MANILA, Philippines – Self-value, empowerment, a chance to fulfill dreams, and most of all, an opportunity to give back to others. These are what the migrant youths gain, and what some have achieved at the Caltex-Pugad Foundation training centers.
Founded in 1987, the Parish Urchins at Don Bosco (PUGAD) is a drop-in center for street children and migrant youth. Its apostolate is to rehabilitate street children, prevent them from returning to the vagrant life, and eventually reunite them with their families.
The center also offers skills training to migrant out-of-work youth, aged between 18 – 22 years old. A donation of a professional baker’s oven to the center and seed money for a skills training program from Chevron Philippines in 2003 evolved to become one of the most sustainable skills training program ever established by the partnership between the energy company and the NGO. From the popular Pugad pandesal, the training bakery had quickly expanded its output to various pastries like its bestselling malunggay or ashitaba cookies, carrot pandesal, and pan de coco. These are baked and sold at the Manna from Heaven bakeshop, a project spin off, located at the Don Bosco parish grounds by underprivileged migrant youths of Pugad, who at the same time, are taking up vocational courses at Don Bosco Technical Institute (DBTI).
One of the proud products of the training is Ricky Madiw, originally an out-of-school youth from the Ifugao province who found a refuge in the Pugad as one of the bakers. Madiw, now 25 years old and a qualified holder of NC2, a national certification for technical-vocational and livelihood skills for completing culinary training from the Technical Education and Skills Development Academy (TESDA), is set to do unto others what he gained: teach other migrant youths employable skills such as baking and cooking. He at the same time inspires other migrant youths, and has an assistant now named David Francis Bacuta, who has expressed his desire of becoming a baker and follow the footsteps of Madiw.
“My life changed when I entered the Caltex-Don Bosco Pugad training programs. From being a migrant youth, I learned to feel that I could be a contributor to society and have a bright future to look forward to. While I was at the Manna from Heaven, I learned to love baking and thought baking might really be destined for me. Now that I have a chance to impart to others what I know, I didn’t have to think twice and decided I’ll teach here to give back,” shared Madiw.
Fr. Dave Buenaventura, executive director of the Don Bosco Pugad Center of Makati, was the one who offered Madiw the opportunity to teach. Fr. Dave shares, “There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that we have helped transform the life of a former migrant youth who would possibly have faced child labor, abuse or poverty, to someone who has all the opportunities to succeed in life instead. A great example is Ricky, who wants to selflessly give back to his fellow beneficiaries. His desire to share what he has learned and achieved will forever serve as inspiration to everyone here at Pugad.”
The Caltex-Pugad training bakery is only one of three livelihood projects that Chevron has established under the Caltex Energy for Learning program. Coffee & Saints, a training café located immediately outside the Don Bosco parish church is also run by Pugad boys who have graduated from the bakery and are learning restaurant management and waiter service. The third project, the Mobile Mechanics (MM), is a call-a-mechanic service that can accommodate clients from the nearby Makati villages and central business district. MM is run by Pugad youths who have completed automotive mechanic courses at DBTI and also offers car wash and vehicle maintenance services at the parish grounds.