PALO, Leyte-Janelle Bonse, 9 and a Grade IV student expressed her gladness that she and her classmates at the San Joaquin Elementary School would now occupy a new classroom. “It is nice to study inside a classroom and inside a tent,” Bonse said.

The new classroom to be occupied by Bonse and her classmates was part of the 11-classrooms building donated by Senator Cynthia Villar and Frances Ann Petilla, wife of Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla. The two donors raised P3.9 million to construct the classrooms at the San Joaquin Elementary School, among the public schools of Palo that sustained severe damages due to supertyphoon Yolanda. Bonse lost her mother, Lilia, 43, due to the storm surge that destroyed one of the classrooms of said school where they evacuated. Her mother’s body was found hours after the typhoon stopped and is now one of the hundreds of those who perished the typhoon buried at the grounds of the nearby San Joaquin Church on Barangay San Joaquin. “I will make good of my studies as I promised to my late mother,” Bonse said. She finished on the top of her class during her Grade III. Sen. Villar said that it is imperative to repair the school buildings damaged or destroyed by Yolanda to ensure that school children would have a better and conducive environment. “It is very important that the students go back to the return to their classrooms,” the senator said.

She said that the money that she used in donating for the construction of the classrooms came from her personal funds as a senator, she no longer has her share on pork barrel or priority development assistance fund (PDAF). School principal Liberato Cobacha said that he could not contain his happiness that Sen. Villar and Petilla donated classrooms to their school. At present, the school has 390 enrollment with 17 classrooms. (JOEY A. GABIETA)