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Almost a year ago, Go Negosyo decided to embark on a different program. We have been in existence for more than seven years now, and at this point we realize that not all people can become entrepreneurs, but they can acquire an enterprising attitude. What we can do is to help ensure that Filipinos have opportunities to learn the right attitude and use it to move up from poverty.
And there is one sector of our society that Go Negosyo has not tapped: the out-of-school youth (OSYs). With this in mind, we have planned a comprehensive program that will hone the talents and personalities of selected OSYs and link them to organizations that will give them an opportunity to work and save money so that they can finish school. This is how Negosyo Mo: Bukas Ko was born.
As of this moment, we are starting to see the impact of our trainings with our seed batch, which is composed of around 80 OSYs from Novaliches, Caloocan, and Project 4, Quezon City. They are currently employed under the companies of Go Negosyo advocates such as Jo Magsaysay’s Potato Corner and Rommel Juan’s Binalot, among others. As they continue to save up in order to resume their schooling next year, we are currently training the next batch of OSYs from Manila, Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, San Juan, Quezon City, and Marikina. We recognize that there is still a long way to go to perfect the program, but we are really thankful to our partners who helped us give a chance to these young people to reach their dreams in life.
To recognize the impact of the program, we are dedicating a column series to the stories of these young individuals who have shown the right attitude and drive to change the course of their lives. I hope that by sharing these stories, we are able to inspire other young people to realize that if these OSYs were able to do something to reach their dreams, they can do so, too.
Pushing the limits
Ardie Guillena, 24, is the eldest among the eight children of a driver and a housewife. Despite his willingness to send all of his children to school, his father’s meager income could not support the needs of the entire family. Ardie knew that his parents were experiencing a lot of problems, and as an act of sacrifice he dropped out of his second semester during his first year to let his sister finish her college degree. At that time, he took on odd jobs. He engaged himself in contractual services, from being a worker at construction sites to NAWASA, where he helped dig roads where water pipes were to be installed. Soon after, he would accompany his father during his trips as his “kunduktor,” where he would collect the fare from passengers.
He later learned how to drive their jeep, and enjoyed earning a few bucks. He did not realize that he had become so content with his simple life until his mother challenged him one day. Her words “Anak, hanggang diyan ka na lang ba? (Son, is that all you’re going to do?)” somehow woke him up. Ardie knew that he was more than just a jeepney driver. Fueled with this newfound passion, he grabbed the opportunity of changing the course of his life when he heard about NMBK through their youth organization.
Today, Ardie is employed as a merchandiser for RFM Corporation, assigned in a supermarket in Quezon City. He plans to finish a short course on automotive since he found out that he enjoys working on machines. He encourages other young people in his community to push boundaries that they have set for themselves because there is still hope for them to reach their dreams, no matter how poor they are.
Service with a smile
Women are naturally particular about their looks, and 18-year-old Rhegene Garcia is no exception. She is the second of seven children, the eldest girl in the family. Rheg, as she is fondly called, can light up a room with her natural wit and bubbly personality, but her fondness for sweets caused her teeth to decay early. Dental health was not a priority as they had to fulfill their basic needs first, and as she was growing up, she trained herself to smile with her lips closed because she was ashamed to show her teeth.
She really did not mind since she was able to go on with her life, earning a two-year associate degree at a small institution in Novaliches. But an opportunity was lost when she was not hired at an office in Makati because of her decayed teeth. Rheg felt really sad because she knew that she was capable of doing the job, but her condition prevented her from going further. And so, she tried to grab other opportunities, until she heard about NMBK through a community organizer of their barangay.
NMBK, through the help of Dr. August Igliane of Marikina, took on the job of restoring her confidence by making a new set of dentures for her. Now she can smile sweetly at customers at a Potato Corner outlet in Quezon City. Rheg dreams of becoming an entrepreneur someday, and is planning to study a course related to the food industry. She believes that, like her, other OSYs can overcome their personal adversities by remaining positive in life.
Edward Pones, 21, may look like an ordinary young man, but he had a troubled past. His mother is a laundrywoman, while his father used to take on odd jobs before succumbing to a lung illness this year. He had two siblings, but his sister died in her 20s due to leukemia, leaving behind her two children. Despite this, things were going just fine; they were poor but surviving.
However, when Edward reached his high school years, things went wayward. He became friends with boys who were bad influences, and was exposed to a number of vices. Like any other curious teenager, he thought that engaging in these vices would make him cool in school, but this cost him his education as he had to drop out a couple of years later.
Over the following months, Edward stayed at home, and this became a time of reflection for him. He felt sorry for his parents, who wished for nothing but the best for them. He tried working part-time as a foreman at a construction site, and also packed books for a company. While he was trying to get his life back on track, his friend introduced him to NMBK, which gave him the chance to make up for his mistakes.
As he works as a bagger for Shopwise today, he is aiming to finish a vocational course. NMBK made him realize it was not too late to turn things around, and he is looking forward to going to school next year with a newfound hope that indeed, even someone like him who had a rough past can change his life.
This is the first of a three-part series on NMBK graduates. Go Negosyo is encouraging more entrepreneurs to give employment opportunities to our OSYs, who are currently undergoing training. For more information on how you can help support the program, call 631-8101 loc. 7187 and look for Nonie de la Fuente.