Bukidnon Visit: Meeting our Tigwahanon scholars.

As the travel restrictions loosened up, OHF took the opportunity to visit the Tigwahanon scholars on March 17, 2022. The monitoring team was led by ED Rosalinda Perez with the equally hardworking Board of Trustees, Dr. Carol Dacanay (Chairman), Ms. Marlyn Fernando (Secretary), and Atty. Natalia Guinto (Treasurer).  The team had a day rich with productive-fun-learning and heart-warming interaction with the 5 OHF scholars, their parents, and the other 18 Tigwahanon scholars of the New Tribes Mission (NTM) Philippines, our partner. 

OHF presently supports 5 Tigwahanon scholars from the Manobo tribe in the mountain ranges of San Fernando, Bukidnon. This became possible through our partnership with the New Tribes Mission (NTM) Philippines, a faith-based non-government organization working with the tribe since 2011.

Its partnership with NTM Phils. started in 2018 supporting 14 Junior High School Tigwahanon students.  Yet, the existing cultural practice of marrying off at an early age, trimmed down the 14 to 5 scholars at present.   During the visit, OHF reinstated its continued support to remaining scholars with the meeting held between OHF Exec. Director and Board of Trustees and NTM Head Pastor, Allan Capili and his team for the final discussions on the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the 2 organizations. 

The meeting with the OHF scholars and their parents was heart-warming.  The scholars shared the challenges faced with their studies during the new learning set-up brought about by the pandemic, how the NTM staff assisted them with their studies, and how the Foundation’s support inspired them to continue.  Their parents shared heartfelt stories of sacrifices, words of encouragement, and support to their children to pursue their education despite their limitations.  They expressed their gratitude to both OHF and NTM for the support to their children because as they mentioned, ‘the children may not be able to reach high school if only through their support.  In response, OHF Board Members, Dr. Carol, and Ms. Marlyn gave messages of encouragement and inspiration to the group.

OHF Executive Director, Ms. Linda Perez, also committed to continue the monthly allowance provided to the 5 scholars.  And to help augment meeting academic requirements of our college scholar who is the first in their tribe to reach college and the 2 others who will be in college next school year, she also promised to provide laptop units to use.    

The day ended with an interactive, fun-filled learning experience with the 23 Tigwahanon youth who attended the learning session on UNCRC and Child Rights and Responsibilities conducted by Program Area Coordinator (PAC) in charge, Ms. Janette Corollo, RSW.  Discussed were the widely recognized international human rights treaty signed by 198 nations, the UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child), the 4 basic fundamental rights of the child, and the corresponding responsibilities. 

From this session, the Tigwahanon youth participants shared that they were able to recognize that they are entitled to these rights. It made them aware that they should take the opportunities provided by the government and other organizations that offer free education, and health services and in participating in activities that would allow them to express their thoughts and opinions.  Likewise, they learned the need to be ‘disciplined’ and ‘respectful’ and ‘responsible’ in fulfilling their roles in accordance with these rights’. As a token, the participants received a personal hygiene kit. 

The visit was certainly a fruitful experience for the OHF team.  Special thanks to the warm welcome, Pastor Allan Capili, wife Ms. Lorena, and the volunteer staff, Ms. Edcar Frondozo, who are always there to assist the Foundation.  Most especially to the Tigwahanon youth and parents – continue to strive hard and support one another. 

Prepared by: Janette C. Corollo, RSW, Program Area Coordinator 1