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This School for Mangyans Needs You Before Classes Start


Hobbyists regularly climbing Occidental Mindoro's Mt. Calavite for a close encounter with endangered tamaraws may be familiar with a school at the foot of the mountain.

The small Lamont Adventist Elementary School serves as the community midpoint for Mangyan settlers in this area. As a sectarian institution, the school has its own church where the Mangyans attend their religious duties on Saturdays. 

The school is surrounded with acres of woodlands, vegetated with varieties of cashew, mangoes, and tropical wild flowers. A long walk from the school leads to a waterfall, a popular destination among locals.

A tradition to the Paglicawan family during Holy Week, their lad Richard spearheads gift-giving visits to Mangyan communities around Mindoro. Richard, who grew up on the island, is based in Metro Manila running prominent blogs including Mangyan Blogger, DailyPedia, and LionHearTV.

For the first time, Richard chose the community prospered by the Adventist school. It was also my first time to join him in this advocacy.

From the town capital of Paluan, it takes about half an hour to reach the school through a  rocky countryside road that diverges from a more developed thoroughfare. We  traversed farm lands that are terribly dry due to summer drought.

The tricycle I was riding got to the school first and after long minutes of waiting for our companions, we were told of the alarming news- the tricycle aboard the Paglicawans turned upside down after a failed attempt to scale through the sloppy road up the foot of Mt. Calavite. Luckily, they were fine as they reached us in the school resting under a huge tree.

Teacher Michelle, a Mangyan from the Iraya sub-tribe, shared that every kid pays a tuition of P240 per month. The collected money, with additional financial assistance from the local government of Paluan, helps pay the salary of teachers who handle pre-learning and elementary grades.

When asked to stand in line, the kids cheerfully categorized themselves while their parents watched at the back. There were more than 34 kids in daycare and kindergarten, 13 in first grade, 9 in second grade, 6 in third grade, 7 in fourth grade, 8 in fifth grade, and 13 in sixth grade.

A small talk with the teachers further revealed that the more than 100 kids are being handled by only three teachers, particularly multi-grade teachers, on shifting schedules.

Without the Adventist school in the area, kids who still want to pursue their studies would walk to another school located afar or help their parents plant crops for the family instead. The descending count of graders says it all- not all the kids who started schooling finish elementary.

We learned that in 2018, there were only two groups that conducted an outreach mission there while we were the first to arrive this year. In her speech, Richard's mother promised that the visit will be made regular.

Some of the kids could read the label of a popular soda drink. And the sweetest is that they all know how to say, “maraming salamat po” when handed with their bag of goodies loaded with piece of clean shirt, noodles, shampoo, bath soap, paper, and other essentials.

Most of those on the queue for day care, kinder, and grade 1 had runny nose. These little ones were given multi-vitamins and anti-cough medicine that could last for a month or two.

Before the outreach activity ended, boxes of clothes, books, and medicines were turned over to the teachers for latter distribution.

As we left the community, Richard told us what to prepare for- the next visit would be in June before classes start.

As the  tamaraws of Mt. Calavite attract mountaineers, adventurers, campers, and other hobbyists finding their way to the apex of the mountain for leisure, it is with great hope that this Mangyan school will also be part of the journey to the wildlife sanctuary.













WHAT THE MANGYAN KIDS NEED

1. Any kind of footwear- Most came barefoot. Only a few wore slippers that were super overused. Can anyone approach Korina Sanchez on this? Kidding.

2. Children medicine for cough and vitamin deficiency-  Some parents approached us if we could give them more "Ascorbic", while others pleaded to get some cough meds for their newborn. 

3. Children’s clothes: They badly need clean clothes. I noticed that most of the donations are for also adults.

4. Non-pork based food: Please note that they are Adventists, so they do not eat hotdog and foods with pork ingredient. Noodles and sardines are their favorites. 

5. Books and notebooks: Let's build a library for the kids. 

6. Financial assistance for the three teachers: They are doing heroic deeds. Let's support them.

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HOW TO SHOW YOUR LOVE 

All of the donations that we distributed to about 150 recipients were from the Paglicawans, Dailypedia staff, and Richard's friends from the blogging hemisphere and PR clients. 

Connect with Richard on Facebook HERE. 

To know more about the cause, you may also coordinate with LARIZA GARCIA and DHANNA DUMLAO, two of our lovely companions during the outreach activity.

Christian is a Marketing Communications practitioner currently working with Cathay Land. To get in touch, please shoot an email to [email protected]

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