|PreMYo Rizal judges_Vim Nadera, Maite Gallego, Lisa Bayot, Emily Abrera, Felice Sta. Maria, National Artist Virgilio Almario, Eugene Evasco, Elizabeth Melchor, and Trixie Herbosa Grau|
VN: Last 19 January, you began another project. Whatever happened to facebook rizal 150 to 150?
LB: In partnership with Holy Angel University in Pampanga, we launched Facebook Rizal 150 to 150, a daily countdown 150 days before 19 Jun 2011. Each day featured a different quote from Rizal set against the backdrop of a different Rizal monument in various parts of the country. It ended when we reached countdown zero.
VN: Later on May 28 Ms. Herbosa presented Rizal to the Museo Pambata as a Young Hero for the Filipino Child, could you tell us the details?
LB: At Museo Pambata , my cousin Trixe Herbosa Grau and I, together with volunteer Marie Ganal, highlighted Rizal as a young person so that Filipino children can better relate with Rizal and appreciate him as a hero. We showed how he lived his life as a son, brother and a student by narrating stories of Rizal growing up as a normal boy, undergoing the same experiences that other children do. We recounted how much effort he exerted to excel in sports, how he enjoyed clay modeling and sketching, and his mother’s influence on his early learning.
VN: During the 150th birth anniversary of Jose Rizal last 19 June, you organized Maligayang Bati Jose Rizal at the Fort Santiago. How was it?
LB: My Rizal was honored to be working with and collaborating with different groups. These participants joined enthusiastically and volunteered their time and efforts out of their nationalism. In spite of the rain, 600 people attended and it generated the highest turnout ever of Rizal descendants in a family reunion.
VN: You honored the PreMYo Rizal winners last 5 December at the Yuchengco Museum. What lessons did you learn from it?
LB: We visited schools and DepEd school conferences to promote PreMYo Rizal. We were inspired and encouraged by the enthusiastic reception we were shown in many places and by the support we have been given by government officials, our media partners and our sponsors. Rizal is a unifying force for our country. He appeals to the hearts and minds of Filipinos of all ages.
We were also touched by the unique perspectives and the local contextualization of Rizal that we read from the essays. We learned that we mustn’t take our children’s thoughts and feelings for granted: they do have surprisingly distinctive views and questions which we must encourage, harness, guide and answer wisely.
VN:You are also the founder and chairman of the Binhi English Literacy Foundation Inc.? Tell us more about its history.
LB: Binhi is a non-profit foundation inspired by Pratham which has promoted literacy and the learning capabilities of 21 million underprivileged children in India. I founded Binhi in 2008, with our vision of “Every Filipino child in school and Learning Well.” We started with pilot classes at the HSBC library in Baseco, Tondo . Today, more than a thousand children have been helped through Binhi classes.
We target children who are at risk of not completing an education. It is Binhi’s desire to see all Filipino children develop reading and writing skills as a foundation for their education.
Binhi provides a teaching/learning kit comprised of a daily lesson plan for six months, flash cards, board games, 53 story books, and instructional DVD, evaluation tests, application forms and monitoring sheets.
MyRizal is a program of the Binhi English Literacy Foundation Inc.
VN: Do you work hand in hand with the government? Or with the church?
LB: Yes, presently there are 12 Binhi classes at five public schools in Pasig and Laguna comprising 363 students. One of its sites was initiated by sponsors who are active in their parish and Binhi classes were held in a a chapel.
VN: What were the sites you selected and why?
LB: Binhi collaborated with other community sponsors to start programs in various areas:
- Baseco, Tondo Manila
- Brgy. Kaingin, Balara, Quezon City
- Manila South Cemetery, Makati City
- Tuloy Sa Don Bosco, Muntinlupa City
- Brgys. Diezmo, Casile&Teleray in Cabuyao, Laguna
- Brgy. Mesa Homes in Sta. Rosa, Laguna
- Punta Fuego Nasugbu, Batangas
- Sitio San Miguel, Tacloban, Leyte
- Bambang Elementary School in Pasig City
- Kalawaan Elementary School in Pasig City
- Buting Elementary School in Pasig City
- Dr. Sixto Antonio Elementary School in Pasig City
- Happy2Help in NHA Resettlement Site 3 Calauan, Laguna
- Bantay Bata 163 Children’s Village, Bulacan
- Dayap Elementary School (Annex), BNJ in Calauan, Laguna
- Dayap Elementary School (Main) in Calauan, Laguna
- Sto. Tomas Elementary School in Calauan, Laguna
Binhi’s strategy is to obtain community sponsors who will purchase the teaching/learning kit, and recruit the teachers (who may be community based mothers rather than trained teachers) to teach the classes. The community sponsors also handle student recruitment and evaluation testing. Therefore, we go to sites where we find community sponsors.
VN: What are your plans for this year and beyond?
LB: Today more than a thousand children have benefited from the Binhi kit which provides them with the necessary learning tools needed to stay in school. We hope that as they stay in school and complete their education, they will become productive and financially independent citizens. Effectively, we see Binhi as a stepping stone to escaping poverty.
Binhi is developing two more Learning kits, one to teach Pre – Reading to pre- school children, ages 3-5 and the another for older children, ages 9- 11 who have Basic Reading skills.
MyRizal will continue its focus on education, culture and the arts. We are in talks with the DepEd to assist them in promoting public awareness and interest in some of their Rizal related activities.
We will encourage new research on Rizal , his family, friends and our other national heroes who in the coming years will also be celebrating their sesquicentennials.