HELPING LIBERATE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE FROM POVERTY THROUGH EDUCATION Thursday, 04 April 2013 MANILA, Philippines - This school graduation season, five more Mangyan scholars of Intex Resources Philippines, Inc. joined the growing number of indigenous peoples (IPs) in Mindoro island who have completed their high school education in hopes of improving the lot of their families and indigenous cultural communities. And they’re doing it in style. One of the scholars, Janet Garcia, was cited for academic excellence while the other two, Adidas Macapuno and Meyor Kasabing, received special awards during the recent commencement exercises of Lakeside Institute at San Isidro, Victoria. Scholars Milagros Arroyo and Sunshine Butoy also hurdled their secondary level course in the presence of their proud parents, most of whom did not have the opportunity to finish elementary school. “I wish to continue studying through college so that I can help my less fortunate fellow IPs,” Janet said. “Education is very important to us IPs.” Intex, which is in the last stages of mining feasibility for its Mindoro Nickel Project, has been implementing formal and non-formal as well as basic literacy education programs — including scholarship grants — to qualified Mangyan and non-Mangyan individuals. The company undertakes these programs in coordination with the traditional leaders and Indigenous Peoples organizations within the Mangyan Alangan, Bangon and Tadyawan tribal communities. These tribes host the Mindoro Nickel Project area, which straddles the municipalities of Victoria in Oriental Mindoro and of Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro. “We’re so happy that our children were able to finish high school,” Antonio, Janet’s father and a Mangyan elder, remarked in behalf of the scholars’ parents. “We are thankful to the management of Intex for sending our children to school. We ask them to continue their programs that aim to provide a bright future for Mangyan IPs.” Andy Pestaño, Intex manager for community relations and development (CReDO), explains: “One of the demands of our Mangyan partners is to claim their right to education. Most of them do not have access to education because of lack of school facilities in remote areas, poverty, and to some extent, belief from some tribesmen that education will spoil their culture. “We at Intex believe that education itself will not have a negative effect on cultures if it is tailor-fit to the needs of those who will be educated,” he continues. “The accumulated knowledge of modern civilization should not be kept from IPs like the Mangyan. Education, if it will serve the Mangyan, can be an instrument for their liberation from illiteracy and, ultimately, poverty. What is necessary is education that is attuned to the particular needs of the Mangyan; one that will enhance their culture and help them in combating prejudice, discrimination, injustice, and ethnocentrism. Education will help the Mangyan in maintaining their uniquenessas a people and in asserting their rights as human beings.” To ensure the relevance of its education programs and sensitivity to the Mangyan culture, Intex collaborates with local government units, the Department of Education, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples. Since 2008 when it signed a Memorandum of Agreement with its host Mangyan indigenous cultural communities, Intex has sponsored a total of 214 students (72 in pre-school, 114 elementary, 28 high school). Including the five recent graduates, there are already 17 scholars who have completed their high school education. For the academic year 2012-2013, Intex has five IP scholars in the college level. Of this number, three scholars are taking up Agriculture, while the two others Entrepreneurship. Another five IPs are enrolled in vocational studies under the government Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA): two scholars have signed up in the Small Engine Mechanic Course, another two in Midwifery, and one in Information Technology. The advancement of education has been a cornerstone of Intex’s social development efforts. The company participated in the “Bright Minds Read” program of the Ronald McDonald Foundation in coordination with the DepEd by donating P4.5 million to fund the purchase of books for first graders in Mindoro and to train teachers. Some 10,000 schoolchildren benefited from the donation. According to Janet: “Marami po kaming natutunan sa aming pag-aaral. Natuto kaming makisalamuha sa maraming tao. Natuto rin kami mag-computer, ng mga magagandang aral sa Bibliya, at kagandahang asal dahil na rin sa mahusay at matiyagang pagtuturo ng aming mga teachers sa aming mga katutubong estudyante. Hinihiling po namin na makapag-aral din ang iba pa naming mga kasamahang Mangyan. Naniniwala po kami na ang edukasyon ang siyang makapagpapaunlad sa aming mga katutubo(We learned a lot of things in school. We learned to interact with many people. We also learned how to operate the computer, the beautiful teachings of the Bible, and good manners and right conduct thanks to the competence and patience of our teachers on us Mangyan IPs. We wish our fellow Mangyan will also be able to study. We believe that education is the key to the progress of IPs like us).” It is believed that the Mangyan settled along the shores of Mindoro island some 600 to 700 years ago from the southern regions of the Philippine archipelago. They were gradually forced to leave their coastal settlements by more aggressive ethnic groups. A traditionally peace-loving and docile people, the Mangyan practice slash-and- burn farming, hunting, fishing, gathering and trade. Centuries of being deprived of education have perpetuated a vicious cycle of poverty for the mostly nomadic tribal communities whose members are estimated at over 100,000 or about 10 percent of the total population of Mindoro island. “We hope that, with the help of the other sectors of Mindoro, we will be able to break the poverty cycle among the Mangyan - beginning with the hosts of the Mindoro Nickel Project - through our education programs without losing sight of the culture that their forebears fought so hard to maintain,” Pestaño concluded. h t w s t r c / c a r a t g v - through-education
Intex Resources Philippines Inc. 2014