New Student IDs for the BES Kids

Posted by on August 12, 2015

BES Kids Fundraiser PhilippinesA road traffic accident is what started it all. This is a story of poverty, natural disaster and how people can make a difference to make this world a better place. During my 3-months trip all across the Philippines, I spent a good amount of time in the picturesque seaside town of Gubat in Bicol. As nice as Gubat, one of the best surf spots in the Philippines, is, there is always light and shadows. At the beginning of this year, one of my good friends in town, Glenda Esperida, had informed me about the desolate condition the local school, Bonifacio Elementary School (BES), was in at that time. And the reason she herself found out about this was a terrible tricycle accident.


The accident that started it all

On a bright and sunny Friday afternoon little John Karl Gamba, a first grader at Bonifacio Elementary, was on his way home. Another exciting weekend was waiting. At the same time my friend Glenda was in a tricycle and on her way to the beach for a leisurely afternoon surf. Within a split second, both of their fates connected, setting a wave of future events in motion. As little John Karl crossed the street, the tricycle hit him and dragged him along for what must have felt like ages. The young boy bleeding and in utter shock, Glenda acted quickly and arranged for him to be brought to the local hospital. While the medical team took care of his injuries, the staff started asking questions about the innocent victim. “What is his name? Where is he from and how can we reach his parents?” Clueless about any of that, Glenda started rummaging through the student’s backpack in hopes of finding a proper school ID, providing an answer to all of these questions. But to everyone’s disappointment there was none. Just a small piece of plastic which would have made things a lot easier for everyone involved.

Philippine school kids

Little John Karl Gamba in the middle.


Desolate conditions at the school

To further investigate on this matter, Glenda decided to visit Bonifacio Elementary. What she found out put everything in a much broader perspective. Due to the lack of funding from the government, many public schools in the Philippines are unable to provide not only school books but also ID cards to its students, something that is very important, especially for elementary school kids. But apart from that, and maybe even worse, the recent typhoons had also destroyed some of the school’s facilities, forcing staff to convert their small library into a classroom and to move the computers of the designated computer room into the principal’s office. The school was in a desolate condition and definitely not providing the right learning environment for its students. An unacceptable fact, thinking that these students are nothing less than the country’s future.

Damaged classroom

A classroom severely damaged by recent typhoon Glenda.

Filipino classroom

School library which has been turned into a classroom.

A classroom that now serves as a storage area.

A classroom that now serves as a storage area.

Computer room school Philippines

The computers are now set up in the principal’s office.


Help BES Kids – a non-profit project is founded

Something needed to be done, something needed to happen. Glenda immediately took initiative and founded Help BES Kids, a non-profit project to help the kids of Bonifacio Elementary School. The aim was to raise enough money to provide every student with an ID card and also help covering the costs for classroom renovations. After she had set up a Facebook Page, including a proper logo and PayPal account to receive donations, we collaborated to spread the word and support the cause. I had spent an amazing time in Gubat and this seemed to be the chance to finally give back a little bit. I had recently published a couple of travel articles in Filipino travel magazines and decided to donate the revenue of these to the cause to give it a kick start. But I also wanted to involve the ESCapology community because together, everything is possible – especially in these times of social media frenzy and globalization. I published the story on all of my channels and asked for support. The response was amazing. Some of you donated money; some of you offered to donate books or asked how to support the cause in other ways. No matter what you did and how you got involved, every penny / peso counted, every share and like counted and your feedback counted. This is the moment to thank everyone for getting involved and for caring. Without you, this would not have been possible. And here is what happened …

Class at Bonifacio Elementary

Creating a better learning environment for the kids of Bonifacio Elementary School.


Mission accomplished

We raised a total of PhP 22,500, all coming from private donations. With that money and a huge effort, we managed to have a photographer take pictures of about 280 students and get proper IDs produced for each one of them. In a festive ceremony, led by the Principal Mrs. Cristeta E. Dugan and my friend Glenda Esperida, the IDs were handed to the proud students. In the meantime, little John Carl Gamba, who’s terrible accident set all of these events in motion, had fully recovered and is out and about again. The remainder of the collected funds will be invested in the renovation of the classrooms.

Student ID program

We made it. The new student IDs are being handed out. Congrats!


Last thoughts …   

What started with a terrible accident turned into a perfect example of what is possible when people come together to help and take initiative. It was one step for the greater good, one step for making this world a little bit better and it was only possible with all of your help and support. Small trickles can turn into big waves and together we can achieve some great things. Thanks to new technology, the advance of social media and global connectedness, making a difference has become more feasible than ever before. This was only a small scale project but its success has showed me what is possible. Bloggers and influencers should start looking beyond trip reports, food photography and selling their latest e-books and also give back to the community. Now is the time – let’s get together, let’s make it count and let’s do our part in making this world a better place.

Once again, to everyone who was involved in this project – whether it was donating, sharing or participating in any other way –  your generosity and support was greatly appreciated. Thank you so much, vielen Dank and Maraming Salamat!

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9 Responses to New Student IDs for the BES Kids

  1. Jeff

    That is an awesome story. It is nice to hear that good things can happen from such terrible circumstances.

    • Philipp Dukatz

      Hi Jeff, indeed a very nice story in which I only played a minor part. But it is good to see that even small things can make a difference. Efforts like that should be taken more often I think ….. Thanks for taking the time to read this little story. All the best, Philipp

  2. dines jansen

    What an inspiring story, Philipp. Just shows that once again, if people unite for a common cause, big or small, the goal will be achieved. Sometimes, somebody just have to start, and in this case, kudos to you and your friend Glenda! You were instruments for this good happening. I like it when you wrote that its time for bloggers and other people to start looking beyond trip reports, food photography etc and think of something to give back; very noble thought! May your tribe increase! 😉 it is just sad that projects like this one should be under the care of the govt….but that is another story…

    • Philipp Dukatz

      Hello Dines, thanks for your feedback. Yeah, if people get together, they can achieve a lot of great things. Unfortunately it usually only happens when something bad happens or things have gone to the worst. But yeah, it was good to see that a small grassroots project was actually able to make this happen and change things at least a little bit. That is motivating me to do it again. We will see. Thanks again and have a safe trip back to NL. Philipp

  3. April Violet

    Wonderful to know that little John Carl has fully recovered and the students look happy and excited to have their IDs. Every effort/contribution to the cause no matter how small counts…glad it all worked out and the kids get to continue their education in a better environment.

    • Philipp Dukatz

      Hi April, good to hear from you. I am also happy it all worked out. Of course there is more work to do but it is a start, no matter what. Cheers to that 🙂

  4. twistedbade

    well no act of kindness,however small is ever wasted, you might think that you just played a small part on this but its actually very influential. I remember those small wooden school chairs, hehehe just didnt know they still use that. Good job for you and glenda 🙂 Pretty sure those kids were so excited to use their IDs. Galing


    • Philipp Dukatz

      Hi Berns, thanks for the encouraging feedback. I also used to sit on small wooden chairs when I was a kid hehe. Maybe a bit different than those pictured here. I would like to go back to Gubat and see how it is all going there. They are also planing to do some renos with the remaining money…. We will see….

  5. berns

    Cool! It really feels good to help and you know you made them happy..havent shown you the pics of our outreach in tarlac no?hmm it wasnt as big as what you guys did in gubat bt im pretty sure the kids are so happy..those sincere smiles, priceless!
    I think well be goin back to gubat hopefully this see you when I see you:-D

    Stay magiting,