Launching Launchpad

Early March this year, my friend, Jen, a homeschooling Mom who has seen my Abot Tala journey from the start, sent me a link to Praxis, an alternative to college and university.  It reminded me of Abot Tala but for an older set.  Several people have suggested to us before that Abot Tala should also cater to those over 18 years old.

A latent dream bubbled to the surface triggered by a mere website link thoughtfully sent by a friend.  It led to a series of actions like a domino toppling a line of other dominoes.   At the back of our minds, we have thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if Abot Tala can serve kids younger than 12 and also serve those older than 18?”

I sent the Praxis link to my Abot Tala partner, Owie and we started brainstorming how we could make this happen.  We already had the same person in mind to head the program.  We contacted her and got the ball rolling.

Google led us to the Alternative University in Romania which was started in 2008 by five students from a polytechnic in Bucharest who were “who were frustrated with the education system and wanted a new kind of university designed around freedom.”

“Unlike traditional universities, students can choose and propose what and how they learn. At The Alternative University, students elect modules to study along a four-stage development route: Self-knowledge, Active exploration, Projects, and Transition.”

“In addition to the skills developed, students also participate in the brilliant Rent-a-Team initiative. The university partners with organizations to bridge the gap between companies with a skills or resources gap and students who want hands-on project work experience. Students are also encouraged to start businesses and NGOs as part of their studies — at present 21 have been launched by Alternative students. . . . Another graduate has set up Learnity, the first organization that will apply The Alternative University’s educational model to high schools.” — Lisa Gill

“I’ve long believed that if we are going to reinvent work, we need to reinvent education too. Education should be about lighting fires, not filling buckets and the more autonomy and authority we give to young people, the better equipped they’ll be for a fast-paced, rapidly changing business landscape.” — Lisa Gill

“Real success means that students are inventing their own problems, questions and projects using the mathematics that they’ve learned. They’re actively discovering…. Learning should be intrinsically rewarding. I’ve never been of the opinion that academia exists to prepare people to be workers: It exists to prepare people to flourish as humans.” — Jim Fowler

Models exist around the world.  We just have to look for them.  We took cues and inspiration from quotes and from people who have done this while Mich designed the program. Daily, weekly, we buckled down to bring the concept to reality.  We set the target as mid-August and thanks to an amazing team, the target was met.

Launchpad now has 15 students and this is another start of something exciting, new, and innovative.

This is the Launchpad program:

Most recently, after the Launchpad program had started, we were led by a Liberated Learner colleague, Cassidy Younghans to the Wayfinding Academy.  Owie, Mich and I ended up zooming with the founder, Michelle Jones.  It was so refreshing and rejuvenating talking with someone who’s doing something like we are on the other side of the world.

“At Wayfinding Academy you won’t find cookie-cutter tracks, just a one-of-a-kind educational experience designed to help you find your way, stretch your mind and grow your skills so you can live life on purpose.”

Resources and Inspiration:

Discover Praxis

https://reimaginaire.medium.com/self-directed-learning-at-the-alternative-university-eacc94b823dd

https://knowledgeworks.org/resources/alternative-universities-higher-education/?fbclid=IwAR2hb9YnsNm5HrYUxdQWs9WwOFnLp6LBDZcXTYRzt2tcWP6G0ufBK__CL48

https://www.wayfindingacademy.org/

Josh’s Abot Tala Story

Heya, this is Joshua. You can call me Josh for short and this is my story as a teen in Abot Tala. I’m 15, currently homeschooled and Abot Tala made my homeschool life way more fun and gave me a lot of opportunities.

I remember being hesitant in my first class here. I have continued homeschooling because of the pandemic. The quarantine and physical distancing resulted in me not really socializing and talking to new people, in person or even through a Zoom call. (I didn’t use Zoom for years until now). It was an adjustment for me but it was worth doing so.

The first block that I joined was back in October to December 2020. To be honest, I didn’t really put myself out there for the first part of the block as I was still adjusting to Abot Tala but in the latter part of the block, I started to open up and decided hey, why not do some stuff? I didn’t regret that.

Abot Tala helped me through my academic classes and sparked new interests.  And, I think the relationship with my mentors has a lot to do with it.  I can have conversations with them about anything and they are always ready to help.  I didn’t have to worry about their reactions to my questions or whether they will look down on me because I needed additional support.  Most of all, it is way better than having only my mom to talk about school stuff for more than a year.

During the Scriptorium class, Teacher Mich made us write a personal essay that I thought, at first, was a writing exercise as per usual. But at the end, she revealed that the prompts for the essay were from Inquirer’s “Love.Life” column. I decided to submit my essay to the Inquirer which I could’ve submitted earlier than when I did but well, Christmas and New Year got the best of me.

Knowing the fact that my essay got accepted and it was going to be posted didn’t hit me until, well, it got posted. It was surreal but made me very happy. I wouldn’t be able to do something like this without Abot Tala. The opportunities given to me are plentiful and very useful to me.

The plan was for me to do Abot Tala for only one block. But, I wanted to do more so I enrolled for my second block and oh boy, did I not expect that I’d release my very own podcast with Abot Tala radio. One of my insecurities was the sound of my voice and how it sounded being recorded and doing this podcast helped me a lot to overcome that insecurity. Not only that, but the teens and mentors, even though they might not know it, helped me a lot as well.

And now, back to the present. As I am typing this, the block is about to end and woohoo! I found a way to convince my Mom to join the next block.  I am sure excited as to what new projects I will work on.  


To read Josh’s published essay on Inquirer.net: More Than 14 Reasons to Keep Going
To listen to Josh’s Crime Table podcast, click here. Make sure you click on Podcasts, then just go over to The Crime Table’s tab.
To check out Josh’s photography, click here.

A note from Josh’s mentor, Mich Alagao:

Josh Ira’s curiosity, friendliness, diligence, and openness are much appreciated by his mentors and the Abot Tala community. He has embraced self-directed learning by exploring topics and doing activities that he finds enriching and interesting, of his own accord. It’s a delight to have him in my classes and I am glad to be one of his mentors during this season of his life. 🙂

Josh with his mentor, Mich.

April Auction

Traditional learning methods are not for everyone but everyone wants to be valued for who they are. Often, a safe and encouraging space is all a young person needs to thrive and flourish. That’s why Abot Tala exists as an option for teenagers looking for a different education avenue, one that is self-directed, personalized, and where mentoring is unlimited.

This coming April 9, 2021, in partnership with the country’s premiere auction house, Leon Gallery, Abot Tala is participating in our fourth auction. We’d like to thank the artists who believe in this endeavor and who identify strongly with the Abot Tala mission. Some of them wish that a place like Abot Tala existed during their youth. We are grateful to Katrina Pallon, Mav Rufino, Tessa Alindogan, Mejalosa, and Fred Agustin for offering their talent and artistry for this cause.

“Now that she’s back in the atmosphere
With drops of Jupiter in her hair
She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there’s a time to change
Since the return from her stay on the moon”

— lyrics from Train’s “Drops of Jupiter”

While artist, Katrina Pallon was painting “Since the Return from her Stay on the Moon,” she was listening to this song over and over as it resonated with her coming from a much-needed trip around Indochina. Art and music help heal us especially after going through a rough patch.  For Katrina, this piece is “about coming home to yourself, making peace with your inner demons in order to gain momentum to keep moving forward.”

“How does one put into words this almost spiritual process?” Tessa Alindogan asks.  When she paints, she feels that she is on a different plane altogether.  It’s where she enjoys her solitude in an unchoreographed dance. 

“In frightening and uncertain times like this,” Tessa continues, “we are only reminded of its power and importance. Art heals, calms the mind, and nurtures the spirit and that creative expression is one of the most profound ways people have coped with collective and individual hardships throughout our history.”

If you awaken from this illusion and you understand that,
Black implies white,
Self implies other,
Life implies death,
or shall I say death implies life.

You can feel yourself,
Not as a stranger in the world,
Not as something here on probation,
Not as something that has arrived here by fluke,
But you can begin to feel your own existence,
As absolute fundamental.
What you are basically,
Deep, deep down far, far within,
Is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself.

— Open Your Eyes by CMA

This is one of the songs that played in the background while Mejalosa worked on this painting. He was looking for a breather from other unfinished pieces which led to creating “Placid Portrait Picks Personality” about self-discovery, self-acceptance, and self-love. As one of Mejalosa’s source of inspiration chanted, “….begin to feel your existence as absolute fundamental.” You are the fabric of existence itself.

Transcendental is a work about the search for and journey into the enlightened path, a yearning for inner peace.

“Coming from the pressures of trivialities and expectations from this world,” artist Fred Agustin explains, “I just want to be in a state, in a moment, in a space where I can find that emanating light. As the colors fluctuate from dark to light; streaks and splashes of cruelty and joy, there is always hope that in the end, there will always be calmness and peace.”

“Give me two hours a day of activity, and I’ll take the other twenty-two in dreams.”  — Salvador Dali

This painting by artist, Marivic Rufino is called “I Dream of Dali” and was started in 1994-95 but finished in 2021. “I paint images of my dreams, from memory and visions of the future.”

Since she began painting as a child and had a group show at age 11, Mav has had a romance with nature, light, and dreamscapes. She has always shared her passion for art with others, a gift that has helped her survive the turbulent storms of life. 

We are so grateful that these paintings will be auctioned to support Abot Tala this April.    Abot Tala is a 21st century, collaborative learning hub for teens who yearn to be free from the shackles limiting their vision and with the help of mentors, direct and design their unique education pathways.

January-March 2021 Rewind Magazine

Rewind Magazine is one of the ways we let you in on what goes on within a block at Abot Tala. It also functions as another platform where our teens get to contribute and share their work. It also helps our homeschooling families when it comes to putting together a portfolio for their homeschool provider because the summary of the lessons per class is in the mag.

Before we share the last block’s issue, we’d like to make sure you know that we’ve got a new block that just started. You can read more about it here: Abot Tala Summer2021.

As promised, here’s what went on during our January-March Block:

Teacher Purple

She colors our world with all shades of purple, royally fun and meaningful.

Laksmi Maluya is one of the board members of Abot Tala and has been in the local homeschool circle for more than 30 years.  Independently homeschooled from pre-school to high school along with her five siblings, Laksmi has also homeschooled her three daughters.  In 2008, Laksmi founded Gopala Learning Haven, a homeschool support center located in a lush and beautiful farm in Silang, Cavite.  She has been offering alternative education options to families from all walks of life.  She is currently the President of the Homeschoolers Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI), practices yoga and promotes plant-based nutrition.   A lover of life, nature and the color purple, Teacher Laksmi is one amazing and inspiring mentor to young and old alike.  Children and parents learn so much from her example of purposeful living.

As board member of Abot Tala, Laksmi helps in setting the organization’s direction. A few weeks ago, she attended the mentors meeting where experiences were shared on how mentors help each and every teenager in Abot Tala based on each teen’s unique situation and personality.  Seeing the detailed process herself gave Laksmi even more confidence in being part of such an extraordinary place for teens.  Laksmi said, “Like everything in this world, it may not be for every teen but if your teen is looking for a safe place to find their passion, interest or gift, I highly recommend Abot Tala, not because I am a part of it but because I found like minded mentors who nurture the heart before the head.” 

Laksmi was impressed by how the mentors find ways and means to give a teen a little push, encouragement or whatever they need in order to help the teen find their way and find their own voice.  They need to grow in confidence in themselves because it’s only a matter of time and they’ll be young adults.  Gopala Learning Haven’s set up may be different from Abot Tala but the heart is the same – life-long learning, self-directed learning, interest-led learning, personalized learning and all within the context of shared family and community effort.

Aside from Abot Tala, Laksmi is working with a group of friends from different countries coming up with an international project in homeschooling.  Laksmi is a part of many circles of homeschoolers in the Philippines and globally.  She weaves through them and connects all gracefully and graciously, creating a rich tapestry celebrating each and every person’s individuality and the beauty of community.

“One of the things I am grateful for is that, although I am with different families or have a lot of projects, the goals are all quite aligned.  Abot Tala is a part of my advocacy because it offers an alternative education for teens – those who cannot fit in a conventional setting or a full-time homeschool setting.  Abot Tala gives a taste of both worlds – the conventional side because they have mentors or teachers and the homeschooling side because the mentors act as guardians or second parents who guide and assist the teens with setting their learning goals.   They provide a safe space for them to grow to become more self-directed with proper guidance.

Laksmi was homeschooled by a loving and caring community who showed her how much they cared for her so it was more than enough for Laksmi to be motivated to be a better learner.

Laksmi suggests that “If you are a parent who is undecided whether you want to go homeschooling or not, Abot Tala can be your trial phase or you can go all the way.” In homeschooling, parents have a greater responsibility but within a community, you build on shared responsibility with like-minded people and this is what Abot Tala can offer families.