Support Layag-Layag PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 03 May 2011 00:00

When Presidential Communication Operation Officer Jay Arboleda visited Zamboanga City last year to be the speaker of the Mindanao Bloggers Summit, he found out about the hard life of the people of Layag-Layag, Talon-Talon, Zamboanga City from Juljimar Gonzales. Since they were living in stilt houses in a mangrove area, people of Layag-Layag have to ride a boat every time they need to go to Zamboanga City mainland to buy things they need, and for their kids to go to school, Arboleda learned. He had heard stories about elementary students having to walk 4, 5 or even 8 kilometers daily to go to school; but never had he heard of children having to cross the waters to do so.

Since it is costly to ride a boat daily, some walk in the shallow waters of the sea when it is low tide. And when it is high tide, they have to swim bravely if they need to especially if they have no money for the boat fare.  It was a hard life for them. But they have no choice because fishing and harvesting seaweeds are their main sources of income to survive every day.

Touched by the difficult situation of the Layag-Layag community, Arboleda together with well-meaning friends started a fund raising activity they called Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids and posted it in the Facebook late last year.  It was supported by marketing guru Josiah Go and Zamboanga active civic leader Dr. Anton Lim through the Tzu Chi Foundation.  They raised fund to build a boat for Layag-Layag.  Layag-Layag Barangay Kagawad Jesse Jamolod helped and asked boatmaker Abraham Mawaldi to build a boat using logs donated by DENR and CENRO through the coordination of Tito Gadon,.

And on March 27, after 5 months, the yellow painted boat named Bagong Pag-Asa (New Hope) was turned over to the leaders of Layag-Layag. It was marked with donations of blankets, slippers, school supplies and bags from Mindanao Deputy Speaker Congresswoman Beng Salazar, Tzu Chi Foundation and other kind hearted-donors.

The turn over symbolizes a change as our country moves on with a new President and a new government Arboleda shared. But what is more important, he said, it represented people power in action. It is about ordinary Filipinos helping other ordinary Filipinos he explained.

Arboleda is proud to say that the real heroes in this story are those brave Layag-Layag kids who crossed the waters daily just to be able to go to school. We hear stories about affluent kids in Manila (Zamboanga too) who skip school to go swimming, but these children went swimming to go to school. The boat Bagong Pagasa is a symbol that serves as a vehicle for knowledge and learning.

Arboleda believes that we can part of our nation’s solution, and we can start creating solutions to challenges in the communities where we live or work. This call has created a ripple.

Today, Tzu Chi Foundation through the able leadership of Dr. Lim, friends of Arboleda and Go, readers of Facebook, friends of their friends, and those who heard and read about Layag-Layag are continually supporting this community. Funds are being raised to build two more Bagong Pag-Asa boats.

And an ambitious Mangrove tree planting is being planned too. As a matter of fact, it is targeted to be a done in one hour and be recorded in the Guinness  as the Most Number of Mangrove Trees Planted in one hour.

Be a part of it! Contact Tzu Chi Foundation at the Zamboanga Medical Center or Waltac Clinic. Visit Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids in Facebook for details on how you can participate and help.