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The Grade 8 Pasyal Aral: “Empowering each other through our own phase of social innovation”

February 29,2016

The skies were clear on the morning of the 27th of November, when the Grade 8 student had their much-awaited Pasyal Aral trip that took place in Gawad Kalinga Echanted Farm, Sta. Mesa, Bulacan. The Pasyal Aral is a major integration activity which allows the Grade 8 to explore situations that include issues, both social and environmental, through interaction with others, giving them the opportunity to apply the lesson they’ve learned from school.

After a nearly 3-hour trip to Bulacan landscape, the students arrived at their first destination. Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm, known as  Asia’s first farm village university. They quickly learned as they got there that this was no ordinary “farm” as many of us would have guessed, but an institution to help the less fortunate, building homes for the homeless through social entrepreneurship. The idea behind GK is to be the game changers for the poor, empowering one another to move the world with our “bayanihan” spirit.

The loss of hereditary social identity was always treated as the elephant in the room, but institutions like GK claimed such a matter into their own hands. The realization is staggering, and is something to keep in mind. We imported a large percentage of our chocolates from England, where they do not even grow cocoa and our dairy from Singapore, where they do not even raise cows- how is that we have grown to favor such only when they come from foreign lands and ignore what we have in our own?

Antonio Manoloto, the founder of GK Enchanted Far himself, welcomed the students into the fast-rising institution that was once, unbelievably, an area for quarry and had absolutely nothing. He tells them that the youth have inherited this colonial mentality from their parents, who inherited it from those before them, and we are not yet liberated from it-thus, we squander the opportunities, only looking forward to leaving the country behind us. We have grown used to the idea that God is white, that to be white is to be first class that it takes not only shelves of skin whitening products to be the same but everything we are. He advises us to be Heneral Lune, not just rave about a movie. The Philippines is a land of opportunity to those who see it.

Something else that struck cords and heartstrings inside of us was their interesting perspective to poverty as an enforced mentality-something all of us should keep in mind. Why is that, by default, we unknowingly behave better in high-end and respected areas compared to walking on dirty streets in the slums? We are taught that social class determines our behavior, and not that poverty is merely a psychological mindset. In order to escape the suffocating mentality that hinders us from achieving what we should be able to, we should look at the poor not as outcast, but those that are financially unstable and are in need of a helping hand. When men gain their dignity, they look for work, and their confidence starts reaching heights they’d never thought of reaching.

After the striking talk given by the founder himself, the students listened to the words of those living in the community supported by GK and those studying a aspring entrepreneurs, as launched into their stories about how their dreams have started to turn into reality. Foreigners also shared how they had begun to see the Philippines as their home when they saw its promise

The students started their tour late in the morning with their tour guides. All of whome were entrepreneurs themselves, and walked around the site following the stories and information their tour guides had thrown at them. Learning quickly that the institution aimed to build a Binondo culture beyond racial discrimination, they were introduced to innovation such as the golden eggs and the Plush and Play stuffed toys.

The students had their buffet lunch and were on the bus by twelve thirty. It took about half an hour to get to Bulacan’s Amana Resort where they would spend their leisure time swimming until three o’clock, by which time they should be ready to on their way back to St. Scholastica’s College.

The Grade 8 Pasyal Aral was one of this year’s highlights, such a learning experience awakened the “bayanihan” spirit in all of us into moving hand in hand through solidarity in action to building a new world.

By Angelica Mendoza and Jannah Tomas