In the latest episode of Iba ‘Yan last Sunday, September 27, host Angel Locsin had the chance to know more about the simple and preserved culture of an indigenous tribe of Dumagats living in Sitio Suha, Norzagaray, Bulacan, situated in the mountains of Sierra Madre Mountains and Angat watershed.
She mingled with the members of the said tribe who have temporarily been in “Punduhan” and met Brother Martin Francisco, the missionary who founded the said community. She also got to talk to one of the tribe members that Brother Martin trusts when it comes to taking care and preserving the Punduhan – Resendo “Ka Sendo” Cruz, a volunteer forest ranger, rescue officer, and tour guide.
Aside from listening to their stories, the program gifted them some essential items as well, including 10 sacks of rice from Sagip Kapamilya, five boxes of canned goods, cables for the generator set, and units of Liter of Light lamps for every Dumagat family.
Angel got to know more the strong women of Punduhan who continue to work hard for their family and tribe. One of them was Dulce Dela Rosa, a college student and a scholar of Bro. Martin who genuinely decided to serve as a teacher to the Dumagat children, thus she currently takes up an education course at Metro Manila College.
Dulce also shared what comprises her daily routine. As early as 2 AM, she wakes up and starts doing household chores. At around 3 or 4 AM, she starts to wait for a ride going to her school. However, because transport vehicles seldom pass along their place, she usually arrives at school at around 9 or 10 AM so she sometimes misses one of her morning classes. She then finishes her school day at 5 PM. Because they don’t have electricity in their community, she chooses to do her school work in school. She’s the only teacher in their community, although there are some teachers who visit the Punduhan thrice a week.
Dulce said that she considers education as one of the most important things that should be given to the whole community of their tribe, especially to the children, so that no one can take advantage of them anymore.
She recalled that one instance during elections when people came to their place to administer their votes in behalf of them since they couldn’t write and read. Dulce emphasized that she wants everyone in Punduhan to be educated so that they could properly vote for a leader who has genuine intentions to serve its people.
One of Dulce’s pupils is the ten-year-old Nicole DC Torres, who dreams of becoming a future doctor so she can treat sick people. She added that she doesn’t want to be taken advantage of anymore by other people just because she knows less than them, sharing that incident where she was supposed to have a change from something that she bought, but the seller told her she didn’t have any change anymore.
We also got to know the tear-jerking story Nelsy Abellanida, who dreams to be a teacher someday like Ma’am Dulce, and of her family.
Conversing with her mother Maricel, we found out that they originated from General Nakar, Quezon Province. As her sister advised her to move to Bulacan so that her children could have the opportunity to study for free, they grabbed it and walked for four days from Quezon Province to Bulacan.
Even though the four-day travel was difficult for Maricel, especially that she has her six children in tow, she refused to give up. Her motivation was the free education her children can get in Punduhan as her dream for them is to finish their studies so they won’t suffer the same plight that she and the elder Dumagats have experienced. Maricel also expressed her willingness to go back to school as she’s really eager to study, so Iba ‘Yan gave her a scholarship.
The team gave all the Dumagat children backpacks, school supplies, and books and provided Dulce with blackboard, chalk, and eraser that she can use to teach her pupils more efficiently.
For the entire community, Iba ‘Yan distributed slippers, mosquito nets (or kulambo), and blankets, as well as water filters, five gallons of water, water tumblers, and hygiene kits. They also conducted medical mission and gave them free medicines, ointments and soaps for the children’s skin irritations, anti-polio vaccines. Since dogs have been part of the community, they were given treatments, too.
And lastly, Angel unveiled the design of the proposed health center for Punduhan as Iba ‘Yan pledged to cover the construction of it.
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