Every morning, 11-year-old Jonel and his friends would practice their dance lessons for a school event in the streets of Baseco in Tondo, Manila.
When it rains, the streets get muddy and when it’s hot, the children have to endure the sting from the afternoon sun.
Still, the Baseco children sing and dance to their heart’s content in the streets, unmindful of these inconveniences. Poverty does not dampen their spirits to pursue their artistic inclinations.
“We love to dance to the modern beat and sing. This is our passion and it gives us joy,” Jonel said in Tagalog.
Now, these kids will have a nice place to stay to be able to hone their talents, thanks to the Senator Mar Roxas-Tide Creativity Center.
The creativity center aims not just to put a roof over the artistic children of Baseco but “nurture their talents and harness their innate sense of creativity” as well.
The center is a project of Procter and Gamble, Gawad Kalinga (GK) and Roxas who donated his talent fee from a “Tide” commercial he made to fund the center.
Roxas urged the children and their parents to use the facility and take advantage of the free learning from the center.
“Education is the great equalizer. Even if you were born here but you have attained education, chances are great that you can uplift your family from poverty and give them a better life,” Roxas told the children at the inauguration of the P&G GK Village.
P&G country manager James Lafferty said the construction of the creativity center is part of their global commitment to aid the development of children in need.
“It is part of our Live, Learn and Thrive (LLT program). We ensure that children live by giving them the places, the tools and programs they need to learn and give them access to programs that develop their self-esteem and the life skills they need to thrive,” Lafferty said.
He also said this is P&G’s way of raising to the next level the education of children living in Baseco.
P&G has some 120 GK villages in the country.
Meanwhile, GK executive director Luis Oquinena lauded the efforts of P&G and Roxas to support their goal of “leaving no Filipino behind” in the war against poverty.
“GK is really for the next generation and it is our common desire to leave no one behind,” said Oquinena.
The creativity center also provides a venue to hold classes for GK’s Sibol and Sagip programs.
Sibol is a value-based education program for pre-school children while Sagip is a support program for children of elementary age, which provides academic tutorials, sports and creative workshops.
It has six rooms that are fully equipped with facilities for various activities. These are the Safeguard Study-Library room; Pringles Music and Arts room that has a wall-to-wall mirror and TV/DVD player; Rejoice computer room which is equipped with nine computers and printers; the Tide lobby or reception room; Pampers administration room or lounge for teachers and GK volunteers; and the Olay Conference room.
The center is open to all Baseco children and their parents every day of the week.
GK champion Tony Meloto started the movement with the realization that slum dwellers deserve and need more than love and spiritual nourishment.
Most importantly, he sees that the poor need dignity and decent living conditions.
The first GK village was built in Bagong Silang, Caloocan and GK villages have since grown into some 2,000 communities today.
The movement is driven by a vision of transforming poverty-stricken neighborhoods into safe, self-sufficient communities.
Volunteers include caretaker teams, corporate executives and staff, students and government workers.
Much as the movement is changing the course of poor people’s lives, it is also transforming the lives of the supporters and donors who experience their own personal transformation as they help the less fortunate.