Happy emotions were high, and tears fell when for the first time, on January 17, 2023, the Philippine flag was raised at Sitio Dabu, Brgy Nomoh, Maasim that signaled the start of kinder classes of 46 children aged 5-13 from Sitios Dabu, Fith and Miga in Brgy Nomoh, Maasim who have been out of school because of distance. Children from these sitios have to walk two hours to get to Ludin Logan IP School, the nearest school, and back, passing a river at least twice.
The hope for the children started through Project CONSUELO: Consolidating and Updating Educational Learning Opportunities for Child Project that constructed the Community Convergence Child and Women Rights Center (CRC) in Sitio Dabu, a catchment of various Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA). The construction of the center started in 2021 at the height of the pandemic through the partnership of Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation, Conrado & Ladislawa Alcantara Foundation, Inc. (CLAFI), DepEd Sarangani, Municipal Tribal Council-Maasim and the Office of the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative-Sarangani, with funding from Consuelo Foundation.
Following the completion of the CRC in late 2021, the center built in an ancestral domain was turned over to the MTC Maasim. Advocacies on child and women rights were conducted, including mentoring sessions that aim to help strengthen the Indigenous Peoples families in the area.
The education for the children in this GIDA has been a long time dream for the tribal leaders and officials of the MTC Maasim. Thus, to help provide access to education to these children, the MTC-Maasim issued a certification allowing DepEd Sarangani the use the of the CRC as learning center at the same time a venue for child and women rights advocacies.
MTC Maasim Chieftain and Sarangani Provincial Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative, Fulong Benjamin R. Donato said, “This 5-hectare ancestral land in Sitio Dabu was donated by Bapa Lamang Alat to the MTC Maasim. Our plan is to construct government facilities in this catchment area like health center. Also part of our dream is to establish a school here. We thank the Consuelo Foundation for the CRC which we can use as temporary learning center while we are awaiting construction of the permanent school. Child and women rights advocacies will continue to be held in the CRC when there are no classes to not veer from the real purpose of the center.”
The Ludin Logan IP School (LLIPS) through the leadership of its school head, Sir Louie Rosales, lobbied for and worked on the adoption of the center as a community extension school, and crossed rivers to secure names and documents of children for kinder enrolment.
Following the DepEd Policy that children must undergo kinder classes before proceeding to Grade 1, only primary classes will be held in the center. While primary classes are ongoing, the LLIPS will process the School ID so it can hold elementary classes for children promoted from kinder.
In the inaugural class, Sitio Chairman tearfully shared that his heart is overflowing with happiness for their long time dream has finally come into reality. The Sarangani Energy Corporation (SEC) and the Siguil Hydro Power Corporation (SHPC) provided the children with school supplies as bags, writing paper, notebooks, pencils, among others. The SHPC also committed to provide additional desks/armchairs for the children.
The Sarangani Provincial Government thru the Provincial School Board provided a teacher to handle the classes. The DepEd Sarangani also assigned a Tboli teacher for the CRC.
In turn, the parents committed to ensuring the daily class attendance of their children.