In 2003, I was invited to visit an indigenous (of lumad) village in Mindanao. After a plane ride from Manila, a bus ride to Tagum City, a 3-hour motorcycle ride and another 3 hour walk, I met a group of lumad elders.
They told stories of their struggle against a logging company out to grab their ancestral land and how their collective “pangayaw” (tribal war against aggressors) drove the land grabbers away. They shared hopes of seeing their children educated. They asked that their two high school graduates be trained as preschool teachers. A few years later, the school started off, using banana leaves to write on and stones for counting.
I knew then that working for indigenous children’s education rights was to be my future.
Fast forward to October 24, 2013. A group of lumad rights advocates (academicians, church people and indigenous people's rights advocates) established the Community Technical College of Southeastern Mindanao, Inc. (also known as the Lumad Community College), a charity school that would open its doors to indigenous children free of any costs.
I joined the Lumad Community College as a volunteer educator in late 2016.
Its goal is to graduate teachers from various lumad communities in Mindanao. With the growth of many lumad schools, the need for lumad teacher graduates is growing.
At the Lumad Community College, we practice agro-ecology and it is well integrated in our curriculum. To date, the Lumad Community College has served more than 500 scholars and has graduated sixty educators, now teaching at various lumad schools in Mindanao.
Help me help the Lumad Community College grow a LUMAD TEACHERS EDUCATION FUND!