For Mark Calubid, being a social worker is a far-fetched dream. Even finishing school seems to be impossible.  Everything is fresh for him—he could still remember the odor of the street, how much mosquito bite he gets in a day, the lack of water and food on a daily basis, and the memories he built with his friends in the street. The street has become his home for most of his childhood.

At the age of 11, Mark was welcomed in Virlanie Foundation, Inc. A year after, he started schooling. His classmates used to call him “big brother” knowing that his age is twice as theirs. This age gap didn’t stop him from working hard. He finished his primary and secondary education with major awards such as Journalist of the year, dancer of the year and actor of the year.

Mark giving a talk during the The Rising Youth anniversary

At the age of 18, Mark was enrolled under Virlanie’s Independent Living Program (ILP) which helps young adults to be capable of living independently through mentoring, livelihood skills and professional training. Realizing that his passion is centered on caring for others, he decided to take BS Social Work.

While he was studying, he was placed under supervised independent living which means that he already transferred in a rented room, being monitored by the ILP Coordinator through visitations. He also willingly goes to the Foundation almost every day to give advice to the youth-led organization, The Rising Youth, composed of Virlanie young adults.

For 16 years in Virlanie, Mark has always been grateful to Faidah Cayongcat, Virlanie Education Manager, who became his mother for almost two decades. “Ate Faidah is always there for me, through ups and downs, she taught me everything I should know, and today, I am very thankful to have her,” Mark shared.

It was August this year when he took the Social Worker Licensure Exam. Three days later, Mark received the good news—he passed the exam! He is now a licensed social worker.

“Thank you so much Virlanie, I will always take the values you’d taught to me, to be of service to other people,” Mark said.

Talking about his plans, he shared, “I am planning to find a job, save money and focus on helping children like me.”

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