Feature: Umayamnon: On survival and literacy
by Recthie B. Tolinero
Cagayan de Oro City (4 March) -- Umayamnon belong to the original stock of the proto-Philippine or proto-Austronesian people who came from South China noted thousand years ago. They are also famous as one of the first dwellers of Northern Mindanao. Up to the present, Umayamnons still thrive along the river banks of Cabanglasan, Bukidnon.
Like the other existing tribes in the country, the Umayamnons love to wear accessories and colorful attires particularly those with royal blue colors. They depend on farming as means of living where rice acts as their primary source.
According to Marissa C. Bangcahan, 33, as an Umayamnon, they never fail to feed their children since they can always find a way to have something to eat.
"Gatanom mi ug mga gulay sa palibot. Usahay pud kay mananggi mi sa among mga silingan nga mao dayon ang among gaibaligya para makapalit pud mi sa among sud-an (We plant vegetables in our surroundings. Sometimes, we offer labor to our neighbors where we can get vegetables that we can sell in the market. Our earnings from it is what we use to buy our own food)," Marissa narrated.
Marissa shared that having a rich culture and good practices in finding a living means that they can definitely make it on their own but not with education.
"Grade 3 ra akong nahuman ug siyam ang akong mga igsoon. Makaya mi ug buhi sa among ginikanan bisan pa'g asin ra ang sud-an pero ang pagpa-eskwela sa amo kay lahi na pud nga istorya (I only finished Grade 3 and I have nine (9) siblings. Our parents could raise us even though we only have salt as viand but sending us to school is another story)," she emotionally added.
The determined Umayamnon sighed with a big relief upon knowing that her children can now go to school without worrying too much on the expenses since they have been chosen to become part of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps. This is one of the programs of the government that aims to reduce poverty through providing conditional cash grants to the extremely poor households which they can use to improve their health, nutrition and education.
Marissa has eight (8) children ages 17, 14, 12, 11, 9, 6, 4 and 8 months. With this number, only half of them were able to go to school due to poverty. Her eldest child has only reached Grade 5 while the others are presently in Grades 6, 3, 2 and 1.
"Naminyo ko 16 akong edad. Sauna, akong gihuna-huna nga mabuhi lang nako ang akong mga anak, wala na dayo'y problema. Pero wala nako damha kung unsa pud ka-importante ang maka-eskwela sila busa nagpasalamat ko ug daku karon sa 4Ps nga mao'y makatabang sa ila nga mahuman ug eskwela (I got married when I was 16. Before, I thought that providing them with food is enough. I never realized that education is also essential for them that is why I am very thankful that 4Ps is here to help them finish their studies)," she happily mentioned.
With Marissa's story, 4Ps has once again proved that even those who disregard the importance of education can absolutely come to realize that daily survival entails a nourished body and mind. (DSWD X) [top]