Mag-asawa mula sa Cebu, nagtayo ng dalawang paaralan; libre ang tuition at uniforms - The Daily Sentry


Mag-asawa mula sa Cebu, nagtayo ng dalawang paaralan; libre ang tuition at uniforms



Ang edukasyon ang tanging kayamanan na kahit kailanman ay hindi mananakaw sa atin ninoman. Ito rin ang ating magiging pundasyon at susi upang makamit ang ating mga pangarap.
Francisca Tomarong Uy at Jose Alcorcon Uy, Jr. / Larawan mula Facebook

Subalit hindi lahat ay may kakayahang makapag-aral. Ito ay dahil na rin sa iba’t ibang uri ng problema ng kanilang kinakaharap.

Ang pangunahing dahilan kung bakit marami sa atin ang hindi makapag-aral ay dahil sa problemang pinansyal.

Ang ilan ay mas pinipili na lamang maghanapbuhay upang makatulong sa pamilya kaysa ang mag-aral. Kaya naman marami ang bumilib at humanga sa mag-asawang guro na sina Francisca Tomarong Uy, EdD o “Ma’am Franz”, 57 anyos, at Jose Alcorcon Uy, Jr. o “Sir Joe”, 50 anyos dahil nagtayo sila ng dalawang pribadong paaralan para sa mga mag-aaral ng Senior High School sa Toledo City, Cebu, kung saan libre ang matrikula, libre ang PE uniform, at ID sling.

Ngunit ang mas lalong nakakahanga ay naitayo nila ang paaralan noong kasagsagan ng community quarantine sa buong bansa dahil sa pand3mya.

Mapalad namang nakapanayam ng "Balita Online" ang mag-asawang guro. Narito ang nangyari sa kanilang pag-uusap.
Francisca Tomarong Uy at Jose Alcorcon Uy, Jr. / Larawan mula Facebook

Nagbigay ng munting backround sa kanyang buhay si Ma’am Franz, President at Founder ng PAU Excellencia Global Academy Foundation, Inc. (PEGAFI) sa Toledo City, Cebu at ECT Excellencia Global Academy Foundation, Inc. (EEGAFI) sa Balamban, Cebu.

“I live in Toledo City, Cebu Province at around 56 km away from Cebu City and worked at the Department of Education, Toledo City from 1990 to 2012 and at the same time a College Instructor and a Graduate School Program professor at University of the Visayas, Toledo City Campus from 1994 to 2012.”

“I applied for an early retirement in DepEd and stopped teaching in UV just to venture another career opportunity in Cebu City as school Principal at Asian College of Technology, Bulacao Campus, in May 2012 until May 2020.”

“I am until now working at the DepEd, Toledo City and almost 25 years as Administrative Aide but planning to apply for early retirement to focus on helping my wife especially in the new school, EEGAFI (Balamban),” salaysay naman ni Sir Joe, Administrative Aide I, DepEd, Toledo City at Co-Founder, EEGAFI.

Bakit at paano nga ba nila naisipang magtayo ng mga paaralang magbibigay ng libreng edukasyon sa mga mag-aaral ng Senior High School sa kanilang bayan?

It all started with a random thought, maybe a dream? What if I will have a school of my own? I had a thought that if I have my own school, then I can give the young people of Toledo City a fighting chance through a private educational system where they can be mentored, inspired and coached,” ani Ma’am Franz.

“I can also help many relatives and some students who cannot afford private school just like me before. In fact, after knowing that some students from public schools that are already congested and also wanted to enrol in a private school have fueled my desire and passion to establish a school of scholars, a private institution built for the underprivileged students.”

“Thanks to the Father Almighty, my dream school is now realized. We started when the situation was like walking on eggshells due to a pandemic but I put everything in God’s hands. We named it PAU Excellencia Global Academy Foundation, Inc. (PEGAFI). PAU stands for Presentation Alcorcon Uy, the mother of the Uy siblings, now in heaven. My husband Jose A. Uy Jr., asked help from his siblings to help finance the salaries of teachers and we rented a customized school building built by one of his brothers, Arman Neilsin A. Uy.”

“I said to myself, this is a high time for me to serve Toledo through the work I am very passionate about, teaching. The school opened and operated starting SY: 2020-2021. We offered a Senior High School program only with free tuition fees, free PE uniform and free ID with sling. The school relied on the subsidy from the government through the Senior High School Voucher Program. A minimal pay for the miscellaneous expenses are collected to only a very few students who agreed to help with a minimal cost that ranges from ₱1,250.00 per year or ₱125.00/month to ₱ 2,500.00/year or ₱250.00/month.

“PEGAFI is now in its 3rd school year of operation with 1893 students and Thank God! We are doing well. Students are empowered and happy as well as the teachers,” masayang sabi ni Ma’am Franz.

Sa pangalawang paaralan ay iba naman ang kwento nito, subalit nandoon pa rin ang kagustuhan ng mag-asawa na makatulong sa mga nangangailangan sa pamamagitan ng pagtatamo ng edukasyon.

“We have a different story in EEGAFI, Balamban. There I hear God’s gentle voice to start a new school in Buanoy, Balamban the next town from Toledo City and the Patron Saint is St. Francis of Assisi whose feast day is October 4, my birthday. It’s still about my dream to give the youth a fighting chance in life. We started from scratch but God is good, He made everything possible through the help of some close friends and family who invested not just their money but also their prayers.”

Nabigyang-inspirasyon umano ang mag-asawa, partikular si Ma’am Franz, sa mga mag-aaral na nagtatrabaho sa umaga bilang mangingisda o kasambahay. Ang iba pa raw, tinitiis ang paglalakad ng ilang kilometro mula sa kanilang tinitirhan upang makapasok lamang sa pampublikong paaralang malayo sa kanila. Layon din nitong tulungan ang mga mag-aaral na naging biktima ng bagyong Odette.
“My desire to help, escalated when I found out that there are students who are fisherman by night and student by day, some are house helpers, many are from the mountain areas who needs to walk several kilometres to school, crossing rivers, there are students previously victims of the typhoon Odette and homes are still damaged, only to experience the uniqueness of EEGAFI education.”

“I know someday that the sun will shine brighter for these children because we give them this fighting chance to move forward to their dreams. I learned various touching stories from different learners and I said to myself, no matter what happened, I will pour out my energy to help these children in any way I can.”

“It is my desire to help them so they will become a living proof that poverty is not a hindrance to success, and they still can become what God wants them to become. I remember my childhood with these children. Alam ko ang pakiramdam ng walang wala. I can relate. Fulfilment of my dreams to help is now a reality. We got a loan, rented a building, and we tried to meet the requirements set by the DepEd as to facilities, and hired teachers with beautiful souls just to start going.”

“As a new school we have around 349 students that are dependent on the scholarship that the school offers especially, the Senior High School Voucher Program (SHSVP). I now realized why God sent us here in EEGAFI. Joe and I prayed for the school to continue because this is a place where students taught not just to learn but to share.”

“The new school is named after my parents Edilberto CaƱete Tomarong and Eduarda Candar Tomarong (ECT), ECT Excellencia Global Academy Foundation, Inc., (EEGAFI) whose love and inspiration I hold. The school offers free tuition fee, free PE Uniform and Free ID with sling and sometimes free school uniform and even free boarding and meals.”

“Both school EEGAFI and PEGAFI, envisions to produce students that are ready for life, leaving not just fingerprints not just footprints but heartprints so, it will stay forever. The school empowers learners to become agents of change, become spiritually and morally upright, responsible members of their families, community and country.”

“The school also provides rich and engaging learning activities for excellent acquisition of knowledge and technological know-how and internalization of values. We integrate in-depth community extension and outreach activities embedded in the curricular program as an advocacy for sustainable development.”

“The school promotes a wide range of research as the basis for planning and development of the school, local community and the country. It is anchored on the three core practices, Instruction, Community Extension and Research. WE always remember to SMILE- Sustainability, Mindsight, Innovation and Integrity, Love and Excellence, our core values.”

“We always say #GugmaLang. Our perpetual slogan “Estudyante Ko, Kapamilya Ko” leaves heartprints to each and every one. I believe that training the mind is good but training the heart is far more important. Above all, our teachers have beautiful souls na ang pagtuturo ay galing sa puso. We all believe that whatever we do, changes t
he world around us. We just have to decide the scale and quality of our purpose in life.”

Ngunit bakit nila naisipang gawing libre na lamang ang matrikula, lalo’t ito ang gagamitin ng paaralan sa iba’t ibang operational expenses?

“Life is too short, what we need to do now is to help. Material wealth will just be left behind. We cannot take it to our grave. When I was young, attending a private school was something I always wanted to do, but due to financial constraints, I was never given the opportunity,” ani Ma’am Franz.

“So, in the back of my mind, I considered what may happen if I built a school that offered nearly free yet it provides high-quality education to students. A school that offers free tuition fees, free miscellaneous to almost all students, free access to the learning management system, free ID, and the free PE uniform. I do not come from a wealthy family, that is why I can relate to the sigh of the poor.”

“The biggest contribution I believe I can provide to my community and future generations is high-quality education that is practically completely free. This is our calling, we want to help. We were taught by our parents to help. I thank God, my husband is very supportive. Pareho kaming galing sa walang-wala. We are focused now on not what our hands can hold, but what our hearts can keep.”

Ibinahagi naman ng mag-asawa kung papaano nila naipagpapatuloy ang operasyon ng paaralan kahit libre ang matrikula ng kanilang mga mag-aaral.

“Our school is a stand-alone Senior High School and the government subsidized private school providers of the program, the SHS Voucher Program (SHSVP) and that is the only source of funds we have.”

“In PEGAFI, my in-laws (Uy siblings) contributed to the teachers’ salaries during the first year of its operation until the billing was released from the Deped through the PEAC. I got a loan from private individuals for the facilities, laboratories and the rental. Thank God, there was a rapid increase in the enrolment that I was able to pay off my loan.”

“In EEGAFI, it is different, Joe and I joined hands and started from scratch and armed only with courage, we got a bank loan and borrowed money from private individuals to cover the teachers’ salaries and benefits and also for the facilities and equipment, for the laboratories and even rental.”

“Most of the students here are under-privileged as I mentioned above. I know that we are in good hands though, Jesus Christ because HE is the reason why we opened another school. I don’t know what the future holds, but one thing is sure the Lord is with us. I’m sure He will make us an instrument to help others, in a mysterious way.”

Sinisiguro rin ng mag-asawa na hindi naman sila magkukulang sa pagpapasuweldo at pagbibigay-benepisyo sa kanilang mga guro, na silang magbibigay ng kalidad na edukasyon sa kanilang mga mag-aaral.

“In both schools, we make sure that we provide our teachers with adequate pay and benefits because we believe that employing qualified teachers is an investment in the future of education.”

Anila, alam nila na hindi mawawala ang mga pagsubok at suliraning kinakaharap sa pagpapatakbo ng dalawang paaralan.

“I don’t know exactly what to say but this is a miracle for me, imagine beginning from scratch while also dealing with a global crisis, as we start our operation during the pandemic last 2020. As the founder of the school, what I did was to serve the institution as president and principal in order to personally oversee and manage all of the school’s operations.”

“Despite the financial limitations, we are able to overcome them, thanks to God and the support of the family because I had in-laws who assisted in running the finances of the school, PEGAFI in particular. In EEGAFI, we are still praying and hoping that eventually one day everything will be okay.”

“For now, the collection of books sa library kulang pa, computer units also hindi pa 1:1, Science lab/Chem Lab medyo kulang pa but I am confident that students are still learning, collaborating, happy and empowered despite some limitations. Students here really need to be more, so I need more prayers to keep going. A heart-warming and very touching stories happen here but I believe in miracles. God knows the situation of our finances. He will surely find ways.”

“I have faith that if you start things right, everything else will fall into place. In my school, I don’t compete with other schools; instead, I compete with standards, which is why I made sure that my students received a quality education despite the havoc of pandemic.”

“And since, we place Christ at the center of our operations; we are able to overcome the crisis. Despite being the owner, I continue to put a lot of effort into achieving our school’s vision, mission, and goals. Our school’s motto is ‘Gugma Lang’, that means let the love lead.”

Kaya naman, hangang-hanga si Sir Joe sa kaniyang masipag na kabiyak na si Ma’am Franz.

“Thank you for having that good heart. Thank you for making the students and their parents happy by helping those who cannot afford to study in a private school lalong-lalo na sa mga galing sa mountain areas na maglalakad pa ng ilang kilometro. You give them shelter by providing a boarding house and even feed them.”

“Dapat sana PE uniform lang at school ID and tuition ang libre pero to some, even school uniform ibinigay mo nang libre. Naghanap pa kayo ng mapasukan para sa college nila one day. Tumutulong pa kayo sa simbahan para mapatayo ulit yong mga bahay na nasalanta sa bagyo. Alam ko tuwang-tuwa si Lord sa iyo… napakabait mong tao. I can only pray for your good health, may your tribe multiply.”

Labis naman ang pasasalamat ni Ma’am Franz sa kaniyang mister na si Sir Joe dahil sa walang sawa nitong pagsuporta sa kaniyang mga adhikain.

“I thank the Lord for all the support that you give to me. For always saying yes, every time I will share to you that I need this and I want something done na kahit bente pesos na lang pera mo sa bulsa mas pinili nating tumulong pa rin. You offer our house to be the temporary dwelling place sa mga estudyante.”

“Sometimes walang-wala tayo at gusto nating manghiram ng pera, na-experience natin na walang maniwala kasi may school tayo. We just laugh and thank God for all the mercies and blessings instead and despite… I also pray for good health to all of us sa familia natin. I know that may purpose si Lord sa lahat na nangyari sa buhay natin. Just be safe and healthy. Stay humble. Just keep on keeping on, God loves you and so do I.”

May mensahe naman ang mag-asawa para sa mga katulad nilang private school owners, mga guro, mga magulang, at mga mag-aaral.

“For the private school owners, let us not stop trying, let us not give up, let us not quit. The God who put us where we are now, knows where we are going. All our asking and request to God should not only be for ourselves, not just for us to become somebody but for our students and teachers to reach their God-given destiny.”

“Let’s stay at the watchtower so we can see who is coming to take our youth away from the path we prepared for them. We are here not for our position and benefits. We are here because there is a pain, and need, a child who is losing hope, a child who needs someone who believes in her dreams. This is a mission.”

“Every leader should be in the business of building strong, collaborative generations. The modern world now needs a leader not only with a head full of knowledge but a leader with a heart full of love.”

“Lately, I realized that there is no such thing as enough for a leader. We must be a leader who prays more, listens more, give more, understands more, because our students need more of us and thank God we have a God of more, more love, more provisions, more mercy, more grace, and more joy.”

“For the teachers, I want you to know that you are truly a blessing to the school. Keep up the good work! I encouraged you dear teachers to serve God through our students. Plant love in the good soil of their being. Live to our ideals and our perpetual motto, ‘Estudyante Ko, Kapamilya Ko’ . I am very proud of you. #GugmaLang.”

“For parents, let us all work hand in hand, side by side, a true partnership in moulding our children and training them in the way they should go. I believe that it is easier to shape a child than to rebuild an adult. We will instill in them a sense of love, compassion, service, thoughtfulness, and most importantly, a God-fearing individual. #GugmaLang.”

“For my dear learners, we are not here to prepare the road for you but to prepare you for the road you will take, a road full of challenges, stumbling blocks, and full of uncertainty. I know that life ahead of you will never be easy, and fate will occasionally put you to the test. However, despite challenges, you must constantly look for reasons to be grateful and to be thankful for each successful day. You must live a life with purpose, so you need to stick to it. Give your best effort in pursuing your dreams”

“Here in PEGAFI and EEGAFI we will help you, our dear students, to become drivers, not passengers in life. The road you travel may be bumpy but it is the most scenic. #GugmaLang.”

Kamakailan lamang ay nakatanggap ng parangal si Ma’am Franz bilang “Outstanding School Head of the Year” sa ginanap na awarding ceremony ng Instabright Publication sa Summit Ridge Hotel sa Tagaytay City, Cavite noong Nobyembre 5, 2022 dahil sa kanilang husay at dedikasyon sa larangan ng edukasyon.

Bukod sa kanilang pamamalakad sa mga paaralan, bukas din ang mag-asawa sa pagsasagawa ng outreach program gaya ng “Bakas Puso”.
Photo credit to the owner

Congratulations, Ma’am Franz at Sir Joe! Sana po ay dumami pa ang mga katulad ninyong may mabuting puso at malasakit sa kapwa.


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