Muntinlupa City, the Philippines, 27 November 2017—During the 2017 Miss World Crowing Ceremonies in Sanya China, Fr. Marciano ‘Rocky’ Evangelista SDB of Tuloy sa Don Bosco Street Children Village in the Philippines, was presented with the World Humanitarian Award. The event was broadcast live to more than 1.5 billion people in 160 countries. At some point in the program, two child protégés of YouTube fame, sang the song ‘You Raised Me Up.’ As the song played on, a video of some of the kids from Tuloy was shown. These smiling kids were seen wearing their uniforms bearing the name of Don Bosco. When the Rector Major visited Tuloy in March of 2016, he was moved to say that wherever he would go he would “speak about Tuloy and the wonderful things he had seen especially the smiling faces.” Well the Miss World Competition had just helped him out in doing this. Julia Morley who is the prime mover in redefining what beauty contests should be, is the present Chair of the Miss World Competition. She has been going around the world reaching out where humanitarian relief efforts are being done. Behind this experience was born the decision to award Fr. Rocky and Tuloy Foundation.
Early on in the competition, Ms. India got to meet Fr. Rocky and ask for his blessing which he happily bestowed. Imagine the excitement when she finally won. She will soon visit Tuloy as had the previous 5 winners. Fr. Rocky is the founder and president of the Tuloy Foundation. Starting with 12 kids at the St. John Bosco parish grounds in 1993 the Foundation now cares for about a thousand kids in a 4.5 hectare lot in Muntinlupa City. One unique aspect about this apostolate is the central role and participation of the lay people without whom Tuloy Foundation would not have become what it is today.
From kids who were scavenging for food in rubbish bins they have produced chefs for hotels in the Philippines and abroad (like the Four Seasons Hotel in Dubai to name one). From kids who sniffed solvents they produced rugby players for the National Rugby Team of the Philippines. From street kids running away from life they produced Kids who competed in the most prestigious ballet completion in the world (in Lausanne Switzerland) winning ballet scholarships in Germany and France. From kids flown in from war zones they raised extra-ordinary soccer players. And we have not begun to mention how the industries appreciate the graduates of their vocational training courses. The list just goes on and on and we can only say “what wonderful things the Lord has done.” Just as the Father has raised up his son Jesus, so too they labor to raise up the least, the lost and the lonely children of the streets.
The Educative Pastoral program in this community is a program of GODLINESS that envisions redeeming the young from helplessness and empowering them towards the choice for good. Tuloy sa Don Bosco takes in kids from 9 to 17 years old. Before they are released at 18, the center makes sure that they have skills, are employed and have found their place in a society that once inadvertently marginalized them. The word “Tuloy” in Pilipino is an invitation to a guest to proceed and enter one’s house – a real image for inclusiveness and welcome.
Tuloy is not a military correctional facility or a rehabilitation hospital it is still a community of Faith, a nurturing family, an engaging educator and a place of teamwork for happy and productive memories. There is nothing romantic about working for these poor, neglected and abused children. They are not angels. But turning them into saints and heroes is like digging for diamonds and gold – you have to get your hands dirty and patiently go through tons and tons of dirt. Then one has to polish them into maturity with virtues, attitudes and learning. Finally you have to set them individually “to make a beautiful piece for the Lord”. Which as the Miss World Competition advocates, becoming a “beauty with a purpose.”
Watch it here: https://youtu.be/lNoOGn8U0ZA
by Fr. Vester Casaclang, SDB