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INADAN: THE LAND OF LUMAD | The Unheard Manobo of San Miguel




Despite  their condition, they manage to smile
Lumad refers to the native Manobos living in the island of Mindanao.  They are one of the indigenous groups in the Philippines that dwells in the rich forest mountains of Caraga Region.



In my two years of stay here in Mindanao, I have never thought that I will have a deep cultural attachment with the locals particularly in Sitio Inadan.

Sitio  Inadan is a sub community of Brgy. Magroyong, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. It is located 7 km from the barangay proper of Magroyong and is composed of  few families of Manobo tribe that mainly depend on the natural resources gathered from the mountains to survive. Most of them cannot read and write. Their houses are made from scrap of slabs from the processed milled woods.


The people of Inadan have a special place in my heart. The elders have provided me protection and survival tips in the course of my field work.

For some entertainment, the children just keep me happy, smiling and talking to me through bashes of Chinese words –(chungchinghghang kong) thinking that  I am some kind of a black Chinese ! I really don’t know where these children got the idea. I just throw them with thousands of smile and giggle with them all the time.

Working in the area, I have witnessed their day to day lives, and it’s hard to imagine that this community is very much deprived with basic services that the government should be providing. No electricity, no source of clean water, roads, hospital and other basic social needs. During a life and death situations, the Manobos have to walk  more than 7 km of rough and muddy unpaved road just to reach the nearest community hospital; sad to say, nobody has ever reached the hospital alive.

Is this the Hope of the Future?

No choice but to attend school half-naked 
I am very much concern with the future of the children.  Looking at their ill life condition, I doubt that at least 2 or 3 of them would even finish elementary. Most of them sign on every piece of documents with their thumb marks. Because of this, they are being cheated by illegal forest loggers that are persistent on entering their ancestral domain and in return, they only gain little from the wood cut and other forest products that were sold to lumber and paper companies.

The current 2-room concrete building primary school was donated by a foreign organization and is  managed by a single teacher handling all grade levels from grade 1 to grade 4 . Most of them strive hard walking for several kilometers going to school even without food and school supplies on hand. Some even come to school HALF NAKED because they don’t have clothes to wear on.

Because of poverty, the children are  forced to help their parents by cutting and carrying more than 25 kilos of falcata timbers, walking on bare foot to  more than 15 Km in distance and selling the timber  to ‘kapatagan’ for a few hundreds of pesos.

Forced to work , helping the family

The depressed condition of the children of Inadan is an uneasy scenario for me. And I always pray that there is something I could provide to help them.

I always believe on my principle to “have some initiative to do whatever you can and don’t wait for others to tell you  when to start”. 

So even if  I am hundreds of miles away from the city, I tried to reach out to my networks of friends. I posted some of the photos of the people of Inadan via internet and I was overwhelmed with the responses. I was very thankful to those people who gave their pledges of donations in the form of books and clothes. I even worked in persuading my boss to provide contribution to the community and after long hours of discussion over a few bottle of beers I was able to convince him to draw few thousand of pesos for school materials (YEHEY-drunk).

First time to own a reading book
It was like Christmas in June when the donated materials arrived and were distributed to the children.

In behalf of the children of Inadan, we would like to give my sincerest appreciation to:

  • Ms. Marynell Isip-Santos and her son Matthew Isip Santos of Good Christian of Faith Academy  for the books and other colorful reading materials; 
  • Dr. Arnold Fonollera of DLSU-Dasma for the clothes; 
  • Engr. Maricris Elemos of BDC for the instructional materials; 
  • my boss Fred for the school supplies and those anonymous donors who wished not to be known.

These simple gifts and donations are worth a pot of gold for the recipients of your kind sympathy. May the Lord bless you always.

For those who wish to make their donations (in kind), you may coordinate with the author or send it to:

Inadan Primary School
c/o Ulyses Ravelo
Tina Elementary School
Brgy. Tina, San Miguel Surigao del Sur
Philippines, 8301

Contact Numbers: 

(+63)927.327.0344/ (+63)917.524.9462/(+63)948.522.4264


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32 comments :

  1. lol. black chinese!
    You're a good man Dennis.

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  2. thanks chris...i still keep on wondering if i am the exact epitome of a black chinese.. cant comprehend on that.lol

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  3. LOL,.. The black Chinese for the WIN.. :)

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  4. hope that help for these children continues pouring in :) Not only for them but also for others who are in the same situation :)

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  5. I felt sad just reading your post about the children who are striving for their bit of education, the sick people who never got to reach the hospital, and the kids being put into some form of child labor. :( I actually saw this on TV from one of GMA's documentaries.. sad. I will contact the main person, should I be able to gather old books for the kids. Sayang coz we just gave out old books to another school, my cousin kasi is a teacher.

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  6. I'm impressed how you were able to reach out with this community and have even taken it a step further and had your boss drunk... err, i mean involved in helping this community. It's really not the big help that matters but it's the many little helping hands that can give their share in alleviating poverty.

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  7. This is really disturbing for me. Sad that there are children who are actually deprived of a good education. Good job on reaching out to them. :-)

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  8. I hope that a lot of people have already responded on your request for help for the Inadan people.

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  9. Their situation is truly quite pitiful, well I cannot say pitiful for even though they are having a hard time, they still strive for them to live. However, this is where the government should step in. People are paying taxes, I know that it's a cliche, but still, it boils down to the corrupt officials of this country. Fingers crossed, that this community will soon become a developed one.

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  10. And hey, I salute you for making such sacrifice over some beer! Other people may see this very poor situation, but won't even care. Kudos!

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  11. ABS CBN and GMA must visit Inadan and give some blessings. But I hope the culture of Inadan be saved.

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  12. Aww! bless their hearts! if they are not too far away I would like to visit them..this is something that needs to be address to the govt.

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  13. the government should help them so that the children will have a bright future.

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  14. Kudos to you for making the effort to help. I hope our kababayans follow suit.

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  15. What a novel deed. Sana our government will see the needs of these people. Are there NGO's working with you?

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  16. It's disheartening to see their condition but it is enlightening to see their eagerness to learn with or without clothes. That is the true spirit. I hope our government can address this concern :)

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  17. Kudos to you! And God bless you!

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  18. I feel for those kids, especially seeing that young boy carrying that huge plank of wood. Great to know that there are people like you making things better for them there.

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  19. WHAT. Black Chinese! Hahaha. Wow, kudos to you kuya Dennis! Hope mabasa ni sa LGU!

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  20. The same situation with Aeta of Capas, Tarlac. Although they have school classroom but the teacher would come or spent time in the mountain for 3-4 days thus depriving children a longer time to spend at school and most of them would go to higher level without much learning from the previous level. Hope that more sponsors and donors support your call. Keep up the good work.

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  21. Kudos to you for a job well done and I just hope LGUs and the big companies out there will extend there help because seeing the kids being deprived of good quality education makes my heart break.

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  22. Bless the kind souls who donated to this school. Hope that they can do more good.

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  23. Yes, it quite sad to see the reality of some of our country men. Worst is that bad people take advantage of them as well and cheats them.

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  24. It is so sad that developments or even government funds does not reach far flung places such as this, if not for concern people who happen to be passing by the place like you will we know that they exist. It's good to know that there still good Samaritans exist in this earth. God bless your abundantly as you continue helping those in need =)

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  25. It's nice to know that pure Manobo people are still existing somewhere in this area of Mindanao. I appreciate your effort to help them get a better education in your own little ways.

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  26. You are lucky to experience learning more about about their culture (as you call it, immersion). for one, the relationship you can build with them is one that that can only be called authentic.

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  27. The first thing i noticed is... the student without any shirt on.
    It's quite depressing to see those children who are less fortunate
    but still want to learn and have a decent education.

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  28. I just heard about this place Lumad even though I came from Mindanao. I felt sad that students go to school in half-naked. I hope they will be blessed with clothes one day!

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  29. I hope able people and people in the government or authority can take good care of them. They really need some help in terms of education and such.

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  30. It is good to hear that despite of their current social status, the children are striving to have proper education.

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  31. The government should see and read this so they could take immediate action.

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  32. I really hope that there is something that can be done to improve the living conditions of the Inadans especially in the aspect of education.

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