Voices for Abot Tala

poster invitation - feb 22

poster invitation 2 - feb 22

poster 3

After posting those on Facebook, we got the following re-posts:

Rachael wrote:

Know any teens in Manila who refuse to be trapped in the box? Come meet the mentors and team who can help them gain meaning and focus in their life. Free event, come see what it’s about, open your mind to the future.

Arra wrote:

Won’t it be fun to redesign school in such a way that we can learn and choose our lessons in our own pace? Personalized programs?

From academic classes filled with games, puzzles, and practical activities…to different extra curricular activities that you might want to try, we have it!

Owie wrote:

Instead of diagnostic or entrance exams, we have family meetings. We get to know each teen’s story, passion, interests, goals and dreams. Some teens know exactly what they want while others need time and space to explore their options. There’s one thing they have in common though. Their faces light up every time we tell them that what we offer is an alternative to mainstream high school and that what they truly want to learn matters to us, no matter how unconventional the area of study is. If your teen would like to be part of our community of out-of-the-box learners, we’d like to invite you to our Family Orientation on Feb 22, Friday.

. . . . And Laksmi wrote:

Growing up, I remember, my mom never forced anything on me nor my siblings. She supported whatever we pursued especially with career choices. As long as she can provide.

As teens, we were mentored with different opportunities and fields of learning. Our educational journey is not like any other. Mentoring was a great part of my teen life and it was where I found where I wanted to be. This is the same with my siblings.

Today, I still cannot put a finger on what style our homeschool journey was. The only important aspect of it all was that our mom was determined that traditional school was not for us.

Out of six siblings there were two of us who went to college (engineer and teacher), the rest pursued their different inclinations and natural gifts (entrepreneurs, tattoo artist, and another used to be a Tae Kwon Do coach but currently recovering from kidney transplant).

What my experience taught me was that each of us, has our own journey according to destiny and with this we are given the proper tools and capacity to pursue such path.

It is lifelong learning that is important.

We are all learners and we learn according to need and importance. Even after schooling, we continue to learn – everyday! We assess the lessons we learn with the degree of importance to our lives.

We remember the lessons in our youths and teens because they still matter now.

Therefore, we should be taught how to be lifelong learners. That learning does not stop when our school years are over.

We should be given the freedom to explore different outcomes – fail or succeed – is a lesson because life is not perfect. It is not measured by letters nor numbers.

Life is measured by the kind of life we live.
How we find our way when we are lost.
How we stand up when we fall down.
How we show love, compassion and generosity with the people around us.
How we value our own lives and not how others value us.

What is the value of our degree or grade level if we simply act only because we will be rewarded with grades or gifts or affection.

I took up college because of a need and a dream.

With my experience there was not much of a difference between my experience and my college mates.

What was important is the attitude of each student towards learning.

The desire to better themselves for a certain dream or future. It didn’t really matter whether they came from public or private schools or in my case homeschool.

It is each of our desire to learn because we need it. We pushed hard because we want it. We sacrificed because we understood it is what we needed for our dream to come true.

Those who did not value their opportunity, did not last.  They either transferred, dropped or stopped (of course some had their valid reasons). Some even without much enthusiasm got to reach the finish line but it was all out of obligation or pride but not really seeing the value of it.

So why am I telling you all this?

Isn’t it about time, we give an alternative learning environment for teens, so that when they get to college or finish high school they have a concrete idea which path to take? College or vocational? Yes vocational, it is not only for those who cannot afford college (money wise or otherwise). Vocational courses are important.

We cannot be all doctors, nurses and the like.

Some have to be farmers (just look at what is going on with our country’s agriculture – no one wants to be a farmer anymore)

We cannot all be engineers, architect and the like.

A society flourishes because each of its individuals play an important part. We will not have buildings without carpenters, masons, and the like.

There are millions of Overseas Filipino Workers whose work abroad may not be the profession they finished. So why not, encourage Filipinos to take vocational courses that are competent they can use when they apply abroad.

What we need is to change are the mindsets of people about career choices – about education.

Upgrade the vocational courses so that our graduates become confident with their fields. An acquaintance shared, they have a great need for laborers but simply have difficulty in hiring Filipinos because they have language difficulties. So why not, improve our courses on language.

Change the trend of farming and teach our farmers how to become more competent. Support our farmers – we eat more than three times a day.

It is about time, we guide our children towards fields that they can excel rather than push them where they will fail.

While it is true to support our teens’ inclinations and interests there are still certain aspects where they should be guided. That is why a mentor is important. it is just like in ancient times, where our ancestors pass on their knowledge to apprentice for the next generations. This way, their knowledge becomes a treasure – valued.

It is not some kind of trend. Where teens take it because it is what is trending or where their friends will be.

College or vocational courses should be out of need of our society as a whole. Our generation should be aware of what our future will be and prepare for it. With proper guidance, values and discipline.

Career/profession/vocation is something you have to see yourself doing for the rest of your life or at least until retirement.

I believe in mentoring and have faith in the alternative route because I lived it.

I am happy to be co-founding Abot Tala with Joei Villarama Tinky Cabanatan Cruz Owie Dela Cruz Rommel Dela Cruz Phil Smithson, an environment where teens can discover where they can flourish.

I understand, it is quite radical but it is something to try out, especially for teens who are failing in the classroom not because they are not intelligent or smart but because it is not where they are free to spread their wings.

If you have a teen who needs an alternative environment and within/accessible in the area. Abot Tala is for your family.


. . . . and Joei says:

The picture above is from Laksmi’s Gopala Learning Haven in Silang, Cavite.  Gopala is Abot Tala’s partner, more like Abot Tala’s sister.  (Literally, sister from another mother!) Abot Tala is in a highly urbanized setting in contrast to Gopala’s idyllic countryside but that doesn’t stop Abot Tala from dreaming that someday we can still be located within the city, serving more and more young people but there is nature nearby, at arm’s length — we can touch the trees and sky.