Playing golf to help children go to school PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 28 May 2012 08:42

Congratulations to the second and youngest daughter of Zamboangueňos Armand and Ann Nocum, Ashia Nocum, for emerging as the Champion in the lady category of the 1st Annual Golf Tournament of the Project Pearls recently. Held at the Royal Northwoods Gold Club in Bulacan, the tournament was a charity event aimed to raise funds for poor children whose families make their living by turning charcoal out of the garbage at the Ulingan Community of Smokey Mountain in Tondo, Manila.

This victory has gained Aisha an additional training and experience in her quest to be one of the country's formidable junior golfers. God must be good to her that Aisha won also an expensive micro-videocam during the raffle draw. More importantly, Ashia said that she is proud to be exposed in the task of using her golf talent to help her fellow kids. That value of sharing and helping is the greatest prize of all for her.

Project Pearls was founded by two kindhearted philanthropists, Peegee Silo and Melissa Villa, who made Smokey Mountain dumpsite as their second home since they discovered the plight of the kids in this community.  Through this project, they spearheaded various charitable activities for the children such as free preschool education, weekly feeding programs, quarterly medical missions and birthday parties. They even built a daycare center for nursery and kindergarten students.

In a newspaper interview, Silo and Villa vow to continue their mission. “My dream is to get them out of here. Breaking the cycle of poverty is almost impossible for these people who are barely surviving it. But poverty doesn’t have to be permanent. Through the gift of education, I believe we are giving them a lifeline out of poverty,” says Villa.

The thousands of urban dwellers in Tondo’s Ulingan Community eke out a living by making charcoal from wood scavenged from nearby garbage dumps and construction sites and has exposed them to respiratory diseases. The plight of the poor who scavenge Manila's trash heaps underscores why United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has declared 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. Energy, said Ban, is "the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity, and preserving the environment." More than 2.7 billion people worldwide cook  on wood, charcoal, dung, coal, or agricultural residues on simple traditional stoves or open fires, and 1.4 billion have no access to electricity at all.

Although energy is essential for development, it is not sufficient without programs that help the poor to increase their incomes, concluded a report released by the UN Development Program. The vicious energy poverty cycle is clearly visible in Ulingan Community, where many children are held out of school by their families to make charcoal (

by Dante Corteza

Last Updated on Monday, 28 May 2012 09:01