Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Outstanding 12-yr-old tour guide "Andoy"


Feeling a bit cold and out of place in his denim puruntong shorts and a simple shirt, a 12-old Andoy Dalimag seemed more suited for a romp at a popular mall than a visit to the Senate.

As best as he could, he tried not to mind the freezing breath of the air-conditioning at the Session Hall and offered a polite smile to strangers that filled it. Even without speaking or telling of his life story, he sat wide-eyed in the gallery and all the while, giving off an aura of quiet dignity.

Andoy was invited by Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon as his guest after learning of his success story as the youngest of four teen aged tourist guides in Penablanca, Cagayan Province.

The Grade Six student explained that two years ago, he had taken on the challenge of qualifying for a tourist guide training program in their town. He proudly said that of the original 24 from his batch that had qualified for training, he was among the top four that was included in their town's official roster of tourist guides.

"Being a tourist guide is fun and is almost just like playing. I don't really do it for money because I am saving all that I am earning in a bank account so I can use it for college tuition. It's something I like doing because my town has a great tourist attraction plus I get to meet and learn from the people I tour," says Andoy who tours people to Callao Cave .

The seven-chambered Callao Caves boast of massive limestone and other rock formations, skylights, and a chapel. It is one of the best known tourist attractions of the Cagayan Province .

Senator Gordon, who met with the boy and his father at his office in the Senate, said that he found the boy's story worth sharing with others.

"For Andoy, tourism isn't just a job. It is about discovering what is best in themselves and what is best in their homeland. It is about building pride of place and communicating that to the world," said Gordon.

After asking about what Andoy wanted to do with the money he earned, Gordon was surprised to learn that the young boy was saving his money for college and that he wanted to study law one day, perhaps at the University of the Philippines .

Gordon assured him of a college scholarship and told him about a bill he had filed that would give children like him a better chance at finishing school.

"Andoy is fortunate because he has qualified for a job program in his town.. But there are millions of children like Andoy who are not as fortunate but have the ambition of earning a college education. This is the reason why we filed the Health and Education Acceleration Program or the Text for Change Bill," said Gordon.

Logged as Senate Bill (SB) 2402, has gained legislative and executive support, notably by House Speaker Prospero Nograles and Finance Secretary Margarito Teves. It has also elicited wide support among several non-governmental organizations.

Under SB 2402, also known as the Health and Education Acceleration Program (HEAP), the funds needed for the country's education and health care requirements would be taken from the estimated two billion local text messages sent daily.

The special HEAP funds to be managed by a HEAP Corporation shall however be sourced from the annual net revenues of the telecommunication companies, thereby the brunt shall not be passed on to ordinary consumers.

"We hope that Andoy will bring this good news to children in his hometown. This is really a gift will keep on giving, not just on Christmas but every month of the year and for years to come," said Gordon.

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