By: Marie Fairbank
Libya for me is a country with full of mystery that in this modern world there are still so much to know and discover. The splendour and history of the country never stop to fascinate and amazed me. Libyans in spite of the instability of the region keep their lives as normal as possible. Though some Libyans moral are low because of the situation but their faces still portray great pride and joy because they know that their country is abundant of natural richness and definitely they know they will rise again and it will happen soon than later.
A year ago, I visited Libya twice upon the invitation of our dear Libyan friends who are directors of Ministry of Health .During the visit we meet up with so many government officials and was welcome to many homes which gives us the glimpse of the culture tradition and fine cuisine of the country. Since that trip Libya is always in my mind and my heart. Aside from meeting Libyans in Tripoli I did not fail to meet Filipinos who never left Libya during the conflict. For them they owed so much to the country and to Libyans who treat them as family .To most of the Filipinos it is their second home for more than 10 years and some even for more than 40 years. During the good times they were earning huge sums of monies .For the grateful Filipinos it is never fair to Libyans to leave the country that needs your assistance when they most needed it.
Maybe like me the Overseas Filipinos Workers (OFW) still in Libya sees the same vision as I have. When Ambassador Adelio Cruz and his staff at Philippine Embassy Libya was busy campaigning for the repatriation of the Filipinos during the conflict there were few Filipinos who decided that instead of going home to Philippines (good decision) they organized themselves to put up Philippine Cooperative Academy in Libya (PCAL) and did vegetables farming and raising ducks lambs and other hogs ready for the hard times.
PCAL was founded by William F. Gatbonton in 2014 with few Filipinos who become stakeholders –board directors of the cooperative academy. I know about the group from Nestor Cuenca who introduced to me William F.Gatbonton in 2015 through social media. When I had the opportunity to visit Libya in 2017 I did not hesitate to visit the school with my British business associates. During such visit the PCAL teachers and members of the management was very welcoming.
Philippine Cooperative Academy ( PCAL) have survived since it opened in 2014 until now without a fight and struggle reason for this the former government in the Philippines then did not issue them a license. Due to the conflict situation they held their schools in insulated containers inside the complex of TMC Housing Compound. With such an environment PCAL made sure the children was not deprived of the right education though the school was never visited by the former Ambassador of the Philippine Embassy. Diplomats from the Philippine Embassy-Libya started showing their faces at PCAL only when there was a new leader in the person of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Faith to succeed patience to wait for results perseverance and hard worked are the factors for PCAL to attained success. Just recently PCAL finally got what they wanted the Department of Education –Philippines permit to operate the school in Tripoli based on Philippine curriculum. Prior to receiving the permit from Philippines they also got permit from Libya government. Libya now officially recognised by inviting PCAL officers and students to graced the recent UN – Libya International Children Day held at Corinthia Hotel - Tripoli. At such a prestigious occasion PCAL students showed their excellent skills in dancing and singing. PCAL success story is a story about hope and destiny. It showed to all that no matter how difficult the situation if we believed we all can reach our goal. Surely PCAL will continue to mould and develop children to be good community members of the society and country as a whole.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Libya Observer