By: Brenda Pureza
Story contributors: Mary Grace dela Cruz and Engr. Claire Hope Legario
Photo: Members of One Calinog during Project Tumandok
CALINOG, ILOILO – A perilous journey to school and a lack of basic school necessities; these are the issues faced by the indigenous peoples of Panay-Bukidnon, also known as the Tumandok.
For Calinog’s living treasures, and some of the last bearers of its cultural heritage, a daily walk to school involves traversing mountainsides, crossing rivers and walking for hours on end.
All these with barely enough school supplies to use for the day.
Grace dela Cruz and Claire Legario saw these first hand during one of their onsite visits at Intapi-an Elementary School. Grace and Claire are CheckMySchool volunteers from partner organization, One Calinog Organization, Inc.
In 2017, One Calinog is recognized by the National Youth Commission and TAYO Foundation as one of the twenty accomplished youth organizations in the Philippines. It puts forth education as a top advocacy.
“Through CheckMySchool, One Calinog was able to touch the lives of the teachers and the learners by making an effort to determine their needs and issues to attain quality education.” Grace explained.
She refers to CheckMySchool’s prescribed process of collecting information and analyzing the issues before calling government’s attention.
Based on their assessment of the school needs, One Calinog stepped up and made their own effort to address the identified needs. They launched Project Tumandok: a cultural awareness and back-to-school campaign.
The project donates basic school necessities, such as bags, school supplies and learning materials for the students. These could hopefully encourage them to stay in school despite the hardships that they have to endure on a daily basis.
Done every start of the school year, it is their way of helping the Tumandok children prepare for school after the long summer.
Photo: One of the students happily showing his kit during Project Tumandok
“We are trying to fill a gap that is not addressed, helping families cope with the rising cost of education so that their children will have equal access and fighting chance for quality education. What we provide may not be enough, but it certainly helps, and that is what matters.” Grace said.
In line with this, One Calinog also started the installation of a mini-library hub in one of the Tumandok communities, made possible through a book drive campaign.
Photo: Tumandok children after being given their school supplies
Grace believes that One Calinog has embraced CheckMySchool’s call for transparency and social accountability, and it has been truly proactive in applying it. Aside from reporting school issues to responsible government offices, their group was also able to initiate concrete efforts to help the schoolchildren.