Emotion welled up in our founder after seeing these photos posted by Abot Tala mentor, Joyce Buen.
Some of the furniture came from the Abot Tala center in Tres Palmas, Taguig which we closed down months after the pandemic started in March 2020. All the furniture was stored at the Gopala Learning Haven in Silang, Cavite thanks to board member, Laksmi Maluya. Everything else had to be demolished.
The arrangement at Joyce’s brought to mind the memories when Abot Tala looked like this:
Now, the length of Abot Tala’s existence online exceeds the number of months it existed offline. Missing face-to-face interactions is a stark reality we live with. However, even if virtual meetings are through Zoom and Gather Town, the relationships are as real as it gets.
Joyce thought of getting some of the items so mentees can hang out in her place in Nuvali. We’ve always dreamed of having a physical space again for Abot Tala and we don’t know when that will happen. We continue to pray for this dream to come true. Meanwhile, we can meet up in various places in and out of Metro Manila several times a month. This March 2022, we had a much-awaited, much desired, much-longed-for two-day back-to-back meet-up in a home that felt so “Abot Tala” in Teacher’s Village and at the University of the Philippines.
Of course, Abot Tala Executive Director, Owie dela Cruz can only be so ecstatic about it:
“It finally happened!!! After 2 years of spending time, doing life together online and well, being online friends, we all got to meet each other IRL!!! Oh my goodness! What a feeling! It was soooooooooo much fun! This isn’t even everyone in Abot Tala! It was just about a third of it! We have yet to meet our teens from the South soon!
“I’m glad I made an effort to step back several times to just watch everyone and bask at the moment. May the memories I took in my mind last forever.”
From Mentor Icia Encinas:
“The last two days were such a blast. I needed some time to reflect and recuperate from spending so much energy yesterday. All I know is that my body may be very exhausted but my heart is definitely so full. I got to give see the Abot Tala teens, parents, and mentors all come together in a nonvirtual space and it was amazing.
“It was such a joy to really hang out and just spend time with the people in this community. There are moments when we, as teachers, feel exhaustion, and sometimes demotivation, or we may sometimes get so lost in our own thoughts thinking we’re not making a difference in our students’ lives. But there are moments like yesterday, wherein I am affirmed in my decision that this is what I love doing. This is where I’m meant to teach, this is the community I’ve embraced.
“I cannot even begin to tell you how much love and dedication we put into building relationships with our teens.
“It’s never just the lesson plan, it’s never just the subject. It really goes beyond and is definitely so much more than that. And I would gladly do it over and over again.”
We’ll definitely have more of these meet-ups!