Story contributed by: Pahad W. Abbas
Photo courtesy of CheckMySchool Mindanao
LABANGAN, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR– According to nearby barangays, traveling on foot to Glab Elementary School in Labangan, Zamboanga Del Sur is a three-day trek up a mountain. This entails crossing numerous rivers and treacherous cliffs. The school is located so high up the mountain, Labangan residents half-jokingly say that the journey is comparable to a trip to heaven.
“Piso lang ang pamasahe, makakarating ka na sa langit. Makikita mo pa si San Pedro sa gate.”, a common remark among the residents due to the school’s steep location.
(“For just a peso, you’ll be taking a trip to heaven. You’ll even see Saint Peter by the gates.”)
Because of the school’s remote location, students and their parents, most of whom are members of the indigenous Subanen tribe living within the area of the school, have to make a long and dangerous descent to attend the annual graduation ceremony. This is held in Cogonan Elementary School down at the barangay proper. The graduation rites are held here to cater to invited guests who are unwilling to travel to Glab Elementary School.
CMS volunteers, led by then coordinator Faye Reyes, went to Glab Elementary School for data validation, proving that no mountain is high enough when people are committed to help. “Apat na beses ako nag-collapse papunta doon dahil sa tarik ng bundok at sa layo, pati na rin ang dulas ng ilog. There are no means of transportation available, pero pumunta kami para rin patunayan na kaya naman pala akyatin ang school.” said Pahad Abbas, current Labangan chapter coordinator.
(“I collapsed four times because of the steepness of the mountain and the slippery river beds. There are no means of transportation available, but we went to the school to prove that it is indeed accessible.”)
He also noted that the trip only took a day, and that rumors of the three-day trek weren’t true.
According to Glab Elementary School head teacher Joel Arnejo, no other monitoring organization or evaluators have reached the school and the community to look at their needs.
“Nagpapasalamat kami sa CMS kasi kayo pa lang ang unang bumisita sa school namin to see what our situation is.” he told CMS during their visit.
(“We would like to thank CMS for being the first to visit our school to actually see what our situation is.”)
CheckMySchool informed the Department of Education (DepEd) District Supervisor Dr. Juvy T. Emplamado of their visit. Soon, they decided that succeeding graduation ceremonies would be held at Glab Elementary School. During one of their Teachers’ Conferences, Dr. Emplamado remarked, “Kung kaya ng CMS pumunta, tayo pa kaya.”
(“If CMS can make it there, we can make it as well.”)
Written by: Eric Michael Santos
Edited by: Brenda Pureza