Maybe we shouldn’t have started this. Maybe we should’ve given up earlier. Maybe we should’ve sought enough funding first. Even if odds were stacked against us, we bulldozed our way to the starting line and ran away with it until we sputtered, and chutzpah, courage and good intentions were not enough fuel to last a long marathon.
When somebody tells you to stop this madness, when somebody tells you, “You can’t be doing this for your children,” you continue to believe in your heart otherwise. Yes, one of my reasons for starting a “school” is for my kids but my kids are not yet of age to attend high school. Somebody close to me said, that is the wrong reason to do something where you gamble a considerable amount of capital. Another friend told me, “You cannot mix family and business that way.” However, I know of moms who started schools for precisely the same reason. They wanted to create a more positive learning environment for their children. It so happened that they went on to become successful. One school grew from a garage at home to a school with many buildings. One stay-at-home mom parlayed her small school into one that spanned kinder to college. Another mom started out the same time as me and was able to secure angel investment.
So please don’t tell me this is wrong.
“Maybe it’s not the time for this. The Filipinos are not ready for something as revolutionary as this,” somebody countered in deep pity at the hardships and birthing pains we were going through. Tell that to the families who are served by this alternative to traditional school. Tell that to the families who have been looking for a community as open and accepting as this. Tell that to the young people who have benefited from finding joy in learning with peers and mentors.
I still refuse to believe in my heart that this is a mistake, that we are better off not having risked so much only to stand at the edge of the abyss. The abyss before us is the invisible enemy many worldwide are facing. It is the unseen, microscopic ball of crown that silently invades bodies and threatens economies.
If our country was agile and rich enough to declare all businesses can be rent-free, tax-free and food would be subsidized during this period, then a small operation like ours could stand a chance at survival. Our hospitals are heaving under the weight of this pandemic and salaried employees across industries are shaking with insecurity. People who need a ride to work find themselves stranded, luckily or unluckily depending on how much they like their job. In the first place, except for medical personnel and skeletal crews, everyone should just simply stay at home.
How do businesses, tiny, medium and big, propose to surf this unfortunate tsunami? How creative and resourceful you must be to contemplate solutions to address this conundrum. I may not be there yet. Give me time to think and brainstorm with my partners in this endeavor. I am stumped at the moment but I shall regain my composure in a while.
My heart cannot bear to write the descriptions for these photos so I shall let the pictures from January to March 2020 speak for themselves. Since school has been canceled, Abot Tala has been holding classes online. I’m happy to say the students who were choosing to attend very few classes before are now joining more. Perhaps we have to thank the community quarantine for pushing people against the boredom wall enough for them to retaliate with a vengeance and seek engagement any way it appears.
We may be looking at online operations to pass this hurdle, though we still have the responsibility to honor our lease contract, pay for utilities, internet, salaries and taxes. In a few days, April will roll by and our good government does not recognize companies in the red and what was already red will become even bloodier. Scarred and bloodied from war, we have to be grateful for staying alive, complete with the ability to dance as crazy as John Travolta.
Dance like nobody is watching.