Let me first introduce to you a small island that sits farthest out in the Pacific Ocean, from the mainland of Quezon Province. One could describe it as having a long stretch of “white, (almost) talcum-fine sand, balmy weather, and warm, crystalline waters” … a description often used to describe Boracay Island, and yet, this is exactly what this tiny island has.
Unlike its more famous brother, however, parts of Jomalig Island, in particular, Barangay Apad, has no electricity and water comes from wells that produce substandard water.
In 2013, Barangay Apad was featured as having the highest rate of malnourishment in the entire Philippines. To date, it has a population of approximately 1,700 habitants where majority of the children are severely malnourished. Literacy is low. Girls as young as 12 years old have children of their own. There is only one school, the Apad Elementary School that offers schooling up to grade 6. Those who are able to finish Grade 6 are considered a cut above the rest. However, out of the five Barangays in Jomalig Island, only Barangay Talisoy offers Secondary School, and this is around 1½ hour’s drive on rough roads by “Kuliglig” (2-wheel tractor) or 1 hour by motorcycle from Apad, but which costs about P250.00 one way. In short, the chances for the children to get into high school are very slim.
It does not help that to get to Jomalig is not an easy journey: From Manila, one must take a 3 hour ride by land to Infanta or Real, Quezon and then another 7- hour banca ride to Apad, Jomalig Island. It is the isolation and inaccessibility that discourages help from the outside.
Last April 27, 2014, out of sheer curiosity, a group led by Ms. Mina Tecson visited Barangay Apad after it was featured on television, to find out what had been done since the TV interview. To their surprise, they found out that no help at all was extended to this barangay. They were told that there were a few visits from different groups who distributed a meal or two among the children, but there has been no steady effort or pledge to help the people of Apad. Thus, together with the efforts of the Center for Childhood Education, Inc., “PROJECT APAD” was born.
Our group believes that the only way to pull these people out from the cycle of poverty is to provide livelihood projects and adopt programs that would help them immediately. PROJECT APAD’s initial undertaking was the establishment of a feeding program (to overcome malnourishment); followed by the development of livelihood projects (for sustainability); and lastly, offering high school and college scholarships (to provide a better future for the young). Being an educational institution and understanding how important education is for ALL children, the Center for Childhood Education, Inc. has chosen to undertake academic scholarship programs that can help uplift the educational status of deserving students from Barangay Apad.
With your help, we can start building a brighter future for the people of Apad… to give them back a sense of hope.
“It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out." -- From Hope to Hopelessness, Margaret J. Wheatley © 2002