This Saturday, let’s promote literacy and celebrate diversity!

A community event likened to a *children’s party* with storytime for the whole family!
Children’s books in English, Spanish, Tagalog, etc will be given away!

Invitation Flyer to the Read Out Loud at the Echo Park Branch Library at 10-12, a literacy and community event



Three Schools & One Project Coordinator: Updates from the Philippines

Yesterday at 5:03 AM, giftED SOLs USA woke up before the alarm went off just as our dedicated Project Coordinator started buzzing us up online from the Philippines! Waking up earlier than planned was worth her most-awaited project updates:

Binanuahan Elementary School (BES)

PHILIPPINES: Mission accomplished! Been to BES. Got the kids’ foot sizes.

USA: Pictures?

PHILIPPINES: Already sent. You’ll see.

Tracing Foot, Binanuahan Elementary School, Bicol, Philippines

Pupils Sizing for New Footwear, Binanuahan Elementary School, Bicol, Philippines

PHILIPPINES: Forgive me…[not part of the plan just yet], but I couldn’t resist feeding them biscuits and juice.

Biscuits and Drinks for Binanuahan Elementary School, Bicol, Philippines

Biscuits and Drinks for Binanuahan Elementary School, Bicol, Philippines

USA: OH NO, you’re in trouble! (kidding =)

PHILIPPINES: That’s OK. That’s nothing compared to seeing the kids happy and smiling.

San Rafael High School (SRHS)

PHILIPPINES: We also got to visit San Rafael! Susmio! The library is in ruins due to Typhoon Glenda! Very few books were salvaged. Poor students! They haven’t been able to read books because Glenda destroyed everything. Just some hollow blocks left.

San Rafael High School Library: After Typhoon Glenda

San Rafael High School Library: After Typhoon Glenda

PHILIPPINES: Good thing we brought a small box of books.

Books for San Rafael High School, Bicol, Philippines

Books for San Rafael High School, Bicol, Philippines

PHILIPPINES: The school is at the peak of the island. You’d have asthma attack on the way up!

Stairs to San Rafael High School, Bicol, Philippines

Stairs to San Rafael High School, Bicol, Philippines

PHILIPPINES: Fortunately, Mr. Boatman helped us carry the books.

Boatman, San Rafael High School, Bicol, Philippines

Boatman, San Rafael High School, Bicol, Philippines

PHILIPPINES: The school is in dire need of reference books. I was thinking we should have sent them all the high school level books we have. The problem is, they’re big and heavy.

USA: OK, let’s get a bigger boat and hire more muscles.

PHILIPPINES: Don’t worry, we’ll find solutions. The teachers were so happy because giftED SOLs has been a blessing to them.

Teachers, San Rafael High School, Bicol, Philippines

Teachers, San Rafael High School, Bicol, Philippines

USA: They have no idea how they are blessings to us, especially the kids! We haven’t even helped enough compared to the damage. But they’re very welcome!

PHILIPPINES: They’re so thankful just for the attention. The books alone are enough for the kids. They’re having a hard time because they lack books. The kids have to go across the shore just to do their homework. I asked the teachers to send a proposal.

USA: OK, no promises, but we’ll try our best to help as much as we can.

Dela Paz Elementary School (DES)

PHILIPPINES: By the way, Friday is the book distribution at DES.

USA: This Friday? Exciting! Are you ready?

PHILIPPINES: Yes, the volunteers and teachers are ready.

USA: Anything else you need?

PHILIPPINES: I already took care of everything before I left for Bicol. I’m traveling back to Laguna tomorrow.


Safe travels to our Project Coordinator!
Looking forward to Friday!

Celebrating #Halloween Because of #Christmas

Unlike the majority of Filipinos, our unique upbringing had us refrain from celebrating Christmas. Regardless, in provincial Philippines, Christmas celebrations followed us everywhere, at school and at home. As seen on TV or in the movies, some parents would go to great lengths–involving costumes and presents–just to make their children happy.

The reality for some children whose parents were either deceased or OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers): The big siblings might play the parents for their little siblings; they might hang some stockings (more like nylons, but clean) for Santa to slip in some gifts as wished. No mantle to be found in a typical Filipino home, so stockings might be hanging from the bedroom door. Waking up in the morning, upon opening the door, the siblings might come to find their nylons filled with candies. Whether a miracle or a mystery or not–who are we to tell? Most important is the lasting childhood memory: The magic of a simple yet sweet gift lighting up a child’s face!

Celebrating Halloween and treating children (no tricks from giftED SOLs) extends such childhood Christmas tradition; as well, it compensates for our limited/lack of conventional Christmas celebration experience. That or we’ve watched Hocus Pocus too many times that we’ve come to consider children as our heroes, who save the day from the wicked witches. Halloween belongs to the young ones as well as the once-young. We celebrate Halloween for the kids and for the kid in us–to give the gift of sweets; to face our fears; to make kids happy because they melt our hearts like chocolate; to take part in both the happy and scary parts of Halloween.

The scariest thing this past Halloween was the evening weather forecast: 100% chance of rain. In Los Angeles, you’d have to wonder: How little rain and will it last? “When it rains, it pours” doesn’t necessarily apply where it should (since California is facing severe drought and could use more downpour). Does 100% chance of rain yield 0% chance of trick-or-treaters? Come rain, come shine, the fun and freak show must go on! Or did the rain play the Grinch who stole Halloween? Let’s see…

Halloween 2014 Trick-or-Treaters

giftED SOLs with Trick-or-Treaters, Halloween 2014

Halloween 2014 Monster

giftED SOLs with Trick-or-Treaters, Halloween 2014

Halloween 2014 Purple Hair Bride

giftED SOLs with Trick-or-Treaters, Halloween 2014

Halloween 2014 Buzz, Toy Story

giftED SOLs Halloween 2014

Halloween 2014 - The Witch & the Wolf

giftED SOLs with Trick-or-Treaters, Halloween 2014

giftED SOLs with Trick-or-Treaters, Halloween 2014

Halloween 2014 Lady Bug

giftED SOLs with Trick-or-Treaters, Halloween 2014

The rain must have freaked out some kids, but a 100+ trick-or-treaters braved the weather and got their goodies!
THANK YOU, CHILDREN, for making Halloween happy as ever–perhaps our happiest yet!
Till next Halloween!

Kind words from Paola T., a neighbor:

I can guarantee that kids AND parents will return next year to experience the Halloween happiness they felt at your doorstep. It wasn’t about the candy but the wonder and fear one felt walking down the semidark driveway, only to be greeted by warmth from Sol fambam and friends.
It is safe to say that young trick-or-treaters walked away with an experience that they will bequeath to future generations.
It’s nice to know that a difference can be made, one smile, one experience, one Halloween at a time.
See you guys next year!


Dear Jennifer

Jennifer's home

Simpleng pangarap mula sa munting isla…
by Ligaya Lara, gifted SOLs|Philippines

A simple dream from a small island…
English Translation by giftED SOLs|USA

Malakas ang alon ng dagat at nagsusungit ang kalangitan. Ubos na ang gasolina sa makina ng bangka ngunit kailangan kong pumasok sa eskwelahan. May kanser si nanay at may sakit pa mandin si itay ngayon; di bale nasabihan na niya si kuya na ipag-sagwan ako ngayon patawid sa kabilang pangpang. Sayang naman kung hindi ako makakuha ng pagsusulit ngayong araw. Marso na ngayon at katapusang buwan na ng eskwela.

The ocean waves are strong and the skies are turbulent. Our motorboat is out of gasoline, but I need to go to school. My mother has cancer and my father is sick today. Fortunately, he had instructed my big brother to row the boat and take me ashore. If not, I’d regret missing the exam today. March is already here, the last month of school.

Nasa ika-6 na ako ng elementarya at nakikipagtunggaliang-utak sa aming seksyon kahit malimit ay walang baon sa oras ng recess. Sabagay, mainam pa rin kasi kahit papaano ay may konting pananghalian pa naman. Inaamin ko, mahirap lang kami subalit pinipilit kong lumaban…nilalabanan ang hirap upang matanaw ang sinag ng munting pangarap ng isang batang umaasam ng pagbabago sa buhay.

I’m in 6th grade and competing for top honors in our class even though oftentimes I have no money for snacks. It’s OK–at least I can still have lunch. I admit, we are poor, but I’m trying to fight–to overcome poverty in order to see the silver lining of a small dream of a child hoping for a better a life.

Ako si Jennifer.

I am Jennifer.


Dear Jennifer:
We had the honor of meeting you through our Project Coordinator. One of your teachers took our Coordinator to your humble dwelling, where dreams are dreamt and dreamers and achievers like you are made. Sorry to hear that your mother and father are both sick. Sorry to know your older siblings struggle to find a job.
We know how hard you’ve worked, as you would cross the seas by boat for an hour or so to go to school.
CONGRATULATIONS for graduating elementary school with high honors!
The world is home to many Jennifers like you, and the Philippines has its share. To each and every single Jennifer out there:
Your life is full of overcoming. We trust you will. The greater the struggle, the bigger the dream. You make us dream bigger. Sometimes, comfort and convenience make us complacent. But YOU, you compel us to do more.  You inspire us to be better.
For being our silver lining and ray of sunshine, THANK YOU!
Love and Thanks,
giftED SOLs


Children are People, too

Can you remember a time when you were treated as an object? How did that feel? Why is it important not to treat a child that way? How can adults foster the earliest development that allows authentic expression in all three domains of development–biosocial, cognitive, and psychosocial?

Once there was a grandparent who would treat a grandchild as a robot, as if the child didn’t have a mind and heart of her own. One day at the breakfast table, as was customary, no one would touch the food until the eldest had prayed and initiated eating. Being the obedient robot the child was or deemed to be, she waited politely for her grandparent, only to be scolded: “What are you waiting for? EAT! Don’t you have any brain?” The child completely lost her appetite and hurried away to the farthest corner at home to cry. Her grandparent made her feel as if she was stupid, incompetent, worthless, and–worst of all–unloved. Even in retrospect, that day still makes the child feel small, bitter, and hurt.

Children must never be treated as if they are objects. Objectifying children can cause long-term insecure attachment or insecurity. Objectification damages the child’s potential for biosocial, psychosocial, and cognitive growth. Children deserve respect as people–only much smaller and younger–therefore, subject to more limitations than adults, but NEVER should they be subjected to acts of objectification.

Dear parents and grown-ups: Let the child be a child–curious, active, cautious, observant, capable, expressive, and creative. Instead of increasing the limits or restraints even in the name of protection, their guardians should heighten their sense of security as well as the safety of their environment. This should empower the child to be carefree and FREE to express and explore.