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PIA Press Release

Scholarship program for IPs in South Cotabato continues

by Prix D. Banzon

Tampakan, South Cotabato (21 July) -- Tribal leaders of Blaan tribes in Tampakan town continue to partner with Sagittarius Mines, Inc. on projects that benefits the youth through scholarship program.

Danleg tribal chieftain Dalena Samling in an interview said their scholarship program is not only for the elementary and secondary levels but also college education saying that school age belonging to their tribe are now in school.

"I am grateful of this opportunity kay sa akong panahon wala ko nakaeskwela" (during my time i didn't have the chance to go to school) she said.

Her group comprises of 2,000 indegenous people (IPs) of the Blaan tribes who are residents of barangay Danlag.

Sbangken tribal chieftain Tonio Binuhay meanwhile said school age children of his tribe who are also Blaan numbering 1,800 are also beneficiaries of the program. He said of their college scholrs four already finished college education.

He said this education program when sustained will help improve their quality of lives. The group of Binuhay are residents of barangay Tablo.

But SMI's education program is not only for tribal groups as it also undertakes education program for its employees inorder for them to better understand the local culture specifically that of the Blaans.

The Cultural Induction Program consists of three modules that aim to provide staff and contractors an insight on how to relate with the Blaans. The participants are contractors and employees from SMI's various departments.

The first module is an introduction to Blaan culture, through an extensive discussion of the Blaans' history, belief systems, worldviews, customs and traditions. The second module gives tips on practices that should be observed when in a Blaan village, and dealing with Blaans in an office setting. The third underscores cultural commonalities with other dominant Philippine ethno-linguistic groups by encouraging the participants to understand and respect cultural differences.

SMI operates a mining site in Tampakan town where its area covers three barangays namely Danlag, Tablo and Pula Bato where deposits of copper is estimated at 2.4 billion metric tons containing 13.5 million metric tons of copper and 15.8 million ounces of gold.

In line with its operations, the SMI continues to demonstrate its commitment to social responsibility by contributing to the social, economic and institutional development of our communities by forging meaningful partnerships with our stakeholders.

In its website it showed among others their support to the host community where its report in 2008 where it implemented the Tampakan Social Improvement Program (SIP) after an an extensive stakeholder consultation process. The SIP identifies and defines the projects that best respond to the key social challenges and opportunities in the host and neighboring communities. By focusing on education, health, skills training and enterprise development, it aims to help communities establish sustainable economies that can survive long after its operations end.

Particularly for the Tampakan Project, the SMI granted free elementary, high school and college education in the Tampakan communities benefiting some 5,700 students.

Meanwhile SMI stressed that with their approach to sustainable development (SD), it will continually improve on performance, ensure the efficient use of resources and maintain a safe and healthy workplace as it create value for their stakeholders inorder to contribute to a sustainable environment.

It emphasizes that in achieving SD it must be safe, environmentally and socially responsible way between the people, the communities, government and other stakeholders. (PIA) [top]

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