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Time for giving

By Ma.Glaiza Lee, Contributor

As the eldest of eight children, Mary Ann Garcia Agajanian understood that their family financial situation was far from ideal. With her father as the sole bread winner, working as a printing press operator, she knew that it would be near impossible for her to pursue her dream of finishing college and being a stewardess. They would rather spend the meager income of her father for daily needs.
Knowing Mary Ann’s dream, her mother tried to support her. Together, they would visit schools that offered that course, but they would go home with heavy hearts. They couldn’t afford the fees for the entrance exams and even the tuition fees. Starting to lose hope, she prayed hard.
God must have heard her earnest heart, for her prayers were answered. A group of NGO volunteers from St. Francis of Assisi Church would often come to their compound every Sunday to conduct bible studies. When they learned about her dream, they introduced her to Miss Clarice who told her about Punlaan School, and even sponsored her expenses to go there, take the exams and do the interviews.
“When I went there, I was hesitant because I really wanted to become a stewardess. But they are only offering a course on hotel and restaurant management. I suddenly had a vision of myself working in one of the prestigious hotels, wearing a nice uniform. So, I pushed myself to pass all the exams and interviews. There was even a time when applicants had to come in a dress for an interview and I didn’t have one. My mother had to borrow a dress from our neighbor,” shared Mary Ann, a proud graduate of Punlaan, currently working as a junior sous chef in pastry at Discovery Primea.
In the 1970s, St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer inspired a group of volunteer housewives to start a school for house helpers in Manila, which they called Punlaan School. The school initially aimed to professionalize work in the home and learn the importance of the spirit of service. When it was founded, it became the first technical training school, offering culinary, dining service and housekeeping courses for young students, housewives and household helpers.
Eventually, the school evolved with the changing times. Today, Punlaan is a multi-awarded school providing a dual training scholarship program in hospitality and culinary arts for the hotel and restaurant industry. It has been recognized as a model school by the government for its successful implementation of the dual training system since 1993.
“Since it was established in the 1970s, Punlaan School has been reaching out to indigent young women and giving them opportunities to study and free themselves from ignorance and socio-economic discrimination. Punlaan, a Filipino word for seedbed, is a school that cultivates, nurtures and enhances the effectiveness of young women in their varied roles in family life and in nation-building,” enthused Antonina S.Solomon, president of the Foundation for Professional Training Inc., the organization behind the school.
Over a thousand women have benefited from its dual training program; with most graduates working in various hospitality industries such as hotels, cruise lines and restaurants.
“We partnered with more than 70 hotels and restaurants, where our students can do their on-the-job training. Eventually, these industry partners would employ our graduates. Our students are often immediately employed upon graduation. We train our students well, and we teach them the proper work values such as loyalty, honesty and integrity,” shared Punlaan school director Anne Marie Jacinto.
This year, the school leads a new chapter as it introduces the K-to-12 Educational Reform. The school was one of the first schools approved as a Senior High School- Technical Vocational Track last May 2014, and opened its first section of senior high school in June 2014, way ahead of the national implementation in 2016.
“This is an important milestone for Punlaan because we embed the technical vocational education in our senior high school course, consequently institutionalizing the technical vocational program as a viable and equally productive alternative to academic track within the senior high school program. We strategically positioned the school as a specialized school recognized by the Department of Education and Tesda,” said Jacinto.
But as it becomes globally competitive, the school plans to build new infrastructure to accommodate more students. For this, the school needs support. “We want to help more young women achieve their dreams. At the moment, we only have a small building which can accommodate a small student population,” shared Jacinto.
In line with the graduation season, luxury brand Charriol came up with a global initiative, dubbed “Watch Me Graduate” campaign, to support women on their education. For the campaign, Charriol will donate P1,000 for every timepiece sold in any of its Charriol branches nationwide between March 16 to May 31, 2017. Proceeds will be used to fund the education of the FPTI students.
The luxury brand continues its partnership with FPTI to provide life-long development for women by conducting formal education and vocational programs through its managed schools and centers. Last year’s campaign gave hope and renewed the spirits of students who went through different hardships and challenges but still wanted to continue their journey to reach their dreams.
“Charriol is a company established by women, for women. The Philippines has been an important market for the brand. We want to give back to women by promoting and supporting their endeavors in various fields such as politics, arts and sports,” enthused Phillipe Charriol, who came to Manila recently and promised to personally support one student.

1 comment

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    Hellen Thursday, 20 April 2017 12:22 Comment Link

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