[Blueboard] Helping Our Filipino Roots :)

pathways at admu.edu.ph pathways at admu.edu.ph
Wed Oct 8 07:43:46 PHT 2003

please post.

Hi! :) Good morning! :) If you have time, please read my column at The Manila 
Times today :) If you find it a good read, please forward it to your friends 
who might be interested to know more about the situation of education in our 
nation :) Thanks! Have a good day! :)

The link to the article is:


Or you may just read the article below:

Helping our Filipino roots
DURING my senior year at Ateneo de Manila, as a requirement for our Theology 
of Liberation class, my friends and I went to Gabal-don, Nueva Ecija, for a 
three-day, two-night immersion with the Dumagats, a cultural minority group 
whose main source of livelihood was that of gathering rattan and upland 
farming. It was during this brief stay with my foster family that I came face 
to face with the harshness and reality of poverty that beset our indigenous 
brothers and sisters. Three full meals a day were a luxury for them and, more 
often than not, due to lack of health education, children became more prone to 
diseases that eventually caused deaths among them. I remember that during the 
time I went there, my foster parents just lost their newborn baby due to the 
unsanitary conditions in the place she was born and due to the mother’s lack 
of proper nutrition. 

Yet, despite all these problems, I was overwhelmed by our foster family’s 
generosity when they welcomed us and made sure that everything that would make 
us comfortable was provided for. 

However, if there is one thing that truly struck me during my brief stay there 
was that most, if not all, of them did not have a sense of functional 
literacy. Thus, when they go to the town proper to sell their wares, more 
often than not unscrupulous individuals take advantage of their lack of 
education by convincing them to sell their products at way below its real 

Edsel Ramirez, one of the staunch advocates of helping the Dumagats have a 
better life, told us a story wherein a Dumagat went to the marketplace to sell 
a bottle of honey. When he asked how much he would be paid for it, the stall 
owner told him P75, thinking that was already enough he gratefully accepted 
and got the money from the owner. When he got home, through the help of one of 
the community organizers in the area, he found out that instead of paying him 
P75, he was only paid P25. 

This is just one of the many sad experiences that could have been prevented if 
only they were given proper education. Due to these experiences, these 
indigenous communities who represent our Filipino roots continue to live in 
inhumane conditions. Luckily, there are already some groups who are helping 
the different indigenous communities receive education without sacrificing 
their heritage and traditions. 

One of the these groups is the Indigenous Peoples Livelihood Assistance 
Network (IPLAN), which is currently working with the Dumagats in ensuring that 
they have a sustainable livelihood program that would enable them to move out 
of their current state of poverty. IPLAN, as it is fondly known, was organized 
by different Ateneans who also spent their immersion at Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija. 
Led by Bobby Guevara and Edsel Ramirez, IPLAN is currently helping the 
Dumagats in finding possible market opportunities for their rattan. At the 
same time, in order to make this livelihood venture sustainable, they are 
currently working with a group of Management Economics graduates in creating 
an education program that would train the Dumagats in functional literacy. 

Another admirable organization that is providing support for the indigenous 
communities is the Cartwheel Foundation led by its dynamic head, Gina Alfonso. 
Cartwheel Foundation was recently honored by former President Corazon Aquino 
as one of the model organizations that has helped bring about positive change 
in the community that it works in. Currently, Cartwheel Foundation helps the 
lumad communities of Miarayon, Bukidnon by providing them with several 
education programs such as a pre-school program for children ages three to 
eight, a scholarship program that helps children receive elementary and high 
school education in Malaybalay, Bukidnon and Cagayan De Oro City, and an adult 
education program that prepares the adults to engage in livelihood ventures. 
What makes the Cartwheel Foundation more admirable is that most of its 
programs rely solely on the spirit of volunteerism from concerned individuals 
and friends. Thus, this makes it easier for them to implement their activities 
since they do not have to rely heavily on funding support to sustain their 

Like Bobby, Edsel and Gina, just by volunteering our time and resources, we 
too can do our own little share in helping our Dumagat and lumad brothers and 
sisters attain a better quality of life. However, as always, these efforts 
will only go down the drain if our government does not open its eyes to the 
problems that our katutubos face. 

Right now, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples is currently working 
with the Department of Education in developing a literacy program specifically 
suited for different indigenous communities. But history has always shown that 
our political leaders have time and again neglected their plight. Is it 
because these cultural minority groups are not able to exercise their right to 
vote come election time? Your guess is as good as mine. 

For comments, you may email the writer at hkeh at ateneo.edu 

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