On Tuesday, I had the rare privilege in visiting Barangay Liboganan, a rural village that faces the mighty Davao Gulf. Seeing its children in their barangay school warmed my heart as it reminded me of the simple life they are living. Through their eyes, one can see the innocence and joy that only a child can bear. That Tuesday was so special to them, at least that's what my sense told me.
For the children living in a flood-prone barangay, going to to school is a challenge especially so that they have to walk few kilometers in the morning going to the school and in the afternoon when they're heading home. In some instances, their feet got scratches and worst, wounds, because of the tattered slippers. In a school with a population of 300 students, says the barrio teacher I talked with, few can't still make it to school because of the inadequacy of foot apparels. Way back when I was a child, walking to school in a very early morning wouldn't be complete without a neatly-polished black shoes. It was like the feet's crowning glory. Seeing the kids of Liboganon remind me of how lucky I was way back then: I have shoes, they have tattered slippers.
Mrs. Teresita Baniog, the grey-haired OIC Principal of the school, shed tears when I asked her about the importance of new slippers to her students. She said it might appear so simple to many but the act of giving new slippers to the kids of their school is a big help. She choked, shed tears again, flashed a smile and begged to omit the video of her crying.
Mam Tessie's tears took me to a new world of reality. Gifts, no matter how simple, would really be appreciated if it's done with a touch of sincerity. For a teacher like her, this would mean lesser absences. For students, this meant joy walking in a very early morning to school with head held high.
The child is nature's way of giving the world another chance. A pair of slippers would be a very symbolic help that we can extend to our children, a reminder for them to take the journey and make this world a better place. Maybe those slippers will lead us to new places we never dared to dream, a dream that only a child can achieve.
Oplan Tsinelas Project of the City Government of Tagum kicked off July 4, 2011 which aims to give 48,000 pairs of slippers to the students of the City of Tagum.