Harnin “KB” Manalaysay was in a mad scramble the Friday before Father’s Day weekend. Some scholarship sponsors who had committed to funding about half a dozen college student volunteers at his youth outreach organization hadn’t come through. The school year had just started, and he and senior members of Club 8586 would have to do some serious pavement pounding to gather donations to cover the shortfall.
This meant he would have to reschedule an interview – again. The week before, he had had to attend the funeral of a close friend who “was like a brother.”
“He left me an inheritance,” says Mr. Manalaysay.
What he meant is that he now looks after his friend Ron’s five children. The oldest is an accounting student on a scholarship, one of those counting on the now-lacking funds.
“They all stay with me,” he said in a recent Monitor interview. But he’s used to children living with him – he has the space at his brightly colored compound where more than a dozen children and young adults live in separate buildings, go to school, and work on education and social service projects they’ve mostly designed themselves that help other young people in need.
For the past 30 years Manalaysay has been a father figure and mentor to hundreds of youths in Cavite City, just south of Manila. In a country where a quarter to a third of the population lives below the poverty line, half the young people he has helped were out of school and on the streets – neglected, abused, or abandoned. The other half were in school but on the verge of slipping into gang life or living criminal lives, he says.
While a few have fallen by the wayside, a majority of the young people have gone on to become professionals in fields such as finance, education, marketing, and psychology, Manalaysay says.