The Good News

A gift of water and laughter for Proj. 6 Elementary School

Elvie Punzalan-Estavillo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – In her acceptance speech, school principal Maricris Santos shared that the fulfillment of the water and sanitation project was serendipitous – something she had prayed long and hard for as the school had not had running water for years.

“Learning is the beginning of wealth, of health, of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins.”

These are the words of wisdom that greet students and visitors as they enter the Project 6 Elementary School premises.

In the past several years of adopting a public school for my water and sanitation advocacy, we normally conduct the turnover in February of each year. Last year, however, we decided to start construction much earlier so that the project can double as a Christmas gift, and enable the beneficiaries to use them longer before the schoolyear ends.

In her acceptance speech, school principal Maricris Santos shared that the fulfillment of the water and sanitation project was serendipitous – something she had prayed long and hard for as the school had not had running water for years.

Roger Cuaton, who has been my trusted contractor since I started this water and sanitation advocacy in 2008, paid the school a visit and caught the principal by surprise.He is tasked every year to scout for a school that badly needs toilets and clean running water with a high student population. The aim is to help many in one stroke. We learned that Project 6 Elementary School would have 4,000 beneficiaries.

Seeing the desperate need for clean toilets and clean running water in our public schools back in 2008 signaled the birth of this advocacy. In some schools I personally inspected, the ratio was disturbingly unbelievable: 3,000 students to a toilet! The conditions, to say the least, were pitiful, filthy, and unsanitary. I vowed to do what I can to address this situation to benefit the “hope of our Motherland”. As my mantra for this advocacy goes, “Healthy bodies equals healthy minds.”

After inspection, I was convinced this school was “it”, so pronto, the project went full blast. Last December 2015, we turned over more than what the school principal asked for – a water cistern system that provides clean running for over a week, even without electricity. For the first time, the water supply now goes all the way up to the fourth floor, where the laboratory, once waterless, is located. The system is able to supply water to 16 functioning toilets!

In my turnover speech, I asked the students to give their principal and teachers a huge round of applause for opting to stay behind to help mold, guide and educate them despite the lure of higher-paying jobs abroad. I also advised them to properly use and keep the toilets and water system facilities clean so the next batches of students will also benefit.

To enliven the hot afternoon, I also conducted a mini-Laughter Yoga session among some 1,000 teachers and students, and taught them a few energy-boosting exercises they can do when feeling low, tired, and weak. Besides water and sanitation for public schools, Laughter Yoga is my other advocacy. It is very effective in countering depression, sadness, disappointments and other negative feelings.

It’s also a great tool to help them focus on the good side of life, and cope with the many challenges that even young children face nowadays. Like adults, these young children have high stress levels.

Because they are the future of our beloved country,  I admonished the students to take their studies seriously; to discharge their  responsibilities to themselves, their families, their communities, and  to our beloved country; and to someday give back in any way they can.  After all, what is good for the country will redound to their own benefit as well.

I also suggested to the  principal and teachers to do some energy-boosting-and-mood-enhancing Laughter Yoga exercises for a few minutes during the flag ceremony or even in between classes to help improve students’ comprehension, concentration, and make schooling an enjoyable endeavor for them. Schools in India that have included some Laughter Yoga exercises before and during classes reported zero absenteeism as the students become reinvigorated, and developed a positive attitude and outlook towards their studies.

I extend my profound gratitude to four friends who prefer to remain anonymous and whose absolute trust in me is truly humbling. Their valuable contributions  for the good health, efficiency and cleanliness of students, teachers and employees alike has made this water and sanitation project an awesome reality.

vuukle comment












  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with