PARAÑAQUE City, March 11, 2014—The National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help [Baclaran Church], through its social action arm, is conducting free skills training courses for people who are interested in learning new sets of skills but lack the resources to acquire them.
In an interview with the CBCPNews, Erlinda “Ate Dhang” Abaigar, skills training and livelihood program coordinator of the Redemptorist Church-Social Action, stated that since the program was launched in 2007, it has been instrumental in transforming the lives of thousands, not only of Baclaran’s poor, but also of those from other areas.
It has trained financially constrained but deserving individuals in various practical and livelihood skills in close partnership with the government’s Technical Education Skills Development Authority [TESDA] which provides the course instructors, Abaigar added.
Many of its graduates have been able to land new jobs in the hospitality and food and beverage industries, while some opt to start their own ventures.
Four graduates of the housekeeping course are already working abroad, she prided.
She explained that students enlisted in the program can choose from among the short courses the Redemptorist Church offers like food and beverage services, housekeeping, reflexology, computer assembly, and basic electronics provided they satisfy a few requirements.
Abaigar stressed that except for the food and beverage services and housekeeping courses where enrollees have to be no more than 25 and 35 years old, respectively, the rest of the courses impose no age limits.
Majority of those who avail of the free skills training come from the marginalized sectors of Parañaque, Pasay, Las Piñas, and even from the nearby towns of Cavite province and elsewhere who frequent Baclaran either as vendors to hawk the assorted merchandises the place is known for, or as regular “Baclaran Day” devotees of Our Mother of Perpeual Help (Ina ng Laging Saklolo in Filipino).
Abaigar told the CBCPNews that program enrolment consists mainly of the unemployed, out-of-school youths, adults who for some reason were not able to finish primary and secondary schoolings, and also individuals who have been recommended to the Redemptorist Shrine by partner organizations.
These people see in the free skills training program which the Redemptorist Church offers a means by which they could improve the quality of their lives, she observed.
The program also gives opportunities to those who, because they cannot meet the minimum skills requirement or are too old for the job, have little hope of being hired by mainstream companies.
For adult enrollees, particularly, the program becomes a tool for self-empowerment because the thought that they could still learn something and be of use to the community uplifts their morale.
The most recent batch of Redemptorist skills training and livelihood program composed of 148 successful trainees received their course certificates on Saturday, March 8 in a simple graduation ceremony held at the Redemptorist Church complex. (Raymond A. Sebastián)