Klasrum ng Pag-Asa - Sulu

As a teacher, I thought I've seen it all. Having been in the service for 5 years now, my attitude of been-there-done-that keeps me resilient for the past years. Teaching is one thing but igniting the passion to dream and hope is another. I, together with the parents and the community, are greatly committed to nurture every child. Whatever their passion is, we are here to support them and unleash their potentialities. Not to be this or that but be the best person they desire to be. And that's my philosophy in teaching.

And this is the same reason why we went to Sulu. After enduring the perilous trip to the province of Sulu, the group was ready with a common goal with energized hearts. Through the collective efforts of wonderful groups we were on a mission to spark some hope to the future generation of the country. 

Here are the groups:

Klasrum ng Pag-Asa
(Classroom of Hope)


Kindred spirits bonding and working together to build, augment, re-construct repair Public School Structures in the underserved areas of the Country from the Northern Peaks to the Southern Shores 
- Klasrum ng Pag-Asa's Facebook page

The Entire Nation (TEN) Moves


The TEN Moves is a campaign to raise enough resources to build 10,000 classrooms in public schools all over the Philippines. Its main strategy is to get 2 million people to donate P10 per day for 10 months. That will be P300 per month or P3,000 for the entire 10 months. Because of the huge target and the massive mobilization that this will entail, this public fundraising campaign requires mobilizing a large number of organizations and people around the country. It is expected to be supported widely by Filipinos and even non-Filipinos working together to address an urgent problem of the country. Thus, the name TEN Moves! also means “The Entire Nation Moves!” 
- TEN Moves' website

The Philippine Marines

The Philippine Marines - Marine Battalion Landing Team 6 or The Sixers of Brgy.Buhanginan, Patikul, Sulu headed by Lt.Col. Antonio G. Mangoroban Jr. PN(M)(GSC) and the 2nd Marine Brigade. The Marines were always there to assist in construction, giving the groups a temporary shelter, providing security and their mere presence and support to all the groups and the whole community were much of a big help.  

Art Attack
Ayala Foundation
Barangay Kaunayan
Black Pencil Project
Center for Humanitarian Dialogue
Children International
Dive for a Cause
Kaunayan Elementary School
2nd Marine Brigade
Marine Battalion Landing Team - 6
Municipality of Patikul
Patikul MPO
Rotary Club
Sanggunian Kabataan
Sulu Photograpeace Club
Sulu Provincial Government
Toy Library

The chosen school for this project was the Kaunayan Elementary School in Patikul, Sulu. Just the mere thought of going to Patikul is an adventure in itself; mind-boggling and staggering. The school is a 30-year old public school which deemed to be needing assistance in the repair and construction of their classrooms to provide a more safe and potent learning environment for the students. Through the efforts of all the concerned groups and communities, the mission was carried out easily. There's really strength in numbers with common a vision. 

I am so privileged to be a part of the Juan Portrait group with 8 great souls (all men) on the Sulu project. The "micro-mission" was to take photographs of the school kids and print them out on our very efficient photo printers. And then, we must hand it out to them for their own personal use. So armed with our cameras and the desire to carry out the mission, we went to Kaunayan Elementary School to click those shutters and have some fun with the kids.

the group
the school kids with Kuya Pultak of Klasrum ng Pag-Asa
The shutterbugs were given their respective group of kids to be photographed. The kids were all prepped up for the said occasion. I was assigned to take photos from almost all grade levels - Pre-schoolers up to 6th graders. It was challenging at first. Maybe because of the language barrier and the fact that I find it hard to take "staged" portraits. I am more of the capture-that-moment-candidly shooter. Or that's just me deviating. 

But then after I got my groove, I couldn't be stopped - I could've consumed the 8gb memory of my SD card just to get that perfect shot of my 40 kids. The thrill on their faces upon seeing their portraits on the display screen were priceless. And all I could think of was to not fail them. And so I did my best to engage them in the activity. I know I didn't produce the most fabulous shots in the bunch but I enjoyed every moment of it. If only I could do this everyday and see the smiles on their faces. If only. 

my kids
happiness is an understatement
Other groups also fulfilled their "micro-missions" for the day in the said school which made the whole day event really festive - with our military escorts everywhere of course.

the Black Pencil Project handing out pencils
the Art Attack Team painting a classroom wall
The Marines nourished the kids - boodle fight style
Kristoffer Brugada (screenwriter) showing his indie film "Patikul" 
Back in our base camp, we edited and printed the photographs we took that day. And as the photographs were revealing themselves, we couldn't help but show it to everyone and share a little story behind it. Mixed feelings of happiness, contentment, melancholy and laughter echoed the camp for the rest of the afternoon. 

We went back to the school the next day and saw the kids patiently waiting for our comeback. And then the moment when we handed their portraits to them. If I wasn't as lazy photographer as I am, I might have captured their smiles and giggles when the photos were given to them. But I chose to stay on my own space and froze that moment in my mind. It just feels so great. That simple thing (as some of us would probably think) of a printed photograph in their hands makes all the difference. Whichever they prefer to use it, it's theirs. Their own printed portrait. 

compact photo printer is the bomb
work station with mani
Christian's bunch
Jenilyn and her portrait
you want another one dear?
The next day was the turnover ceremony of the classrooms. So together with all the groups, the leaders of the town, other guests of honor and the community of Brgy. Buhanginan, Patikul, Sulu, the culminating  activity went on as scheduled and everyone had so much fun on the special numbers from the students and the military mascot named Diego. 

an honor to have served
More than the new classrooms, more than the newly painted walls, more than the photographs in their hands, more than the pencils, more than the boodle fights and much more than our presence on that occasion, it's the hope that flickered and sparked from the project. Whatever it is that these school kids were hoping for at that moment, I felt they realized it straightaway. I wish the wish they wish and I hope the hope they hope. 

This would be the perfect time for me to thank all the men behind this very admirable project. Thank you for letting me experience it all with you guys. Kudos to all the unnamed heroes of this project and a special shout out to all the Marines who assured me that they would shield their body just to protect me if they have to. I've taken home with me not just the memories of this great adventure but a new viewpoint of life in general. I would never get tired of sharing this experience and the people I met to all my students and friends. 


*My solo, candid and staged photos were all by LP - chong salamat!*


  1. What a commendable endeavor! How can I help the kids and the marines?

    1. hi bert! thanks naman. you can either contact the listed groups above or better yet email me at blissfulguro@gmail.com :)

  2. Thank you for joining as well. Sa uulitin. :)

  3. i love those smiles and hopeful eyes from the kids! i wish i was there too not only to take photos but to experience this. you're not only privileged to have done so but blessed! and you served as blessing to others which is rather priceless.

    i believe the real classroom isn't confined within the 4 pillars of our classes but the world outside. and with this experience, i think you as the teacher learned more than the kids. and with this post, you're inspiring others! kudos! mabuhay ka, maam! :)

  4. Replies
    1. salamt rina! idol din ang lahat ng nakibahagi sa proyektong ito :)

  5. This trip really moved you (not just ten moves), isn't it? :D

  6. Ang galing na gift sa kanila yung meron silang portrait habang bata pa sila. Tapos taken by Blissful Guro and Lakad Pilipinas pa! Precious!

    Pero hindi ko malilimutan yung kwento mo na beach scene tuwing umaga. Hahahaha.

    1. naks. precious talaga rob? hihi

      and i am telling you. good morning talaga yun pare!

  7. I salute you guys! I love the gesture of printing out individual photos of the kids. :)

  8. Your smile here is really contagious. You really are in the right place, Carla. Kudos to you! =)

  9. Magsukul, Teacher Blissful! I got shivers down my spine as I read your entry. Eto pala yung mga pinagmumuni-munihan mo 'pag sa mga panahong di tayo tumatawa (e wala naman tayong ibang ginawa kundi tumawa. Haha!). Anyway, I believe the Lord put you in Kaunayan for a reason. And I'm sure you already know why. God bless, Ma'am! See you soon.

    1. naks naman. salamat matthew at hindi verbose ang mga komento. hahaha

      pero nakakatuwa lang talaga ang trip na to. super combo talaga. lalo na ang mga lecture nights :)

    2. Uy, Ma'am, wala lang yung verbose na yun ah! Sobrang legit lang talaga ng epiphany na 'Oo nga 'no, teacher ako at nandito ako't tumutulong bumuo ng klasrums.' Kung ako yun baka nasamid na ako habang umiinom ng Kahawa Sug. Hahaha! Dami ko ring natutunan sa'yo nung lecture nights. Miss ko na yun pati yung mani mo na nilantakan naming lahat!

      Request naman ako dyan ng Part 2 nitong article! Nakakabitin ang isa lang eh. :)

    3. haha. antayin mo posts ni christian, di ka mabibitin sa articles niya. and also, asan na yung blog mo matt?!

    4. err, wag mo antayin matt, baka mainip ka ng todo todo haha :P

    5. i'm so sure of this matt. haha. peace LP

  10. astig talaga ng friend ko.. ikaw na! sensya now ko lang to nabasa, busy eh... hahahha... nauna pa ang kwento bago ko nabasa to... galing.. palakpakan!!!! :-)

    1. haha. oo nga noh noreen. pero iba ang reaksyon mo ngayon kesa nung kinukwento ko. sabagay may mga letrato noh? happy noh?

  11. tama ka diyan manong. iba sa pakiramdam talaga.

  12. Maraming salamat din sa iyo maam. It was an honor to serve with you.

  13. Good job guys! I admire you all :-)

  14. Inggit much. Sana marami pang mga taong tulad mo. May God bless your heart and dedication.

  15. Congratulations for a job well done, and life well lived. Just dropping by and enjoying your stories. Keep blogging and teaching. :-)

  16. oh my,, nakakatuwa naman to.. :)

    sana nextym makasama ako lalo na if it's volunteer works and teaching.. Teacher din kasi ako, oh I mean was.. hehe.. pero teacher pa din by heart.. ;)

    ang ganda ganda.. nkakainspire at nakakamiss magturo.. please let me know kung may mga ganito pa kayo.. ♥

    1. hi teacher faith! thanks po. masarap sa pakiramdam na makabahagi sa mga ganitong gawain. pag may mga susunod pa na pagkakataon mag-iimbita ako :) and also, if you have such volunteer activities, i would love to participate as well :)

    2. cge.. We do storytelling sessions din pag may mga volunteer activities kami.. :) I'll invite you pag meron ulit kami.. :)

    3. i'd love that.. thanks teacher faith!

  17. Hi,

    Nice blog post and beautiful evocative photos.

    But I do have a question - how does taking photos of children help in their education? If instead of just taking photos, they had asked you to teach the kids - say for a month - or better still, if you had been asked to train / guide the local teachers to teach even better, then yes - this would have been a project with impact.

    Don't get me wrong - sure, the kids saw something interesting happening for a few days, and I am sure they must have felt very happy when they were given their photos, but other than that, I do not see any impact.

    1. Hi Rumblum!

      Thanks for taking time to read this post.

      Patikul, Sulu is in Mindanao and if you're familiar with the Philippines' situation in this "war-stricken" area then you'd understand that simple things such as a photo is a prized possession there (there are no photo printing services in Patikul).

      Also, the Klasrum ng Pag-Asa (Classroom of Hope) is a group effort of numerous organizations; they built classrooms, painted the walls, read some stories to the students, and other stuff. There were almost 20 groups that participated and they all have different "micro-missions" for that span of time in that school.

      Again, if you have a little background on Patikul, Sulu in Mindanao then you'll realize how significant the whole project is for them.

      Have a Good day! :)

  18. Awesome blog Teacher! I spent an hour reading your posts. I will go back to Zamboanga one day! Its just like how you described it. The view of the sea will forever stay in your mind.

    1. hi tina. salamat naman... namiss ko tuloy ang sulu :)


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