Fine arts alumnus hikes to bring school supplies to poor kids


MON CORPUZ treks to bring school supplies in remote areas.

His advocacy began in 2008 when, upon his usual photo trips at Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao, he met children living in the mountains, kilometers away from the community school.

Their smiles and waves struck Corpuz, who then only brought some delicacies to give.

Corpuz knew that the community needed more than chocolates and candies. They needed free and sustainable access to basic school supplies.

Corpuz came back and brought along with him a bag of black pencils which the children were delighted to receive.

This led Corpuz, 38, to establish an online campaign in June 2008 where tourists, advocates, photographers and mountaineering groups could volunteer to fund school supplies for children of indigenous communities.

“[I know] that education is the best equalizer and a way for a family to break out from poverty. In far flung areas, it was inspiring to see little children interested to go to school even when if they have to trek for hours and cross rivers,” he told the Varsitarian in an interview.

The online campaign blossomed into a civilian volunteer organization campaign called “The Black Pencil Project.”

The project has worked with more than 13,000 elementary school children in 18 barrio schools all over the country. It has established networks in different cultural communities in the country such as the Ifugao of the Cordilleras, Ivatans of Batanes, Mangyans of Mindoro, Tidurays of Maguindanaos, among others.

It now promotes a “volunTourism” program where volunteers are welcome to experience cultural immersion in project communities, lead pencil collection drives and deliver the school supplies to mountains.

This is, however, not Corpuz’s first charitable work.

While he was studying in UST as a scholar, he assisted and taught indigent children adopted by the University which earned him the St. Martin de Porres award.

“One doesn’t have to be rich to help a person in need.There’s no monopoly in charity,” Corpuz said. “Start small but dream big. Dream for others, start with a pencil.”

When not working on the project, Corpuz, a fine arts alumnus, works at the media investment company GroupM Philippines as director of user experience research and design.

“I’d like to think that the advocacy is somehow connected to what I do offline. I’m extremely lucky that the company I work with let me do my missions on the sides,” Corpuz said.


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