One humid afternoon in May, in the last municipality of Bulacan, we visited our brothers and sisters from the Dumagat tribe. They are an indigenous tribe inhabiting the eastern side of Central Luzon, Philippines and they live up in the Sierra Madre mountains.
We traversed five hours going up through their unpaved roads and experienced how difficult it is to go to their place. As soon as we reached where they actually live, we saw about 70 families with inadequate basic needs. Food and water aren’t readily available hence they have to go down the mountains for these supplies.
Antonio is the chieftain of the tribe. He spearheads and guides the community. His wishes are very simple—to have a health center or any medical assistance, proper shelter, and better roads. He shared to us that when there’s someone sick or about to give birth, they need a hammock and bring them down the mountains which is three to four hours.
We met a man named ‘Zandro.’ We thought he’s just our tour guide through the mountains of Sierra Madre but he’s actually one of the teachers assigned for the Dumagat tribe.
Teacher Zandro grew up in Bulacan and he teaches every subject to the kids of the tribe. You can clearly see through his eyes that he cannot contain his excitement as we’re visiting the community. His dreams for the children are to have basic education, a proper shelter for the high schoolers, and have someone from the tribe goes to college. We asked him a question that definitely struck us.
“What keeps you motivated in continuing your job as a teacher for the Dumagats?”
He answered: “In this community, I feel the camaraderie among the teachers, parents, and kids. They give back the love that we give to them as their teachers. I dream that one day, the kids finish their education and that someone will continue my legacy.”
With all of these, AutoDeal.com.ph, together with JCI Marilag and Ford Philippines, spearheaded a program for them called “Project Dumagat.”
This project aims to provide basic resources for the Dumagat, educate their rights as a Filipino citizen, to train them on a feasible and sustainable livelihood and to rebuild a proper transient area for the students.
Truly, as Sir Winston Churchill said, “We make a life by what we get but we make a life by what we give."
If you’re interested to give donations, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by: Nick Aguilos and Van Williamson, Jr.