The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has provided almost P195,000 to local government units (LGUs) affected by landslide in Occidental Mindoro last August 4.
DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman said the agency released P194,817 relief assistance to the affected municipalities of Calintaan, Looc, Magsaysay, Mamburao, Sablayan and San Jose in Occidental Mindoro.
As of August 7, the number of affected families was 5,262 or 26,310 individuals from 40 barangays in these six towns.
In Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, the DSWD provided some 633 food packs worth P165,735, while in Mamburao, some 10 boxes of sardines and 15 boxes of corned beef worth P29,081 were provided.
Soliman said three evacuation centers were opened providing temporary shelter to some 675 families with 3,375 persons from the municipalities of Sablayan and Looc.
“The DSWD is also continuously providing relief aid to some 2,386 family-victims with 11,930 persons outside the evacuation centers,” she added.
Meanwhile, seven houses in Looc, Occidental Mindoro were partially damaged.
In the Philippines, when the rest of the population goes to sleep, a reclusive community of indigenous people prepares for another restless night of fear and uncertainty.
Far away in the dense, dark forests of Occidental Mindoro, where Mangyan people are scattered in small remote settlements, tribal leaders now routinely contemplate their future in feverish debates that usually last until daybreak.
"We are petrified that big mining companies will take over our ancestral land. If the government gives them license to operate, our land and heritage will be lost forever," says Juanito Lumawig. The 62-year-old supreme leader of all seven tribes of Mangyan is a worried man. For him, it is a battle for survival for his people, who for centuries have inhabited the rough and hard-to-reach highlands of this Philippine island.
Over 40,000 hectares of land, including vast swathes of forest is claimed by Mangyan as their ancestral domain. The land is believed to be rich in gold, natural gas and minerals worth many millions of dollars. The stakes are high and Mangyan are against all odds. In numbers, they are an ethnic and linguistic minority group of fewer than 25,000. Not only are the Mangyan physically and socially isolated from the rest of the Filipino population, they are also among the poorest and most marginalised.
A Mangyan family earns on average just $0.34 a day. Nine out of ten Mangyan have poor access to safe drinking water and the majority are illiterate. Historically nomadic and forest gatherers, the tribes often struggle to feed themselves, particularly during the rainy season which lasts four months. It is such a routine part of their life that they refer to it as "hungry period" like any other season of the year. The consequences are obvious as 60 per cent of Mangyan children are malnourished and infant mortality rates are so high that a child is considered fortunate to reach the age of ten.
Nowhere to go
Generations of isolation, discrimination and historical encroachment of their land by others have left Mangyan untrusting and fearful of the outside world. "First the lowlanders invaded our land and forced us to move to highlands and now we might be driven out again. Only this time we have nowhere to go," says Yagay Sebastian, leader of Buhid - one of the seven Mangyan tribes.
According to the government regulations, all indigenous peoples like Mangyan tribes must prove their ownership of the land they claim as rightfully theirs through title deeds and legally valid documentation. Given that majority of Mangyan are illiterate with limited contact with the outside world, their ability to support their claim is fraught with great challenges rendering them even more vulnerable.
"The threat of commercial exploitation of Mangyan's ancestral domain is real. Mining activities can pose threat to local environment and this may also result in displacement of the indigenous people," says Reynante Luna, Provincial Officer of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.
The Commission, set up by the national government, is mandated to promote and protect the best interests of the indigenous people. It was created after the Philippines government passed the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act to recognise indigenous peoples' communal and individual rights to their ancestral land along with their rights to self-governance, empowerment, social justice and human rights. However, nearly 15 years after enacting the law, very little has changed for Mangyans. "They remain among the poorest of the poor, still at the fringes of national priorities," says Diana San Jose, an anthropologist who is supporting Mangyan tribes as they compile evidence for their legal claim.
In the absence of a legal title, it will be a greater struggle for Mangyan tribes to challenge commercial use of their land. Luna confirms there are three pending applications related to commercial mining in the Provincial Office record alone. However, he assures that these applications will undergo field based investigation to determine if they overlap with any ancestral domain. "It will also be referred to the concerned local government for any existing moratorium on mining," he says.
This is no reprieve for Mangyan people. Even with all caveats, overlapping jurisdictions of local municipalities and national government have created gaping legal loopholes that make the situation worse for Mangyan. Ask Ed Gadiano, mayor of Sablayan - the largest municipality by area in the whole of Philippines. "Four years ago, Sablayan declared a moratorium on large scale mining for 25 years. Despite this, the national government granted exploration permit to a mining company on 9700 hectares of land," he says. With Gadiano's administration refusing to accept the occupation fee, the mining company has deposited 2 million pesos in a local court.
Already battling with severe poverty and exclusion, excessively private Mangyans are finding themselves in a morass of overwhelming bureaucracy. Most cannot comprehend that the land they have tilled and worshipped for centuries now requires a proof of ownership. They are relying on support from local and international community development organisations like Plan International to save the environment that they have strong spiritual and cultural connections with. "Some Mangyan tribes have already been awarded title of their ancestral land. We are assisting those who are still in the process," says Naty Silorio, a senior Plan official overseeing development projects with the Mangyan in the region.
Since 2005, Plan has been actively engaged in child-centred community development for Mangyan. "We are working with the local government in enabling the community to secure their rights and preserve their culture," says Silorio. For title claim, the organisation with support from the European Union is assisting Mangyan to survey their land, create 3D maps of their domain and document their oral history which is replete with references to geographical landmarks.
Securing the title is just the beginning for Mangyan as they head for even more testing times ahead. Leader Lumawig laments: "Our people have been offered bribes and some have ended up signing consent forms seeking commercial use of our land. We feel helpless and totally powerless."
Frustration is growing among Mangyan, but, just like the forests they inhabit, their dissent is remarkably peaceful. Shaken, they are resting their hopes on their ancestors to guide them through. "Non-violence is part of our beliefs. Our ancestors told us that God created the forests for Mangyan. I am sure they will protect us," hopes Lumawig. He believes he stands a chance with his prayers.
The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) is planning to connect the island of Mindoro to the main Luzon grid.
NGCP is the private operator of the country’s power transmission network.
In a petition before the Energy Regulatory Commission, NGCP said it plans to undertake the project, which will cost about P11 billion, to help improve power supply in the island.
“With the improvement of adequate and reliable power supply in the island as a result of the interconnection project, Mindoro will become more conducive for expanding businesses,” it said.
Under NGCP’s interconnection proposal, the island of Mindoro will be interconnected to the Luzon grid via submarine cables that will run through the 230-kilovolt (kV) substation in Batangas.
Two electricity distribution utilities—Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative and Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative — have long clamored for the project to help secure their power supply.
At present, only land-locked areas in Luzon and in Mindanao are connected to the grid while submarine cables link the islands of Cebu, Negros and Panay in the Visayas.
Mindoro gets its power supply from the National Power Corp.’s off-grid unit, the Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG), which operates a 24-megawatt (MW) and 10-MW diesel plant; a 7.5-MW bunker fuel generating unit; and a 1.6-MW mini-hydropower facility in the island.
NGCP said as soon as regulators approve the interconnection project, “Mindoro will have access to cheap power from generators in Luzon.”
Diesel plants, which provide bulk of the island’s power supply, are relatively more expensive than conventional generating facilities like those running on coal and natural gas.
The private grid operator said that proposed coal and hydro plants with a projected capacity of 203 MW in Mindoro up to 2016 would be able to export excess supply to Luzon as well as encourage new power projects.
“The interconnection project will also help encourage the development of possible coal-fired power plants within Mindoro which could utilize the existing rich coal resources in the island,” it added.
Phenomenal healing priest Fernando Suarez was amazed. It usually took six years for a new congregation to be set up, but in his case the vital elements of the process took only six days.
“I am in awe!” exclaimed Father Suarez, 44, his voice bringing out his childlike qualities—and his being Filipino.
Suarez has formed a new community named the Missionaries of Mary Mother of the Poor (MMP) under the Diocese of Occidental Mindoro after resigning from the Ottawa-based Companions of the Cross, which ordained him in 2002.
“I never thought that the process of my excardination and incardination would take place only within six days,” he said, noting the speed to be unprecedented. Excardination refers to a priest’s separation and release from a religious group, while incardination refers to his acceptance into another.
Big crowds, donations
Questions have been heard from various quarters on the status of the Batangas-born priest, who now attracts 100,000 to 150,000 people monthly to his healing Masses, apart from drawing substantial donations in cash and in kind from elite families, big corporations and sociocivic groups, not to mention big foreign donors for the projects of the Foundation of Mary Mother of the Poor.
Was he expelled by his Canada group? Had things gone into his head and he could no longer be controlled by his superiors? From Canada, he based himself in Batangas while his group was in Cavite, so why was there word that he would move to Mindoro?
Breaking his silence on these issues, Suarez said: “Overwhelmed by the grace of peace after a pilgrimage to the tomb of Mother Teresa in Calcutta last February, I resigned from the Companions of the Cross on March 25, 2011. Then, on March 31, 2011, I was accepted by the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, under Bishop Antonio Palang.”
On July 16, 2011, Palang decreed the establishment of the MMP as a “Public Association of Christ’s faithful.”
The decree stated: “Aimed at living the demands of evangelical counsels, healing, renewal and ministry to the poor with the intent of becoming a society of apostolic life, the MMP is hereby formally accepted for the service of our pastoral jurisprudence.”
The poor of Elin
To grow the mission, Suarez has been assigned to Elin (pronounced Eling) on the tip of Mindoro, an island three times the size of Boracay and which remains without roads and electricity.
“The place is so poor,” he said. “But that is an answered prayer as I have requested Bishop Palang to locate the mission with the poor.”
“Some have criticized me, saying that I do whatever I want, I go wherever I want to go all over the world. Perhaps if they come with me to Elin, they may say things differently,” the priest said.
“Things are happening fast. MMP now has 10 seminarians. Three will be ordained priests this August,” he added.
The MMP now has five core members, including three incoming priests and cofounder Father Jeff Shannon, also formerly of Companions. Bishop Palang was regarded as canonical founder, Suarez stressed.
Suarez remembered that on the day he was ordained, a priest came to him and foretold that he was going to receive such tremendous gifts from God that his group would not be able to contain him.
“In Canada, the Companions, to which I am so attached, tried their best to accommodate me and the demands on my healing ministry. But my calling has become so evident,” he recalled.
The young Fernando Suarez was a chemical engineering degree holder from Adamson University who worked for two years with the company CocoChem. He was engaged to be married at 25, but the engagement was called off the same day it was made when his girlfriend of 12 years said, “I think you are meant to be a priest.”
He entered the seminary run by the Society of the Divine Word (SVD).
Suarez recounted that in 1995 the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph appeared to him in a dream where he was told he would go to a “cold and windy place” and would tell the world of God’s love. Three days later, a man came to him and presented him documents for travel to Winnipeg, Canada.
“There really is no barrier to all that God has planned,” the priest said, making a reference to a key message he delivered in his sermon on Saturday, Feast of the Transfiguration.
Obviously in his element at the new site of the Oratory of Our Lady of Montemaria, an MMP Foundation project situated on a breezy hillside expanse in San Alfonso, Cavite, Suarez repeatedly exhorted those present to emerge from the Mass “fully in awe of the power of God.”
“Our Lord heals you all now. He wants you to be in awe, in great amazement of His powers, because He wants you to surrender to Him all your aches, pains and troubles,” he said, drumming up his message in between folksy anecdotes of his healing experiences.
The crowd broke into laughter when he narrated that just the other day, at the Philippine Army headquarters, “napatumba ko ang mga heneral! (I knocked the generals down).”
Prayed over and brought to a state known as being “slain by the Holy Spirit,” the military officers were literally reduced to fallen generals before the power of the Lord, he said.
Suarez’s healing Masses will continue to be held on weekends at Montemaria, with permission from Bishop Palang and Bishop Chito Tagle of Cavite.
The priest glowed with anticipation over the spiritual yield of his new community, one which he said would seek a “new springtime of the Church” through the renewal of priests.
Seeing the healing ministry as a unifier of the Church, Suarez said: “There is healing when there is unity. Hatred breaks. Healing is forgiving and forgiving unites. Unity is healing.”
This tale is fraught with sharks and treasure, pirates and poachers, strife and solutions. Come, dive with me!
“Apo Reef is the ‘Jewel of Mindoro,’” former Sablayan Mayor Godofreido Mintu told me recently over a seafood dinner. “Perhaps you may come to realize just what its treasure is, but only after you dive.”
Having nursed a lifelong fascination with both pirate lore and bizarre quests, I felt the old man’s words strike home.
And now, surrounded by undersea life 65 feet below the eastern face of Apo Island in Occidental Mindoro, I pray to Poseidon and embark on a treasure hunt—a quest to find the true “jewels” of the deep.
I drift leisurely, propelled alongside a heavily encrusted sea wall by invisible ocean currents. My attention shifts to the wall, where neon-hued fairy basslets frolic amid the swaying tips of crimson gorgonians.
I peer in to inspect their knobby rows of polyps, careful not to touch anything, Leave No Trace principles being of primary importance.
A minute later, an impossibly huge school of yellow-dashed fusiliers (Pterocaesio randalli) appears. I try to estimate their number but they coalesce into a single mass that fills my vision end to end. In a moment they are gone.
This is truly Poseidon’s realm. Consider that 71 percent of the planet is covered in water, and 97 percent of that forms its vast oceans.
Covering just 1 percent of the ocean floor, coral reefs host an incredible variety of life: One in four marine creatures live within these undersea oases, and nowhere are these more beautiful and productive than in the wondrous Pacific archipelago known as the Philippines.
Origin of life and legend
Apo Reef lies at the northern tip of the Coral Triangle, a 5.7-million-square-kilometer region that spans the seas of six countries—the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.
A fourth of the world’s islands lie nestled within this exquisite region, distinguished by the presence of at least 500 species of reef-building coral.
The Coral Triangle is so abundant in marine life that it has been hailed by globally renowned coral expert and author Dr. Charlie Veron as “the center of Earth’s marine diversity.” It is home to 605 of the 798 known reef-building corals and 2,228 types of reef fish that include the Sulawesi Coelacanth (Latimeria menadoensis), a living relic of the dinosaur era thought to have been extinct for some 70 million years.
Like the Bermuda Triangle, the Coral Triangle has spawned a variety of folklore. During the Age of Sail, both pirates and privateers swore of surmounting enchanting mermaids, wailing sirens, ship-tearing kraken and all manner of sea monsters.
The region is actually an enormous undersea food factory, whose produce directly benefits half a billion people yearly. A single square kilometer of healthy reef can produce more than 40 metric tons of grouper, oyster, tuna and other forms of seafood year after year.
Obviously, the potential of our seas to sustain life, both human and otherwise, is leviathan.
In Greek mythology, the infant Zeus nursed from a bountiful horn carried by the nymph Amalthea. This so-called Cornucopian Horn came to be associated with wealth and abundance.
Properly protected, the Philippines’ 27,000 square kilometers of coral reefs can turn into a Cornucopian Horn, providing for the needs of millions in a very real bid to stamp out Asian poverty.
But Paradise lies troubled. For more than a century, coastal development, destructive fishing practices, coral mining, sedimentation, overfishing, chemical pollution and the effects of climate change (such as ocean warming, acidification and coral bleaching) have been waging an undersea war against our marine enclaves.
The Philippines, together with Indonesia, hosts the world’s most threatened coral reefs, less than 5 percent of which remain in excellent condition. Faced with this problem, many countries within the Coral Triangle have established Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to conserve what’s left.
“[MPAs] evolved when people realized that portions of coral reefs needed continual protection to stay productive,” explains Joel Palma, conservation programs vice president of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). “These areas go by a host of names: MPAs, fish sanctuaries or no-take zones. All of them are loosely defined as inter- or subtidal spots reserved by law for the protection of a given area.”
Today, the Philippines hosts about 10 percent of the world’s MPAs—more than 500, more than any in Southeast Asia. Established largely through local government initiatives and maintained through the blood, sweat and tears of coastal communities, these undersea enclaves provide safe havens for Philippine marine life as well as a growing number of eco-conscious tourists.
But many MPAs are plagued by a lack of funding. Mismanagement is rife: Only a little over 100 are properly administered; the rest are “paper parks”—areas urgently needing funding and professional management.
Hunting incursions are recurring sources of friction between the Philippines and its neighbors.
In September 2007, 126 endangered green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and 10,000 turtle eggs were found aboard China’s F/V 01087 in Sulu.
In August 2008, 101 critically endangered hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) were found aboard Vietnam’s F/V Q.ng 91234-TS near El Nido in Palawan.
In April 2009, 14 green sea turtles were found aboard an unmarked Chinese speedboat near Cauayan, also in El Nido.
Since the 1990s, WWF has been working with the private sector, the government and civil society in furthering scientific research, policy reform, protected area and community-based management within the Coral Triangle. Its Philippine office has pioneered the establishment and upkeep of MPAs in some of the country’s best-known and most productive coral reefs.
Two of the best-managed MPAs are Apo Reef off Occidental Mindoro and Tubbataha Reefs off Palawan.
Wonders of ‘payaw’
Much of Apo Reef, the country’s largest (34 square kilometers) and a former world-class dive site, is in an abysmal state after 30 years of destructive fishing.
In October 2007, WWF and the local government of Sablayan in Mindoro spearheaded the total closure of Apo Reef to fishing. Alternative livelihood programs and a robust ecotourism drive were instituted to keep livelihoods afloat while allowing the reef ample time to recover.
Giant fish aggregation devices—locally called payaw—were installed to provide alternate fishing spots for coastal communities.
The crude but effective contraptions feature a buoy, a counterweight and 10 to 20 giant coconut fronds. Algae growths on the decomposing fronds attract herbivores such as surgeonfish and rabbitfish, which then draw larger predators.
Local group leader Elmo Bijona testifies to the effectiveness of the devices: “A single payaw can daily yield maybe 15 kilograms of good fish per boat. You can land tambakol, tulingan, galunggong and even yellowfin tuna on any given night.”
The steady rise in the size and number of fish has been matched by an upsurge of tourists, proving that ecological stewardship goes hand in hand with profit.
There are even more dramatic results in other model sites. From 2004 to 2005, the world-renowned Tubbataha Reefs doubled yearly fish biomass from 166 to 318 metric tons per square kilometer—a yield seven times more productive than a typical reef.
Tubbataha’s fertile reefs also constantly seed adjoining regions such as eastern Palawan and western Visayas with fish and invertebrate spawn.
Through the work of WWF and its allies, Apo Reef may one day be what Tubbataha is now.
Apo Reef differs from all other WWF project sites in that it is kept afloat almost exclusively by donations.
For example, “Bright Skies for Every Juan” enjoins Cebu Pacific passengers to indirectly offset the ecological impacts of their flights by donating to the upkeep of the reef.
The program combines the efforts of WWF, Cebu Pacific, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Sablayan government to boost the region’s resilience to climate change impacts through MPA protection, promotion of responsible ecotourism and introduction of alternative livelihoods.
“Cebu Pacific’s decision to spearhead climate adaptation is a prime example of private-sector leadership,” says WWF-Philippines CEO Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan.
“Our government alone cannot turn back the tide of climate effects. It is the private sector that has the skills needed to think incisively, move efficiently and manage risk,” he says.
In the face of worsening climate impacts, protecting biodiversity enclaves makes perfect sense. “Our work in Apo Reef and other protected areas focuses on more than just biodiversity conservation: Should we succeed in halting climate change, these pockets of marine resilience will provide the building blocks to restore natural mechanisms that provide food and livelihood for millions of people. This is a natural investment,” Tan says.
Back in Apo Reef, the hunt continues. Over an hour’s exploration has yielded little in the way of jewels or answers.
The dawn rays slice through the water, reflecting off a shadow 30 feet away. Perhaps, I reflect, what’s important in treasure hunting is the journey.
The best hunters have all learned to pick out treasure from trash. So too must we allow the hunt to transform the hunter.
Inexorably, the shadow morphs into a white-tip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus), itself on a hunt, as evidenced by its menacing motions. I tense up, one gloved hand cupping a dive knife used more for show than anything else.
The shark torpedoes onward. Time slows down. Suddenly an enveloping shadow smothers all light!
Puzzled, I gaze upward and realize just what drew the shark in the first place. The fusiliers, thousands upon thousands of them, have returned. The shark pulls up and dives into the mass.
As I watch the fascinating interplay between predator and prey, I notice, as if for the first time, the fusiliers’ gleaming hues of cobalt, ruby and gold, gloriously illuminated by the morning.
Then and there I realize that the shark’s hunt has led me to the end of mine.
As in the grandest treasure tales, the most valuable fortunes really do lie in the depths. As inhabitants of the world’s second-largest archipelago, we must realize that the sea’s greatest treasure is its ability to provide, but that providence can only continue when we learn to protect what we have been gifted with.
At the apex of the Coral Triangle, 65 feet below the Jewel of Mindoro, I finally accomplish my treasure hunt.
The wedding month is approaching and for couples who ran out of ideas how to make that special day truly exciting and memorable, Cocobeach offers that unique setting.
Ive been there myself several times because I just really love the place and the warm reception from the staff.
Candidates for the Miss Philippines-Earth pageant have invaded Calapan, Mindoro on Friday for their long gown competition and first elimination round.
Of the 48 hopefuls for the Miss Philippines-Earth title, 10 will be eliminated after the formal gown showdown at the Calapan Gym.
Meanwhile, the candidates took part in the town’s Santacruzan watched by more than 20,000 people who lined the parade route.
The beauty pageant participants then went straight to Sto. Niño Church and Holy Infant Academy, where ABS-CBN President Charo Santos studied high school and graduated as valedictorian.
They then went to the town's coastal barangays to plant mangrove trees.
This is part of the pageant’s advocacy to take care of the environment.
The Miss Earth beauties also took time to see the natural wonder of Caluwagan Lake created by the earthquake that struck Mindoro in 1994.
After Friday’s tour around the town and the long gown competition, eliminations for the pageant will be held every week until the top 10 finalists are chosen.
Coronation night for Miss Philippines-Earth will be held on June 5 in Puerto Princesa.
Aside from Mindoro, the beauty queen hopefuls are also set to visit the provinces of Ilocos, Rizal, Quezon and other towns where the Miss Earth beauties came from.
Miss Philippines-Earth is the second beauty pageant which ABS-CBN supports after Binibining Pilipinas. - With reports from Ginger Conejero, ABS-CBN News; and ANC
Cora Senigman, an Alangan-Mangyan, went to town to sell six kaings (large baskets) of calamansi she and five other Mangyans harvested for three days. The merchandiser wanted to buy her produce at P1 per kilo. The total amount would not even cover her transportation expenses. Refusing to be fooled and out of frustration, she just threw away the calamansi.
Rowena Lindog, a Tadwayan-Mangyan from Socorro, Oriental Mindoro, said the merchandiser bought their camote, a root crop, at P10 for three kilos.
Yamo Bangdayan, a Hanunuo-Mangyan from Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro, told Bulatlat.com that merchandisers buy 100 pieces of banana for P50 and five kilos of camote for P60 to P70.
Luz Brozula, director of the Integrated Development Program for Indigenous Peoples (IDPIP) of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP)-Southern Luzon Jurisdiction, said that Mangyans are often duped by capitalists because of their lack of formal education and because of their kindness.
“The pay we get could not compensate for our hard work,” Rowena, a mother of seven, said.
“We always experience hunger,” Cora, a mother of three, said.
The Mangyans are the original inhabitants in Mindoro provinces. Divided in seven groups, they comprise 20 percent of the population of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, numbering more than 200,000.
Each of the seven groups—Hanunuo, Alangan, Gubatnon, Buhid, Bangon and Tadyawan—has its own language and traditions that they practice to this day.
Farming is their means of livelihood. They plant root crops such as gabi (taro) and camote (sweet potato), banana and vegetables. Many practice kaingin or slash-and-burn. Few are able to plant palay (rice) and raise poultry.
“We do many things in order to survive,” Cora said. “If one could not be done, we do the other,” she said, citing planting palay, selling banana or root crops or making charcoal.
Rice and pansit with sardine sauce is already a feast for Mangyans(Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / bulatlat.com)
Pastor Marcelo Carculan, chairman of the Mangyan group Hagibbat, related that San Miguel Corp. went to their community in Balao village, Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro last April 10 and bought balinghoy (cassava), a root crop. “The Mangyans were told they would be paid P150 per kilo. They agreed, thinking it was P150 but it turned out to be P1.50 for every kilo,” Carculan said.
Mangyans who work in the farms of Tagalog farmers, are paid P150 a day. They are not provided food. For those who plant palay, Mangyans borrow P1,000 and pay four sacks of rice, Carculan said.
Cora, who lives in Dulangan tres village, Baco, Oriental Mindoro, is among those who plant palay in a land that has been covered by Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) since 1996.
“Even before the land was placed under CARP, we, the indigenous people, have cultivated it for many years. We were told that a landlord owns the land and we have to pay compensation,” Cora said.
In 1996, Cora said the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) pegged the compensation at P60,000 per hectare to be paid in a span ten years. In 2011, the compensation was increased to P100,000 per hectare. “Last April 8, the DAR told us to pay at the Landbank [of the Philippines]. How could we?” she said.
Cora said they harvest ten sacks for every hectare of land. Seven sacks go to DAR as payment for the land and only three are left with them. The supply would last for three months.
Although they work from dawn until night, they do not have enough food for their families.
“We eat camote or banana,” Cora said.
Yamo said they only eat rice once or twice a week. “If we have tiangge (small market), we can eat rice,” he said, but added that the local government is planning to ban tiangge in the communities.
Rowena said they seldom eat meat, only when they are able to raise poultry.
Cora said to be able to get more food for the children, many Mangyan women would pick palay from the thresher.
Deprived of Social Services
Aggravating their miserable economic conditions is the lack of government’s social services.
For one, health services are alien to most Mangyans.
Only during medical and dental missions such as this that Mangyans are able to avail free health services.(Photo by Angelica de Lara / bulatlat.com)
From Yamo’s place, for example, the nearest hospital is a ten-kilometer walk and a jeepney ride that cost P50. While there is a health center in Mansalay, Yamo said, a doctor is barely there.
Altang Dawsig, a Bangon-Mangyan from Lisap village in Bongabong town, Oriental Mindoro, said they have to walk the whole day to go to the nearest hospital. Altang said the village health center nearby collects fees and there is no doctor there most of the time.
“Many of our tribesmen die without reaching the hospital,” Altang said.
Malaria afflicts most of Mangyan communities. Many also die of tuberculosis.
Malnutrition rate is high among the children. Children die of treatable diseases such as diarrhea and measles.
Residents of Oriental Mindoro province would have better access to health care with the opening Friday of the new provincial hospital, the Oriental Mindoro Medical Center, in this city.
Governor Alfonso V. Umali Jr. said the province could now offer better health service to its people with the opening of the 200-bed facility in Barangay Sta. Isabel.
The hospital, built for P200 million, was mainly funded by a European grant with counterparts from both the local and national governments, said Umali.
The Department of Health recently approved P232 million for the completion of all satellite hospitals in Oriental Mindoro located in the towns of Pinamalayan, Bulalacao, Roxas, Naujan, Mansalay, and Puerto Galera; the rural health unit in Socorro; as well as its counterpart fund in the construction of the Oriental Mindoro Medical Center.
The establishment of a new provincial hospital in Oriental Mindoro was part of the Health Sector Development Program of the national government, which was launched in 16 pilot provinces in the country, according to a statement released by the provincial information office here.
Kabayanihan Foundation (KF) founder and chairman emeritus Alex Lacson was the guest of honor at the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new classroom for the Daan Elementary School in Brgy. Villareal in Socorro, Oriental Mindoro, donated in memory of barangay chairman So King Hui and initiated by the KF.
Kabayani Gerardo Gamez grew up in this barangay and he experienced firsthand the difficulty of not having enough classrooms for students. When he was in grade five, he remembered sharing the same classroom with other grade levels and studying while rain waters flooded the room. As part of the advocacy on education and community development of KF, he decided to help give back to the community by helping them build a classroom.
The turnover ceremony began with a performance of the Socorro Hymn and the Mindoro March by grades 4 and 5 students. The school principal Merlene Fabregas and district supervisor Celestina Patulot thanked the donors, saying they hope that more individuals and organizations will take interest in helping schools provide the facilities the students need.
A donation from Robert So of Ecotech Systems Inc. helped build the classroom structure while the Alpha Kappa Rho Alumni Council provided the tables and chairs for the students. Other donors helped complete the classroom painting and provided other amenities.
In the spirit of true bayanihan, parents and students worked together to build the classroom before the next school year begins this June.
Lacson shared his own experience as a student coming from a provincial elementary school. Although it can be difficult, he pointed out that the experience molded him into the man he is today.
“There are a lot of great leaders and successful men and women who studied in schools similar to Daan Elementary,” he said. “I hope that the next great businessmen, leaders or even the next president would come from the classroom that we’ve built here.”
Kabayanihan Foundation believes that every Filipino is a kabayani – isang kabayan na isa ring bayani (a fellowman/woman who is also a hero).
In response to the shortage of almost 152,000 classrooms reported by the Department of Education, KF hopes to bring together individual and group donors with the goal of building more classrooms around the country.
For more information, visit www.kabayanihan.org or email email@example.com
The Department of Health (DOH) released a total of P232 million allocation to beef up the funds needed for the completion of all satellite hospitals in Oriental Mindoro.
The funds also included the completion of the newly-constructed Oriental Mindoro Medical Center here, according to DOH Secretary Enrique T. Ona,
Ona ordered the release of the funds to boost the condition of public hospitals in the area following his visit to the island-province recently.
The DOH secretary announced the national government’s fund assistance as part of President Benigno Aquino III’s commitment to increase the level of health services in the entire country.
Accompanied by Governor Alfonso V. Umali Jr., Provincial Health Officer Normando Legaspi and Provincial Administrator Angel Saulong, Ona not only made rounds of all hospitals here but also in other satellite public hospitals outside Calapan.
Come to Sablayan! and Discover the Wonders!
A moderate 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit Occidental Mindoro early Friday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.
The intermediate quake, with a depth of 101 kilometers, was felt 15 kilometers east of Looc town, at 3:06 a.m. Intensity 2 was felt in Batangas City, Phivolcs said.
No damages were reported but Phivolcs warned of possible aftershocks.
A story of hope for the Mangyan Tribe of Mindoro, a people who were never considered and for the most part, forgotten. This January sees the promise of a new and better life as they are given decent homes and livelihood programs.
Cheche Lazaro Presents. February 13, 2011. ABS-CBN.
The PUP Sablayan Campus Office is tentatively housed at the Old ABC Building, located at the Municipal Compound.
It is manned by five IT literate personnel hired by LGU Sablayan. The office is equipped with 3 computer units, printers, webcam and a landline with internet connection.
A teleconferencing equipment cum flat TV is provided by PUP Main Campus (Sta. Mesa).
Simultaneous to the construction of a 3-storey building with 18 classrooms is the upgrading of 3 strategic access roads to the PUP Sablayan Campus.
On November 11, 2010 the Open University Graduate School Program commenced with 40 enrollees in Master in Public Administration and 47 in Master in Educational Management.
Off line sessions for the MPA students were held at the Sanggunian Bayan Session Hall, while the MEM students held their class sessions at the Sablayan National Comprehensive High School (SABNACOHIS).
Five recruits from the locality were hired as part time mentors.
The deployment of Director Resa T. Suarez as Campus Director of PUP Sablayan Campus was indeed a big relief and a meaningful boost to the LGU Sablayan Technical Working Group.
With Director Resa’s expertise and experience in pioneering tasks, high hopes built up on PUP Sablayan Campus’ momentum to being a prime government college in Occidental Mindoro.
A sequel to the MOA Signing was the Formal Launching of PUP Sablayan Campus on October 26, 2010. It was indeed a milestone, punctuated by Groundbreaking Rite at the site, Ribbon Cutting of the PUP Sablayan Campus office, Conduct of Entrance Exam for the Graduate School Program of the Open University System and a Cultural Presentation featuring ’Amazing Sablayan’!