Summer Holidays at St. Martin de Porres

St. Martin de Porres, Bustos, Bulacan, Philippines, July 2007

A Rich, Rewarding Summer Holiday

June dawned with the children of St. Martin de Porres (SMDP) winding up the fun and productive three-month summer holiday that concluded their 2006-2007 academic year. With six children having graduated from the sixth and final year of elementary school and everyone else making steady progress, the kids of St. Martin welcomed a reprieve from the school routine but had no trouble keeping busy. �The children may not have been in school, but they still immersed themselves in learning something new,� says Eunice Cheng Chua, JDVSF Assistant Director of Development and SMDP house mother.

While hardly novel, household chores headlined their agenda each day, providing consistent reinforcement of some essential life skills. �Because the children come from dysfunctional family backgrounds, which in many cases propelled them onto the streets, teaching them to live communally is one of the most important lessons they learn,� says Eunice, who reports that such household chores as cleaning their rooms and the house, washing their clothes, watering the plants, and feeding the poultry raised at SMDP are considered part of the core �curriculum.� �They sometimes need to be reminded but with a little prodding, everything gets done in no time.

Delivering on another one of SMDP�s major objectives for the children�preparing them for future self-sufficiency�instructors at Emmanuel College, in Plaridel, Bulacan, organized a course in the fundamentals of electric home appliance repair, which the older boys took. They came away with a grasp of the basics of electrical wiring and installation as well as a grounding in how to fix small appliances, skills they can now deploy at St. Martin, if need be, or maybe even as a future career. In addition to the vocational training, students also used their summer months to brush up on their English with a focus on improving their grammar, sentence construction, and spelling.

But despite all the studying and chores on their daily to-do lists, the children still had time for more typical summer fun. Bulacan�s SIBUL (Sining Bulakenyo) dance troupe visited to teach them two folk dances. Children 12 years old and younger attended a one-week summer camp organized by Jude Asuncion of the Camp Kalinga Foundation, where they learned all about various Filipino festivals. Some also took part in a drama workshop lead by Ms. Nely Azada, for which the Rondalla group provided the accompaniment and the elder kids, including Buboy, Jonathan, Sarah, John Paul, and Mylene, served respectively as musical director, production designer, stage manager, and props master.

The summer�s major event was Kapatiran 2007, a gathering of 11 mission homes which came together for three days of fun and fellowship. Governed every year by a central theme, this summer�s motto was �Ang Lumikha, Ang Kalikasan at Ako,� The Creator, Mother Nature & Me. To broaden the children�s awareness of the importance of caring for the environment, speakers covered various ecological topics as well as the basics of animal welfare. They had a chance to observe and handle various wildlife creatures�among them hedgehogs, a ball python, and lizards as well as more domesticated species including a collection of dogs, a group called Love Pets brought in for the children to get to know. In addition to these activities, workshops in painting, horticulture, visual art, theater, dance, beading, origami, and martial arts were also offered for the children to choose from among.

The children of St. Martin resumed their studies on June 13, when the 2007-08 academic year kicked off, feeling rested and ready to take on new challenges. Log on next month to find out how the new year is treating them

Learn more about the people of St. Martin de Porres at the SMDP website.

Commencement exercises for the graduating students

The graduates line up

Drama workshop with the visiting expert

The play continues

A procession of Kapitiran participants

St. Martin de Porres in the Kapitiran parade

A showcase of all the participants at Kapitiran 2007

St. Martin de Porres delegation

Summer fun with art

Practicing native dance with the visiting dance troupe