Bikes for the World

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Turning Talent Into Triumph

We are writers. We are graphic designers. We are musicians. We are actors. We are dancers. We are painters. We are photographers. WE Are Artists. We ARE Regional Lead School of the Arts.

These students are nurturing their talents and honing their crafts. Some want to use these skills in their careers; some want to come back and teach; some will go on to college; ALL will inspire the world through art.

The Regional Lead School of the Arts (RLSAA) was established in 2004 to help encourage and educate young artists. Today, they are inviting back graduates to continue their educations.

Previously, education in the Philippines was structured so that the academic year ended in what we know as their sophomore year. Those going on to college sometimes had to sit out a few years before being accepted. Because youth are not legally allowed to work until they are 18 this left a significant gap in their lives. 

RLSAA, last year, became one of the roll out schools in the Department of Education's new effort to close the gap by adding the final two years of education to their academic structure.

In addition to increasing the value of their education to students currently enrolled in school, this  also opened the door to previously graduated students to come back and further their educations.

Kwin graduated from RLSAA in 2008. He is now 22 years old and just re-enrolled in school. Kwin loves to dance and he is excited to continue his education in hopes of becoming a teacher to share this passion with his students.

Kwin lives with his father, grandfather, and four brothers and sisters. His commute to school included a 50 minute jeepney ride that cost $1each way. His bike saves him time and money, valuable resources to his family, where Kwin is a huge asset.

Kwin was selected as a bike beneficiary by Bikes for the Philippines to help make the transition back to school easier and lessen the impact on his family.

Thea graduated from RLSAA in 2014 and is now enrolled in college. Thea was among the first beneficiaries to graduate from RLSAA and we are proud to report...she is still riding a bike!

In fact, Thea now works at Skylark's Bike Shop where she picks up a couple shifts a week helping out in the shop. This extra income helps her family with school expenses while she continues studying fine art at the University of Rizal System in Angono.

Thea's boss, Carlo, has offered to pay her school fees next year.

Juni also graduated from RLSAA last year. Juni did not receive a bike through our program, but our bikes had an impact on him and in return he also left an impact on the program. Juni entered a logo redesign contest with Bikes for the Philippines and the current new logo is based on his design.

Juni is now enrolled in a training program at MFI Foundation where he is learning about automobile and motorcycle technology. Berjaiya/Mazda corporation is helping to make this possible.

Juni hopes to become an architect some day and return to RLSAA to train students. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Rodelyn Learns to Ride

The region of San Pablo, Laguna in the Philippines is picturesque and fertile; home to many orchids, coconut groves, lanzones, and rambutan.

It's a short distance from the hustle and bustle of Makati and Manila. Nestled between three mountain ranges, its cool climate makes it favored among tourists and features lush landscapes.

In addition to tourism, the main economic activity among locals is farming.

Rodelyn in center in blue
Last year, our Philippine partner Bikes for the Philippines provided bikes to several young students living in this region. Sto. Nino Baloc Elementary School was the first ever beneficiary elementary school in our Bikes for Education project.

Many of our projects in the Philippines focus on bringing students who dropped out of school back into the education system or keeping those in danger of not graduating enrolled in school. This time we hoped our bikes would help bridge the gap between elementary school and high school, a time when many students are forced to choose between their families and education.

Rodelyn's brother (in red) also learns about bikes
Florence Rementilla is a teacher at Sto. Nino Baloc in San Pablo and she was involved in our pilot bike program in the school. With only four teachers and a student population of over 160 kids Florence certainly has her hands full during the school day.

"A lot of people say nobody gets rich from teaching. But wealth is not always on the material things. When your students appreciate you and they eventually become successful, that's my definition of wealth.

"The best part of being a teacher is seeing my former students, some from 20 years ago, and they are now doctors and engineers. Some of them now have their own cars!"

Rodelyn Glorioso (left)
Perhaps one of those students will be Rodelyn Glorioso who just graduated sixth grade. Rodelyn and her younger brother were recently featured in a documentary on the bike project in her school.  Her parents are very proud of her and hope to see her continue her education through high school.

The Glorioso parents are modest livestock farmers neither of whom graduated school. Often times in families where parents didn't graduate, the emphasis on education is compromised when time is tight. Not so in this family.
The Gloriosos are focused on school and hoping for something more for their children.

In the documentary you can see Rodelyn riding and caring for her borrowed bicycle, which knocked her school commute time down to 30 minutes, leaving her more time to care for her younger brother and help around the house. Bikes often ease the pressures of time consuming commutes among families struggling to make ends meet and who rely on help from their kids around the house.

Bikes for the Philippines provided training to students of Sto. Nino Baloc Elementary last fall. They learned how to safely ride their bikes and do minor repairs. They participated in community rides and took pride in cleaning their bikes after a long ride.

Kids washing and greasing their bikes after a ride
Many of the beneficiaries' families are farmers and some of their riding is 'off-road'. Bikes for the Philippines puts emphasis on handling skills, especially balance for those new learners. They are also shown the basics about brakes, changing a flat and oiling the moving parts of a bike.

These skills will prove to be life long and help in many ways in years to come. Whether it be in farm machinery care and maintenance,  transporting goods to market, or simply balancing life and responsibility, a bicycle is a strong guiding factor in any student's life.