In a place called Pulang Duta Barangay Lag- Asan in Bago City, Negros Occidental, Lola Nida Dela Pena Romano, a 101-year-old student in the Alternative Learning System or ALS.
What is ALS? It is a parallel system of education in the Philippines that provides a practical alternative to the existing formal education system. When individuals lack the means or access to formal schooling in traditional schools, ALS offers an alternative. ALS encompasses non-formal and supposedly sources of knowledge and skills.
It’s an opportunity for people in challenging circumstances or those who haven’t had the chance to study or complete their education, just like Lola Nida Dela Pena. In a video, we see how Lola is waited upon by her husband, who bids her farewell as he heads off to work. It also shows how she interacts with her classmates, most of whom are also senior citizens.
In June 2023, a mass wedding took place in Bago City, where Teacher Geraldine Seneres encountered Lola and Lolo. Upon seeing them, she asked if they wished to continue their education, providing Lola with the opportunity to start her studies. Although Lola knows how to write, having been taught by her children in the past, her age has taken a toll on her eyesight. Her birth certificate attests to her true age. Despite this, there are young ALS students as well, but they have their own designated area.
Lola Nida’s story is an inspiration and a reminder that education knows no age limit. Even at 101 years old, she decided to pursue learning, giving hope to others to continue striving for their dreams, no matter their age. ALS is a reliable avenue to achieve the dream of education, highlighting the value of learning in each of our lives.