In the middle of Zamboanga Gulf, fronting Basilan is an island with 200 elementary students. This is the village of Talon-Talon, at Layag-Layag, Zamboanga City. In the Philippines, it is common enough that school children walk to school, but in this case, while it isn’t everyday, these kids swim in order to get to school. This is the story of how a Facebook wall post that told the story of how these kids from Layag-Layag settlement swim across the sea to go to school and how that wall post gave them a boat.
The story began with Jay Jaboneta. Jay is the New Media Manager of the Presidential Communications Operations Office. Jay visited Mindanao, and met with over a hundred bloggers for the 4th Mindanao Blogging Summit.
At his personal site, Jay recounted how he met with Juljimar Gonzales, who was a volunteer for the Aquino 2010 Presidential campaign. It was Gonzales who told him about a group of children who were swimming to go to school.
“The story moved me,” Jay wrote on his entry, “The ‘Little’ Fund.”
Returning to Manila, Jay published on his Facebook about the story. From there his friends started talking about raising funds, and calling for donations. Anton Lim, an active supporter of the President confirmed the story. In less than a week, the Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids had PHP70,000.00 (~US$ 1,618.00).
From there, the Tzu Chi Foundation agreed to accept the funds, and when the right boat couldn’t be found, Jay and his friends decided to build one.
On 27 March 2011, five months after that initial Facebook post, the boat, “Bagong Pag-Asa (New Hope), was launched.
“I felt so much compassion for the kids learning that they have to swim about a kilometer everyday just to make it to school. Such a display of perseverance and the love for education by these kids moved me,” Zamboanga Times quoted Jay Jaboneta when they covered a life-changing Facebook wall post.
Should you wish to participate in the Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids project, visit their Facebook page.
Beyond Zamboanga for Little Kids, in an email, Jay wrote, “We are already discussing on how to help more than 500 families who are informal settlers that have fled Sulu. Their houses are on stilts and their main industry is seaweed farming – almost everybody helps in the seaweed farming, and they were even working on a Sunday (yesterday, March 27).”
Efforts such as these is what makes up the foundation of a nation. Zamboanga for Little Kids is a reminder that it is through these little solutions, we are building a nation, one step at a time.
Photo credit: Courtesy, Jay Jaboneta, used with permission.