Language reflects our character and identity. It can also represent the distinction between different groups of people. It is a way for us to know more about our traditions, culture, and heritage. This is why it is important to preserve and foster it especially with the modernization of our society.
Barangay Cuyambay, one of the upland barangays in Tanay, Rizal, is home to the people who belong to the Dumagat-Remontado Tribe. The Dumagat-Remontado group refers to those among the Dumagats with mixed blood, and living in communities alongside lowlanders. At present, they are still aware and are still practicing their Indigenous Knowledge System. However, more and more of them are forgetting their native language. A lot of their younger generation has little to no knowledge on how to speak their mother tongue since they are more exposed to the lifestyle of the lowlanders.
In this community, you will find Cuyambay Elementary School wherein 58.6% of the learners belongs to the Dumagat-Remontado tribe. With the objective of restoring the Dumagat-Remontados’ waning language, the school and TUCDUAN Indigenous People’s Organization launched the Project “PAYDAS” or “Pagbabalik Aral sa Yapak ng Dumagat Remontado Alinsunod sa kanilang Sinusong Wika”.
Their main goal is anchored on the DepEd mission “to protect and promote the right of every Filipino to quality, equitable, culture-based, and complete basic education”. To accomplish this mission and to provide them a culturally appropriate education, the project will adhere to a researched-based project called “Teaching Culture and Mother Tongue Based – Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE): Dumagat in Indigenous Learning System (ILS)”. This project aims to prove that learning for the Dumagat-Remontados can be best learned if they are immersed in their own natural set-up. For them, their native land is their classroom. They learn more with experience and the events within their community.
With this, a group of young Dumagat leaders have put together a humble hut called “Aklop ng Karunungan” or the “roof of knowledge” which is made of the materials that their ancestors have been using back then. The structure of this classroom is also similar to the native houses of their tribe. They built this is for the students so they have shelter during rainy days wherein they cannot conduct the lessons outside since part of their curriculum will be going outside to practice traditional activities like “pamimislay”, “pagkakatsa sa ilog”, and “kaingin”.
Photo: AKLOP NG KARUNUNGAN
*Structure may change depending on the availability of resources*
The expected outcome for this project is to not only restore the language, but also to make it stronger and more sustainable for the future Dumagat-Remontados. It also hopes to increase the cultural consciousness of the members of the tribes within the area, preserve the indigenous traditions, knowledge, and government system of the tribe. Moreover, it also aims to strengthen the connection of the Dumagat-Remontados with each other and with their native land which served as their place of learning. Last but not the least, to keep up with the modern way of life without setting aside their identity as Dumagat-Remontados.