Skills such as cooking and using the computer are taught in the Palihan (workshop) program of the Erda Tech Foundation, which allows out-of-school children who have parents working overseas a means to express their creativity.
OFWJC / Ruby Anne R. Pascua
MANILA – IN THIS school, students are allowed to stare across the window to daydream during classes.
That’s how some students like Cathyrine Tamayo and Ginesa Patalinhog get their motivation to stay out of the streets and stay in this school called Erda Tech.
For Tamayo and Patalinhog, both 17 years old, their dreams bring them to the places where their fathers are: thousands of miles overseas.
But instead of feeling sorry because of the separation and over the poverty that pushed their fathers to leave for work abroad, the two are allowed to express their dreams through creative means.
Tamayo loves to paint, using watercolor as medium. Patalinhog does, too. She is also a member of the school’s dance club while both are part of a group of young artists.
Erda administrator Wilhelmina Martinez said the school’s program called Palihan (workshop, in English) has been effective through such method of tapping into the students’ creativity because “we are also cultivating in them their personality and work attitude.”
“We found out that if we give adequate skills preparation to these children, mold them to have the right work attitude and have them all geared up to work hand-in-hand with other people, they will really be ready for employment,” Martinez added.
In a country where the number of high school dropouts and out-of-school youth are increasing in numbers, Erda Tech offers a fresh take in training young people like Tamayo and Patalinhog to traverse the social costs of the country’s overseas labor export program.
A study by F. K. Coronel and F. Unterreiner for the United Nations Children Fund cited that because “migration involves the separation of one or both parents from their children …therefore [it] goes against the best interest of the children.”
The paper titled “Towards a greater impact of remittances on children’s rights realization,” estimates that there are “about 3.75 million (Filipino) children left behind by their fathers.”
“These yield a total of 5.25 million children left behind by migrant mothers and fathers,” the paper, released last May, said.