SANTO TOMAS, Davao del Norte — The “lumad” families in Sitio Talos, San Jose Village, in Santo Tomas, Davao del Norte will now be able to learn and train themselves with various skills to have a head start for their livelihood after a tribal center was constructed to serve as a common place where delivery of government services will be conducted for better accessibility.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Region 11 through the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan–Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) handed over a tribal center and a 100 linear-meter community access road to the community.

The ceremony was done during the community’s 14th “Hiluto ni Kalayag” celebration on Tuesday, September 17.

Spearheading the inauguration and handover ceremony were Sto. Tomas Mayor Ernesto Evangelista, Datu Doming Tumaytay, Barangay Captain Eulogio A. Andoyo, Ireneo Landasan, Jack Pino, OPAAP Area Manager Oliver Binancilan, NCIP Provincial Office Emmanuel Cacal, and other municipal government officials.

In his speech, Evangelista said his administration vowed to support all the programs and developments especially for the indigenous peoples.

“Our lumad brothers and sisters should be given equal access to all our government services. This is in response to the marching order of President Duterte to provide equal opportunities to all,” he said.

Datu Doming Tumaytay, the town’s IP Mandatory Representative, thanked Evangelista for ushering a big change in their IP communities in Sitio Talos. He, for one, lauded the construction of the “School of Living Tradition” tribal center which aims to preserve the cultural tradition of the Ata-Manobo.

Dako kaayo kog pasalamat sa atong halandong Mayor Erning Evangelista sa iyang paghatag og mga proyekto diri sa Sitio Talos. Kami dugay na nagdahom na mahatagan og pasilidad na makatuon ang mga miyembro sa among tribu og mga pagtuon kabahin sa panginabuhin-an,” Tumaytay said in vernacular.

The tribal center and the 100 linear-meter community access road are projects under the Kalahi-CIDSS Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) Community-Driven Development Program for Indigenous Peoples (IP–CDD).

The IP-CDD program aims to deliver basic social services to IP communities by supporting the implementation of the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plan (ADSDPP) while operating an Indigenous Knowledge, Systems and Practices, as well as a locally defined programs that promote peace and development.

Mercedita Jabagat, RSW, DSWD Regional Director, said that the real challenge in this project is the preservation of the facility so that the next generation of Sitio Talos can still use the facility and also continue the living tradition of the Ata-Manobo.

For his part, Emmanuel A. Cacal, NCIP Provincial Officer was thankful for the continued implementation of projects as a result of the convergence of agencies from the local and national governments to improve the plight of the lumad.

Under the ADSDPP, the Municipality of Sto. Tomas aims to support and strengthen the partnership between the LGU and the Indigenous Political Structures to achieve a peaceful and progressive community.

Similarly funded projects are implemented in other IP communities affected or vulnerable to conflict such as Nabunturan, Mawab, Maco, Pantukan, Mabini, Maragusan, Talaingod, San Isidro, and Kapalong. The covered areas will conduct ADSDPP Review and Development Planning Forum for prioritization of sub-projects.

In Region 11, the total grant allocation for the IP-CDD implementation is Php 27,000,000.00 million. (PR-MIO Sto. Tomas)