Datu Ike Aking proudly poses in front of the Literacy Building, one of the two sub-projects turned over to the IP community of Barangay Carmen, Boston, Davao Oriental.

Davao Oriental – Datu Ike Aking of Barangay Carmen, Boston dreams to improve the lives of the members of the Mandaya community. Also the Indigenous People Mandatory Representative, he pushes for and supports government projects that aim to preserve the Mandaya culture and language.

“Usa sa gitan-aw namo nga kakulangon alang sa tribo kay ang panginahanglan nga ma-edukar sila. Kasagaran sa mga IPs diri sa amo makasabot lang na sila ginagmay pero dili na kasulti. Isa na sa importante na ang among lenggwahe mabilin gyud na sa mga sumusunod (One of the things that we see as lacking in our community is the need to be educated. Most of the IPs here only understand a little bit of the language but can’t use it verbally. It is important that our language will remain for the next generation),” Datu Ike said.

It was a dream come true for Datu Ike and the rest of the members of the Mandaya community when a literacy center was built as one of the sub-projects of Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) under the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

The KALAHI-CIDSS is a community-driven development (CDD) program which aims to empower ordinary citizens to directly participate in local governance by identifying their own community needs and collectively responding to these. One of its modalities is PAMANA which aims to provide conflict-affected barangays access to basic social services.

The program not only supports the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plan (ADSDPP) but also strengthens the partnership with the local government units and the indigenous political structures in achieving peace and unity in the community.

“Mao ni among gisabotan nga proyekto tungod tanan activities namo, labi na sa mga pagtuon, diri namo mapahigayon. Pinakaimportante kini tungod sa nagakawala namo nga kultura og tradisyon nga diin dapat unta namo ikabilin sa among mga anak (This is why we proposed the literacy center as project, so all our activities, especially those related in learning, will be held here. This is important to us because the community’s knowledge of our culture and tradition are slowly fading which should be preserved for the next generations),” Datu Ike emphasized.

The literacy building was to encourage the younger members of the Mandaya community to appreciate and learn their own culture.

The community volunteers participated throughout the process of the implementation. The program did not only fund the literacy center but it also equipped the volunteers with vital learnings through the various training and seminars conducted.

“Dako kayo mi’g pasalamat dili lang sa proyekto, kung dili sa mga pagtuon. Nabansay mi sa pagtuon nga gi-provide sa KALAHI-CIDSS. Kini magamit namo sa uban pang mga decision making sa among tribo og kami nagapasalamat ani (We are very thankful not only to the sub-project, but to the learnings. The sub-project is just a bonus. The KALAHI-CIDSS trained and equipped us with knowledge that will be useful in our community’s decision making in the future and with that, we are grateful,” Datu Ike said.

The literacy building, which is situated just beside the barangay hall, was officially turned over to the community last February 17, 2021 with the presence of the Municipal Mayor of Boston, Hon. Rowell Rosit, represented by his Executive Assistant Mr. Judith B. Castres, Vice Mayor Eleuterio Manaytay, the LGU of Barangay Carmen, headed by Barangay Captain Evencio Batulan, and representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, headed by Regional Director Raquel E. Nunez, who was represented by Merlinda A. Paragamac, the Assistant Regional Director for Operations. ###