Graduates of the Baking and Pastry Production Program

The women of Barangay Mangingisda, Puerto Princesa City could not contain their excitement as 15 of them received their completion certificates for the Bread and Pastry Production program from Marilou Canoy Olpos Foundation Learning Center (MCOFLC) and got their accreditation from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) during their graduation ceremony on February 15. 

These young ladies are the pioneering graduates of the MCOFLC, a homegrown learning center that aims to bring education to those who cannot afford to study in the city proper.  For some of these young women, this was their first time to bake a cake or make pan de sal.  They can now use these skills to find job or start their own small business someday. 

This small learning center started on September 3, 2020, with seven dedicated staff and a clear directive mission and guidance from their benefactor, who founded the center as a response to the growing needs of the community that emerged during the pandemic. TESDA arranged a formal agreement with MCOFLC in November 2020 to offer accredited trainings at the center. 

The center also marked a milestone by signing a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with SITEL Palawan as their partner on the same day. The agreement stated that MCOFLC graduates will be given a chance to be interviewed as potential SITEL employees and trainees.  SITEL will also support the center in helping high school and college students develop their English reading and writing skills.

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“Sa mga gustong magpa-interview, puwede kayong lumapit sa SITEL para ma-assess kayo. Huwag kayong mag-aalala kung hindi kayo magaling mag-English, kasi ite-train din kayo,” said Pastor Danilo Cortez, MCOFLC Chief of Operations, during the graduation ceremony.

Cortez further encouraged the graduates to never stop learning and grab training opportunities, such as the upcoming scaffolding, welding, dress making, and bookkeeping trainings. He also thanked SITEL for coming to Mangingisda to do job interviews.

On the following day, SITEL interviewed 19 applicants where two were found to have great potential for employment as call center agents while 16 were ready for further training.  

Desktop computers at the MCOFLC facility.

Chief Executive Officer Jasper Brix Olpos, the youngest son of Hector and the late Marilou Canoy Olpos, said his uncle and mentor established the center in honor of his mother Marilou Canoy Olpos with the aim of emulating his late mother’s advocacy for education for the disadvantaged. The MCOFLC, besides other goals, is also aiming to have its own trainers, since they currently outsource their trainers from the Puerto Princesa School of Arts and Trade (PPSAT) and some classes are held at the city proper.

All students of the MCOFLC are scholars also receive an allowance. Currently, they attend classes online at their main facility in Brgy. Mangingisda, then proceed to the main training center in the city proper for hands-on activities.

During the graduation ceremony, students who took “How to Start a Business Class” also received a soft loan package with P5,000 from MCOFLC as initial capital for their choice of business to start. 

“Ang kagandahan ng kanilang business training ay hanggang doon din sa financial management. Kailangan sila marunong mag-monitor [sa kanilang mga gastusin],” said Pastor Cortez.

Meanwhile, MCOFLC is also collaborating with the office of Palawan 3rd District representative Gil Acosta for possible scholarship grants and other joint ventures to provide sustainable community workshop trainings. Both parties are expecting a long-term partnership for community-based trainings in that hope to benefit the people not only of Brgy. Mangingisda, but also adjacent barangays of Luzviminda, Iwahig and Inagawan.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.