MANILA - Andrei Ann Palomar never expected she would be working on a project again with her high school classmates, eight years since they graduated.
Earlier this year, Palomar enlisted the help of 8 of her classmates from Laguna College for a donation drive that would provide paper supply to public schools in San Pablo City. By mid-July, they launched the initiative "Makipapel."
Palomar said the project was inspired by her father, who also donated supplies to public schools in San Pablo.
"I wanted to help, too, but I know I can't do it alone so I messaged my high school friends and they were immediately on board with the plan," Palomar, a law student at San Beda University, said in an interview.
"Having been fortunate enough to be able to study, we would like to help both the students and the teachers who want to continuously learn in the middle of the pandemic," she said.
In the past months, school heads and teachers have been seeking paper supply donations for the printing of self-learning modules, which students, especially those who are unable to attend online classes, need for the new school year.
By August, "Makipapel" was able to gather over 200 reams of A4 paper, which were donated to the Department of Education's division office in San Pablo as well as public schools in the city.
"We created social media accounts, messaged potential sponsors, and also sought help from our friends and families in promoting our advocacy," said Palomar.
Palomar shared that the project was also a way for her to reconnect with her high school friends. Some of them have been working, mostly as engineers, while others are pursuing further studies.
"We've never thought that after several years from high school, we will still be working on a project together," she said.
Makipapel also gets paper from a local supplier in San Pablo, said Palomar, stressing the need to support local business.
Palomar said they plan to donate paper to schools outside San Pablo City if they receive more donors and get more volunteers.
"We are all aware that the problem of lack of resources necessary for the upcoming school year is a nationwide issue," she said.
The DepEd has given school division offices P9 billion to fund the provision of learning resources, including printed modules.
But education officials have admitted that funding from the agency was insufficient but can be supplemented through other means, such as the Special Education Fund of local governments and donations gathered from the altered Brigada Eskwela.
When classes in public schools start on October 5, most students will be learning from their homes through modules, online classes, television and radio.
In-person classes have been suspended pending the availability of a vaccine against COVID-19, which has infected more than 238,000 in the country.