|Rey Mark Pangilan draws plumbing equipment in one of his classes at the Center for|
Community Transformation Training and Development Institute.
Farmer's Son. "I'd like to help my family," says Rey Mark Pangilan, 20, a new vocational-technical student at the Center for Community Transformation (CCT) Technical and Development Institute (TDI) in Magdalena, Laguna. This is the answer one would expect to hear from any of the 31 new students studying rough carpentry, plumbing, electrical maintenance, and masonry when asked what they hope to do when they finish their one-year course.
A full-blooded B'laan, Rey Mark is the fifth of seven children of a farmer who plants corn, and only the second person in his family to study beyond high school.
Even finishing high school was not easy, he says. "I had to hike one hour from my house every school day to get to the nearest high school."
The B'laans are an indigenous group who live in Davao del Sur, South Cotabato, and Sarangani. They are known for their colorful native costumes and intricate beadwork but at the same time are economically disadvantaged.
Rey Mark is enrolled at TDI as a scholar of the Visions of Hope Foundation, a member of the CCT Group of Ministries which has been working among the B'laans of Sarangani since 2003. His classmates come from other poor communities in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Master Key. Technical and vocational education is seen by international experts as ‘the master key that can alleviate poverty.’ While many Filipinos look down on jobs that require manual labor TDI believes numerous opportunities are out there for those willing to work with their hands and sufficiently trained to do so. For instance, while machines are fast replacing jobs in factories and on farms, houses and other buildings still have to be built by human hands. In fact according to the latest labor market study of the Department of Labor and Employment jobs as masons and carpenters are hard-to-fill occupations in the Philippines, while positions as plumbers are in demand abroad.
Alongside technical training and on-the-job learning, TDI provides classes, programs and activities meant to help the students grow deeper in their relationship with God. Students attend daily morning devotions, Saturday worship services with members or beneficiaries of other CCT programs in the area, and regular Sunday worship services.
So is Rey Mark on the pathway out of poverty? If he keeps believing things can change for the better, if, by God's grace, he puts in the huge effort needed to pursue learning, then his desire to help his family -- improve the quality of their lives, send younger siblings to school, and provide for his parents as they grow old -- can surely come true.