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We would like to take this opportunity to honor one of our Real Life heroes… Ferdie Cabiling. To celebrate his 50th birthday, he is running 50km a day for almost 50 days, running the length of the Philippines — from Sarangani to Aparri — to help raise funds for the scholars of Real LIFE Foundation!
Who would do such a crazy thing, you ask??? I guess that’s why they call him #TheRunningPastor…
As Ferdie likes to say, “I run because I can. And I run for those who can’t.”
One of those who can’t is his son, John Philip, who at 4 months old was diagnosed with Sturge-Weber Syndrome. He has gone through a battery of tests and injections, and Ferdie considers him as the most courageous boy he has ever known. Due to his seizures and the effects of the syndrome, he limps when he walks because the arch of his right foot has collapsed. Despite that, he would always attempt to run anyway. Says this proud father, “He is my constant inspiration when I run.”
In 2011, Ferdie was part of a team of 5 ultrarunners who ran the 102km Bataan Death March Ultramarathon to help raise funds and awareness for Real LIFE Foundation. In 2012, he completed the even more gruelling 160km Bataan Death March ultramarathon. This year, he decided to create his own ultra-ultra-ultramarathon and run the entire 2,200km length of the Philippines, running 50km per day from Sep 5 – Oct 26, only “resting” every Sunday as he finds a nearby church to preach in or a local government unit to pray for.
Ferdie knew he would need to have something to motivate him during the endless stretches of the Philippine National Highway as he starts running every day around 3am, so he decided to dedicate his run to both his son, John Philip, and the scholars of the Real LIFE Foundation. He calls it #Run50 — running 50km per day for almost 50 days to commemorate his 50th year of life. His goal: to raise P1,000 for every km he runs, for the duration of his Run Across the Philippines.
If you would like to support the Running Pastor’s #Run50, please visit: www.igivetolife.com/run50.
THANK YOU, Running Pastor, for your big heart (and superhuman legs!) to empower the dreams of our scholars!!!
On June 6, we held our 2015 Real LIFE Scholar Orientation for all of our high school and university scholars from the National Capitol Region (NCR) at Victory Malate. This year, we have 97 university and 27 high school scholars, for a total of 124 NCR scholars. In addition, we have another 123 university and 14 high school scholars in the rest of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, for a national total of 261 Real LIFE scholars!
The vision of Real LIFE Foundation is “Transforming lives, families and communities through hope and education.” We believe education is the most powerful means of equipping someone to lift themselves out of poverty. As Jonas, one of our Real LIFE scholars shares, education is “the only way I will reach my dreams”:
Many things happened in my life. I experienced being with my brother in the public market to gather cardboard. I walked miles away just to collect garbage such as plastic bottles, plastic cups, cans and other things that can be sold. I kept all those filthy things and sold them to the junk shop if there was enough to sell. During that time, I saw and experienced the fruits of poverty. When I was studying in elementary, I had a big dream that someday I will be rich and lift my family out of poverty. The only thing I did was study because this is the only way I will reach my dreams.
Now, through the help of Real LIFE Foundation and our generous partners, Jonas is entering the second year of his degree in BS Civil Engineering at Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP). He adds,
Because of Real LIFE Foundation, I was able to afford all my expenses in school, even my transportation and food during my first year of college. All the things Real LIFE Foundation has given me are really helpful and I am so grateful for the opportunity to go to university. (Jonas, Real LIFE scholar)
Thank you to everyone who partners with us to empower the dreams of our scholars… Thank you for giving to LIFE!
by: Lynn Nawata (Executive Director)
Last May 18-22, Real LIFE Foundation was blessed to be the recipient of a training grant from the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) Foundation of the Philippines to conduct the first ever Train-the-Trainer for a new curriculum called, “Journeys.”
Journeys is the brainchild of Victoria Jeffs, the founder & Executive Director of Day 2 International in Colorado Springs, US. Journeys is also the sequel to CrossRoads — the core program for our LIFE Skills program which provides practical skills development training to our Real LIFE scholars and covers subjects such as: How to find your purpose, How to build healthy relationships, and How to develop emotional intelligence. According to Maslow, less than 2% of the population ever achieves self-actualization…or what we would call fulfilling your purpose. The goal of CrossRoads and Journeys is to equip people to break poverty mindsets and fulfill their God-given purpose.
The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. (Mark Twain)
Twelve Real LIFE staff and Area Coordinators from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao were certified to teach Journeys to our scholars during the Train-the-Trainer, which builds on the foundation of CrossRoads but digs deeper into topics such as: Multi-dimensional thinking, How to manage conflict, and How to forgive.
Real LIFE is grateful to Million Dollar Round Table Foundation for making it possible for us to be able to provide this life-changing, transformational curriculum to our Real LIFE scholars. Our goal is to give our scholars every opportunity to succeed not only in school…but in LIFE! Special thanks also to Miss Victoria Jeffs for sharing her life’s work with us!
by: Lynn Nawata, Executive Director
We celebrated the achievements of another 41 Real LIFE scholar graduates this past April 8, 2015 at our 11th Real LIFE Scholar Graduation!
From the time Doc Joey Castro and his wife, Tita Tess, started the “LIFE Scholarships” program back in 2003 — and with the help of thousands of amazing volunteers & supporters — Real LIFE Foundation has produced close to 300 university & vocational graduates.
Amongst our 41 Real LIFE graduates this year, 3 graduated “Magna Cum Laude” and 2 graduated “Cum Laude.” Here is an excerpt from the speech of our 2015 Real LIFE Valedictorian, Elaine Quidato:
It’s the everlasting power of God that picks us up each time we fall, that empowers us when we feel dry and it is His love that completes us when we are shattered by our situations. Remember, it’s not the past circumstances that could dictate your future. It is the present power and grace that God has given you today that could lead you to the way of the brightest of the future. Just trust Him and I tell you, nothing will be impossible.
To all of our incredible and dedicated Area Coordinators, LIFE coaches, volunteers & supporters — and on behalf of the graduating class of 2015 — Thank you for helping us Empower Dreams… and Thank you for giving to LIFE!!!
To find out how you can provide a good education & a better future for a Real LIFE scholar, please visit our website at: www.igivetolife.com/give/adopt.
by Lynn Nawata
One of our goals in Real LIFE Foundation is to motivate and mobilise people to help others. And one of our favourite ways of doing this is through what we call the “Helping Others Tour.” This is a 7-day, all-inclusive tour that combines learning modules about compassion ministries, opportunities to volunteer in the programs of Real LIFE Foundation, as well as customised tours of Manila — it’s our take on “voluntourism”…!
We hosted our third “Helping Others Tour” from January 14-21, 2015 with an awesome team from EN Auckland church in New Zealand. The team, composed mostly of high school students, spent a meaningful week being introduced to the programs of Real LIFE Foundation, bonding with our Real LIFE scholars and staff, learning about the culture & history (and food!) of the Philippines, riding jeepneys and tricycles, and volunteering at Habitat for Humanity & our Real LIFE feeding program in Pasig City.
This is what 18-year old tour participant, Mani, said after meeting one of our Real LIFE scholars, JC:
The boy in the middle changed my whole perspective on being faithful with the little things :’) His name is JC…he lives with only his mother, doesn’t have the biggest house around…but has one of the biggest hearts because through all the struggles…he has a Real LIFE scholarship that not only has helped him financially with each day but also provides him with decent meals daily plus giving him an opportunity to know God. The struggle is real in the Philippines, not here in NZ. The Helping Others Tour has changed my life…
Cheers to our amazing Kiwi brothers & sisters…thank you for having such huge hearts for our scholars! As we always say… Helping Others Never Goes Out of Style!!!
by Lynn Nawata
Our 7th annual Race for LIFE was our biggest ever with more than 8,600 registrants in Manila and another 1,600 in Clark, Pampanga! This was also our first time to hold our race in Roxas Boulevard, since we have already outgrown Bonifacio Global City.
This year’s Race for LIFE once again saw more buddies — including more kids and more dogs — than ever before. Our fun run is really “FUN” and the emphasis is, as our tagline goes… “BE A BUDDY, HELP SOMEBUDDY.”
Some people may think that they can’t really make a difference in this world, but just by participating in our Race for LIFE fun run, you make it possible for us to provide a good education for countless Real LIFE scholars every year!
So thank you & maraming salamat to everyone who ran, walked, crawled, pushed strollers, brought dogs, volunteered, served & gave…you indeed made a difference in the lives of our scholars!
Thank you also to our awesome corporate race sponsors: Evian, Pocari Sweat, Petron, Lifestyle Network, Ceres Juice, Century Tuna, PLDT, Tutuban Mall, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Philippines, Nike Park, Crocs, and Color Manila!
See you at Race for LIFE 2015 on November 30 (Bonifacio Day)!!!
This past October 27-29, we held our fourth annual National Real LIFE Scholar’s Conference in Manila. This is the only time during the year when we can gather all of our 200+ scholars from all across the Philippines for a great time of equipping, encouragement & fellowship.
This year’s conference included keynote speakers: Rachel Ong (Servant Leadership), Steve Murrell (Integrity), Ferdie Cabiling (Faith) and Nixon Ng (Excellence). Other special sessions included men’s & women’s breakout sessions with Joseph & Carla Bonifacio and times of ministry, prayer and worship for our scholars.
One of the highlights of the 3-day conference, as always, was our “REAL Amazing Race” at UP Diliman. Ten teams of 20+ scholars each battled through rain, mud, water balloons & numerous obstacles and puzzles in our toughest (and wettest!) Amazing Race ever!
In the end, our scholars were most blessed by encouragement they received and the friendships they formed with their co-scholars during the course of the conference.
T’was a great 3-day national conference. Not just me but every scholar who went to this event. Blessed to see a lot of students who were able to study because Real LIFE answered what God called them to do.
(KC, Real LIFE Scholar)
To everyone who supports Real LIFE Foundation, thank you for making it possible for us to not only send them to school, but also to bless them with events like our National Scholars Conference!!!
Posted by: Lynn Nawata (Executive Director)
I still remember when Jefferson first became a Real LIFE scholar in 2011. He approached me at our Scholar Orientation, shook my hand, and kept thanking me and saying, “It’s a miracle! It’s a miracle!”
A “miracle” for Jefferson was being able to go to university.
Jefferson grew up in a slum in Tondo, Manila, one of the poorest areas in the Philippines. His home does not have electricity or running water. But Jefferson clung to the promise of Jeremiah 29:11, that God had “hope and a future” for him.
For Jefferson, becoming a Real LIFE scholar meant more than just getting his tuition and fees sponsored, it meant the assurance of a daily meal allowance and, more than that, a chance at a better future.
Real LIFE Foundation was established in 2007 with a mission to serve the poor and empower their dreams through educational assistance, character development and community service. With the help of our generous partners, Real LIFE has awarded more than 1,000 annual scholarships and produced more than 200 university graduates.
Without the scholarship, said Jefferson, “I don’t know what is my future. My parents cannot provide money for my tuition fee to continue my college degree, but thank you because [Real LIFE partners] are there to support me. Thank you because you give me hope to continue to fight for life.”
This past April, Jefferson achieved his dream of graduating from university with a degree in BS Information Technology. What once seemed a complete impossibility due to his family’s lack of finances, has now come to pass. Says, Jeff:
“I thank God because there is Real LIFE foundation, sponsors and donors who became my stepping stone. Without them, my dream would remain only as a dream, it’s impossible to come true. I thank God because he set a plan for me, a plan to prosper me not to harm me, a plan that gives me hope and a future.”
Now, Jefferson has a new and bigger dream: a dream to honor God with his life and lift his family out of poverty. “After I graduate,” says Jefferson, “I want to have a good job with a great salary. And when I have that, I will be able to support my parents financially. I want to become a channel of blessing to my family. I want to support my younger brothers and sister in their school allowance and projects. I want to renovate our house and put electricity inside of it.”
Besides financial support, every Real LIFE scholar also receives “LIFE coaching” in Leadership, Integrity, Faith and Excellence. Our goal is not just to provide scholars with an education, but to produce young men and women of godly character who will become leaders in their communities and in the nation of the Philippines. We are already beginning to see this come to pass in Tondo, where Jefferson has now become a role model for the young children in his neighborhood who have seen that the dream of getting a university degree and a better life is, with God’s help, a possibility.
Jefferson’s greatest vision now is “to become salt and light in my community. That everybody will see God in my life, that they will see how God can transform life, from a non-valuable person into a valuable and successful person. I want to share my testimony to represent God’s glory. I want to become a missionary who shares the gospel and makes disciples. I want to change somebody else’s life like how God changed my old life into a Real LIFE.”
by Lynn Nawata (Executive Director)
On April 8 & 9, 2014, we held our second Real LIFE Scholar Graduation “Mystery Tour.” We told our 50 Real LIFE scholars who graduated from university this year to pack an overnight bag… but we didn’t tell them where they were going or what they would be doing for the two days of our “Mystery Tour”…!
Scholar Graduation is always one of the biggest highlights of the year for us, and every year we try to make it an extra special experience for our Real LIFE scholars who have persevered and overcome so much just to be able to finish their education.
So, after flying and bussing in our provincial scholars to Manila, we gathered all our graduates at Victory Alabang where they were greeted with their first surprise — an Amazing Race (Grad Edition!)
Our graduates were divided into 5 teams and each team was given a van, a driver, a budget of P700, and a set of instructions. Their first task was to complete a giant picture puzzle, which revealed that the venue for our graduation (and their Amazing Race destination) was Tagaytay!
The five teams set off on their race, completing tasks such as: counting all the gas stations between Alabang and Tagaytay; taking a group photo in front of Taal Lake in Tagaytay; finding the Krispy Kreme donut shop in Tagaytay and buying and eating one donut each (remembering to share with their drivers and team marshals!); and buying one pineapple from a roadside vendor and carving it up and eating it when they arrived at our grad venue, the Pina Colina resort in Tagaytay.
The biggest surprise of the Amazing Race, however, was reserved for the teams’ stop at PayLess Shoes on the way to Tagaytay. Our graduates assumed it was just the venue for another race task but were totally surprised and overjoyed when they learned that, through the generosity of one of our awesome Real LIFE partners (and a 25% discount extended by PayLess Shoes), each of them would be able to choose one pair of new shoes they can use for their job interviews and future work…!!!
After completing the Amazing Race, we held our Real LIFE Scholar Graduation Banquet at Pina Colina Resort. All of us were inspired by the moving testimonies of three of our graduates, including our 2014 Real LIFE valedictorian, Charol Gacu, who graduated Cum Laude from Batangas State University. Here is a brief excerpt from Charol’s valedictory speech:
Now, I have graduated with a degree in BS Accountancy and I don’t know how to thank God. He gave me so much favor. I am so thankful to my family who is always there praying for me, encouraging me and inspiring me a lot…especially my mother. Besides that God gave me people who really blessed me, mentored and encouraged me. He answered my prayer to have on the-job-training in the Central Bank of the Philippines. I can’t imagine that after all the rocky mountains, here it is, a dream that became a reality. I have learned in my journey that “no matter what happened, kapit ka lang kay God, huwag kang bumitaw”. Truly apart from Him I can do nothing. Keep on dreaming big and entrust it to God because 100 % He will turn it into a reality, for nothing is impossible to Him.
The next day, our graduates were treated to a pizza lunch at Yellow Cab Pizza in Tagaytay and then their final, super duper mega surprise…a trip to Enchanted Kingdom!!! There were screams of delight and dancing for joy when they found out they were all going to the EK theme park, thanks again to another very generous Real LIFE partner. It was a perfect ending to a very memorable 2014 Graduation.
Thanks again to everyone who gave so generously to sponsor our scholars through our “Adopt-a-Scholar” program and our “Empowering Dreams” campaign on Indiegogo…we could not do what we do without you!
As a youth, Ram’s biggest ambition was to become a tricycle driver. The youngest of six children of a poor farmer in the southernmost island of Mindanao, he grew up seeing all five of his elder siblings forced to stop schooling due to lack of finances.
He knew that education was the key to a better life, so he pressed his father to let him continue his studies after high school. Instead, his father gave Ram the money to go to Manila, telling him: “Go to Manila and try to find a better future there. Find work and finish your education so you can achieve your dreams, because your mother and I can’t afford to send you to university.”
Ram did go to Manila, working first as a construction worker and then in a fast food restaurant, but he never gave up his dream of finishing his education. He was able to enroll in university with the help of a scholarship from the fast food company, but the long hours he had to work every night to earn his living meant he went to school exhausted, often falling asleep in class. Bullied by other students, Ram would hide in the restroom of a nearby shopping mall during lunch hour just so his classmates would not be able to see that he didn’t have any food to eat.
Around this time, Ram became sick and a doctor discovered a large cyst in his side. The cost of surgery to remove the cyst was 90,000 pesos (approx. US $ 2,000) – an impossibly large sum for someone who didn’t even have enough money to buy lunch. As a result of his sickness, he lost his job and his scholarship.
But what looked like the end of his dream was actually the turning point in his journey. A friend invited Ram to attend a youth service at Victory Fort and he came to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Although a new Christian at the time, he asked God to heal him. And then he experienced his miracle. He couldn’t feel the cyst anymore and when he went back to his doctor to check it out, the doctor could not find any evidence of the cyst!
Shortly after his healing, Ram applied for and received a scholarship from Real LIFE Foundation that allowed him to continue his studies. The daily allowance he received with his scholarship finally removed the stress of not having anything to eat at lunchtime. More than that, the mentoring he received from Real LIFE in Leadership, Integrity, Faith and Excellence gave him new confidence. He became a leader in one of his school’s student organizations and the students that formerly bullied him became his best friends.
This April, Ram will achieve his dream of getting his degree in B.S. Information Technology from STI Fort Bonifacio. He is the first person in his family to graduate from university and he already has a job lined up after graduation.
Says Ram, “God is so good. Before my dream was just to be a tricycle driver, but He had a better plan prepared for me. Now He has enlarged my dreams – my goals now are to work abroad, to have a big house, and to be successful so I can help Real LIFE help young people like me to finish their education and fulfill their dreams.”