Why Bantayan new schools are more than buildings

J-1 Holidays are looming !!!

Tomorrow is Graduation Day in the Philippines: Kids have been rehearsing for weeks and it will be a very big day for them (and their proud parents). Filipino are taking this event hyper seriously, much more than us European. I actually never heard about a “Graduation ceremony” for children before coming to Cebu. Ms Attila is required to wear a long white dress, white shoes and must have her hair perfectly done. And she still has one year of Kindergarten before entering Grade 1..

On the tiny island of Bantayan as well, the holidays vibes are in the air ..


A couple of years ago, most schools had been wiped out by super typhoon Haiyan, so I was very curious to see in which conditions the students would be rehearsing.

Building takes time, especially when the architects are dedicated to build back better and safer, according to the latest International earthquake safety standards.

A School is a building with four walls and tomorrow inside.

On the island, many schools are also used as evacuation centres in case of natural disasters, explains Marcel Reymond, head of the Swiss NGO Caritas Switzerland. The ones we are constructing are designed to withstand very strong winds from minor storms up to 200km/h and to resist earthquakes up to 7.2 on the Richter scale. They also include a water and sanitation component, to ensure a healthy environment for all the beneficiaries. 

The local community is involved at every stage of the program. They have created “School Committees” with representatives of the teachers, students, parents and local authorities, and they are the ones managing the programs. They are the real actors of the reconstruction.Caritas is only supporting, training and eventually advising. 

So yes, our action do take time, but the 80 classrooms we have built are of top quality “. 

Even when it comes to buildings, Swiss quality standard must be up to its reputation.

 Want to take a peek at a few schools?

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Caritas Switzerland has built and rehabilitated schools for over 4’000 students of the island.

When they will resume school next July, the kids will enjoy brand new buildings, not only nicer but more importantly safer and far better equipped. Students and teachers will notably get proper toilets for the first time, and will attend regular earthquake/fire drills and first aid trainings. Preparing for the worst but always hoping for the best.


Care for more?

Here is the post I wrote about Bantayan students in the aftermath of the typhoon Yolanda.

Some more pictures are on my Instagram feed.

Caritas Switzerland mandate and mission in the Philippines.

12 thoughts on “Why Bantayan new schools are more than buildings

    1. Thanks a lot 🙂 There is so much to learn from the resilience and the high spirits of those kiddos !

  1. This post is close to my heart..Look at the smiles of these kids..so pure, so carefree. Your heart is so big and touching so many children’s lives in Bantayan.I love everything about this post and your words are full of inspiration.
    Congratulations in advance for your Little Ms.Attila,moving up Day sounds exciting and you must be a proud Mama.

    1. Thanks a lot 🙂 When I have the chance of reporting on kids, I am always learning so much. They are an endless source of inspiration,and I am so admirative of their parents. I have never ever seen a student with dirty hair or wrinkled uniform. I recently met with a family of one, and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw where she lived. Whatever the shelter, the number of people in the family, the living conditions .. the kids not only look great, but they are also doing great at school. In some cities, where they don;t have enough teachers, some children are on “morning shift”, from 6 AM to noon! Spending a day with them is not only the best antidote to complaining, it is also totally recharging your batteries .

      1. You came from Europe and when your eyes are exposed to the living situations in Ph, you would feel gratitude at the same time empathy. You feel grateful the fact that you have a better life and your parents have tried their best to give you that life..but at the same time, your heart will go through these kids who are living on the edge of poverty and yet have a resilience on hardship issues.
        I,myself have to walked approx. 2km to get to school when I was 7 years old..I mean, that’s how our lives before. We don’t have the luxury of shuttle buses or a driver to bring us to school.
        When I saw how the lifestyle of children going to school in Kuwait & Holland, In my heart I still feel grateful that I have been through that. It made me the person who I am today.
        In Kw, I observed all the gradeschool has ipads or tablets and working on assignment is just a swipe away..
        Time has changed lots of things..including the values of kids.
        On ething I knew, filipino children have a colorful childhood,Its unique,strong & yet challenging.
        Have you seen kids wearing only rubber slippers & almost torn backpacks? But when you see them, they are out there..smiling, studying hard, so active in school..enjoying life.
        Ah Estelea, You have a wonderful journey in Ph..you could even write a book about your whole Ph-expedition 🙂

    1. Thanks a lot 🙂 Those kids know more about Disaster Risk Reduction than me, they are really impressive! I guess it must be the same in Japan notably, they need to know how to react to natural disasters as young as possible ..

    1. She has been rehearsing for days and days. ANd it was definitely worth it, it was actually beautifully done and very touching. ANd thanks God my waterproof mascara was worth the investment 😉

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