Decree No. 1567 or also known as Barangay Day Care Center Law of 1978. This decree mandated the establishment of a day care center in every barangay with at least 100 families.

According to Francisca V. Bautista, a teacher at CSAP Maahas DCC, the enrolment started in April 2016 and the requirements included are birth certificates, medical record, and immunization card, which can be claimed at the barangay office. Bautista also mentioned that there is no tuition fee needed for the enrolment of the students.

It was in July 11, 2016 when the CSAP Maahas DCC opened for classes in kindergarten with 62 enrolled students. Currently, there are 58 active students in the CSAP Maahas DCCand most of these students are from the relocated families. Classes used to be scheduled in three different sessions. CSAP Maahas DCC now maintains two sessions every 8-10 AM for nursery and Kindergarten 1 students, and 1-3 PM class for Kindergarten 2 students.

According to Bautista, the school offers lessons on letters, coloring, counting numbers, line structures, and reading. She shared that the school also participated in celebrations such as Linggo ng Wika and United Nations Day. She explained that the LBMSWD helps in the conduct of a daily feeding program and monthly medical mission which includes dental check-up for the students.

CSAP Maahas DCC students enjoy their daily meal that is part of the LBMSWD and the school’s feeding program .

Bautista clarified that even if there is no tuition fee collected for enrolment, the school collects PhP70 monthly, which is added to the funds for the feeding program. For Bautista, the collection of the monthly fee is a key concern for the school given that the students children came from low-income families. Some parents cannot afford to regularly pay for the monthly fee.

Isang problema sa lugar na ‘to ay kahirapan, kasi yung ibang estudyante pumapasok ng walang dalang papel. Yung iba namang magulang, nagsusugal. Kaya kami, sinusubukan naming tulungan yung mga bata sa pagbibigay ng mga school supplies, yung feeding program, at syempre yung mga [aral na] natututunan nila dito sa school. Yung ibang mga magulang, hindi rin pumupunta sa meeting kapag nagpapa-meeting kami. Kaya hindi nila alam minsan kung ano nangyayari at yung PhP70. Hindi malinaw sa iba kung para saan yun. Pero dito naman sa day care mismo, ang problema lang naman dito ay kulang sa budget, materials, saka yung ibang facilities [ay hindi pa tapos],” said Bautista.

Despite of these issues, Bautista still sees the establishment of the CSAP Maahas DCC as a blessing to the CSAP community. “Dati kasi kailangan pa mag-lakad ng mga bata ng malayo papuntang school, ngayon yung iba isang tawid na lang, yung iba konting lakad na lang, kasi mas malapit na ang school,” she added.

According to Judy Mae Divino, Ayumie’s mother, she’s very happy that two of her youngest children are enrolled at the CSAP Maahas DCC. “Masaya ako kasi kahit bata pa sila, si Ayumie ay three years old at si Sandra ay four years old, natututo na silang mag-drawing at mag-color. Tsaka mas malapit na ang school ngayon, konting lakad lang kaya hindi na problema ang pamasahe, tapos open rin ‘yan para sa lahat. Tsaka madali lang mag-enrol,” said Divino. She also appreciates the school’s efforts in providing the students with some school supplies, materials, and daily feeding program.

Even Ayumie’s older sister, Cynna Divino, is very happy because her younger sisters, Zhandra and Ayumie, were able to study at an early age. “Natututo po silang mag-basa, mag-sulat, tsaka tinuturuan po silang mag-exercise at kumanta,” she added. She also believed that education is a key in improving a person’s life and in reaching a person’s goal in life. Cynna is currently a grade seven student at Batong Malake National High School, and she wants to be a teacher in order to help and teach those children who are not able to go to school. While their eldest sister, Zyrine Divino, is currently a grade nine student at Batong Malake National High School as well.

And finally, Ayumie and Zhandra were able to attend their first Araw ng Pagkilala at Parangal as Kindergarten 1 students, with the theme: “Bright child: Kagandahang asal at edukasyon pagyamanin, tungo sa matagumpay na mithiin”, last 3 April, 2017 at Maahas Covered Court. This was the first graduation ceremony of CSAP Maahas Day Care Center with 53 students. Barangay Maahas Councilor Eva Marie Lasanas is very satisfied with the first graduation ceremony of CSAP Maahas DCC, “naging maayos naman at hanggang sa dulo ay nakita mo ang partisipasyon ng magulang at tsaka ng mga bata,” she said.

Unfortunately, it was only Zhandra who were able to march and receive the award at stage because Ayumie got sick and got sprained at that time. Ayumie and Zhandra Divino were both awarded as “Batang Magalang” in their class. Nevertheless, the Divino sisters were fortunate to be able to go to school and took the initial steps in reaching their dreams in their new home.

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