This famous tagline taken out from a Philippine-based RFM Corporation encapsulates XU’s Shoe Shine Project, which revolves around shoe shiners who extend services to anyone in the campus for P20.
This year, the Shoe Shine Project for Street People (SP4SP) relaunches with a more solid concept and framework that will give the beneficiaries a more hopeful future one shoe at a time.
Formerly called as the Shoe Shine Project, the SP4SP started out as an advocacy program conceptualized by then university chaplain Fr. Richard Ella, SJ and Social Development Office Program developer Jerome Torres. Both of them noticed that as the XU Night School was launched in 2016, their students—who were mostly street people—kept on skipping classes to look for money and work as park attendants or car washers. “So, I talked to Fr. Ella, and he said ‘let’s do the Shoe Shine Project’ and so we did,” Torres revealed.
When the project was initiated in September of 2016, its goal was to help the street people get a regular day job so they can focus in school during the night. The boot polishers were given kits and were trained to properly get the work done. However, as stated by Torres, due to the decrease in the number of college enrollees because of the new K-12 curriculum, fewer students approached them to get their pair of shoes shined.
Eventually, these shoe shiners slowly faded away in the walkways of the campus.
This year, the SP4SP Project is being taken over by the University Church as their extension project. The once simple advocacy to aid the street people with their everyday living will now become a venture which will give them a chance to attain higher education and ensure a stable occupation.
The project will be composed of three phases. The first phase, which will take six months, will be all about providing the chosen beneficiaries with trainings and seminars about customer relations and marketing as well as values formation. In this stage, the shoe shiners will get back to extending their services to the XU community by tidying pairs after pairs of shoes. Their earnings will help them suffice their needs and not only help themselves, but also their family. “After sila ma-obserbahan for six months, unya makita namo ang improvement, we will proceed to phase two,” Torres explained further.
Utilizing XU’s linkages and partnerships with different organizations and institutions, phase two will give the shoe shiners a more positive future. Technical-focational (TechVoc) courses—including a Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) National Certificate (NC) Level 2 merit—will be offered to them. With this, the third phase of the project will entail the employment stage of the future TESDA NC II holders.
“Ang naka tsada man jud diri sa XU, kay we have the expertise, the facilities, and the people who we can tap to help them,” Torres justifies. “This project, the SP4SP, will give them an opportunity in life, kay dili man pwede nga mag shoe shine nalang sila pirme.”
The challenge, according to Torres, was the determination of the shoe shiners throughout all the phases of the project. “Kung pasensyoso lang sila, motivated, mag strive, and malampusan ni nila nga process, for sure mu-asenso jud sila. Gusto man jud ani nila, instant, pero dili man ing ana ang kinabuhi,” he shared.
It has always been XU’s advocacy to be men and women for others. The relaunch of the SP4SP will pave way for better opportunities for the less fortunate. As of press time, the date of the onset of the project is still being finalized along with the other details. Torres declared that the success of this initiative is in the hands of the beneficiaries.
So, the next time you see a shoe shiner in the walkways, corridors and in the Main Lane, try getting your shoes shined—because you never know how bright their future can get with just a 20-peso bill.