"The glow of happiness in their faces is the most authentic expression I have seen in my entire life..."
It was exactly a year ago in 2011 that I made a debut reaching out to the primary Manobo students of Inadan, located seven kilometers by foot from the barangay proper of Magroyong.
Seeing these children in their most deprived condition particularly on the education aspect, is the most heartbreaking scene I have witnessed in years.
I have the belief that all Filipino children, regardless of their origin and ethnicity, should have an equal access to the government provided services and distributed resources. But it is a sad truth that these services and resources seldom reach the remote areas particularly the tribal communities.
The Manobo Tribal Community in Sitio Inadan, survives the simplest way of living, adapting both modern and primitive ways of making it through the day by harvesting forest timber, (planted and natural grown tree species), being sold to multi-million plywood processing plants, for the consumption of the greater Filipino population.
The sad part of this is that , most of the time, the children are oblige to help in the extraction of the timber from the heart of the forest ; carrying it on their bare hardened shoulders and walking through a 15 kilometer forest trail towards the collecting and loading sites along the national road.
Another painful fact about this is that, they produce timbers that are used in making papers, pencil etc., and yet these children don't have even a single pad to write on for their daily lessons in school. So the next time you throw a paper in the garbage bin , think of the children of Inadan!
With the release of the first article about the condition of the Inadan Children through this blog, a few donors expressed their sympathy by giving pledges of donations. (See article: Inadan, the Land of Lumad, Manobo of San Miguel)
It was an overwhelming feedback that came to materialize a week ago after I received a communication from someone who wished not to be known, expressing his assistance by donating few boxes of school supplies for the IP students. The transfer happened like a lightning bolt , without knowing it, boxes of school supplies and a little cash were delivered in front of my door.
Excited with this good news, I hurried to sitio Inadan, informing the in-charged teachers and their Tribal Datu, that donated materials by an anonymous donor were arranged and ready for distribution. I counted and equally divided by grade levels all the notebooks, paper pads, pencil and ball pen. With a little extra cash on hand I bought a handful of lollipops as I recall one child requesting for candy the next time I drop by.
Alerted by my visit, the children put their best clothes on during the distribution of school materials. It was a gesture that I will forever treasure in my life. Even they have nothing much, they tried to be in their modest appearance though I prefer for them not to do it anymore for I know the fact that sometimes they come to school half naked because they don't have clothes to wear on.
The Manobo children who come to school usually with nothing on hand, were so happy receiving few notebooks, paper pads, pencil that were shared by 80 indigenous children from Grade 1-Grade 5 levels. It maybe few in our eyes but for them it's already a treasure that landed on their hands.
The glow of happiness in their faces is the most authentic expression I have ever seen in my entire life . No pretension and pure over flowing innocent emotion. And how I wish I could always maintain that light feeling and keep them away from their usual burden they carry everyday.
In response to the good deeds of the anonymous donor, the children expressed their appreciation by committing to come to school every day as much as possible. It was another blessed day that prayers and the call for bayanihan were answered by a few good men.
I wish to call for your help for my next project. I wish is to give the sitio a nice Children Christmas Party on December, 2012 as they never had a gathering celebrating Christmas just like any other children in school. Used children clothes, bags, school materials, toys, slippers and anything that whole-heartedly given are very much appreciated. You may send it through:
Mr. Ulyses Ravelo/ Engr. Melchor Lurcha
Teacher In-Charge, Primary School of Inadan
c/o Tina Central Elementary School
Brgy. Tina, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur
or you may communicate/coordinate through email: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Grade 1 to Grade 5 elementary students of Inadan|
|Student delighted with the gift they received|
|Excited waiting to receive school supplies|
|Habal-habal , our transportation to reach the school|
|Children obliged to work by carrying timber coming from the forest instead of attending school|