[Blueboard] Helping Our Filipino Roots :)
pathways at admu.edu.ph
pathways at admu.edu.ph
Wed Oct 8 07:43:46 PHT 2003
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 mothers lack
of proper nutrition.
Yet, despite all these problems, I was overwhelmed by our foster familys
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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