Felicia Singson spearheads the Para! Sa Edukasyon initiative, supporting the education of the children of jeepney drivers who usually run routes on Katipunan
“I realize that as an incoming freshman, I am uncertain of college, what it would be like to take an online course,” says Felicia Singson. An incoming freshman at Ateneo de Manila University, the 18-year-old will be taking up Development Studies.
The transition between high school and college can be nerve-wracking and stressful. This year, students also have to deal with online courses or asynchronous classes due to the health crisis. But not all students have to deal with it equally.
“I thought of millions of other students in the same situation as I was,” Felicia adds. “I realize that most struggle with unstable Internet, lack of tuition funds, and lack of gadgets. I am grateful that these are not concerns in my household, but what about those who are struggling?”
Running in the family
In the beginning of July, Felicia’s cousin, Katrina Abenojar, reached out to her to help jeepney drivers who were out of a job during this pandemic. A recent graduate of Ateneo, Katrina had interviewed several jeepney drivers for her thesis. She got to know them, to empathize, and to understand their day-to-day struggles.
Along with Felicia, family and friends pitched in to help, including Rafi, Dani, and Alex Abenojar, Patricia Singson, Anne Miguel, Sabrina Precilla, Javier Martinez, Meia Marasigan, Raven Umali, Wilbert Dela Cruz, and Choy Gutierrez.
Through the Tip Sa Dyip initiative, they have raised ₱450,000. The funds have gone to provide basic goods and necessities to jeepney drivers and their families.
One driver, Kuya Reynaldo, asked assistance not for himself, but for his daughter. Not only was he unable to earn anything during this pandemic, he suddenly found out that his daughter would need a gadget to support her college education that was now going online.
The fundraising became so much more personal as Felicia decided to focus her efforts on the educational needs of the jeepney drivers’ families. Para! Sa Edukasyon became a spin-off of the original initiative, gathering funds and collecting second-hand gadgets to be given to less fortunate school children.
“Education is just as much of a basic necessity as other essential goods,” adds Felicia. “With the start of classes this coming August, it’s crucial that we do what we can to help students continue their education. It is for their future and for our future.”
With the school year rapidly approaching, there are so many more people that Felicia and the others are hoping to help. Tip Sa Dyip and Para! Sa Edukasyon are in touch with 35 jeepney drivers who usually run routes along Katipunan.
“The route of the Katipunan jeepney drivers is more affected than other routes because their passengers consist of students from Ateneo, University of the Philippines (UP), Miriam, among other major schools,” adds Felicia. “Since online classes will be the new normal for the foreseeable future, a majority of their usual passengers will not be riding with them anytime soon.”
The dozens of students involved in the initiative and the others who have donated to the cause have ridden with those drivers and have thanked them for getting them to school on time. They call the drivers Kuya on a daily basis. More than just a polite term thrown around, it is a sign of respect and an acknowledgment of the tireless work they do. Through the dual initiatives, they are able to let the Kuyas know that even during this crisis they are still remembered as an integral part of the community, and that people care.
Education is the future
“Sobrang thank you po talaga,” writes Kuya Reynaldo’s daughter to Felicia. With her second-hand laptop, she is able to continue her studies to become a teacher. “Sana wag po kayong magsawang tumulong sa mga kagaya namin at kung sino po ang humihingi ng tulong (I hope you will be able to help those like us and those who are asking for help).”
In less than a month, Para! Sa Edukasyon has received four second-hand laptops, and three second-hand mobile phones as donations, with more on the way. Beyond the gadgets, they have raised over ₱50,000 that are going toward the tuition fees of some of the children.
With hope, Felicia and Para! Sa Edukasyon may inspire other students to support their cause. Whether it is through donating second-hand gadgets, providing monetary assistance for tuition funds, or finding other ways to support educational systems. The future of every student, no matter where they are from or what means they have, feeds into our collective future as a community and as a country.
“We can’t provide education assistance and gadgets to every child who needs it, and there are many of those who lack the basic necessities for online learning,” says Felicia.“We need to support systems and infrastructure that facilitate and cater to the various inequities of our current system so that everyone may receive the education they deserve. In Para! Sa Edukasyon, we are exhausting what we can do and give to support whoever we can reach out to.”