BEING old is not a reason not to pursue a dream in life. This was the point of 83-year-old Pedro Belarmino in taking a baking course under the Manila Manpower Development Center (MMDC) of the Estrada administration. Belarmino, or “Manong, Pete,” as he is fondly called by his classmates and neighbors in Tondo, led the 1,189 new graduates of the MMDC.
Despite being 83, Manong Pete confidently said he is considering a “career” in bread making. He must be very proud of himself because aside from a diploma he got after finishing the 20-day baking program, he was also awarded as an “Outstanding Old Trainee” during MMDC graduation ceremonies last March 31 at the Rizal Avenue Sports Complex.
The free training program being given by the MMDC has been part of the many projects of Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada since 2013.
MMDC data showed that an average of 6,000 Manileños a year were able to study and finish at least one of the nine MMDC courses such as baking, barista, hotel and restaurant services, massage therapy, cooking and food processing, garment trade, fashion jewelry making, unisex haircutting and beauty care.
During the graduation rites, Estrada said, “Sa pamamagitan ng programang ito ay natuturuan natin ang mga Manilenyo ng kasanayan sa negosyo o trabaho. Ito ay susi para sa mas magandang buhay para sa inyo at para sa mas maunlad na Lungsod ng Maynila.
Kaya sa lahat ng graduates natin… Congratulations! Ito na po ang umpisa ng magandang bukas para sa inyo at inyong pamilya. [Through this program, we were able to teach Manileños the capacity to put up a business or apply for a job. This is a key for a good life for you and for a much developed Manila. Thus, to all our graduates, congratulations! This must be the start of the good life for all of you and your families].”
According to the MMDC trainor, GerlieEscueta, “Age was not a hindrance to Manong Pete since he was very much eager to learn new things. He told me before that he wanted to study to get new ideas. Later, he could share what he learned from the MMDC training.”
Escueta said Manong Pete must be very happy and proud of himself for the new things he learned despite being more than 80 years old already.
Out of 1,189 graduates, 32 received honor awards. Most of them got their on-the-job training (OJT) through the help of MMDC’s partners such as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority as well as companies located in the city, while other graduates have decided to put up their own businesses.