Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mano Amiga Academy Around the World 2014

One of Mano Amiga’s biggest annual volunteer -led activities is the observance of the United Nations Day. For five straight years now, companies, individuals and organizations travel with our scholars AROUND THE WORLD! 

Around the World aims to engage volunteers in a day of fun, engaging and hands-on learning experience that will spark the students’ curiosity  and appreciation of different cultures while contextualizing the learning they acquire in the four walls of the classroom. 

Special thanks to PHINMA Hero Network,  Mission Youth missionaries, volunteers from Team Abueva of Ayala Land premier, FEU Tamarraw volunteers and Regnum Christi Youth Ministry for making this year's Around The World a success!

See you next year, volunteers!


First things first. Scholars receiving Visa before entering the countries. This year the scholars crossed not only countries but also various continents. They visited Brazil, India and Egypt in the morning and South Africa, Australia and the Netherlands in the afternoon.  

First Stop, Brazil! Ola!

What a warm welcome! Scholars 
receiving a unique welcome (face tattoo)  from Brazil!

Sight seeing and photo souvenirs! 

Scholars having a great time getting to know India. Thanks Ates and Kuyas  from PHINMA Hero Network for being our gurus for the day!

                           Fun times in Netherlands with the Regnum Christi Youth Ministry 

Aside from teaching the traditional Dutch dances, the students made windmills and toured around the most famous Dutch Attractions. 

Egyptian Volunteers in action

Volunteers brought the scholars to a fun and memorable safari experience in South Africa! 

Mission Youth Volunteers and FEU TAMVOL showed the luscious attraction in Land Down Under!

Koalas were present too!

Role Models and Mentors: A meaningful encounter with the Challenge Club Members

A child grows up to be a person of good moral character when he is constantly exposed to good role models who encourage the child to emulate the different virtues and values.

Last January 25, Mano Amiga students had the chance to learn more about the inspiring life of St. Agnes, with the help of their volunteer big sisters from the Everest Academy Challenge Club.  

Challenge Club is a club for girls ages 9-16 years old from all over Metro Manila. Headed by the Regnum Christi Movement, it aims to help members grow in virtue, friendship and Catholic faith.

“St. Agnes is the patron of young girls because she is known for the virtue of purity and unwavering faith. We celebrate her canonization every year through various meaningful activities. This year, we invited the scholars of our sister school, Mano Amiga to join us in the celebration.” Ms. Kitchie Pingol, Challenge Club coordinator.

Aside from finding wisdom from St. Agnes’ life through prayer, song and dance activities, the Challenge girls also arranged a soccer tournament for the Mano Amiga Grade 2 scholars. “The day proved to be a spiritual and educational trip for the students.  Not only were they able to play freely, run as fast as they can, and cheer their teammates and friends; the activities also enhanced their social skills by freely interacting with their Ates (big sisters). The students were shy at first but after all the challenges they did together they slowly gained confidence.” Grade 2 Homeroom Teacher Mary Anne Dela Cruz

“Ang saya saya po namin! (We truly enjoyed it!) We played soccer and other games with kids. Masaya po kami na marami kaming natutunan tungkol kay si St. Agnes (We enjoyed learning more about St. Agnes” Grade 2 scholar Angel Canossa.

The Everest big sisters for the day shared a meal and small tokens of gratitude with their new friends from Mano Amiga. “It was fun sharing food with the kids. They loved the games so much and they all look so happy when we started distributing our humble gifts.” One of Challenge Club members Amara Abiog

More than helping them, we hope we inspire them to continue to be better Christians as much as they inspired me and the other [Challenge Club] members to continue living our faith and being an agent to transform other young girls to love Christ.” One of Challenge Club members Raven Garcia. In turn, the scholars gave their personally made letters to thank Challenge for celebrating St. Agnes’ Day with Mano Amiga and for another glorious activity. 

The Family that Eats Healthy Meals Together, Stays Forever

Last August 1, Mano Amiga held the much awaited Culminating Activity for this year’s Nutrition Month.  United in fighting hunger and malnutrition, students and their parents wore their professional chef attire and exhibited a variety of budget-friendly nutritious snacks in the first ever Mano Chef Cook-off Competition.

The entire day was filled with various activities. Even with limited resources, the parents and faculty worked together as a team and was able to pull off the entire event successfully. “We can enjoy “busog-lusog” snacks at a reasonable price! I’m very excited teacher!” one of the students acclaimed. “Kuya Arnold (Mano Amiga’s school guard) lets us borrow his electric stove so we can still proceed in case we run out of gas” said Mommy Beth, Grade 5 parent.

All participating mommies and daddies were working on their respective dishes while the kids narrated the procedures and nutritional content of their parent’s recipes enjoyably. It was nothing but fun and excitement as everyone was learning during every minute of the event.
While waiting for the parents to put the final touches on their dishes, nutrition trivia was  presented by Teacher Dayleen Manalo. These helped develop the students’ awareness of the importance of eating a diet that follows balance, variety, and moderation.  She also challenged the students with several questions about nutrition along with the benefits of healthy eating and how it affects our mental and physical growth. Selected fourth and fifth graders also entertained us with their lovely intermission number.

They sang the Nutrition Jingle that they composed during their Home Economics Class.  Kids from both the morning and afternoon batch were absolutely engrossed with the activities. The parents were excited to present the healthy dishes they whipped up for all of us to feast. With limited ingredients and cooking utensils, they were able to produce mouth-watering and delectable snacks.

The educational event ended with the panel of judges’ announcement of winners. The Mano Chef 2014 title was awarded to Daddy Ronald Macavinta and Gabriel Macey Macavinta of Grade 3 for their exceptional recipe: Vegetable Burritos. Certificates and cookbooks were also given as tokens of appreciation to those who participated in this contest. “Thank you to everyone who supported the contest by sharing your scrumptious budget-friendly healthy recipes. I was amazed and delighted to witness our dear parents’ invariable exhibition of creativity and active participation in school activities like this,” said Teacher Sheryll Maquiran, event chairperson.

When asked on her greatest learning from the activities, Grade 5 mom Rich Valencia shared, “Parents like me will be more responsible of our children’s health by applying the creative ways to prepare budget-friendly nutritious foods that we’ve learned in our homes. 

 “The day was made momentous not only because of the showcase of the pairs’ cooking techniques and their delicious products but most especially for the inspiration it brought to the students and their parents that eating healthy food does not always have to be expensive. You just have to be creative!” School Principal Rev Siasoyco shared.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Filipino: Language of Unity

“In Mano Amiga, the use of English as our medium of instruction is held in high regard but equally is the use of the Filipino language which we strongly believe is one of the more admirable traits of the Filipino people. As a Filipino Teacher, I encourage my students to continuously use the language and discover its richness. The Buwan ng Wika (National Language Month) is the most opportune time when we remind our students of the uniqueness of the Filipino language and its power to bridge thousands of islands together and further unite our nation.” – Homeroom Teacher Ms. Hilda Bayotlang

This year, Mano Amiga Academy celebrated Buwan ng Wika with the theme “FILIPINO: WIKA NG PAGKAKAISA. (Filipino: Language of Unity)”. The faculty and staff prepared various activities that aimed to promote unity and nationalism among students and enhance their leadership skills, self-confidence and creativity. Some of the activities held for the month were poetry writing, Balagtasan, speech choir, slogan designing and essay writing. The celebration was culminated with “Boses Pinoy”, a singing competition that showcased the talent of students in singing and performing.

“I enjoyed all activities but my favorite was the speech choir competition where I got the chance to collaborate with my classmates in preparing for the actions and movements. We built stronger friendship through the competition.” Grade 5 student Vohnmark Cantuba shared.

When asked about the month-long celebration, Grade 2 student Ruelyn Olive shared “I did not join most of the activities for the month because I was very shy. I did not believe it when my mom said I can sing but she encouraged me to join the contest. I was very happy when the teachers announced my name. I won the Little Division of the Boses Pinoy. After that, I promised my mom I will join the school choir and never be ashamed to show my talent to the world.”

During the culmination, parents brought an array of Filipino delicacies, like suman, bibingka, kakanin, and saging which were served to all the guests and participants. “I am very happy with how the activities went. It makes me so proud to see how the parents collaborated with the teachers in preparing not only the collateral for the event but also in coaching the students. Everyone involved deemed this year’s Buwan ng Wika celebration a success. I could not agree any less.” Teacher Hilda proudly shared.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Truly A Master Chef

“In life, when you decide to learn new things, never forget who generously taught you, how you learned it and why you decided to learn it. As my Italian Chef mentor once shared to me, ‘The new things that you decide to learn will be the only treasure that people cannot steal from you. You can either use it to better serve your customer or to further develop yourself so you can teach others. Either way you are blessing the world with your skills and talents’.”  Chef Ronnie Cantuba, former Bistro 3846 Chef   

Ronnie Cantuba or Kuya Ronnie as his co-workers fondly call him is funny, hardworking and reliable.  For the past two years, Kuya Ronnie served as the head chef of Bistro 3846, the food and catering social enterprise of Mano Amiga Academy that focuses on producing nutritious meals and donates all its profits to the Mano Amiga scholarship fund. Kuya Ronnie is also a Mano Amiga parent. His son, Vohnmark, is a Grade 5 student and has been a Mano Amiga scholar since first grade. Kuya Ronnie’s story is a beautiful example of how a person born in poverty can radically  transform his situation  if you give him access to the right tools and opportunities.

Before landing in a job at Bistro 3846, Kuya Ronnie performed one odd job after another. “I used to be a messenger and a factory worker. Later on, I became a food vendor in one of the cafeterias in the University Belt. I sold mini-pizza and pasta. Even if I am already fond of cooking, selling what you cook is a total different experience.” Kuya Ronnie recalled. “After a couple of years in the food stand, I wanted to learn more so I applied to a fine dining restaurant in Malate, Manila City. The only vacancy back then was a dishwasher. They saw my potential and after six (6) months I was promoted to the butcher position. As a butcher, you wore many hats. I was the messenger, the slicer, and basically the assistant to all the assistants but I enjoyed it. I learned a lot of the basics in cooking. I was the all-around man of the chef. After less than a year, I was promoted to a higher position after another and in six years I became the second highest chef in the restaurant. It was not an easy six years but I learned a lot.”

When asked what motivated him through the challenging years, Kuya Ronnie eagerly shared, “I cannot decide which is harder, waking up in the middle of the night due to the scorching rain that fills your house because of the holes on your ceiling, or trying to catch some sleep knowing that in any minute the bucket that you placed to catch the rain will soon spill over to the bed of your children. These moments certainly served as my motivation to earn more and provide better for my family.”

The search for a a greener pasture led him to apply to Saudi Arabia and to take on multiple jobs. “When I was there, I worked as a chef in one of the biggest hospitals in Riyadh in the morning and a salesman at night.   Every weekend, I was a part-time cooker in a fast food. I was very lucky to have stronger body back then. I was never sick so I was able to work more and save more.”

With enough savings in his pocket, Kuya Ronnie went back to Manila to be with his family. Using his savings, he put up a small food stall to generate a steady income for his family. Due to a series of events, including someone close to him running away with their business earnings, Kuya Ronnie found himself again in debt and without enough money to provide for his family’ s needs.
“Luckily, I met Ate Melody, the Bistro 3846 Supervisor and my fellow parent in Mano Amiga. She told me to apply. I got accepted and what followed was the most fruitful and stable years of my life.” Kuya Ronnie recalled. “I have been through a lot in life and the feeling of being reunited with the wok and the stove brough me so much happiness. I cannot imagine doing other things but cooking.”

Under the tutelage of Bistro 3846 co-founder Chef Amelia Alba, Kuya Ronnie learned proper food preparation techniques and an extensive list of recipes from different parts of the world. Kuya Ronnie was eventually promoted to Head Chef, applying and honing further all the skills he learned. “I am very grateful to Bistro 3846 because they expressed their belief in my ability and motivated me to always be better in my craft.”

Last July 2014, the Bistro family received wonderful news. Kuya Ronnie has been chosen as a Chef de partie (CDP), in a 7-star hotel in Jeddah. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for Kuya Ronnie and his family. While the Bistro family felt sad that they wouldn’t be seeing him for a while, they were all very happy and proud of their Kuya Ronnie.

Kuya Ronnie (far right) with his Bistro Family

“We cannot be prouder of his achievement. We fully support his decision. We know this will truly help not only his family but also his career as a Chef.” Operations Manager Ms. Mithilaya Miclat shared.

Last month, Kuya Ronnie safely arrived in Jeddah. When asked what advice he would like to share with other aspiring chefs, he proudly answered: “For future chefs, always strive to give your 100% in the dish that you cook. Think of it as the last meal you would ever eat in this lifetime and make it a point that your tongue will rejoice with the last flavor it will ever taste.”