MANILA, DECEMBER 18, 2011 (STAR) By Sheila Crisostomo [PHOTO - COMPUTER ROOM DONATION: The STAR Group of Publications donated a computer room equipped with six brand-new computer sets and a projector system last week to the Felicidad V. Buendia Elementary School in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija, hometown of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. Photo shows STAR president and CEO Miguel Belmonte turning over the donation to school principal Maricel Sagat in the presence of district supervisor Floriana Fadian, monitoring supervisor Salome Manuel and grade school pupils. Mike Amoroso] Christmas came early for students of the remote Felicidad Buendia Elementary School in Barangay Valeriana in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija last Friday.

With six sets of new computers for their school, the students will no longer be left behind in computer technology after The STAR’s Operation Damayan refurbished an abandoned classroom and converted it into a fully equipped computer room for their use.

Grade six student Mary Joy Amador, 12, could not hold back her excitement upon seeing the computers. She, along with her classmates and those from Grades 4 and 5, will be the first to use the newly donated units for their subject Edukasyong Pangtahanan at Pangkabuhayan.

“Masaya po ako kasi gusto ko talagang matutong gumamit ng computer. Salamat po sa regalo n’yo (I’m happy because I really want to learn how to use the computer. Thank you for these gifts),” Mary Joy said.

It has been a while since the sixth grader used, or even touched, a computer. As her family could not afford to buy one, she used to visit the house of a classmate’s relative just to use a computer.

“Kaya lang nasira na ’yung computer sa uncle ng classmate ko, kaya matagal na akong di nakakagamit (The computer of my classmate’s uncle broke down, so it’s been a while since I last used one),” she said.

According to school principal Maricel Sagat, parents of most of their students do not have the means to procure computers as they rely primarily on farming for their livelihood. The nearest computer shops are situated in San Isidro, a town some 10 kilometers away from the school.

“Gusto sana namin turuan sila sa computers dahil ayaw naming mapag-iwanan sila. Magagamit nila yon para magkaroon sila ng maayos na kinabukasan, kaya lang wala kaming computers dito (We want to provide them with computer education as we don’t want them to be left behind. They can use the knowledge to have a better future but the school doesn’t have computers),” Sagat added.

Sagat narrates that in their desire to update students on computer technology, teacher Guian Cecil Acosta even took the initiative of bringing her personal laptop to the school. Using a loan, she bought a projector to expose the students to the world of computers.

Good Samaritan

It was through barangay councilman Bong Sadian, who used to work as a driver for Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, that teachers of the school got wind of the humanitarian missions being conducted by The STAR’s Operation Damayan.

“Nag-suggest si kagawad na sumulat kami kay Mr. Belmonte at mag-request ng computers. Ginawa namin yon at napagbigyan naman kami (He suggested that we write to Mr. Belmonte to request for computers. We did that and our request was granted),” Sagat said gratefully.

The principal was referring to Miguel Belmonte, president and CEO of The STAR, who personally turned over the computers to the school last Friday together with volunteers of the paper’s social arm, Operation Damayan.

It was more than the principal could wish for.

Apart from six computer sets, Damayan also donated a projector and a wide screen, four wall fans, computer tables and chairs. The group also had a computer room set up and a comfort room constructed.

The school’s 120 students comprising kindergarten to Grade 6 share only five rooms. During rainy days, three of these classrooms easily get flooded. Long hours of walking had also become part of most of the students’ daily routine as it costs P100 in jeepney fare to get to and from the highway.

But last Friday, festivity engulfed the school when The STAR formally turned over the computer room. The donation was carried out with the help of a group from Southern California called Go Badminton, which pledged a contribution of $3,500 as part of proceeds from a charity badminton tournament they held recently in the US.

Damayan also treated the students, parents and teachers to a filling breakfast of champorado and Jollibee chicken and spaghetti for lunch, along with parlor games that never fail to delight.

Myra Sabalboro, a Damayan volunteer and a STAR employee, wowed the crowd when she did the “Macarena” dance and then belted out her rendition of “I Love the Nightlife.”

Damayan also distributed school supplies, tumblers and t-shirts and shorts to be used as uniforms for Physical Education.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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