by April Thessa Diaz
“I’m glad that a school is put up in the community so their children will no longer walk far to school avoiding accidents on the road,” said Erlinda Angular, a Manobo Pulangion in Barangay Butong, Quezon, Bukidnon.
A new alternative literacy school under the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Minanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR) Inc was opened on March 21 at the community of the Tribal Indigenous Group Association (TINDOGA) under Project New Genesis.
“Most of the community members stopped after the 5th or 6th grade because of poverty and lack of resources,” Angular continued.
One hundred seven family members of TINDOGA, Godwin Yidana, the international programs coordinator of the Catholic Mission Australia, and groups that have been supporting the assertion of TINDOGA over their ancestral domain attended the opening of the school.
The opening of the school saw 58 enrollees, aged 8 to 19 years old, categorized into four levels. The school and the feeding program will be facilitated by Marilou Avenido, the new volunteer alternative learning school teacher.
Jelly, one of the students said she is happy and thankful for the new school. “I will no longer walk for hours,” she said. “I promise to study well.”
“We thank the RMP-NMR for the unwavering support despite the continuing threats,” said Angular. “We are also thankful to Godwin for visiting us, coming in solidarity with our people. It is rare for funders to visit us, especially as we are already far from the city centers.”
“TINDOGA is a very beautiful place,” Godwin said. “People are united not just in their struggle for their ancestral land, but also to their everyday lives. They work as one, they live their lives as one.”
The project, supported by CMA, is a relief and rehabilitation initiative for the formerly displaced Manobo Pulangion community. CMA’s commitment includes child-focused community development and sustainability programs that encourage community participation, improve the well-being of those in needs without discriminating by race, religion, culture or political persuasion, and produce sustainable benefits.
[Photo above: Children of TINDOGA happily receive visitors to their ancestral land. Photo by Pau Villanueva.]