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Bukid Kabataan

Barrio del Fuego
Barangay San Francisco
General Trias, Cavite
Telefax: (046) 509 3009

Ang Diyos ay narito...” is a line from “Pasasalamat Ang Alaala ng Puso”, the Bukid Kabataan theme song, whose music was composed by Sr. Mary Myra Atian and lyrics written by the boys and girls of Bukid Kabataan themselves. 

This describes the kind of life that the less fortunate children are experiencing in Bukid Kabataan.

Originally, Bukid Kabataan was just a com­ponent of the Morning Glory Program (MGP) of Caritas Manila, the social welfare and development ministry of the Archdiocese of Manila. Then headed by Sr. Mary Lydia Kalaw, the MGP was created as a response to the growing number of children lured to prostitution. The increasing number of young street dwellers and the urgent need to put up a shelter for them in a long-term program paved the way for the foundation of Bukid Kabataan.

Sr. Mary Myrna Tacardon, program manager of the Morning Glory Program from 1986 to 1991, started Bukid Kabataan in General Trias, Cavite for the recovery and healing of street boys and for them to continue their education. It was a timely move because at the time, another component of the Morning Glory Program, the Marian Residence (a resi­dential center for the recovery and healing of street girls and prostituted women) was dissolved and its clients were transferred to Bukid Kabataan. So was born the Tahanan ni Maria for the young girls, and Bahay ni Jose for boys.

In May 2000, with the restructuring of the Caritas Manila program set-up, the full man­agement of Bukid Kabataan programs and services was transferred to Bukid Kabataan Center in Cavite, and the Morning Glory Program was dissolved.

Thus was the first RGS Community in Bukid Kabataan Center established. Sr. Mary Mercy Ang took over as the program man­ager and first Sister-in-Charge of the BK-RGS Community.

Restructuring and strengthening programs

The initial years were a period of restructuring. New program services were created, facilities were upgraded and the program policies were institutionalized. The BK Primary School affiliated with the Department of Education was evaluated for curriculum restructuring.

Sr. Maria Julieta Abrigo, who became the program manager in 2002, continued the intensive restructuring of the programs especially on development. This time, the center opted to categorically concentrate on the sexually and physically abused children for a more focused and effective delivery of services. The BK Primary School created a special curriculum for the benefit of its clientele, 80 percent of whom are cognitively challenged and behaviorally problematic.

2004 was an extraordinarily challenging year. Bukid Kabataan Center was given a permanent license to operate and accreditation up to 2007 by the Department of Social Welfare and Development after thorough evaluation of its programs and services. Along with this, the Executive Board of Caritas Manila transferred the administration of Bukid Kabataan Center to the Religious of the Good Shepherd, which had been its partner since the beginning. 

With an open hand and willing spirit and with the specific orientation of serving the marginalized and the oppressed, the Con­gregation accepted the task of administering the center. And, with the support of local and foreign donors, the doors of Bukid Kabataan will remain open for the wounded children of society.

In 2009, the Department of Agriculture granted Bukid Kabataan 17 greenhouses through the endorsement of Bishop Luis An­tonio Tagle of the Diocese of Imus. On May 31, 2010 the greenhouses were blessed and turned over to the management of Bukid Kabataan Center.

This project aims to provide a sustainable income for Bukid Kabataan, supporting its vision to be self-reliant, using organic and chemical-free farming. Bukid Kabataan Center’s beneficiaries in the nearby poor community were given intensive skills training on organic farming and greenhouse management. This also intends to provide alternative jobs for these poor families to alleviate poverty.

In 2010, Sr. Ma. Gemma Dinglasan, in partnership with the Department of Education, formulated the new school curriculum for Special Education to be applied to the Caritas Bukid Kabataan Elementary School, incorporating expressive and occupational therapies to all subjects in school. This development saw full implementation in school year 2011.

With the increasing number of sexually and physically abused children, Bukid Kabataan Center will continue to find ways and means to improve its services to better serve the least, the lost and the last.

(From the Centennial Coffee table Book:
                 Religious of the Good Shepherd: 100 Years in the Philippines)



BK residents on their way to healing 

(Excerpt from an article by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo for the Sunday Inquirer on December 3, 2011.)

Bukid Kabataan Center (BK), which means children’s farm, is a special place, a home for children who have never known one or who had watched theirs fall apart. Here they slowly claim their stolen childhood, name their pain and bind their wounds with the help of caring adults.

Bukid Kabataan is a special ministry of the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS) that serves children who have been physically and sexually abused, neglected and abandoned. BK’s services are inspired by the charity and compassion of Jesus the Good Shepherd and are directed towards the healing and total development of both male and female children (aged 6 to 16 more or less).

The ministry looks after the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual well-being of those it serves so that they, despite their tortured past, may become enabled and productive members of society. The RGS’ work in BK is in line with the congregation’s thrust towards justice, peace and integrity of creation and special care for girls and women.

BK had its beginnings in 1983 as the Morning Glory Program (MGP) of the Archdiocese of Manila/Caritas Manila and that had Good Shepherd Sisters running it. The land on which the MGP set up its ministry was donated by Msgr. Francisco Tantoco, a priest of the Archdiocese of Manila. MGP and BK have since undergone several reorganizations until the Good Shepherd Sisters fully took over in 2000, with Sr. Mercy Ang, RGS at the helm. The Department of Social Welfare and Development then gave it accreditation as a residential child-caring institution.

In BK, children are provided not just food, shelter and clothing but also individual care, education and counseling/therapy. Values and a sense of family and community are inculcated in them. BK hopes to reconcile the children with their parents, but only after a proper home environment is ensured. For some children, however, there may be no homecoming ever.

Located in Sitio (sub-village) de Fuego, Barangay (village) San Francisco, General Trias, Cavite, BK is about two and a half hours’ drive from Manila. The spacious farm setting of 6.5 hectares makes it conducive to healing. Affluent adults have so-called spas for the soul, so why not something similar for poor, wounded children?

BK offers elementary schooling from Grades 1 to 6 within the compound. A child is allowed a maximum stay of three years, but exceptional cases are given consideration. An after-care program, educational assistance and family counseling are provided for those who have moved on.

In BK are 17 big greenhouses built by the “Halaman sa mga Simbahan” program of the Department of Agriculture. Bishop Luis Tagle of the Diocese of Imus (Cavite) – who will be installed as Archbishop of Manila on December 12, 2011 was instrumental in getting this done. Vegetables are grown organically, that is, without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Organic fertilizers are produced right there and vermiculture (cultivating earthworms) is now in place. The farm produce provides BK with healthy meals and some income.

“Pasasalamat ay alaala ng puso [Gratitude is the memory of the heart],” a popular saying from Sr. Mary Euphrasia, is now a line from a song that the children of BK often sing. It goes with the heart-rending refrain, “Pamilyang nawala, dito namin natagpuan (The family that we lost, we have found here).”

Their voices rise to a crescendo and their hearts cry out, “To be strong, to belong.”