Moving underprivileged youth to a SHINING life through college scholarships

Posts tagged ‘Education’

Josie Works Hard on the Road to Becoming a Teacher


by Josie Morales

15 August 2012

I can’t believe it! This is my third year in college pursuing a degree of Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education.

Adjustment to college life marked my first year in college. My travel from home to school was very tiresome. I left the house at 6:30 AM, walked 15 minutes to the train station, had a 30 minutes train ride, and another 10 minute walk to the college. I don’t mind the walk, as I am used to it in High School. Since I am going to be a teacher, I know it is important to train myself to always be on time.

I had one unforgettable experience during my first semester of studies:

Our Instructor in English grouped our class to compete in a contest with a theme of “Language and Environment.” During the contest we dressed ourselves with garbage bags and sang the songs related to the environment we composed by ourselves. The judges liked the message of our songs and the costumes we put on. They noticed, however, our lack of actions during the presentation. They were looking for more gestures. The group that won was more active and injected jokes in their presentation, which inspired lot’s of laughter. We did not know jokes would be acceptable! Our lesson learned: know all the criteria set for the contest – a learning experience, indeed.

Most of my classes I enjoyed, but two of my subjects were very difficult for me: Pilipino Language and English. We had to do research and write a thesis. My other classmates had experience doing research in High School, but I did not. I put in extra effort to learn and contribute what I could. When I completed it, I had to defend it and my teacher said I did a good job. I was glad for that encouragement after such a difficult assignment!

I was very frustrated and discouraged after I failed the Pilipino Language Preliminary Exam. My Instructor encouraged me to study harder for the Midterm test. She said I could still make it because I did impressive job defending my thesis. My hard work paid off. I passed the midterm exam and the final!

My second year schedule was different in that my days were very long. My first class started at 7:30 AM and my last class went up until 8:30PM! To put perspective on my situation, I likened myself to the school security guard who opened the gates for the students to enter and closed them after the last one left. This reminded me that I was not the only one having long days.

I made more friends during my second year in college because none of my previous classmates were enrolled in the same courses. Again, it was in the English classes that I struggled, which made me exert more effort and time to studying.

In just three more semesters, I will complete my degree program! I am very grateful to Ate Ali and the supporters of this scholarship program for making it possible for me to go to college, and to Kuya (big brother) Iddo and Teacher Nonie for the guidance they provide me weekly. I want to make everyone proud of what I become in the future after my studies. I am also very thankful to God for this privilege to go to college.


Janine Reflects on Her Entry into College


by Janine Gelera
15 August 2012

I was both scared and exited when I went to the National Teachers College for my first day of classes. I was told college studies were difficult, unlike high school where you can take things easy. I was excited because my first day of school marked an exciting change in my life.

Starting in the first week, we were given a lot of homework and assignments to take home. For the first time, I had to go to the internet to surf for information and print articles relevant for classes. It is all very challenging, but I believe I can do it with hard work and persistence to learn new things. I will do everything within my capability to achieve my dreams and ambitions so my family can have a better life.

One of the biggest challenges I faced entering college was missing my high school classmates. I am only 16 years old, so now all my classmates are old and it is harder to relate. My hope is that I can find friends over time while I am studying here.

There are a lot of changes and challenges before me, but I believe that with perseverance and hard work, I will be able to complete my college degree so I can become a teacher. I am grateful for Ali and the donors who provided me with the NingNing scholarship.

I am hoping that my college life at the National Teachers College will be days, months and years of excitement and that I will enjoy every bit of my studies here!

Mark Joshua Makes His College Debut!

Mark Joshua, one of our newest NingNing scholarship recipients shares with us some snippets from his first day of college in the Philippines, which he never thought would be possible given his family’s impoverished circumstances…

“College? That’s too difficult! I have to quit. I am not cut out for it.” These were common comments I had heard before. I was discouraged. I wondered what I would do when and if my time to attend college would come. Would I also quit like them?

These thoughts lingered in my mind as I got close to high school graduation. Knowing my family’s limited resources, I wondered if  college would even be possible.

Thanks to Ningning Philippines Education Fund, I got to set foot on a college campus. Now, I am officially a college student at Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP).

On June 18th, I woke up early to prepare for my first day of college. “I am now ready!” I was scared but excited also.

I easily found my room but was surprised no one was in yet. Classes were already in progress in nearby rooms. Finally, the professor came. She introduced herself, “. . . Ms. Echaorre, your English teacher.” Ms. Echaorre welcomed the class. She asked us to say something interesting about ourselves. One mentioned being afraid of the heights but had already climbed 2 mountains. Another one loved to swim but almost always ended up sinking.

My time came. Everybody including the professor recognized that I was the one who volunteered to buy the index cards for the class. I was tagged “Mr. Index Card” and later “Macoy,” a name derived from my first name Mark. We had fun during the first day of English class. Friendships and crushes started to develop.

Our next class was Accounting. The Professor was also late. She was soft spoken and stayed seated all the time. We learned later that she was a cancer survivor. She welcomed us to the University and gave a brief history.

I also had classes in Management, English and Culture and they were all very interesting.

The first day was a good day, a good start to my college education. If this is what college is like, I surely will enjoy it! It will be difficult but I will work hard until my degree, Bachelor of Science in Accountancy, is earned. Thanks to those who made it possible for me to be where I am now–to Ali Smith, the founder, and her local staff, Kuya (Big brother) Iddo and Teacher Nonie, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!


Half-Marathon Fundraiser Raises over $3,500 for NingNing Philippines Education Fund

Courtney, Ali, Becky, Kelli Post-Race

On May 7th, my mom, two sisters and I participated in the Indianapolis Half-Marathon… and finished! We all felt great, due to our many months of training in the snowy conditions of Bozeman, Montana and Portland, Maine! My mom crossed the finish line at 2:58, Courtney was 2:48, Kelli was 2:30 and I was 1:45. Way to go guys!

What’s even more exciting is that donors pledged for each kilometer we ran, which raised a total of $3,500! This was an awesome showing of support for NingNing Philippines Education Fund, thanks to all who made a generous donation. And an extra special thank you to the donor who said if I finished in 1:45, he would add on a bonus $500! This gave me the motivation to really push it at the end. All I could think about was raising that extra money for our NingNing kids…and I met the challenge, just barely!

$2,000 will go towards our NingNing Scholarship Fund. This amount will provide for an entire year of college for one of our scholars – hooray!

$1,500 will go towards Alfredo Olavidez, NingNing’s Director of Operations in Manila.

NingNing Staff: Nonie, Ali and Alfredo (Sept. '10)

Alfredo was diagnosed with prostate cancer (stage I) a few weeks ago and is facing enormous financial pressure to be able to meet his immediate medical expenses. Since he has been such an integral part of operating and sustaining the NingNing Philippines Education Fund, I thought it was appropriate to allocate some funds for him during this difficult time. Please keep him in your prayers as he undergoes treatment and prepares for surgery in July.

Thank you again for your prayerful and monetary support of the NingNing Philippines Education Fund, as we work together to make college education a reality for underprivileged youth in the Philippines!

**If you would like to view a video clip of me running half-way through the race, you can click the link (I am crossing the white line about 10 seconds in, wearing an orange top and orange hat):

Half-Marathon Fundraiser on May 7th!!

You may remember this victorious photo from the Singapore Marathon “Running for Rice” NingNing fundraising campaign in December 2009. No? Not to worry because we decided to challenge ourselves to ANOTHER race for NingNing!

Exactly one week from today, on MAY 7th, my lovely mom, two sisters and I will be attempting to run the largest half-marathon in the U.S. (with over 35,000 registrants), known as the “OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon” in Indiana!! For more information on this exciting race, check out: Wahoo!

Would you kindly consider making a pledge of $1 PER KILOMETER that we finish? That means if we complete the full 21K, your pledge will total $21. Or you can choose to double or triple your pledge per kilometer and give a larger donation if you’d like. Totally up to you!


Participating is easy. Just follow these simple steps:

1) REPLY now to the email sent by Ali ( with HOW MUCH you would like to pledge PER KILOMETER.

2) PRAY for us as we prepare for and run the race on May 7th!

3) After you receive notification that we completed the race, SELECT PAYMENT METHOD from one of the three options below (**please note our new partnership with Guidelines has changed the address of where to send check donations):

  • US Donations Online (secure & private) –
  • Donate by phone (US & Philippines) – Phone #: 949.582.5001
  • Donate by mail (US & Philippines) – Send to: GUIDELINES INTERNATIONAL, Box G, Laguna Hills, CA 92654 (**Make it payable to Guidelines and specifically indicate in the check memo portion that it is for NingNing, or NN)

We’ve been training hard (in snowy, cold conditions!) to prepare for this race and would be so grateful to have your support. It would mean so much to us and the beautiful children we are putting through college in the Philippines!

Thank you and stay tuned for (positive!) reports and pictures from the race!


NingNing and Guidelines Join Hands

NingNing Philippines Education Fund has forged a new PARTNERSHIP with Guidelines International Ministries, which is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation and member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Guidelines has graciously agreed to take on NingNing as a ‘Ministry Project’ under their organization, ensuring maximum legal and financial oversight.

Guidelines is a Christian ministry that has been reaching, teaching and touching lives around the world with the love of God since 1963. Founder Dr. Harold Sala and his lovely wife Darlene, share a heartfelt love for the Filipino people and are excited to partner with NingNing in bringing higher education to some of Manila’s poorest youth (for more on Guidelines and the Salas, visit:

Why the Need for Partnership?

It’s no secret the non-profit sector is undergoing intense scrutiny right now, especially as the Three Cups of Tea debacle continues to unfold under the global spotlight. The whole thing is very disappointing to say the least, and threatens to deter many people from giving in the future. But it can also serve as a wake-up call to all of us who have ever given money to charitable causes. No matter how good the intention or cause behind an organization, the bottom line is that they are all run by people and therefore, are susceptible to human folly, error and mismanagement. That is why it is evermore important for all non-profit organizations to have proper legal and financial oversight in place, which can serve as key indicators of integrity and credibility.

Although NingNing is very small in scale with a very focused geographical area and mission compared to other charitable causes, I feel it is equally important to establish the proper infrastructure to ensure legal, ethical and responsible practices are being carried out.

Since the NingNing Philippines Education Fund was formed in November 2009, it has been running as a charitable ‘project-based’ initiative, without official non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation status, due to the size and scope of the fund’s primary mission. This model however, has not been without it’s drawbacks and limitations. For example, it does not allow for tax deductible donations and lacks the legal and financial oversight that should be in place when funds are being handled for charitable causes.

Partnering with Guidelines will fill in these gaps. Guidelines International Ministries has graciously agreed to act as an umbrella organization, providing proper legal, financial and administrative oversight, while still allowing NingNing to operate independently as it’s own entity.

What Does This Mean for NingNing?
From a logistical standpoint, NingNing will still function and operate as is. Our very dedicated team members on the ground in Manila, Alfredo Olavidez and Nonie Samonte, will continue to carry out their responsibilities of disbursing the funds for the students’ needs (tuition payments, travel allowances, school supplies, etc.).

From an administrative standpoint, however, NingNing will be handing over primary duties to the Guidelines staff. The following changes will take immediate effect:

  • NingNing will operate under the legal and financial discretion of Guidelines, Inc. (US) which is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation and a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), which conducts a full financial audit of Guidelines Inc. (US) books annually in accordance with ECFA requirements.
  • All US gifts will be made to NingNing through Guidelines Inc. (US) and will be tax deductible. (hooray!)
  • Donations can be made by check, credit card or mail to the Guidelines office (see
  • Guidelines will receive and receipt all donations made to NingNing Philippines Education Fund’s ministry; maintain a list of donors and donations made on their behalf; provide accounting of donors, their donations, administrative fees and amounts remitted to NingNing.
  • NingNing will provide quarterly (Jan-Mar, April–June, July-Sept) reports of ministry activities and accomplishments to Guidelines International and an annual (year end) report covering activities of the entire past year.

On behalf of the NingNing Philippines Education Fund team members and beneficiaries, I would like to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to Dr. Harold and Darlene Sala and to their Guidelines International Ministries staff for opening up this exciting door of opportunity. We are thrilled and honored to join hands with such a well-established and reputable organization in our efforts to impact and improve lives in the Philippines!

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