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PIA Press Release
2006/10/02

Save Mindanao changing lives in Agusan Marsh

by Lovely Laudette D. Gamba

BUTUAN CITY (October 2) -- "Nalipay ko pag-ayo pag-abot dinhi sa among dapit sa Save Mindanao kay tungod ani nakamao nami unsaon pagbasa ug pagsulat, daghan mi nakat-onan sa ila (I was very happy that Save Mindanao is here because we have learned how to read and write from them, and have learned a lot from them)", says Arlene Layma a 16 year old, Grade I student of Batas Floating Literacy Center.

The floating literacy center of Batas is just one of the many literacy centers' put up by Save Mindanao Volunteers Incorporated (SMV) in the province of Agusan del Sur. It has benefited a number of Agusan Manobos, the indigenous people (IPs) in the Agusan Marsh.

Mae Tigusan, a volunteer teacher of the Batas floating learning center said that 2 years ago, they used to have their classes in the waiting shed of Batas. "Fortunately, concerned stakeholders, the community, local government units (LGUs) and private individuals donated materials and funds for the construction of the floating school, now used by the children of Batas", says Mae.

One student of Batas, Elizabeth Sandigan, a 13 year old, Grade 3 pupil shares that, "Ang floating school sa Batas naghatag sa amo ug oportunidad nga makaeskwela bisan sa among kapit-os (The floating school in Batas gives us an opportunity to go to school despite our financial difficulties)".

Every morning students from nearby sitios will paddle their way to Batas learning center. This practice coupled by the community's cooperation paved the way for the development of a growing and responsive learning center in this remote part of Agusan Marsh.

Another learning center established by Save Mindanao in Agusan Marsh is the Kelobedan Learning Literacy Center. Kelobedan is manned by two volunteers, Cezar Tumarlas and Victor Malasaga.

The experiences of the two volunteers prove that the learning center and the presence of Save Mindanao in the place become an integral part of the Agusan Manobos lives. It has become indispensable to the IPs lives.

Victor Malasaga, a paramedic who also served as teacher, has been in the community for two years now. All this time he has saved lives of women in the area. Maribel Montes, a 15 year old single mom revealed, "Hapit na unta ko mamatay kay naglisod ko pag-anak. Maayo nalang gani ania si Sir Victor ug ako naluwas (I almost died because of a very difficult delivery but fortunately, Sir Victor was here and I was saved)".

Julieta Huerta, another young mother in Kelobedan also shares that she escaped a rendezvous with death because of the help of Victor Malasaga.

Marietta Montes, mother of four children in Kelobedan also revealed that, "Dako akong pasalamat sa Save Mindanao kay bisan layo mi nakab-ot namo ang among mga panginahanglanon. Dili na unta nako paeskwelahon ang akong mga anak kay walay makasuporta kanamo. Pero ang akong mga anak gusto gyud moeskwela ug tungod kay naa diri ang Save Mindanao duol ra, nakaeskwela gihapon sila. (I am thankful to Save Mindanao because despite the distance, they have provided us with our needs. I have decided to stop sending my children to school to help us with our livelihood but my children really wanted to go to school and because of Save Mindanao, they are able to go to school)."

Michael Montes, Mariettas son added that "Sukad niabot ang Save Mindanao diri dili nami kinahanglan magbugsay pa ug layo kay duol nalang ang eskwelahan. Makatabang pa gyud mi sa among ginikanan adisir mosulod sa klase (Since Save Mindanao came here, we no longer have to traverse long distance to go to school because there is already a school nearby, enabling us to help our parents before going to class)."

Save Mindanao has been existing for five years now and caters to the needs of the most depressed and underprivileged areas in Agusan del Sur specifically the river towns along the Agusan Marsh.

It was organized to uplift the lives of IP's in Mindanao who subsist in the distant and most depressed areas where basic services can hardly be served. The organization is committed to provide literacy, health, livelihood, and environmental protection program. (PIA-13) [top]

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