I appreciate now how college mentoring programs have helped shape my ideals.

Looking back on my two years — and counting —- experiences on being part of Iraya Study Center filled with memories and events, I can still recall the day my mentor asked me to apply for the KALFI LEAD Program. 

I hesitated at first because of the requirements and new situations always make me a bit nervous, but then I thought, “Why not give it a shot?” 

I submitted all the requirements and underwent interviews and luckily, I got accepted in the program. That was the time wherein I got out of my comfort zone. 

The program offered privileges that the universities couldn’t offer and activities that allowed me to meet new friends and new people.

Attending the weekly activities of the center is part of the program, and it allows me to receive holistic formation.  That’s how this exercise is called “formation”.   Because of the creative way through which I received formation, the thought of “receiving formation with style” struck me.

I realized this when I had the opportunity to join a Rural Service Project in La Paz, Leyte last June 14-20, 2016. I can say that my one-week experience was a blast! Not only did I experience provincial life and learn some Waray words, but I also got to devote my time, energy and effort to the community. It was a challenge, of course. 

The team had to accomplish four main activities for the community: rebuilding project, summer enrichment, family visits, and the Pinoy Educhild.

foundation leadership programme
high school leadership opportunities

Every day we got up at 5:00am to attend Mass, after which we ate our breakfast, said the Holy Rosary, and got ready to do our service to the community. I can still recall when we helped the carpenters speed up the house rebuilding. We carried buckets of cement and gravel under the heat of the sun. I am telling you, it was an experience of a lifetime.

The two-day summer enrichment activity, for me, was the most challenging part of the week, mainly because the kids were very energetic and all they wanted to do was play and have fun. But talking to those kids was a very heartwarming experience for me because of their optimism in life.

I also got to do family visits—this was my favorite part because the families were very welcoming and hospitable. I got to hear their stories, which opened my eyes to the sufferings of our society. I got to see the smiles on their faces when we gave them the Year of Mercy posters which we prepared ourselves. The team also helped in cleaning the community’s church, which I really enjoyed because the priest and youth in the church were very accommodating and fun to be with.

Knowing that there were still several ways we could have helped them and reached out made me realize how short those seven days truly were. But despite the exhaustion, I am happy because it was an honor to reach out to others and to bring smiles to their faces. It was an inspiring experience. They gave me additional learnings in life that I did not pay much attention to before.

My unforgettable experience in Leyte is one way of receiving holistic formation. In this respect, the creativity lay in its aim of helping communities as well as training future leaders of our society. Holistic formation is the key in becoming leaders ready to serve. I thank God for the opportunity and for my mentor for pushing me to apply to KALFI LEAD, because now I have four years of training to turn my leadership into a habit.