KITKAT ZOBEL: SWEET AS CHOCOLATE, A BUSY FUNDRAISER
METRO MANILA, December 10, 2002 (STAR) By Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - She surely doesn’t lack for maids, but Kitkat Silverio Zobel was rushing to and from the kitchen of her sprawling Forbes Park home on the day she met some members of media on behalf of CENTEX (The Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education).
She bought out a tray of pana cotta with two different toppings and approached each guest. And noticing that the afternoon breeze and the Zen-theme of the garden might just prove too relaxing, she asked them if they wanted – needed – coffee. She then quickly got up and walked briskly to the kitchen.
Someone reminded her, "Hey, you’re not supposed to be running around!" but she gave us a reassuring smile.
Eight weeks pregnant, the wife of Ayala Land president Fernando Zobel still looks like just graduated from college. A mother of two, she is also taking on the added responsibility of being spokesman of CENTEX.
"I love children," says Kitkat as she spoon-feeds her youngest daughter with the melt-in-your-mouth pana cotta. "That’s why I took up Child Development in college." Up close, she appears as sweet as her chocolaty namesake.
But amid all that sweetness is a determination to be more than just a lady of leisure, which she could well afford to be. To prepare for the launching of this year’s fund-raiser for CENTEX, she wrote, in longhand, a two-page speech and read it during the lunch in her home.
Kitkat knows a myriad of causes await the support of someone as well connected as she is, but she chose CENTEX because it benefits children. She says that between grades 1 and 2, 55 percent of all public school students drop out, due to poverty.
"I chose to be a CENTEX volunteer," she said in her speech, "because I share the same vision of one day producing graduates who will be leaders, critical thinkers, who will have a love for God and the environment, who will think globally but most of all, be proud to be a Filipino."
CENTEX provides quality education (prepared by educators with training from the International School, where Kitkat also studied), with free uniforms, transportation allowance and a feeding program.
"Underfed children," rues Kitkat, " cannot be expected to be alert learners."
CENTEX is now on its fourth year and there are two existing schools, one in Tondo and the other in Bauan, Batangas.
"Of course, the dream is to have more CENTEX schools throughout the country," says Kitkat.
The CENTEX school in Tondo has 375 students and it needs some P13 million a year to survive. The CENTEX school in Batangas needs about P6 million yearly.
According to Kitkat, both schools have a zero dropout rate,
"Even when they’re sick, the students insist on going to school," she points out. Every year about 700 children from underprivileged families apply to get into CENTEX, but only 75 spots are available every new school year.
Thus far, its students – the oldest of whom are now in fourth grade – have been consistently topping government exams for public schools. They are also becoming responsible members of their community, even teaching their neighbors and parents how to recycle garbage.
Part of their curriculum is a subject on self-esteem, and the children are noticeably becoming more confident. I mean, if your teachers are trained by IS, you can’t help but acquire self-confidence.
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To sustain both schools, which were established with the help of government and a P50-million endowment fund from the Ayala Foundation, CENTEX volunteers have organized a fund-raising campaign.
The focus of the yearly campaign is a highly-collectible, square porcelain plate with an image donated by a well-known artist. This year’s plate, still in a signature square shape, features a vivid mother-and-child by Anita Magsaysay-Ho. (Last year’s plate featured the work of Bencab).
The image is vintage Magsaysay-Ho, with butterflies, clouds and an azure sky in the background and lush leaves surrounding a content baby on his mother’s shoulder. This image is also reproduced on notebooks, memo pads, note cards and gift tags. These art works are available in selected outlets at the Ayala Center and the Alabang Town Center.
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Read in the column last Sunday of shrink Dr. Nina Halili-Jao that a significant number of people are depressed during the holidays, partly because there is too much pressure on everyone to be happy. And if one does not live up to the expectation – heightened by the over-commercialization of the holiday – one feels let down. Dr. Jao says we should stop trying hard to make this Christmas the "best ever." We should also stop comparing every new Christmas to the Christmases we knew as a child, when the world seemed perfect.
She also suggested that we involve ourselves in activities that put us in touch with others. Especially the less fortunate. I received in the mail a pamphlet from the gift shop Papemelroti, which offers suggestions on how to make one’s days worthwhile. I think these are activities you could do the whole year through, but if you could squeeze them in despite the many errands and parties you must attend to this Christmas, then take a bow. After all, making time for others is more difficult than opening your wallet for a token donation.
Sure ways to make a difference:
• Report smoke belchers to Bantay Usok by texting Usok (space) plate# (space) location (space) vehicle ID and send to 2366.
• Donate money for sick children at PGH (Philippine General Hospital) dial tel. no. 899-1000 for more info.
• Help preserve our wildlife by reporting pet sellers of endangered animals to HARIBON Foundation tel. no. 920-7430.
• Buy Filipino! Act locally but think globally.
• Let your voice be heard! Write senators, congressmen and the newspapers about issues you feel strongly about.
• Segregate garbage. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
• Save a life by donating blood to Philippine National Red Cross 527-8384 loc. 106 or National Kidney Institute 924-3601 to 19 or go the extra mile by being a bone marrow donor, call the HOPE office 924-0680 or e-mail email@example.com for more info.
• Conserve energy by using energy efficient appliances. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.
• Save on gas consumption by carpooling, using public transport, biking and walking.
• Buy organic foods not just because they’re chemical-free but also because they’re produced locally and cut down on packaging costs and pollution coming from transporting goods from afar.
• Volunteer for an organization that makes a difference in a big way like Hands on Manila tel. no. 843-7044 or 843-5231; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or pick a cause you like at http://www.volunteer.ph
• Invest in the Filipino. Remember that when you buy locally-made products this Christmas, you help Filipino families like yours to survive. You help preserve jobs and provide livelihood. There are difficult times. Many big and small companies are closing down. Many are still hanging on. Help our country survive! Buy Filipino!
• Be a blessing this Christmas and surprise someone with a gift! Fill a shoe box with your gift, wrap and label (If it is for a family or a child). Bring it to any of the Papemelroti branches before Christmas. It will get to an appropriate member of Tahanan ng Panginoon. Tahanan is a non-profit tax exempt Christian ministry for the urban poor. Visit its website at www.skyfamily.com/tahanan/.
• Do you know anyone who needs to be prayed for? Text pray to 29766 for Globe and Smart, to include prayer requests in daily Masses and prayer intentions of Jesuit priests and brothers.
• Clip quotes (like those below) on making a difference:
Help carry one another’s burdens... (Galatians 6:2)
Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him two miles. (Matthew 5:41)
There is more happiness in giving than receiving. (Acts 20:35)
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(You may e-mail me at email@example.com)
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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