One Community at a Time: Connecting with the Indigenous People of San Ildefonso Peninsula

Posted by admin | Posted on May 23, 2016
The
Creation of HAPI – AURORA, A Call for Support for the Dumagat IPs Learning
Program
By: Jennifer C. Gutierrez

HAPI Chapters are usually created when an
officer happens to encounter a real humanist in action. What’s not peculiar is
that, these extraordinary people don’t even know what individuals
like them are called!
I met teacher Eloisa Delos Santos during my
last trip to Aurora province, through an
invitation from a group of doctors/friends.  As I marvel at the beauty of the very far
flung island, a two hour wavy boat ride from
Dinalungan eight hours away from Manila, I can’t
help but be in awe of the warm and friendly people of this province, most
especially the dedication of teacher Eloisa to educate the Dumagats by any
means available to her.

 Some of the Dumagat indigenous people
(IP). They rarely get formally educated. Their major livelihood involves
fishing.  The one on the far left is just
16 years old and beside her, the little boy aged 3 years old is her oldest
son.  She just gave birth 4 months ago to
her second child.

The San Ildefonso peninsula house these
indigenous people (IP), they are but a small mostly
isolated community.  In fact, if
one wishes to go to school, a child has to
travel at least 2 hours by boat. This makes schooling almost impossible.
Teacher Eloisa who teaches at the major
town of Aurora, which is Baler, would occasionally travel a total of 4 hours via land and boat to San Ildefonso
to visit her siblings at the locale. This affords her the opportunity to teach these kids basic
education, like reading and writing, at the same time.
HAPI ED Jenny congratulating Teacher
Eloisa Delos Santos for being HAPI’s new lead convener for Aurora
During an interview, I
asked her how she was able to perform her tasks in the area without so much as facilities
to hold lessons in, she told me that she makes use of the walls of the house and, at times, boards
and “uling” (charcoal) as writing instruments
when the chalks run out.  She also makes requests
for  donations of old books from
her friends in town, providing a valuable and scarce
resource to the youth of this community upon her every return. She carries
these heavy books and transports them on a boat.  Some within the
community do not have much to share by means of donation, but their moving concern
for humanity is readily apparent in their willingness to offer aid. I
told her that what she’s doing is very humanistic and that she is a true humanist.
She asked me what it was and I told her that it is a philosophy, but more of a
way of life and action. Helping improve human kind is the basic tenet of this
principle. I told her about HAPI and how much its members
 vary across the faithful and faithless
alike. I told her that I myself am a non-believer and she was very
surprised by this. I continued saying that anyone can be a good and loving
human being even without gods to believe in. Her mind was opened, she was
surprised but she was blown away by the idea, that such a thing exists.
I asked her if she wants our help even if
some of us and the possible donors are non-believers, she said yes and it will
be very much appreciated, after all, what is important is that this will help educate kids as they grow up.
I am offering to
send her a whiteboard and pens as initial
donations to help her in teaching these young minds. I asked her to lead
this chapter with a hope that she can continue to
improve literacy among the Dumagats. Perhaps later, to introduce even more concepts of the world,
including arithmetic, GMRC and even critical thinking.

HAPI wants to help this community, to share the light of knowledge through informal but
effective schooling despite having no access to formal
schools. We have found a humanist, Teacher Eloisa, who is willing to teach them, but we’re calling on your
generous hearts now to give these kids a hopeful future
as well by supporting our wish to build them a simple and sustainable
learning program.
We can improve humanity,
one community at a time, through education. Help by being a part of this
endeavor. Old books or workbooks, crayons, pencil and
paper will come a long way for them. Help, contribute
and donate, let’s make the world a better place.
  

 The exact location of the area visited, almost at the tip of the San Ildefonso Peninsula in Casiguran,Aurora. Notice the distance from Manila, 8-10 hours by land plus 2 hours by motorized boat.

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