A WOODEN box resting at the entrance of Santissimo Rosario Parish Chapel may look like an ordinary handmade machine. But for the poor, it may be their only hope for a better life.

The box is the ATM of the Pondo ng Pinoy (PnP), the funding project of the Archdiocese of Manila. The letters do not stand for the automated teller machine, however, but Ako’y Tuwinang Mag-aalay (ATM).

Conceptualized and built by Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) coordinator, Jun Gonzales, the modified ATM efficiently gathers donations from churchgoers outside and within the Thomasian community by encouraging them to donate 25 centavos daily.

Made of synthetic wood, the machine has three slots where coins can be dropped. One of the slits, extending from both ends of the machine, is capable of receiving the coins collectively, while the slot with a smaller crack can accommodate individual coins. The third one is a large hole built for the water bottles filled with coins.

Inside the box are four plastic canisters called “cointainers” for coins from 25 cents to ten pesos. Each cointainer can hold 100 hundred pesos in 25 centavo coins.

To assure that each cent in the box is counted, the money undergoes proper accounting before they are turned to the PnP foundation.

“We count all coins weekly before depositing it to PnP account. Every month we confirm if they receive the money,” Gonzales told the Varsitarian.

Initially aimed at relieving mass collectors of the inconvenience of manually counting the coins, Gonzales now realized his creation works for a greater purpose.

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“I’m happier knowing my invention is serving not only the kolektoras, but also the underprivileged Filipinos,” he said.

The ATM won for Gonzales the first prize of the Department of Science and Technology’s Likha Award: Outstanding Creative Research at the 2004 National Invention Contest last November 11-15 at the Philippine Trade Training Center.

At the moment, ATM is only available at the Santissimo Parish, but Gozales said the PPC is hoping to distribute replicas of the machine in other churches.

More donations

A month after its recognition, the ATM was set-up to replace a temporary collection box.

According to Gonzales, the ATM had increased the collections from P10,000 during June to September last year to P90,000 as of May 31, making the parish one of the largest contributors to the PnP because it effectively stirs people’s curiosity with its innovative and attractive design.

“I noticed that people, especially students, are excited to drop their loose change to see if the coin really goes into the right container,” he said.

He also said University’s ample population is a good opportunity to collect more contributions for PnP, especially if there will be an ATM in every college.

From ‘crumbs’ to ‘slabs’

What started as a humble project to encourage donation of “crumbs” of 25 cents to the poor recently celebrated its first anniversary with a proud accumulation of P19 million from different dioceses.

With the theme “Tungo sa Kaganapan ng Buhay: PnP—Isang Taon Ka Na,” Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales together with some 1000 participants from 14 dioceses celebrated the event last June 11 at the Paco Catholic School.

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A conference-workshop, hosted by PnP Corporate Secretary Fr. Anton Pascual, followed the mass, tackling the developments and allocations of the project.

In July of last year, Rector Fr. Tamerlane Lana, O.P., in cooperation with the Office of the Vice-Rector for Religious Affairs, introduced PnP in the University. At present, the task of collecting the donations is delegated to the Institute of Religion, Center for Campus Ministry, and the Office for Community Development. Kris P. Bayos and Mary Rose M. Pabelonia

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