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Tuloy Foundation: A home for the homeless

Fr Rocky with the kids of Tuloy Foundation

MANILA, Philippines -Tuloy is a Tagalog word for “come in” or “welcome”, which Tagalogs customarily say to beckon guests into their homes.

Providing a welcome to the homeless  is what Fr. Marciano “Rocky” Evangelista of the Salesians of Don Bosco had in mind when he founded Tuloy Foundation Inc. in 1993 with the help of 10 lay volunteers.

In a 4.5-hectare complex at San Jose Subdivision, Muntinlupa City, Tuloy Foundation provides abandoned children a home. Off the streets, they are taken away from a life exposed to begging, theft, drugs, and prostitution, among other negative influences.

Made to rediscover that they are innately good persons, the young are given a chance to unlearn old values and behavior and thereby regain their self-worth. They are challenged to do what they can; study, play and do house chores just like children in other homes do. They are also given opportunities to express themselves in art, dance, song, sports, or practical arts such as gardening.

The story of Rene, for one, is very inspiring. At the age of 11, he starting working in a piggery in Manila where he stayed for five years like a prisoner. He escaped to Tuloy in 1994, where he finished an automotive course. Today, he works as a mechanic in a car dealership in Australia, earning the equivalent of P100,000 per month.

(Left) From a 40-sq.m. room in the St. John Bosco Parish compound in Makati City, Tuloy Foundation is now a village with 10 dorms, each accommodating up to 30 children. (Right) Architectural perspectives of the future Tuloy School for Performing Arts (above) and Tuloy Theater (below) donated by Alice Eduardo of Sta. Elena Construction & Development Corp. STAR

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Since 1998, the school has graduated 713 children from Basic Education and 1,206 from its Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programs.

In fact, Tuloy claims to being the only residential care institution that has its own school – the Tuloy sa Don Bosco School, which offers free education from equivalent first grade through vocational/ technical courses such as automotive/motorcycle mechanic, refrigeration and aircon maintenance, building wiring/basic electronics, computer technician, baking, basic metal arc welding, and culinary arts.

The school’s curriculum, the Tuloy website states, is accredited by the Department of Education as non-formal, and is tailored to the needs of the kids whose mental skills lag behind children their age in normal schools.

“Having wasted away time in the streets instead of in schools, the kids have but a few years to learn practical, working skills by the time they are of employable age. Thus, functional literacy is the orientation of both subject content and teaching methodology,” it adds.

Setting foot in the Tuloy complex for the first time, one easily draws comparisons with some of the country’s finer academic institutions. The community even houses a beautiful church and practices hydroponic farming. Clearly, it’s not merely physical shelter that the foundation provides the children.

Time was when Tuloy operated in a mere 40-sq.m. room at the St. John Bosco Parish compound in Makati City, where Fr. Evangelista and his volunteers took in 12 children.

Nowadays, it has grown into a village with 10 dorms, each accommodating up to 30 children. Two of the dorms are for girls, while the other eight are for boys. Each dorm has a “head of house,” who acts as parent, managing the children’s needs and also overseeing discipline.

Believing that the sense of self-actualization of the youth who participate in theater goes a long way in making them better citizens, Sta. Elena Construction & Development Corp., headed by president and CEO Alice Eduardo, has also pledged to donate a building meant for a world-class theater and performing arts school to the foundation.

Besides Sta. Elena Construction & Development Corp., Tuloy would not have gotten off the ground without the help of its early donors, among them Consuelo Foundation Inc., Philippine Stock Exchange Inc., the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Caltex (Phils.) Inc., Ronald McDonald Charities, Manos Unidas of Spain, CASPAR Foundation of Japan, the Limquico family, the Becker family from Germany, and the Stiftung Symphasis of Germany. International Container Terminal Services Inc. Foundation also earlier sponsored the Tuloy football team.

In recognition of Tuloy’s contribution, Fr. Rocky and the children of Tuloy played a meaningful role in the recent visit of Pope Francis.

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