Helping Children Develop

We're here to improve education of disadvantaged young people in the Philippines.

Congratulations to the following
Vodafone World of Difference Winners

Les Pruszynski



I'm really pleased to have been chosen to take part in Vodafone's World of Difference programme.



Lucia Gil



A special thank you to Lucia Gil who joined SIKAT in October 2011 as a volunteer Project Manager. Lucia has been a great asset to SIKAT and a great help in supporting the chairwoman's daily task and administration works.

Lucia's dedication and passion in donating her skills, time, experience, knowledge and enthusiasm has paid off. She has been selected as a winner of the Vodafone World of Difference UK Programmme. Lucia will work for two or four months, starting March 2012, and SIKAT will be given a restricted grant, from which Lucia will get paid.

Lucia is the second person to win a two-month placement from the VODAFONE WORLD OF DIFFERENCE UK PROGRAMME.


PRESS REALEASE Issued: March 2012      

We did it again! More wonderful News for Sikat!

Following last year’s success story, we are pleased to announce that once again SIKAT’s championed volunteer has been confirmed a winner for Vodafone’s World of Difference Programme 2011. From thousands of applicants only 500 secured a placement, Lucia Gil our Volunteer Project Manager has been one of the lucky ones.  Definitely something to celebrate!

This placement is a valuable assistance to the charity and it means that for a few months, additional help will be at hand to endorse our work, as Lucia will be spending more time at Sikat.

Linda Manlises, the Chairwoman and founder of Sikat is thrilled that her charity has been given a second chance as well as having the opportunity to continue last year’s activities. In her own words:

I am very thankful to Vodafone for their participation.  I couldn’t be happier that Lucia will be spending more time with us. Now I am just counting the days! Really looking forward to start the projects”.

Linda and Lucia met whilst attending a Financial Management course and quickly realised that they had the same goals and aspirations. For instance helping others, improving people’s livelihoods or fomenting change through education are just some of their intents … some would say it was a match ‘made in heaven’.

For Lucia volunteering at Sikat was a fantastic opportunity to contribute to improve children’s prospects in life as well as giving something back:

“As a baby my parents had to flee a war torn country, although I have been lucky enough to grow up in a safe and comfortable environment I’ve been made aware from a very early age, that not all children have the same opportunities in life. Now as an adult is time to make a difference and assist those in need.”

This year’s assignment will focus on further website enhancement and the development of a small publication, possibly a newsletter or bulletin; exciting times in did!

Joseph Wood




I'm really pleased to have been chosen to take part in Vodafone's World of Difference programme. I've got an exciting challenge ahead, helping SIKAT to raise its profile and fundraising capacity. I hope I'll make a big and lasting impact on its ability to help kids in the Philippines.

Well, it looks like I’ve got a bit of catching up to do….

I’m working for Sikat. This is a recently founded and still very small charity that is working with a disadvantaged community in the Philippines to build a better secondary school.

In fact, Sikat is so new that it’s still run from the front room of its founder’s, Linda’s, home in north London – which means I’m working from home and trying not to spend too much time watching the blackbird that’s defending his patch of the lawn against all-comers.

You can imagine it probably wasn’t quite your usual charity experience when I went to visit Linda at the start of March to set some priorities for my placement, as myself and two of the trustees sat round Linda’s dinner table for a meeting over lunch. Especially as before I started I knew pretty much zero about the Philippines apart from Imelda Marcos’ rather extravagant ’80s shoe collection. So there have been a lot of unfamiliar things to get used to.

I should explain a bit about Sikat, as not many people will have heard of them. I don’t even think that many people appreciate just how many barriers there are to getting an education in the Philippines if you’re not from a wealthy background. I certainly didn’t.

Sikat was founded by Linda Manlises in 2006 to support a secondary school that had just been built for the children of her native barangay – or village (that’s one word I’ve soon got used to). Calingag is a hilly district about six miles from the nearest town, called Pinamalayan. The villagers are mostly farmers (who work other people’s land) and so their income is very seasonal. Many people there are unemployed.

The school was needed because without it the children of the village had to trek to the town to go to a massively over-full state school, where class sizes could be of 80 children or more and it was hard for the teachers even to learn their pupils’ names, let alone give them the quality of attention that I didn’t realise I was getting at school.

Linda, who lives in London, got involved with the school during a trip to visit her family in Calingag who had donated the land on which the school had been built. I’m calling it a school but really what the villagers had built was really just an open-walled bamboo shelter with banana leaves for a roof.

Seeing the school, and how pleased the children were to have somewhere in the village for them to get lessons, was enough to make Linda want to do something to help, and turn the makeshift classroom into a real school.

Right, it’s gone 8am so I’d better stop and get back to working for Sikat. I’ll come back soon with more about the school and Sikat, Linda’s experiences of growing up in Calingag which lie behind her commitment to the school, and the terror that was lurking in the classroom roof!


Issued: February 2010

Door of opportunity opens for north London Charity thanks to Vodafone World of Difference

An Islington-based charity, SIKAT, has received a welcome boost from the Vodafone Foundation's World of Difference programme.

The charity, named SIKAT after the word for “sunrise” in the Filipino Tagalog dialect, supports a school project in Calingag, a disadvantaged rural community in the Philippines province of Oriental Mindoro.

In the face of stiff competition, there were 11,000 thousand applicants for 500 places, SIKAT has won funding for a placement from this year's World of Difference programme, run by Vodafone's charitable foundation. SIKAT will use the funding to improve its public profile and re-work its website.

We really do operate on a shoestring,says founder and Chairwoman Linda Manlises, who runs the charity from her home. Our public profile has until now remained very low and all our achievements so far – helping provide a temporary classroom and books for a makeshift library – have been thanks to the energy, drive and enthusiasm of SIKAT's trustees.

The support from the Vodafone Foundation gives SIKAT the chance to really get its voice heard and get things moving for the children of Calingag. The school roll has increased four-fold since SIKAT started. Now it wants to extend the teaching facilities and resources so that every child who wants to can benefit. SIKAT wants to provide more text books, enough so that the children don't have to share, and eventually build fully-equipped classrooms and school buildings.

The placement will enable Joe Wood, an experienced charity writer based in Pembrokeshire, to create a stronger fundraising message for SIKAT, write publicity materials and re-vamp the charity's website.

Joe came across SIKAT when he was researching charities to write for as a volunteer for a couple of hours a week.

“When I went down to London to meet Linda, I was really impressed by her drive, dedication and her determination to overcome every obstacle in her path,” says Joe. “Linda's really committed to doing as much as she possibly can to help these children get the most out of their education. When I heard about the placements Vodafone were funding I decided to apply.

Getting the placement is great news. It means I can give Linda and SIKAT two full months of my time, which means that we should be able to get lots done to help get SIKAT noticed.”

Linda grew up in the Calingag community and is driven by her own experience as a child.

“I had to work on our farm for two years to help my family when I should have been at chool,” she says. “I only got to go to school in the end because my brother was able to work to support me. I was lucky. After I graduated I moved to London to work so I could pay for my sister to study to become a doctor. Now I'm so determined that other children in Calingag should get the same chances I had.”

For rural communities in the Philippines like Calingag, education is the silver bullet, the number one priority for families that want to escape a life of poverty and hardship.

“I'm really excited that Joe can take part in the World of Difference programme with us. I hope that his experience will help me take SIKAT's work to more people in London and the UK so that we can start working on our next aims,” adds Linda.

“I feel like the placement is finally throwing open a door of opportunity for SIKAT and the children of Calingag.”

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