• Why we are building the San Miguel Youth Center

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In our quest to enlist support in advancing our mission, specifically, the construction of The San Miguel Youth Center, we have encountered questions (from interested parties, pundits and critics) as to why we are doing this project considering the enormous required investment. Some have commented why we don’t just use the funds and build toilets and install potable water systems in every public school, or send more scholars to post-secondary education. These are legitimate and noteworthy suggestions.

Countless San Migueleños and organizations before us and ours, e.g. alumni associations of San Miguel High School, have sponsored projects similar to our BAT (Build-A-Toilet) and scholarship projects. Yet, none provided the plurality of benefits that will be the catalyst that we aim for. The Youth Center is just the cornerstone of our envisioned conduit which will establish a productive network of individuals who are willing to give and help the youth of our town. It is structured to provide an improved growing environment for the young San Migueleños, that is on par with, if not better, than what the rest of the Province of Bulacan can offer. Thus, the BAT and scholarship projects are integral parts of the overall plan, but the only way we can assure continuity of efforts and derive maximum benefits is by building the San Miguel Youth Center. This is the greater and noble vision behind the project.

The Present Realities

Nicanor Abelardo and Francisco Buencamino are two of the Philippines’ premier composers/musicians. Narcisa “Doña Sisang” de Leon was the tireless matriarch of LVN Films during the Golden Age of Philippine Cinema. Virgilio Almario, better known by his pen name Rio Alma, is a National Artist for Literature. Prolific composer/arranger Ryan Cayabyab, classical pianist Cecile Licad, and a host of other noted contemporary Filipino artists trace their roots to San Miguel, Bulacan. Numerous San Migueleños had played for the Philippine Blue-Girls softball squad, which once reigned supreme in Asia. San Miguel schools used to be prominent fixtures in provincial, regional and national academic, journalistic, musical and athletic competitions in the 70’s and 80’s. Those were the good old days.

Despite its rich heritage, presently, San Miguel is a cultural desert. The continuously diminishing school resources have given way to leaner school curricula; unfortunately sacrificing extra-curricular pursuits for expression of students’ talents and creative energies. School areas for athletic and cultural facilities have given way for more classrooms due to the ever-growing student population. Whatever remained of these facilities have fallen victim to bureaucratic and institutionalized neglect.

This decline is not limited to schools. There were, for instance, several independent rondalla groups in the 70’s and 80’s that celebrated native music and dance. Now, we are not sure if any exist presently.

There are very limited recreational options for the younger generations of San Migueleños. We believe that this deficiency contributes to drug addiction, underage drinking, smoking and petty crimes.

Conventional libraries are very expensive and have no budget to keep current its library materials. This issue results to dated information being made available to anyone who is undertaking research projects.

Internet access in San Miguel is at a premium and is not available to all barangays (district or townships). Children who are fortunate enough to have their own computers have become prisoners of these boxes. It should be the other way around. Access to personal computers should empower the children by providing a broader learning perspective. There are school projects that require access to a computer and the internet. If the students cannot finish their projects in school, they are forced to rent access at astronomical rates, further stressing the delicate budget of struggling parents.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

The San Miguel Youth Center will be built on a 1,900-sq. m. lot near Villa Magdalena in Poblacion (the town center). The site is directly behind the San Vicente Catholic Church. It is about 300 meters away from the campus of San Miguel Elementary School. This makes the Youth Center very accessible.

THE AMENITIES

The Youth Center is envisioned to be the techno-cultural-recreation hub for the San Migueleño youth. It will include a Multi-Purpose Hall, an Online Research Center (much like an internet café), and a Recreational Center.

The Multi-Purpose Hall is intended to be the venue for youth-oriented assemblies, seminars and workshops. It can be a performance and exhibition space to showcase the talents of the local youth, thereby promoting cultural/heritage awareness. Possible activities that may be conducted by volunteering professionals/artists/teachers are literary workshops (creative writing, free style poetry), art workshops, and dance workshops (native, ballroom and contemporary). SMDM CUSA intends to coordinate sponsorships of these workshops and will provide a supply of materials needed for these events. The Multi-Purpose Hall will host art exhibits, recitals and other performances, as well as productivity seminars. It can also accommodate small stage plays and academic competitions.

A small section of the Multi-Purpose Hall will be permanently allocated to the Teacher Resource Center. In this area, teachers willl earn to soar past the limitation simposed by huge class sizes in a regular school environment, insufficient student learning materials, and conventional but traditionally low-yield teaching methodologies. Seminars and workshops will be conducted by invited nationally- renowned experts. Publications on alternative teaching methods, classroom projects, and other resource materials will be made available to teachers through the funding efforts of SMDM CUSA. Computers with internet access will also be made available to teachers to further improve their students’
learning experience.

The Online Research Center will provide free use of computers with broadband internet access for student research projects , as well as free use of non-internet connected computers for student assignments. Free classes on computer basics and safe and effective online usage will be conducted by IT Volunteers. The Center will also be an enrichment venue for interested schools with motivated and talented students.

Why not simply donate computers and peripherals to local schools? We have three arguments against this. First, internet service is not available to all barangays or districts. Second, security of the donated hardware is always a concern. Third, we cannot ensure that the actual users are the students, and not for the personal use of school staff.

The Recreational Center will provide multiple sports facilities, i.e. a tennis court, basketball court, and several ping pong tables. SMDM CUSA will supply all the sports equipment. Free sports clinics will be conducted based on the availability of volunteer-experts. Athletes bound for provincial or regional meets may also be housed here (instead of at the San Miguel Elementary School classrooms or San Miguel High School classrooms) while pursuing the pre-requisite
training while attending regular school classes.

This is San Miguel De Mayumo CUSA’s vision for The San Miguel Youth Center. Others have said it is too ambitious, and that it may become nothing more than an unrealized dream. Yet, due to hard work and a strong will, SMDM CUSA had its ground breaking ceremony in December of 2009, well attended by San Migueleños and by the local and provincial officials of San Miguel and the Province of Bulacan.

Now, we are ready for site development and foundation work at the beginning of 2011. We have high hopes that building construction will follow suit with the generous support of kind-hearted benefactors to whom we appeal for donations and financial assistance.

 

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