Stories of Change

Gift of partnerships for public schools

 April 3, 2018    

Contributed by Jonathan Mongcal


Cagayan de Oro City — CheckMySchool started in Cagayan de Oro in 2015. Its volunteers are members of the Citizen’s Watch for Good Governance (CWGG). In this article, CMS coordinator Jonathan Mongcal tells the story of sustained partnerships for an initiative they started as an outreach in 2016.



29920490_10215880413631618_929426456_n CMS student-volunteers from CWGG hand school supplies to kindergarten pupils of Kiam-is Elementary School in CDO.


It took years to understand and put into practice the social accountability framework. We had to go through this learning process to effectively deal with the local government units and school authorities.


Our first experience in CMS Cycle 5 was a mix of fear and excitement. We were worried about how we will be received by the schools as a third party monitoring team. What would be their reaction to our presence? With these in mind, we felt we were being challenged. What lies ahead as we gather data on the issues and concerns of the schools?


A few schools were not enthusiastic when we approached them, but majority of the school authorities we talked to appreciated our role as a third party monitor.


Children coming to class without breakfast and school supplies was the common problem raised by the teachers during our school visits. We reported this to the Division Office along with other school issues we gathered. Seeing the situation of the pupils in schools within poverty-stricken communities, we felt that we need to do more.


During the CMS Cycle 6 in 2016, our group decided to adopt a school to address the need for school supplies. Hence, the SAGIFT Aral Project was born.


The term “SaGIFT” is a translation from the Tagalog word sagip (save/rescue). We changed “gip” to GIFT as we consider the school supplies and our entire effort as our gifts to them.



Picture1 The Kiwanis Club Macajalar Bay of Cagayan de Oro during the activity on July 24, 2017 at Palalan Elementary School.


CWGG belongs to the volunteer sector group. We don’t have resources and funds to finance the project. What we have are linkages and networks, which we established by promoting CMS among the civil society organizations (CSOs) and friends in the field.


One of our reliable partners for SAGIFT is the Kiwanis International Macajalar Bay of Cagayan de Oro. We started the partnership through their outreach coordinator, Mila Zaballero-Abesamis. In one meeting, she told me, “Iapil mi sa inyong project, Sir Bong.” (Include us in your project, Sir Bong.)


I eventually tapped them for SaGIFT. They financed the distribution of schools supplies and backpacks for three schools: Palalan, Linangohan, and Kamakawan elementary schools in CDO.



Picture1 Group photo during the SaGIFT Aral Project sponsored by CMS student-volunteers from CWGG. Their beneficiaries were kindergarten pupils of Kiam-is Elementary School in CDO.


In 2017, the CMS student-volunteers of Tagoloan Community College (TCC), who are Community Development and Sociology majors, also joined. They took the initiative to adopt the kindergarten class of Kiam-is Elementary School. From their daily allowance, they saved an amount to buy school supplies.


(Read the story of one of CMS student-volunteers: Ang Aking Kwento ng Pagbabago)


“We will never forget the smile on every child’s face during the SaGIFT activity in our school. You can tell by their gestures that it was their first time to receive gifts,” said Principal Loreto Llaban of Linangohan ES.



30118764_10215880402311335_2009217994_n The graduating batch of the PNP Regional Training Center 10 at G.L. Reyes Anhawon Elementary School giving meals to pupils of G.L. Reyes Anhawon Elementary School as part of their outreach program.


CMS also received help from Jeanette Marie Sanchez-Sordevilla, Chief of Academics of the PNP Regional Training Center Region 10. Her group adopted and G.L. Reyes Anhawon Elementary School as part of the community outreach program of the graduating batch.


SaGIFT Aral Project is now a yearly activity of the CMS Cagayan de Oro. We continue building partnerships with organizations that share the same advocacy with CMS. With this, we are in high hopes that this initiative will help more pupils in poor and disadvantaged public schools.


The call for social responsibility is a choice. If we work together, we can have a loving and peaceful community that puts premium on the education of its children.




If there’s any issue, problem or anything that you think needs improvement in your school, let us know if CMS can help. Go to

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