By Ephraim Aguilar, Inquirer Southern Luzon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SORSOGON CITY—In a village named after its natural springs, her generosity gushes forth for poor children thirsty for learning.
Browsing through the pages of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Rosalia Laganzo-Enerio, a recently retired government worker, found a way to help some 300 pupils of cash-strapped Bucalbucalan Elementary School.
She set aside part of her retirement money to sponsor a daily supply of newspapers and to put up an Inquirer Learning Corner (ILC) on the campus west of this city.
Having grown up in the same coastal village, the 66-year-old donor said it had long pained her to see the school still lacking books and updated resource materials, particularly those which could improve the students’ communication skills in English.
“By putting up a learning corner here in Bucalbucalan, the students will be provided with updated news and information. It will develop in them the good habit of reading,” Enerio said during Wednesday’s signing of a memorandum of agreement among her, the school and the Inquirer on Wednesday.
She said the majority of students here grew up without enjoying reading materials at home, items considered a luxury for their parents who eked out a living mostly as fishermen.
Education is close to Enerio’s heart. Before working for the National Manpower and Youth Council in 1975 and the National Housing Authority main office in 1981, she taught at Bucalbucalan Elementary School from 1968 to 1975.
The search for better pay also drove her to switch jobs. Public school teachers at the time were paid a measly P212 a month, she recalled.
But even after quitting teaching, Enerio continued to support various projects on education. She volunteered, for example, for the Alitaptap Storytellers Philippines, a group that promotes literacy through the art of storytelling.
Every graduation season, Enerio would also donate medals to different schools in Sorsogon City.
But soon she realized that she had to give something that would leave a lasting impact on the students.
Enerio came across the Inquirer’s Learning section and read about the ILC program, wherein public schools can get free subscriptions to the Inquirer courtesy of reader-sponsors. The newspapers are to be kept in a school corner called “Inqspot” for easy access.
First non-politician donor
The ILC program is aimed at creating a place in public schools where teachers and students can read the paper and discuss the day’s news or issues.
Enerio said she had been an avid reader of the Inquirer since its founding during the martial law years, when the Marcos regime dismissed the fledgling but stinging newspaper as part of the so-called “mosquito press.”
Inquirer senior product manager Roselle Fortes-Leung said Enerio had the distinction of being the first ILC donor who is not a politician.
The ILC in Bucalbucalan is also the first to open in southern Luzon, Leung added.
Three ILCs have been set up earlier in Quezon City and Zambales province, all sponsored by politicians.
In honor of parents
“This is my way of giving back to the community and to this school in honor of my parents,” said Enerio, daughter of Feliza Aquende and Restituto Laganzo.
She said her parents, who were not able to finish their studies because of poverty, always reminded her and her siblings about the value of education, saying it’s the only priceless legacy they could give them.
School principal Antonio Jintalan gratefully acknowledged Enerio’s contribution: “We’re amazed that someone from this village is able to help this school.”
Jintalan said the ILC would go a long way in helping develop the children’s love for reading and their awareness of current events.
Mere P5,500 budget
Jintalan noted that the school, which operates on a measly budget of P5,500 for maintenance and other operational expenses, could only afford to set up a small library with books that were rarely updated.
A pity, Jintalan said, since “80 percent of our learning still comes from reading.”
With about 350 enrollees, the school has been relying heavily on private sponsors for its improvements, he said.
Enerio may no longer be able to go back to her first love—teaching—but she nevertheless vowed to continue her advocacy and community work for education.
The retiree called on other private citizens to do their share for the benefit of today’s youth and future generations.