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Friday, October 10, 2014

Indigenous Peoples Education in Mountain Province

The Culminating Activity for the Teachers’ Month (September 5 to October 5) side by side with the Indigenous Peoples Education (IPED) Congress was done in Bontoc, Mountain Province last week. That is also the start of a series of activities in DepEd- Mountain Province to celebrate the Indigenous Peoples Month. Since IP Education is the K to 12 of Mountain Province and that of the whole CAR, this is written to advocate and clarify what IPEd is all about. In a series of formal and informal gatherings and talks with people, many including educators themselves are hesitant to do IPEd on the thought that this is forcing us and our children to go back to the archaic past. Others have the notion that IPEd will keep us tied only to our ancestral domain. There are many misconceptions that we need to clarify if we want IPEd to move on. What is Indigenous Peoples Education? Why only now? How is it to be done? Who are involved? These are just some of the many questions that keep on bugging the very first people who should be implementing this. For sure, IPEd is not JUST education to the IPs whereby the former is simply bringing education to where the IPs are whether that education is appropriate or not. It is simply teaching the IPs how to read, write and do mathematics. In the end, most of the times, the learners will hardly be able to connect what they have learned inside the classroom to the real-life scenario. In the context of Mountain Province and even the Cordillera Administrative Region, IPEd is K to 12 itself. K to 12 was purposely designed to be contextualized, to make it relevant and appropriate to wherever it will be brought to within the country. Putting it loosely, when it is brought to the Bicolanos and it is contextualized by them, then it is Bicolano education; when it is contextualized by the Ilocanos, then it becomes Ilocano education. In other words, K to 12 is likened to a chameleon, while it changes colors to blend in it is still the same K to 12 that DepEd is implementing. It is not being done correctly then if it is not contextualized to be suited to the local scenario. It adheres and strongly includes and implements the principles of appropriateness to its direct client. It recognizes the importance of the much-debated Mother-tongue. It recognized that English and Filipino are not the only school languages but even our own and that our own language is not just a dialect after all. It respected the very basic fact that learning can still be effective even if we start with our own and that our own language is that important also. The Japanese, Koreans and Chinese all mastered their own languages. Seldom do you meet any of them with perfectly good English but they have the skills to live by. Now, they are soaring in the field of technology while we are still wallowing in our own limitations like our inability to speak perfectly good English and our inability to use our own acquired knowledge to improve our technology. While making watches and using solar cells seem to be a plaything to high school Japanese students, our own graduate students still have a hard time distinguishing the proper way to connect wires. Indeed, we can in general speak better English but what have we got after that? So, I disagree when people look down on the use of Mother-tongue fearing that their children will know less. For sure, it will be the opposite. Having monitored the implementation of Mother-tongue, I do agree to its effectiveness on developing the higher order thinking skills of the learners. The children can think and answer without inhibitions questions as , “Why do you think so? , How come that came about? How do you think will this end? How could we make it better?” and so on and so forth – questions they can hardly answer if asked in 2nd languages as English and Filipino. This is so because, the language barrier was already transcended with Mother-tongue, making the learners more active and thus, developing confidence in their own selves. I have also encountered experiences as learners who were taught to speak in other languages without being taught their own language. Mother-tongue time is also a time for them to come in touch with their own language, with their own identity for language carries with it the soul of your own ethnicity. With Mother-tongue, the learners will establish their own identity and know their own selves better minus the confusions of the importance of their own. Mother-tongue is IPEd in itself. Slowly, as the years go by, these learners are introduced to other languages and if they are already confident on their own, the entrance of the other languages will be easier. Indeed Mother-tongue is developing the 3=Cs which are confidence, comprehension and cultural identity of the learners. Further, DepEd-CAR as, through the leadership of the Regional Director Ellen B. Donato, exercised its self-determination made a move at the Central Office that if they want the principles of Mother-tongue to really be successful, they have to recognize other languages in the locality aside from the major ones – and, it was granted. A move was also made to try to reconsider the Roxas law on the DepEd Planning Standards. Thus, IPEd really cause each of the duty bearers to reflect and see how they can help improve the services being rendered. Relevance and appropriateness are some of K to 12’s guiding principles. Without contextualizing or indigenizing K to 2, it will not therefore be relevant and appropriate. Our children will be lost in the classroom and will be lost further outside the classroom. What they learned inside the classroom would seem to be inapplicable outside. Concepts and principles will all be abstract good only for the classroom. Out of pure irritation and frustration, I once asked my College Algebra instructor why we have to learn all the x and y when the truth is we use real numbers. Her answer further erased my interest since she does not also know (But maybe she was also taken aback by my question that she did not have time enough to think of it.) why the administration offers that to us. If the Algebra teacher cannot answer a simple question as that taking into consideration that they are the very first ones who can understand the concepts of x and y, how could we expect the learners to appreciate and understand it? Almost two years ago, I was one of the few who were able to observe a class on Algebra at PAMANAKA, a private school established purposely to offer appropriate and relevant education to the Mangyans in Occidental Mindoro. The class was on Mathematics yet they started it by talking about the kaingin for a few minutes. Then the teacher asked them what signs would tell them that the fruits of their labors are about to be harvested. My ears became more attentive. There was a flow of answers like “bitak sa lupa” (they were learning Math in Filipino). Then the teacher asked, if they can count the “bitak sa lupa?” The learners answered, “Opo” pwede daw nila itong bilangin. The teacher continued with if there are five (5) “bitak sa lupa”{ the teacher wrote 5 on the board and drew a simple illustration of land with camote and 5 “bitak sa lupa), can we count the how many camote are inside? Of course, the learners answered no. So, she continued with, since we can count 5 but we cannot count the camote inside, then we represent the camote as x so now we have an example of a monomial which is 5x. Again she asked, is there a possibility that if we have dug the first layer, there will still be a second layer of camote? Since the learners answered that it is possible, she continued the equation with 5x + x which is still monomial since it is still of the same product. Then she asked them what else can show the same sign as “bitak sa lupa” when it is to be harvested? They answered kamoteng kahoy. With that, she continued the equation, if there are 3 “bitak sa lupa” then we have 5x + x + 3y which is now a binomial. She explained further that it has to be y or another letter different from x since it is a different product. The realization hit me that if my Math teacher would have taught us this way, then Math would not have been so difficult to understand since I would have seen its relevance to my immediate life. That while I would have been doing my chores, I’d see that in the end, it is not really abstract for it is something very praxis and for sure I would not have asked that question years ago. In Araling Panlipunan/HEKASI, the children learned all kinds of heroes outside their own place. They have memorized Rizal, Bonifacio, del Pilar but none of their own and that some were not even told that they can also be heroes in their own ways. Thus sadly, we can’t help overhearing statements from learners as, “I don’t want to be a hero for heroes die,” or “He can’t be a hero, he’s not in the book.” Sometimes, the hidden curriculum is stronger than what we really want to teach. Further, we knew of the Bataan defense during World War II but have we ever realized that there were Igorots who were part of the forces that defended that place? Only a handful even knew how gallantly our Igorot ancestors fought with their g-strings climbing tanks to put bombs inside. Yet, no other than General McArthur noted this down. Emilio Aguinaldo did not just fly from Tirad Pass to Palanan, Isabela. He had been roaming in Mountain Province, Ifugao and Kalinga before he reached Palanan but we were never taught this. We knew of Biak-na-bato but we were lost in our own. Now, K to 12 as IPEd is forcing us to look into our own. The Mathematics Education Program Supervisor of Cagayan de Oro during their IPEd benchmarking in Mountain Province did not fail to appreciate our rice terraces and toping as an application of Mathematics and Engineering skills but we have not looked into it that way. In fact, one engineer from the locality even questioned why Sadanga NHS still teaches toping yet we already have cement and steel bars. But this reaction comes when we ourselves do not see and appreciate our own. IPEd then marries the Western knowledge and the indigenous knowledge together so that while we appreciate the Western knowledge, we also see how our ancestors applied such and that though they have not written down their theories and laws, they have applied them. I have heard from one elder from our hometown that Jesus summarized the 10 commandments into two but we have summarized it into one word and the word was INAYAN. It took some time for his words to sink in because I tried looking into the different angles of how inayan is used. I was surprised to realize that he was right that if we apply inayan in our lives, we will be pleasing in God’s sight and living in harmony with man. Culture before it becomes what it is underwent processes including research, though for sure were not written as we do now. If we try to imagine, how do you think did our ancestors discover some fruits, plants, mushrooms to be edible while others are not? For sure, they have done observations, they have tried trial-and-error methods, they have experienced eating them, too. And, when it was good, they made it a part of their diet and when not, either they check further on it or they abandon it for food purposes. The point is that contextualization is still the call of times. If we are teaching K to 12 exactly working only on the content placed in the Teachers’ Manual, we are not doing it correctly. We then need to re-examine ourselves as teacher duty-bearers and as IPs if we are. We therefore need to again go back to our own K to 12 manuals and study them and also read RA 10533 which is the K to 12 Law as well as look into its Implementing Rules and Regulations IPEd in Mountain Province is not the sole responsibility of DepEd, it is the accountability of all, the community especially of the elders; DepEd as the teachers, administrators and all other personnel; and the stakeholders which includes the parents, LGUs, other government agencies. The fire to do IPEd is because of the community’s aspirations for appropriate education, K to 12, and IPRA. In the course of discourse the Mountain Province Indigenous Peoples Education Framework was formed which are as stated below. 1. MP-IPEd is contextualized K to 12. K to 12 is designed in a way that it has to be localized to be learner-centered, responsive, culture-sensitive, culture-based, relevant and appropriate to the receivers that while they develop 21st skills, they also develop their cultural rootedness and identity. 2. MP-IPEd is participative, inclusive and empowering (PIE). IPs are not only consulted but are involved from the start to the end educational processes. They are part of the processes, making them partners and empowering them to make their own decisions as they contribute to Indigenous Peoples Education. Further discussions and workshops on what participative, inclusive and empowering means for DepEd-MP resulted to the following: Inclusive • It is inclusive because it includes both IP and non-IP learners in Mountain Province. • It includes IP partners and stakeholders from the crafting, implementation up to the monitoring and evaluation of the IPED Framework. • It includes different formal, ALS, ADMs and informal learning modalities. • It is not coercive for non-IPs. Non-IPs, and sometimes even IPs in the domain will learn but are not forced to adopt to the IP beliefs, customary laws and practices of their place. Participative • IPED is a concern of every IP in Mountain Province from the crafting, advocacy, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. • The extent of participation on the part of non-DepED IPs of Mt Province include conducting research on IKSPs, validation and even in delivery of instruction with the spirit of volunteerism. Empowering. Every IP has the chance to be heard in decision-making. This helps them to be assertive of their rights to self-determination but without stepping at others in the process. 3. MP-IPEd is founded on the clear and common understanding of the key documents and elements that are fundamental basis of IPED (DO 62, RA 8371, AD, RA 10533). It is important that there is a clear and common understanding of the legal bases of IPED. RA 8371, DO 62, s. 2011 and RA 10533 are mandates of the NCIP and DepED, respectively. AD should also be understood, i.e. it is not just territory but its whole component. IPED has also a clear understanding on the written culture which is fundamental basis but documents should therefore be validated. 4. MP-IPEd is founded on the Ancestral Domain. IPED is rooted in the ancestral domain. In the K to 12 words, it is culture-based. AD includes land, air, water (surface and beneath), spirits, beliefs, value systems, practices, relationsips and others. IPED does not only concentrate on the products of the culture like dances and songs but should dig into the roots of products such as the philosophies and principles of the community. CULTURE AND IPs Culture, as illustrated above, is the product of the interactions of man. From these interactions, they have come into terms with their own experiences which were solidified into the IKSPs which when made alive through practice is what we now call as culture. Sometimes these IKSPs were considered superstitious by the Western point of view but these are based on solid experiences and experimentations conducted in the process of learning. The cultural practices are just manifestations of these experiences. If in the course of contextualization, we only look into the fruits, then slowly the culture fades. The culture-based curriculum should then include the world views and philosophies of the IPs themselves, not only those that are superficial. 5. MP-IPEd puts emphasis on the functional picture of the AD before and today. To benchmark, a situational analysis on the AD during the pre-colonial era and the post-colonial times was done. It is therefore the umili who will judge their own culture and check what is to be retained and what is to be changed. What should be taught and what is to be stopped. IPEd is not going back to the olden times, it is making us better people instead by benchmarking on what we are now, reflecting on how we could be better as we live who we are, our own identity proudly without pretense. Further, it brings out respect of others, respect of our own, respect of the culture of other people that the real understanding of equality be exercised. 6. MP-IPEd gives significance to the understanding of the dynamics of change, AD understanding of development and its impact. Change is inevitable thus, IPED is not placed tightly in a box. Rather, it is open to appropriate change and the developments it brings which are in consonance with the Ancestral Domain understanding and dynamics of change. AD understanding of development may not be similar with the understanding in the Western world, like high towering buildings but rather a holistic abundance of health, love, support, food, strength for the individual and the family which in Western Mountain Province are contained in words as masika-sika, ipeyas. But, it shall be open to change through acculturation but never assimilation. Acculturation is the intercultural borrowing marked by continuous transmission of traits and elements between diverse peoples resulting in new and blended patterns (Webster’s 3rd New International Dictionary, 1961). With acculturation, both the accepting culture and the accepted culture are being respected. The accepted culture does not dominate but rather interacts with the accepting culture. Example here is the use of bagoong that blended naturally with the lemons of the mountains. While we accepted the use of the t-shirts and pants, we have not totally forgotten the use of our tapis and g-strings. Assimilation, on the other hand, is a sociocultural fusion wherein individuals and groups of differing ethnic heritage acquire the basic habits, attitudes and mode of life of the embracing national culture (Webster’s 3rd New International Dictionary, 1961). In other words, one culture is forgotten in the process of embracing the other culture. This is on the thought that the culture being introduced and embraced is better than the culture being left. This usually happens when the embracing individual does not have a solid appreciation of his/her own identity. Thus, it would be easier for him/her to embrace the “dominant” culture so as to escape criticisms for being “different.” Assimilation does not respect the other culture. It propagates the thought that one is better thus results to discrimination which may even be deadly. World History showed examples of these as the genocides that happened during the World War I and II, the organization and activities of the Ku Klux Klan, the name Burma which was then changed to Myanmar, the fight led by Martin Luther King, etc. Yet, our own locality harbors many examples, too – a shame that did not really come out from what we have done but rather from being who we are and not appreciating who we are which later on resulted to some actions as not teaching our children our own mother tongue, not appreciating our own “inatep/ ferey,” labeling others who are darker in skin and appreciating the lighter ones as well as trying our best to use whiteners to have a lighter shade. 7. MP-IPEd is ancestral domain-based with the ancestral domain as the unit of planning (reference point). The ancestral domain is the unit of planning and it is the foundation of Indigenous Peoples Education in Mountain Province. Thus, Mountain Province is to prepare their School Improvement Plan integrating the school in the bigger picture, the ancestral domain. Though admittedly, the school had always been recognized to have been playing an important role in the society, now it will not plan independently but will plan as an organic part of the ili and not only based on the situation of the school per se but including the ancestral domain. 8. MP-IPEd encompasses three modes of education delivery which is through the formal (Kinder to Grade 12), Alternative Learning System (ALS) and the Ancestral Domain Education (ADEd). Formal learning is embodied in the Kinder to Grade 12 but teachers will not only focus on developing the competencies without having to contextualize. K to 12 is basically designed to be contextualized in the local situation, thus, not contextualizing the content and competencies of K to 12 means the duty-bearers are not doing K to 12 as planned. If the learner goes out of the classroom and thinks that what he/she learned therein is not applicable in his or her own locality, then we have failed as educators in the delivery of the mandates of K to 12. This is also true with the Alternative Learning System. The ADEd is not really new since it had been the ways of our ancestors in passing on their competencies and wisdom to the young. This does not have a definite face yet. But, it includes all the indigenous learning systems (ILS) that happen in the “ili” including the way the young acquires the learning. When the young follows his/her mother to the farm even as young as five years old, and helps in ways as picking and cleaning the camote, is not child labor – rather it had always been our ancestors’ way of teaching us that work is a part of us and not to be detested for it is also at these times that the young understands the value of life, work, food production, environment all packaged into one. Joining community activities and sitting with the elders are ADEd activities. Storytelling through narratives, parables and fables, anecdotes; demonstration; learning-by-doing or actual work; observation; participation/ involvement are just some of the methods and strategies that they had been using for so many generations and which are still being used even until these days. Though much of the MP-IP literature had been passed orally either through songs, narratives like genealogy, storytelling, they had stuck to the olds but the young now who were educated seldom developed their innate orality thus are relying on their literacy. 9. MP-IPEd is rights-based with the IPs as the rights bearer and DepEd and the community as the duty-bearer. The right to be educated is owned by the indigenous peoples but this right is to be delivered by the duty bearers. The duty-bearers, on the other hand, who are composed of DepEd (teachers, school heads, supervisors and all other personnel) and the IPs themselves especially the elders as IPED in Mountain Province is a partnership of the IPs and DepEd, have the responsibility, if not the burden, to deliver appropriate education to the rights-bearers. Delivering IP education therefore, cannot be done by DepEd alone but rather by all people in the community especially the elders. 10. MP-IPEd is a partnership of DepEd and the IPs themselves. IPEd shall not push through without DepEd, or without the IPs. It is an endeavor of both. While DepEd works on its mandate to deliver appropriate education especially in the formal and ALS education, the IPs have that burning passion to pass on what makes them as a people to the next generation in partnership with DepEd and through the Ancestral Domain Education itself. Further, there shall be an IPEd Council of Elders and Council of Stakeholders in the provincial level that shall be organized to help DepEd implement IPEd. The IPEd Council of Elders is organized per school or per barangay or per ili relative to appropriate conditions of the concerned schools. If the schools located in a barangay are near each other and have the same elders involved then the schools can have just one IPEd Council of Elders but if the schools in the same barangay are really far from each other, then it would be practical to have one IPEd Council of Elders for one school. Likewise, all other stakeholders of the school like the LGUs, parents, teachers, learners, Civil Society Organization, other government agencies, alumni, etc shall likewise be the Council of Stakeholders. 11. MP-IPEd is part of the assertion of the MPs of Mountain Province for self-determination. IPEd is free from the dictates of outsiders. It is an assertion of the self-determination of the indigenous peoples in Mountain Province, thus, indigenous peoples education is to be defined and decided by them. IPEd then is their window of claiming who they are (identity) as they decide and act appropriately for what is best for their ancestral domain. Indigenous Peoples Education (IPEd) may be new to our ears but it had been ongoing in other countries, including the Philippines, for many years already. For the Philippines, the oldest established school that is doing indigenous peoples education is the Kalahan Academy of Imugan, Sta. Fe. Other schools such as Pamanaka of the Mangyans in Mindoro, School of Living Traditions in Mindanao and others only came later. In a study recently conducted by the University of the Philippines, Indigenous Peoples Education is being done in the Philippines in many ways as insertion of cultural elements, addition of a new subject focused on IKSPs, integration in the curriculum, integration with an additional subject and the last one is an IP curriculum based on the community activities. Insertion of cultural elements is plainly using IKSPs as examples or being mentioned but the IKSP is not being discussed thoroughly to be understood. It is plainly being inserted like being used in a sentence. Some schools made it into another subject area but the danger of this is that the hidden curriculum might be that IKSPs are just separate from the whole curriculum. Integration is looking into the DepEd competencies and entry points of IKSPs in it. So the IKSPs and the DepEd competencies blend together. However, others still included integration as well as adding another subject purposely for IKSP discussions. Lastly, IP curriculum is based on the community life cycle and the DepEd competencies are integrated into the curriculum. This is the opposite of integration because in integration, the basis for what should be included and what should be left out are the DepEd competencies but in the IP curriculum the basis is the community life cycle and the DepEd competencies are included where they are relevant. What Mountain Province attempted in the indigenization of their curriculum is integration but some efforts are trying to explore IP curriculum. Integration will show that our ancestors also developed Science, Math, Araling Panlipunan, TLE, language, Values Education, MAPEH but they are not boxed as such. These are not separate from each other like in doing toping or mountain engineering as named by DepEd. In toping, they do Math, they socialize, they have applied values, they do livelihood, they test their strength and stamina, they do Physics, they communicate so they touch all subject areas because in reality life is not boxed in subject areas but are rather rolled into one. Thus, one IKSP can be touched in all subject areas. So, as prescribed by DepEd-Cordillera Administrative Region, IKSPs should be taught using thematic approach. It is not surprising then that sample curriculum webs were prepared by the Education Program Supervisors in all divisions in CAR for the teachers. Yet, one still wonders why we are called indigenous peoples which seem to be separating us from the other peoples. For lack of a collective term to describe us and our counterparts in the whole world, indigenous peoples was used. All over the world, these are the peoples who did not succumb and who have not allowed their own identity to be annihilated by the invading “superior” culture. They had their own means of coping and kept their culture intact. As William Henry Scott put it in his discussion on the creation of the minorities, they were the one who became “less and less like their own brothers who became more and more like their conquerors.” The indigenous peoples maintained their own whether or not they dealt with their conquerors – they carried who they are even if their counterparts allowed their own identity to be killed by their conquerors by making the conquered be like the conquerors` in the way they talk, wear clothes, eat and the way they do things. Not surprisingly, we read of Filipinos who want to become little brown Americans. Thus, it is not surprising to hear people say that if you want to see the original Filipinos, see the indigenous peoples. One time when we visited a museum in Vigan, I was not surprised to see that their past is something that is similar to our slowly fading present. They also had coffins which were roughly carved from the tree trunk and the cover placed without nails. Their kitchen implements almost the same as the wooden implements used by our grandparents and even by us. The indigenous peoples of today were like exotic animals of before when they were displayed in Madrid, Spain side by side with other creations in the 1800’s and again in the St. Louis Exposition in Pennsylvania in 1904. This was the conquerors way of declaring to the world that they have “tamed savages.” Though Igorots were not the only displayed “savage,” they were one of the most popular especially so because of their “dog-eating “ and gong-playing. Yet the divide between the indigenous peoples and the mainstream Filipinos were only created when we were conquered. In other words, there were no indigenous peoples then, everybody was indigenous in their own place. The coming of the colonizers changed the course of their history and even of their perspectives. Their lowland brothers also started hating them for some reasons as the being the cause of the death of their loved ones who helped the Spaniards in their attempt to subjugate the mountains and their dwellers. This started their deep seated hatred which was passed on from generations to come and which were enunciated in so many ways as in their literature like in Biag ni Lam-ang, of which Biag accordingly came from the mountains in revenge for his father and took a bath at Amburayan river poisoning all the fishes therewith. Or, in statements as, “naka-ang-angdod ka, kasla ka Igorot.” Or, the fact alone that the mountain people were seen and treated like they were of the lower form of human beings. And sometimes due to their geographical situation was marginalized even from government services. In the early 1900’s the Americans called for all Filipinos to have their lands titled. Since no one in the whole Cordillera had their land titled, due most probably to ignorance of the importance of papers, the whole region was considered alienable and disposable and owned by the government. This is no different from the Regalian doctrine applied by the Spaniards of which every piece of land is owned by the king and the king has all the full authority to determine how it is to be disposed. Thus, when Legaspi was finally able to conquer some portions of the Philippines, the whole country was awarded to him and he on the other hand awarded his loyal, gallant soldiers giving Salcedo the whole of Vigan and de Goiti the whole of Manila. Land to the Igorots and to most indigenous peoples is not just a commodity. It is very much a part of their identity and their life. Land to them is sacred. This uncommodified view of the land was contrary to the Regalian Doctrine policy and how it was regenerated into the different policies implemented through the years. Thus, the artificial divide was nurtured instead of being corrected. A Presidential Decree signed by then President Ferdinand Marcos even stated that all land areas with an 18 degree slope is owned by the government. This practically means that the people of the Cordilleras own no land and it is a blatant non-recognition of the existence of the indigenous peoples in the place. And since the land is owned by the government, it can do anything with it and all resources found within. Thanks to people like Macli-ing Dulag and all his contemporaries and predecessors who continuously fought for the Cordilleras and its resources. Aside from the land though, is the very issue of them being questioned for who they are as Carlos P. Romulo once put it, “Igorots are not Filipinos,” which when looked closely can be right as history tells us but also at the same time wrong. Anyway, this self-search for identity resulted to Igorots denying their own identity of being people from the mountains as the term denotes but at the same time for people from Mountain Province boldly stating that they are the Igorots even as others would rather be called and be known of their own particular place like Ifugao or Kalinga. Yet, this marginalization due to identity continued in these present times in forms as the statement of Candy Pangilinan (?) in Baguio City, “Tao ako, di ako Igorot.” I cannot fully blame her rather I blame all of us, the society and the institutions that continuously perpetuate the perspectives of division. This includes the schools which never corrected such a thought. The schools which should have been the first one to check the notion have not done so. The school, as DepEd Secretary Luistro pointed out in one of his speeches, is guilty of doing injustice to the indigenous peoples and should be the first to check this injustice that it had done. So, the fight of the indigenous peoples to be recognized and be heard continues. Their exercise of their self-determination, if they have already realized it as a community, is being tested. These are just some of the roles of indigenous peoples education. Aside from teaching the fast fading IKSPs, IPEd also makes the community do a self-reflection, check what they already have and what they will still have to work for, make a convergence of the local and Western knowledge to come up with a better output, make their own formal and informal situational analysis and plan based on that, explicitly integrate the school in the community as education is not only the responsibility of the school but the accountability of all. IPED also recognizes the wisdom that had been an offshoot of the interaction of our ancestors with that of the ancestral domain. In Mountain province, Indigenous Peoples Education works on four main domains as shown in the illustration below. As shown above, the IPEd of Mountain Province to produce culturally rooted and globally competent graduates have to address Access, Quality and Efficiency in four areas which are Research, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation; Curriculum Development, Instruction & Education Resources; Governance and Policy Development; and IP Partners and Stakeholders. It has the following objectives for each area. Below are the four areas with its objectives and corresponding activities. A. Research, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation  Institutionalized community partnership and right-based approach in educational research and planning. • Training on AD-Based SIP • Crafting of AD-Based School Improvement Plans involving the ICCs using the Rights-based approach • Review of the Division Education Development Plan with the ICCs using the Rights-Based Approach • Review of the Division Education Development Plan with the ICCs using the Rights-Based Approach • Analysis and utilization of the IPEd Baseline Data Gathered •  Prepared M & E tools that are culture-sensitive and culturally appropriate in assessing and evaluating IPEd accomplishments in the whole schools division. • Formulation of IPEd M and E team that would include ICC representatives. • Craft appropriate M and E tools that would measure IPEd progress • Analyze M & E results for planning and development purposes B. Curriculum Development, Instruction, Education Resources and Facilities  Indigenized curriculum that is culturally responsive, sensitive and appropriate in all subject areas in all grade levels.  Utilized the Ancestral Domain as a classroom in itself and indigenous strategies of teaching and learning that is responsive and designed in relation to the uniqueness and particularities of IP communities.  Developed indigenized teaching and learning resources.  Prepared contextualized IMs in K to 12 in all grade levels in all learning areas.  Utilized fully the LRMDC/S.  Preserve and conserve resources in the Ancestral Domain that have educational value. • Finalization and utilization of the IPEd Curriculum Framework • Indigenization of the Curriculum in all subject areas in Grades 1-3 and 7-8 • Research and documentation of IP communities history and development • Assessment and evaluation of indigenized Grades 1-3 and 7-8 • Indigenization of the curriculum in all subject areas in Grades 4-6 and 9-10 • Research and documentation of ILS and IKSPs of all MP IP communities • Assessment and evaluation of indigenized Grades 4-6 and 9-10 • Indigenization of the curriculum in all subject areas in Grades 11-12 • Teachers effectively use the Ancestral Domain as a classroom in itself • Effective use of teachers of indigenous strategies of teaching and ILS • Establishment of IP centers in all communities • Produced and uploaded LRMDS quality assured IMs/LMs. • Identification of and planning for preservation and/ or conservation of AD resources that have educational value • Preparation of Local Standards based on local situation on identified national standards that are not appropriate in the locality • Utilization of the resources C. Governance and Policy Development  Institutionalized mechanisms, structures, processes and policies that would make IPEd operational. • Making of processes and policies that would make IPEd operational • Prepare appropriate MOA with NCIP concerning FPIC concerns on researches and documentations specifically for IPED • Revisiting the Social Contract with the ICCs  Established FPIC protocols in the division and per district. • Establishment of the Council of Elders for IPEd in schools, districts and division  Established organizational structure on IPEd in the districts, schools and communities. • Designation of IPEd Coordinators in the Division, District and Schools • Involvement and empowerment of all partners and stakeholders in all educational processes • Conduct of the IPED congress. D. Partners and Stakeholders  Capacitate duty bearers, partners and stakeholders for effective implementation of IPEd. • Mass Orientation Workshop for Teachers on IP Education content and implementation • Conduct of information, education campaign for IPEd in the grassroots • Retooling of Teachers and School Heads  Involve and empower partners and stakeholders in education processes. Yet, DepEd cannot move forward with IPEd if the community is not with it. Thus, IPEd is the accountability of all and IPEd is here for all of us not as an educational panacea but as a chance to have our voices be heard and be recognized in our educational system as a means to further improve our services to our stakeholders. Prepared: Irene Angway, DepEd-MP IPEd Coordinator

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Essence of Teaching

(This is a story I submitted to a contest - Existencia Maestra - I would not have known the contest had it not been for my students in the past who nominated me and paid the entrance fee and all. I was only asked to fill up the form and write my story. Actually, i did not have much time to do it coz of so many reasons but i drafted and the draft was never finalized until the deadline came and i submitted it. So, pardon the technical errors.)

Teaching is really the most exciting job one can have for while teachers are living in reality, they also have the power to create experiences that may make or unmake the future of their students.

As a teacher who actively stayed in the classroom for at least ten years, I have been a student myself. I took a course not offered in any other universities except in the University of Life in the world of teaching. I had great mentors who may have been there with me in person or are already in the life beyond. Of course, the greatest mentor is always my greatest friend, the father of all teachers - Jesus Christ.

After I have exerted efforts, the question they will still ask me is, “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?” On my first years of teaching I was always hurt with the question and I would like to shout to them, “Have you not seen me slaving myself just to teach these students? Have you not seen me checking their papers and writing my comments on each of them? Have you not seen me preparing my lessons and making the lesson interesting enough for the students to actively listen to and not fall asleep? Have you not seen me giving my best? Have you not even thought of me and my comfort? I have not gone to many night time and week end social gatherings just so that I could prepare for my lessons and strategies that could be suited for my students. I have exerted efforts asking the help of others either financially or in kind so I could show my students that there is life beyond the community, that there is life beyond the schools. I have jeopardized my image and explored the possibilities of bringing my students out to the open fields for I believed that learning is never confined in the classroom. And, sometimes I even jeopardize our budget for the month by pinching some just to make my class happier or to reward my students for jobs well done. Yes, I have done all of those and beyond, YET YOU STILL QUESTION ME ON WHAT I HAVE DONE?

I have not slept on my job for sure but the questions kept on ringing. I tried to keep my stand that I have done everything, that there are no ways to improve but my mentors kept on reminding me the same question that would keep me awake at night. They have not forced me to accept that my best was not good enough, they have not forced me but they have gently prodded me to check on my reasons for being a teacher. Their ways are gentle and the lessons it left are life changing. I started questioning myself and my reasons for being a teacher.

If I have done my best, why are some students dropping out? If I had given my all, why are some of my students getting absent every now and then? If I have done my best, why don’t all my students perform well? If those are the best, why are some of my students not graduating or some are failing and not passing the grade? I started questioning myself until the questions became very intense and I came to a resolution that THERE ARE STILL SO MUCH THAT I COULD DO ASIDE FROM WHAT I HAVE BEEN DOING. Aside from the daily routines of teaching, there are still much to be done. And, consciously or unconsciously I started to do things beyond what ordinary teachers do. Truly, acceptance is the start of improvement – the start of changes leading to improvements.

Out of the many things I have done as a teacher are three challenges I can never forget and where I have learned so much from. I had a student in my advisory class who comes in late and gets absent without any clear reasons. I tried talking to him but he refuses to give me sensible answers. Together with some of his friends, we visited him at home but still he does not give us any clue on how to help him. I remembered that I may not open my problems up to any other person but I open up on my journals. At those times, using a journal is not a common strategy and so I was afraid to introduce it for we might not be doing it right. But, as I was also teaching Values Education then, I thought of using this strategy taking into context that values are caught and not taught and the fact that whatever we experience – good or bad – has its own purpose. I assured them that I will only be the one to read their journals and nobody else. The essential questions that they will answer are, “What happened? What are my reflections on what happened? So, what will these mean to me as a student, a family member, a friend, a community member?”

At first, the students were so cautious in answering. They would not want to reveal anything to somebody they will not trust. But, as they saw that I was serious with me being the only one reading their journals, slowly they confided their deepest secrets, their hurts, their plans, their what ifs. And, even the student who has not wanted to open up to us and even to his family crumbled down and opened up his problems. He had wanted to drop out, to live far away from all the people around or not to live at all. He lost his purpose for living. All he wanted was to get out from this world. He was even entertaining suicidal thoughts since he feels he does not belong and nobody cares for him. I was astounded. Since I usually read their journals when everybody else in the office went home, I put down my ballpen and mulled over what he wrote. A big realization overcame me. So, it is really true that even if there are people around us, we can still be left out and even if there are people who love us, we can still feel unloved.

The realization made me too tired but it also activated my mind to find other applicable approaches that could be used for this particular student. I visited him at home, made a point to let him know I care for him as an individual, assured him that there is a life beyond the problems he is facing. I also asked him not only once to stay beyond office hours. Since we teachers and even the school head share the faculty room, there is no privacy so we have to find other places like below the trees where we could talk and not be disturbed by anybody. I talked with his family and together we sat down to try to figure out how the student became such. It took weeks and months but in the end, he did not drop out or committed suicide but instead he finished his secondary school. He may not be an extra ordinary student but he sure epitomizes the situation of the young learners. He, like all other youngsters or any person for that matter carries with him a situation which may either cost his life or make him a better person. The teacher then has a very significant role in the life of students. Who knows, the teacher might even save the learner from taking his own life if not from stopping to dream and continuously improving himself.

Sagada had always been a hub of education. It had been serving not only people of the municipality but also of the whole Cordillera and even of the different parts of the Philippines. The school where I am teaching has all kinds of learners like people from Kalinga. One very early morning, when we were on our way to school, about five adult males from Kalinga were also proceeding to the same direction. It was an unusual sight since rarely do the iKalinga visit their children in school. If ever they come to visit their children, they would usually not come to the school. Further, Kalinga is a province where the old age “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” practice is still alive. I know that their presence means something. When they came to the office, the school head called for me. He explained that the men came to fetch their children so they will bring them home because yesterday, an iKalinga killed an iBontoc. If they will not bring them home, they are the risk of being the object for the revenge – the iBontoc may come and kill them in Sagada.

And, it was February? I started counting the iKalingas in my advisory class and there are three affected. But there are also some from the other year levels. I started seeing my promotional report with red marks indicating students who dropped. I cursed the practice for I am truly aware that for as far as we can remember that had been one of the reasons why very few iKalinga finish their degree. Only the brave and risk-takers will continue their studies away from their village when this thing happens. Without thinking much, I tried persuading the men that the iBontoc will not come here just to kill their children but my words were hollow. How could they believe me when they know their own practice?

Then I started campaigning individually on the men while we were having coffee. Each one refused to give in except for one who pulled me aside and said, “Whatever happens, please don’t just allow us to take our children. If we do, their future will be affected.” So, when the men again started to convince the school head and I to allow their kids to go with them while they can still safely pass through Bontoc and go home, I broached to them a solution which I have not internalized that moment. I asked them to turn over their kids to me and I will watch them like a hawk. They are to occupy a small house beside our own house and I will be able to check for them 24/7. After so much discussion, they agreed and left. Later that night as I was calling for each of their children, I felt the weight of the realization of the solution I proposed. The lives of these young people are in my hands. I am running a dormitory for free just so that they will not drop. What made me propose a solution, more sane people would have never proposed? What could have made me different to even think of such? What will I do if the fear of their parents will really happen and the iBontoc will come and kill them here in Sagada? What will I do then? I was about to give up but the still small voice within tells me to go on and not to give up for this may help them build their future. The routine continued that while we watch them in school, I continue to monitor them at home until graduation day. Three of them graduated for the others are in the lower year levels. One of their parents who came was also present during the times they insisted of bringing their children at home. This parent came near me and simply said, “Thank you so much. Now, I can see my son graduate.” His words were more than money. It seeped into my being and removed all my doubts on the rightfulness of my action. In fact, the students have not formally thanked me. After graduation, they went their own ways and I have not seen all of them since that day except for one. After 10 years, I received a text from an unregistered number telling me that he/she placed an invitation on my table at the office since I was so busy at the conference hall conducting a meeting that he/she was not able to talk to me. I was baffled. I went to my table and saw an invitation to an ordination. I read through and found out that the text came from one of the boys I protected during those trying times. On his ordination, his sponsors are mostly from Kalinga and one of them, accordingly his uncle, is someone I know at the DepEd Regional Office. He was baffled and so are the other sponsors who are mostly from Kalinga on how the celebrant have known me and why would he make me his sponsor. That question brought me back to years ago and to the realization that I have not made a mistake after all. What I have risked before was worth taking and it is now multiplying a thousand fold.

Lastly, I had a student before, who we may call Renz, who had been very studious when he first entered high school. As a freshman, I could say that I was one of his favorite teachers and he would always pester me. I would always challenge him and he finished topping his class in first year. In his second year, a transferee in who disliked me for a reason I really don’t know of came in. This transferee-in, for some unknown reasons, did not like me even before she transferred but it so happened that Renz like her so much. Renz started to follow him wherever she goes and gave in to everything concerning this transferee in. Later on, the transferee in became his girlfriend. For the rest of his high school life, he did not like to talk to me and tried his best to evade me. At those times that he cannot evade me at all, I continued to talk to him. I confronted him one time on why he stopped giving his best. I know that he could do better than what he was doing at the moment but he said, “Where will I use the extra, anyway?” He willingly gave in so that his girlfriend will shine. He was always coming in second to his girlfriend when I know that if he gives his best, he can really outshine her. He did not join other activities. Though he evaded me, I know his pure heart is still there so I still continue to coach him and coax him. I always reminded him that he could be better than what he is already but he refuse to believe me. My coaxing and coaching have not changed him, instead he repulsed me like I was AIDS till they graduated. Whenever I remembered him then, I feel like I have failed and I prayed to God that he will be better one day. Well of course, as to his girlfriend, though I can feel her resentment, I tried to talk to her and bring out her reason for resenting me. But her resentment was just purely because I am me.

The next school year came after their graduation. By July or August of that year, I received a text from an unknown number. It said, “Ma’am, I now realized that you are right after all. If only I could bring back my high school days so I could give my best as you have said. Please let me know when you will come here in Baguio so we could talk. I need to talk to you. This is Renz.” I was overwhelmed with joy. Now, those coaxing and coaching and seemingly ignored talks were not ignored after all. They paid off. This realization was crystallized when I met him. He told me how much he hated me telling him that he can be better, that he can really make the extra, that he had better chances if he had not wasted his time, that I was right after all. I asked him what made him realize that. He related that while applying for something he so desired in college, he was asked a question. And the question goes, “Being the salutatorian of your batch, what have you accomplished so far?” He was dumbfounded. What had been his accomplishments? He cannot think of anything at all for he refused to work for more. Even after the interview, he kept on thinking of his past and as he thought, he thought of his teacher who never gave up talking to him. On that day, he promised me that even if my words did not ring true to him when he was in high school, he will keep them and continue applying them in college and his own life. I can’t help but drop a few tears while laughing that time.

It is really a joy to receive awards for coaching students who win in contests and I have experienced coaching winning contestants but the satisfaction and joy on the essence of being a teacher is not in the awards and citations, it is better embossed on the hearts and life of individuals who are otherwise not given attention by the normal population. Students are also like the pot at the potter’s wheel and the potter is the teacher. His/dents and marks on the child will come out at its own time for the student is like a work of art. Like the pot, the potter can put designs at the different stages of its making and not all marks are appropriate at one stage. Further, there are designs that will only become obvious when the right time comes. That is also the story of the teacher and his/her students.

I know for sure that what I have done as a teacher will never be enough. I am also sure that these stories of mine are also the stories of other teachers. And that though there are thousands more of stories I could tell as teacher, stories of students’ successes and failures, students’ nothingness to greatness, students coming out from their own shell, students shining at my own tutelage, I chose these stories for they have not only taught me a lesson but so much more. It taught me the realities of life and how to face life. For to me, teaching is not measured by the accolades we receive from their awards and citations that we helped them achieve, it is more measured by the students we saved from dropping out, by the life we have spared from being taken at their own hands, by the hope that we build in their own lives. Teaching is more than the experiences we planned to give, more than the four walls of the classroom. The real challenge is what we do outside the plan, outside the classroom, outside the mandates of our duties.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Indigenous Peoples Education, is it an answer or another question to ponder?

Just last year, the Department of Education came out with DepEd Order 62, S. 2012 also known as the National Framework for Indigenous Peoples Education. If there are people to rejoice, we, being the Indigenous People should be the first ones to dance. The Cordillera Administrative Region which is basically the home of several IPs as the Ibaloi, Kankanaey, Karao tribes of Benguet; Kankanaey, Aplai (still Kankanaey in reality),Bontoks, Balangao, Majukayong and Baliwon/Ga'adang tribes of Mountain Province and those of Kalinga, Apayao, Ifugao and Abra. Of course, even the conglomerated Igorots of the different tribes gathered in Baguio.

DepEd Order 62 is a great leap of consciousness and paradigm shift among the people at the Central Office, admitting the very blatant fact that education in the Philippines tried to develop people with the same views, thinking and levels disregarding the more basic fact that not all their learners are starting on the same step. It is admitting that education in the past had consciously promoted what's in the textbooks and subconsciously marginalized the indigenous people.

While this is a great leap, however, there are still so many things to consider in the implementation of this order which I have observed in my dealings with the Philippine Response to Indigenous People and Muslim Education (PRIME) activities for at least six months now.

There is a great question on WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THE PROGRAM. Will it be implemented by non-IPs for the IPs or will it be the IPs owning the program knowing full well that it will be for their own good and development? WILL THIS JUST BE ANOTHER BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION repeating the paradigm not anymore with the whites to the colored but now with the same skin and nationality to their own kind? Statements such as "We should pity these IPs since they are not civilized. Let us help them...." makes me puke and want to hold them on the shoulder and shake them to their core. However, pity takes place when I see that they are saying it with all innocence and I come to realize that THIS IS EXACTLY THE FRUIT OF THEIR OWN EDUCATION so if there is something to be done, it has really to start within the system itself. But, it is not a one day activity - it can never be done through a training and a training design. IT IS A PROCESS - for the products of the old curriculum, it is an UNLEARNING, LEARNING AND RELEARNING. And, this cannot be done if the person itself does not recognize the fact that his/her own learning is deficient and defective.

It pains me to hear words as, "So, why is there a need for IP Education? Why do we need to go back to the past? Who would like to go back to something backwards? We have already moved forward and yet, why go back?" But these are just reflecting our paradigms of IP education and how confused the IPs are with their own identity. Identity crisis of IPs is very much clearer than your own face in the mirror with this question, "So, what is it in being an IP?" The hairs of my hands simply stood up. I am really at my wit's end especially when it dawned on me that these were questions that came from the IPs themselves who should be the first one to appreciate and see the beauty of IPED even without having to skin it a little at a time. IT DEPRESSES ME TO THINK THAT IF THE IPs THEMSELVES ARE AS CONFUSED AS THIS, HOW MUCH MORE WILL IT BE FOR THE NON-IPs? But, I prayed that time will come and their eyes will be opened SINCE THE REASON I SEE FOR SUCH CONFUSION IS THE RESULT OF THE EDUCATION ITSELF THAT THEY HAVE UNDERGONE - they have accepted the education that they went through and along the process, THEY HAVE LOST THEMSELVES AND THEIR IDENTITY - their being an Indigenous People.

IPED is not simply translating the English stories of Cinderella to the Mother Tongue or writing the local stories in English or Filipino. It is far more than that. We have examined some materials prepared by teachers for IPED in Grade 1, yet while I see that they are in Mother Tongue, they are still far from what the child in the locality are conscious of. While the Thomasite education of the Filipinos started with A as in Apple which for sure is not in the Philippines at those times, some teachers borrowed words from neighboring towns or in the Filipino language or used terms which are not yet local to represent the letter when they can choose from what's in the locality. Translating is needed and is important but it is the lowest form of IPED - let's start with it but should not stay long in it.

Orthography had become popular nowadays. It took the implementation of the K+12 for us to look back and examine our own language, which we have been degrading in the past by calling it simply dialects and the languages are only those widely spoken - what a confusion to the already confused minds. No wonder that the products of the olden education still very strongly cling to what they have already learned and sometimes refuse to learn, unlearn and relearn since the confusion already took root and it is now hard to pull it out.

BY WHOSE PARADIGM WILL IPED BE? Will it be at the paradigm of the Indigenous People or will it be at the paradigm of the all knowing educators who prefer to stay in their offices and decide on the fate of others (and even do not care to know the situation of the schools in the far flung areas which usually serves IPs since it is very far and it can hardly be reached by the cars)? It is really a great question. The IPs and the innocent had been victims of these tower approaches for a long time, so it is then very important to go beyond what's superficial. Examine the causes, effects and impacts. Work more on the root and the processes rather than on the color of the bark of the tree or the fruits. To have a good fruit, the roots which gives life to the tree should be examined first.

There are a lot to be discussed on IPED. There are a lot to be fixed before the program can fully soar but THE TIME IS RIPE.

Before the IPs will forget their own identity and self-determinism, it is time to help them go back to knowing their own self which they have started to forget with the introduction of the old education.

These and many more which I can hardly type are the products of my idle mind at this point. My mind is full, yet it has to wander to be able to digest what's really trying to make it non-functional.

But with the situations posed above, I still wonder on what to give as an answer to Dodong, an articulate Mangyan we met at our immersion at PAMANA KA, which goes, "What can CAR do in IP education?" The question is really malupit since I myself is lost, hope I and all other IPs will be found before it is too late.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sadanga's communal bath

It was an experience nowhere else can be tried. With breasts of all sizes, mostly of those tried by years of nurturing and less of the virgin untried ones, and with everyone’s nudity exposed, each one would sit down with a dipper and tell stories or listen to the others. Sometimes, guffaws could be heard followed by loud uncaring laughter as the gathered crowd share jokes, stories, laughter, soap, stone scrubs and sometimes even the dippers. These they did while dipping their containers on a rectangular cistern of collected hot spring water that seems to be boiling but actually can be tolerated at about 30 degrees centigrade or more. This is the usual scene at the Maatong Hotspring in Poblacion, Sadanga, Mountain Province in the late afternoons till late at night and from dawn till about 8:00 AM.

The men are separated from the women. Each has his/her own place based on his/her gender. Visitors and the local people would share the hot spring water, the view of each others’ body, the soap that one may have brought, the stone body scrubs, the latest news and gossips in town, the wisdom of the olds as they talk to the young, the guffaws, the laughter and all others. In fact, even the joy of asking somebody to scrub your back is easily and readily accepted and done.

It was a center for socialization for the young and old alike. In this place had pregnancies been diagnosed by the peering eyes of the wisdom brought about by age. Older women could tell if one is pregnant just with the looks of the breasts and other body parts. And, wonder of wonders, they were always correct, even more accurate than pregnancy test kits.

Though there are other hot springs in Mountain province, like that in Mainit, Bontoc, Sadanga’s set-up is unique. Even before the cisterns were built and enclosed, the males were already separated from the females – each has their own place to take their baths though these places are near each other. Though it was a common sight to see naked person of the opposite sex taking a bath, no records of malice or rape was ever done. But, decency took place and the bathing cisterns were enclosed. Yet, inside the enclosed bathrooms, all young and old females, take their clothes off, sit down and start splashing themselves with the hot spring water – splashes which very soon become pours.

The Maatong Hot Spring, with its sulfuring content helps keep the people of Sadanga spick and span and healthy. The water cleans and heals wounds. Women who recently give birth are brought to the hotspring to take a bath to soothe their muscles and to heal their wounds. And, as experienced by the locals who already gave birth, the women confirms that really, the water has contents that made their wounds easily dry and heal.

A proposal rejected by the local people was that this public bathing place be developed and enclosed so those who’ll come will enter for a fee. Such a proposal was taken as something absurd but the local people clearly understand that once that happens, they, the locals, cannot freely enter the place. And, so it was rejected.

But Sadanga does not only boast of its Maatong Hot Spring. It also has its rice terraces mostly hidden at the other side of the mountains. Somewhere up above Barangay Belwang is a cave with several entrances known as Angoten Cave. It was names as such because, according to stories passed for some generations, Angoten entered the cave on the pursuit of a hunting prey. But, inside the cave, he got lost among the many “doorways.” For nine days, he ventured inside the cave until he came out of an opening only to find himself in Sagada. If this be true, then adventurous spelunkers have some real place to explore.

(published in the Mountain Province Exponent, dated March 7-13)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Farewell Speech

Ohayo gusaimasu to all!

Ladies and gentlemen, in everything, give thanks for all things work together for good. What else could make this Biblical verse more meaningful than what we have all experienced? After sharing with my co-participants in this Training Program for Young Leaders – Education Sector, for the last 18 days or so, I have come to understand that nothing came easy for us all but we were able to make it. Now, we have enjoyed all the days we’ve been in this program since the start in Manila during our Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar to this very last activity.

Beyond the sessions, the sharing or exchange of ideas, the seminars and the regular programs that JICA, JOCA and the Coordinators have prepared for us, we also enjoyed so many experiences like getting lost at Ibaraki and at Yodobashi; not being understood since we can’t communicate in Japanese or we have forgotten what we learned; talking with our mouths shaking because of the cold so we came to end our statements with ho ho ho; talking with all the gestures because as if we can’t be understood anymore without all the sign languages we know and we don’t know but we have to use; the frustrations of not being able to communicate clearly; using inappropriate terms or phrases like, “kerei desu ka” to mean you are beautiful because in our language ka means you; greeting with arigato gusaimasu instead of ohayo gusaimasu or vice versa or konbanwa instead of konnichiwa; discovering the tastes of food which seems foreign to us but only to find out that it’s the very familiar rice; trying the “sushi bars” yet including in the orders the familiar French fries; walking as if all other people are racing with us; always beating the time just to be in time; withdrawing all our money at SMBC and feeling very rich but realizes that everything in Japan is so expensive that very soon we are poor again; getting noisy and loud when we forget that we are not in the Philippines then suddenly feels lonely even if we are many because we suddenly remembered the loved ones we have left behind; taking turns with the Japanese to laugh at a joke cracked in Japanese since we need to listen to the translation first; joining and watching the “Wadaiko”; playing in the snow like children; smiling to the non-ending last shot from so many cameras; cooking takoyaki through a Japanese friend of ours; buying gadgets and so many presents which we fondly call “pasalubong” and then realizing that we have exceeded the baggage weight limit; being amazed at the very systematic Japanese culture and their effective service; and so on. I can’t count all of them but all those for sure are very much a part of our experiences and they made our stay here in Japan more memorable and more enjoyable. Without even just one bit of it, our experiences will not be as complete.

We have learned so much. We were treated as kings and queens, for sure if this is our education system, then I guess, all the Filipino people would like to go to school and we will not have a problem of illiteracy and dropping out. For, in the first place, who would be out of his/her mind to drop out from such a very good programme? I’m sure no one will be crazy enough to attempt.

I would also like to thank all the people behind the success of the program like the Japanese Government, the implementing agencies as J ICA, JOCV, JOCA and JICE. Your contribution to the success of this program will be carried a long, long way. I truly believe that since you have accepted us, young leaders to this programme, then we will do something in return. That something may not really be directed to the Japanese but more for the Filipinos. What you have done for one will be multiplied to many. Just think that if we go back and help train even just five each, imagine the impact it would have – 16 x 5 would be 80 so you did not just train 16, you trained 80 and more because these will benefit more people. And, if we are to inspire and help another group of five then that would mean an additional 80 more and so on.

Our gratitude goes to all the ones whom we have met and those we have not met but helped along on the implementation of this program. Our coordinators from JICE and JICA in the Philippines and Japan, the JICA Osaka Center Administration, Briefing, Kitchen, Reception and Cleaning Staff, we really thank you. Without any of you, our stay would not have been as smooth flowing as it was.
I would also want to commend JICA-OSIC since it is really an international home away from home. It is one of the best places to stay because you get the chance to meet all kinds of people all over the world. So we were given an additional bonus of befriending and interacting with people from Bhutan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, Bangladesh, Egypt, Germany, Brazil, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Pacific countries as Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, even Philippines and so many more.

And, I would like to quote Buddha, “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” To revise it, I would say, let us all rise up and be thankful for we learned a lot in this JICA Training Programme For Young Leaders – Education Sector, but if we did not learn a lot, we experienced so much, and if we didn’t experience so much, we have observed too much and if we didn’t observe too much, we were treated with all the attention befitting that of a prince or a princess. Everything, with all its lapses or gaps or problems, was perfect. After all, all things happened for a purpose. And, for all of those, we are truly grateful.
To end this speech, we would lie to sing a song dedicated to all of you entitled, Thank you.

We hardly shared a glance
And learn to know each other
And now our time is up
The time is not enough
We find another chance to dream and be together
But now the time is up
The band is packing up
But there’s one more thing before the day is done
Before the nights are gone
Before the curtain closes
Let us….
Thank you for playing our music
Thank you for singing our song
Thank you for keeping us company
Coz with you we feel we really belong
Thank you for sharing your moments
Thank you for being our friends
And if our paths should cross somewhere, someday
We’d like to sing this song again.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Good-bye to a very dear brother

= These are shots taken during the retrieval operation in Kayan. Despite the sadness brought about by the incident, it was heartwarming to note that people all over Mountain Province came together to help each other in any way they can in cash, kind and service. It's a clear show of the "ob-obbo" values of the Igorot. The heart may be heavy but the thought that we are not alone in this world is very enlightening. =

The first time I heard of the Kayan incident, I thought of Lesio but instead of the usual happy face, it was four coffins that passed through my eyes. I did not want to confirm my interpretation of the four coffins and I did not have the privilege of contacting Lesio my my cellphone on dead battery. It was really and truly heart rending to have the tragedy confirmed. Lesio and the whole of his family were buried in the land slide in Kayan, Tadian.

Les was not just a friend to me, he was a brother, a very dear brother. Since we met in 1993, our friendship was founded and it flourished as the years went by. It was tested by fire - by intrigues, by cold - by non-communication, by time and by the countless experiences we met along the way. It was proven to have been with that of a strong foundation and on a firm ground. And even when our family circles expanded, still the friendship flourished extending it to our children and our relatives. We did not just consider each other as friends but as family members.

He was a dreamer especially when awake. And, he works for those dreams. Even on his last breath, he was the Lesio I have ever known - loving and caring. His children were found hugging each other and he and his wife were found hugging each other. Beside them is a Bible, a wallet, an ID and a cellphone - items that symbolize so what really matters in life. It touched me that from the site also they were able to recover some pictures that showed and had me reminisce the happy times. I think it was not only I that was helped by those pictures but some of us also who viewed them. It reminded us of the happy times and helped bring back the picture of the happy Lesio and his wife. Now, their coffins are still clear, but beside the coffins are happy faces of the whole family. I can hardly even remember how they looked after being mangled by the debris, rocks, woods, soil and water. Now, I remember more their looks when our families got together to celebrate his promotion as principal and his wife's coming home.

Until now though, it is still hard though to think of Lesio and just let his image float. It still hurts to think that he could have done more have he been given the chance to live longer. Yet, his time has come as all of us will. In their short span of life, they had been full of life, living life as it should be - fulfilling their mission.

And now, from the Benguet State University Mountain Collegian family, we will continue to "write what is right" as we had shouted before. From DepEd-MP, we will continue to serve a life of service as you've modelled and pray that more will serve as you've done and even give more than what you have already given. From the OSCAR, we'll continue to live a life of excellence with the right attitue, saluting you for having done so. You may have gone before us, but you'll forever be in our hearts as a friend, a brother, a model, a family and even more. Our families will continue to be molded together with the love of God.

And, personally from me, I did not just lose a friend, I lost a brother, a comforter, a statistician (Do you know that i have even told somebody that i need not learn statistics because i already have you??? what a very tactless statement but that is how proud i am to have you.), an all talented individual gift-wrapped by God for me and all others you have served. Yet, I know that with yor absence, God meant it for something else. I will miss you. Forever, you will remain in our hearts.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Gag-gag-ay Di Dumap-ay"

I. Introduction
The “Gag-gag-ay di Dumap-ay” is an organization, as well as an activity, of the Supreme Student Government (SSG) of public and private secondary schools and Supreme Pupil Government (SPG) of public elementary schools and other personnel in the Division of Mountain Province. This started in SY 2008-2009 but was not yet christened as “Gag-gag-ay di Dumap-ay then.” It was this year that the organization is called such.

“Gag-gag-ay” is a Kankanaey Igorot term in the Western Mountain Province which may be the same with “Gagayam” or “Gagyam,” a social activity that does not discriminate the young from the old but takes all ages together to share and learn from each other through activities such as storytelling, playing, discussions and so on. It had been a very helpful social activity that kept the Western Mountain Province Igorots intact through the years.

“Di” is the Igorot term for “of” while “Dumap-ay” is again taken from the root word “dap-ay.” The “dap-ay” also known in some as “ato” is the political, social, spiritual, educational center of the people in the Western and Central Mountain Province before. So, “dumap-ay” refers to the members of the dap-ay. Before, this is where the boys would be trained on how to cope with life. (Girls are being trained in the “ebgan”.) It is where they get their non-formal education that prepares them to face adult life. Moreover, this is also the center for political activities where the people would gather together to discuss matters that affect them, thus, decision making especially on matters concerning more people are done. It also keeps the people united in a way that no one wants to be considered an outlaw, everybody complies with the decisions of the elders. It is also a spiritual center since this is where their rituals are being done.

There are things to note though in the set-up of the “dap-ay.” There is a council of elders who lead the discussion on matters presented to them and make a decision and lead everybody in the performance of activities. Nobody though is superior above the other. Direct democracy is a real practice.
Taking the concept of the “dap-ay,” the SSG and SPG advisers, officers and members are all “dumap-ays.” Their own SSG and SPG in their own schools are their own “dap-ays” and the “Gag-gag-ay Di Dumap-ay” is an assembly of all the “dap-ays” in the Department of Education - Division of Mountain Province. So the “Gag-gag-ay Di Dumap-ay” is the assembly as well as the main activity of all the SSG and SPG taken together.

To have a more direct approach and to encourage more of the “dumap-ay” to attend, the “Gag-gag-ay di Dumap-ay” is clustered into six. The first cluster is Paracelis-Saliok, since Paracelis is the farthest, though biggest, municipality of Mountain Province and though Saliok is a part of Natonin, another municipality, it is nearer Paracelis. The second cluster is the municipalities of Barlig and Natonin; third is the municipalities of Bontoc and Sadanga; fourth is the municipalities of Sagada and Besao; fifth is the municipalities of Sabangan and Tadian and sixth is the districts of Bauko 1 and 2. As of the present, only the clusters of Natonin and Barlig and Sadanga and Natonin did not yet have the “gag-gag-ay” for this school year.
“Leadership is not developed in a day but daily. Activities that help develop self-confidence and leadership knowledge, skills and attitude are being initiated for all the young and old participants.”
The “gag-gag-ay” also stresses the fact that as leaders, the small acts of one can become an eye-opener for all. It can be a seed that can be a great plant someday. Moreover, that leadership is never the same with popularity.

II. “Gag-gag-ay Di Dumap-ay” Activities
The “Gag-gag-ay” has several activities. These activities are divided into “dap-ay” activities and the “gag-gag-ay” activities. The “dap-ay” activities are what each SSG/SPG organization will plan for the betterment of their own school and community while the “gag-gag-ay” activities are what the different “dap-ays” will do at one time together in their own cluster.

“Dap-ay” activities include Environmental Awareness activities, i.e. advocacy, tree planting; Solid Waste Management advocacy and practice; Peer Counseling / Coaching; Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign; Peer Mentoring; program sponsorships; fund raising for the needs of their schools; and so many more that they see as relevant in their own situations that will bring out the best in them as students and teachers and as a whole school.
“Gag-gag-ay” activities focus on developing the leadership skills, attitude and knowledge of the “dumap-ay.” It also helps the “dumap-ay” in gaining knowledge and skills on the focus programs as well as model possible activities they can undertake in their own “dap-ay” once they go back to their own schools. The focus programs though are not the only activities that they can do in their own schools but they can also undertake other activities relevant to their own needs.
The focus programs for this School Year 2009-2010 are Environmental Awareness and Solid Waste Management. In this regard, all clusters are required to prepare activities that would serve as samples that the participants can bring to their own school and apply. They are even encouraged to improve on what was shown them. As of the present, since February 2009, the participants were able to plant 1,250 seedlings of mahogany, pine, coffee, caliandra and others during the “gag-gag-ay.” The Solid Waste Management principles are being stressed in the training. In fact, the theme for the “gag-gag-ay” for this year is “Kataguwan di sasayangdan, kawwanan.” This is roughly translated to mean “Care for the source of living of the children.” And, the source of the living of the children is the environment we have.

III. Search for the “Kagawisan ay Dap-ay”
It is by nature that people work for intrinsic as well as extrinsic rewards. One of the aims of the “gag-gag-ay” in the leadership trainings being held is to develop the attitude of volunteerism and of working not only because there is a reward but because of the thought that someone must act to be able to make this world in our own small way better – in other words, intrinsic motivations. Yet, to further motivate the different “dap-ays” to give their best, the students are encouraged to aim to be the “Kagawisan ay Dap-ay.” The search is conducted at the end of the school year on two phases. The first phase is the paper / document assessment and the second phase is the validation of the accomplishments of the top five contenders.

“Kagawisan” simply means best and “ay” is the. So, the “Kagawisan ay Dap-ay” is referring to the Best SSG/SPG organization in Mountain Province. The basis for the selection are the accomplishments of each “dap-ay” vis-à-vis their action plans as well as their implementations of the focus programs and other mandated programs.
The search is also a way of campaigning for other “dap-ays” to be more active and work hand-in-hand will all stakeholders.
Last school year, the champion which is Paracelis National High School implemented most of the mandated programs but more importantly, the SSG extended their work outside of their school and helped save the Paracelis watershed by doing tree planting activities in the water sheds of Paracelis. Their activity has a great impact to the community since it is also a way of campaigning against illegal logging which is rampant in the said municipality.

IV. Organizational Structure

The “gag-gag-ay” is an organization of students/pupils and involved personnel in the Department of Education in Mountain Province. Being an organization in the Division of Mountain Province, it is directly under the Schools Division Superintendent, Dr. Mary A. Lang-ayan. The Araling Panlipunan / HEKASI supervisor is automatically the overall SSG/SPG coordinator. This is in the person of Irene A. Bakisan, who formalized the organization. The Supreme Student Government Dap-ay in the different secondary schools are under the direct supervision of the advisers and the school heads while the Supreme Pupil Government Dap-ay of the elementary are also under Public Schools District Supervisors, school heads and advisers.
SSG/SPG officers and members are at the same level since “servant leadership” is the more dominant practice being emphasized. Moreover, servant leadership is what is being practiced in the “dap-ay” which is being modeled in the “gag-gag-ay.” In addition, to be able to attain success, it is so much easier for the SPG / SSG officers to join hands harmoniously if no one is treated as higher than the other but that all others are treated equal.
The council of elders in each “dap-ay” are the officers, advisers, school head and includes the Public Schools District Supervisor in the elementary. Meanwhile, the council of elders in the “gag-gag-ay” are the Schools Division Superintendent, SSG/SPG coordinator, Supreme Student Government Advisers Association, Supreme Student Government Federation Officers and the coordinators for each cluster.

No matter how gifted a leader is, his gifts will never reach their maximum potential without the application of self-discipline.”

“Successful leaders are learners. And, the learning process is ongoing, a result of self-discipline and perseverance.

“To lead tomorrow, learn today.”

Quotes from John C. Maxwell