Meet Alvin Colliado, a SPED teacher at Southcom Elementary School. Read his story and how he, together with other teachers and volunteers, helped the people who were directly affected by the armed conflict in Zamboanga.
While the city was pinned down by acts of insurgency, teachers from different schools gathered together with the same vision: to help the people who were directly affected by the armed conflict, and to build Zamboanga again. “Among ourselves, gusto naming tumulong pero hindi namin alam kung saan mag-uumpisa,” Mr. Alvin Colliado, a Special Education teacher at the Southcom Elementary School, started. He said that there was hesitation on their part because they were all tense -- they felt like they were walking on thin ice as the armed conflict persisted. He explained, “The fact that we are teachers and, at the same time, Scouts, ayaw naming kami pa ang i-entertain doon. What would we do? We are on pins and needles; it will be hard for us if we are identified. But when Sir Pete mentioned his idea of helping people. Ayan na. Naglabasan na kami na gusto maglingkod.” Zamboanga Schools Division Superintendent Pete Natividad tapped the Boy Scouts of the Philippines and moved an army of volunteers, teachers and students alike, to help the people in evacuation centers. Led by Teacher Alvin, the volunteers went to Zamboanga National City High School – Main (ZNCHS) to help the internally-displaced persons. “As part of our responsibility as citizens of Zamboanga, we should help these people. Noong inumpisahan na naming saluhin ang mga bata mula sa dump trucks, we felt that it was the real thing. Doon na nag-sink in: These people need us as volunteers. They need us, especially the victims,” Teacher Allan said. Despite being near the armed skirmishes, they served the people in the center. At first, they assisted in getting the names of the people staying in the center. But when they saw a 10-day old baby wrapped in towel, without proper clothing, they stepped up and called out for donations from friends, co-teachers, and other families living in Zamboanga. They even posted the call-out on their Facebook accounts for faster dissemination of information. “Lahat kami na nagse-serve doon, gusto nang umiyak. These babies have no milk. They have no feeding bottle. Kapag tinanong ang nanay, “Ano ang pinapainom?” Breastmilk at tubig daw. It’s very sad. That’s when we started calling out for donations.” What they received overwhelmed them. Day-in and day-out, they assisted in the dissemination of donations they got from Zamboangueños. “What’s nice about this is, you’ll see how Zamboanguenos work. Wala kaming hiningi (mula sa labas). You’ll see most of the help came from the community itself. It’s like building the city through the community itself, through the help of the people living here. Kahit mga ordinaryong tao, nagbibigay ng tulong,” he said. He added that it was liberating to be of service to fellow Zamboangueños during a crisis like this. "When we work together, anything is possible."