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Monday, December 23, 2019

Rotaractors Volunteer for the 7th Immersion & Outreach Activity of Books and Toys for Mangyan Children (BTMC) Project


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For Rotaract leaders, to live a fulfilling life is to learn something new everyday. They manifested this belief through service when clubs from different parts of the country came together to volunteer for the 7th Immersion & Outreach Activity of Sigaw ng Kabataan Coalition's Books and Toys for Mangyan Children (BTMC) Project and by helping plant mangrove trees and propagate corals in Puerto Galera.

Inspired by a Hanoi-based NGO that was founded by a World Economic Forum fellow, BTMC Project aims to empower ethnic minorities such as the Tau-buid Mangyan Tribe by providing them opportunities for livelihood development, access to education, and other basic social services.

As the project evolves from a humble gift-giving activity into an annual project that aimed to improve the quality of life of the tribesmen, more Rotaract leaders gained interest to volunteer and lead in organizing its activities. 







The volunteers had the chance to know more about the tribe, the culture, their language, and their situation during the outreach and immersion activity in Gloria, Oriental Mindoro.

Together with their corporate partner, Uratex Foundation, the team provided materials that would help improve the tribe’s basic and functional literacy as well as improve their hygiene and sanitation condition. They also had a simple meal together where the volunteers prepared “Pancit na may maraming maraming sardinas”, as requested by one of the tribe leaders.

It should be noted that most Mangyans in the Tau-buid Tribe find it difficult understanding Tagalog since some of them only attained their education up to primary level, while most never had any formal education at all. They would have to travel long distances just to reach schools and some of them would rather just work to help their families. During the storytelling and coloring activity, one of the Mangyans, “Tatay Paner” was given a copy of a book. At first, he tried to refuse saying, “Hindi ako marunong magkulay o magbasa” (I do not know how to color or to read). He also mentioned that it was the first time that he held a book. When asked about his age, he answered saying “hindi ako sigurado, siguro mga nasa singkwenta na ako. Hindi rin ako sigurado kung anong araw ako ipinanganak.” (I’m not sure, but probably around 50 years old. I’m not sure either what day I was born).

One of volunteer-Rotaractors began reading the story to him and taught him how to color. In the end, Tatay Paner finished coloring the entire page and promised to finish the entire book and show it to the team on their succeeding visits.

According to a volunteer, talking with the tribesmen made them realize how hard their life is compared to that of the volunteers. They need to walk for hours to search for food, materials to use in creating Sabe (Mangyan handicraft), or to simply reach the town. This shows their adaptability and creativity in finding ways to survive, but just because they have the means to live does not mean that they do not need help. They still do not have access to basic necessities such as potable water, proper hygiene and sanitation facilities. There are still many aspects in their day-to-day life that needs improvement.

After the immersion, the BTMC Project team proceeded to Elizabeth's Hideaway Resort in Puerto Galera to stay for the night and for a Mangrove tree planting and coral propagation activity the day after. There they learned how essential mangroves are in restoring the balance of our ecosystem, in protecting our communities from storm surges, and in providing habitat for fishes and crustaceans.

To cap the day, the volunteers were given time to enjoy the beach through activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, and canoeing. They also had interactions with farm animals raised by the Resort's owner, who is also a Rotarian and an Assistant Governor of Rotary International District 3820, PP Carlos Garcia. AG Carlos together with Rotary Club of Puerto Galera Bay President, Noel Cataquis hosted the team in Puerto Galera. President Maricel "Icel" Dino of the Rotary Club of Pinamalayan Central also hosted the initial batch of organizers during the stay in Pinamalayan prior to the immersion..

There was also signing of friendship and sisterhood agreements among participating clubs. This year's BTMC Project is chaired by the Rotaract Club of Miraculous Medal - Sucat and hosted by the Rotaract Club of Fort Bonifacio Global City, Rotaract Club of Makati United, Rotaract Club of Puerto Galera Bay, and the Rotary Satellite Club of Fort BGC Titans.

The Sigaw ng Kabataan Coalition expresses its appreciation to this year's Project Chair, Rtr. Vincent Lorenzo Naval, his club, and all the following partner organizations for their invaluable support: Rotary Club of Muntinlupa Central, Rotary Club of Fort Bonifacio Global City, Rotary Club of San Pedro Magic, Rotary Club of San Pedro South, Rotary Club of Metro San Pedro, Rotary Club of Puerto Galera Bay, Rotary Club of Pinamalayan Central, Rotaract Club of San Pedro East, Rotaract Club of San Pedro, Rotaract Club of SISFU, Rotaract Club of Makati, Rotaract Club of San Pedro South, Rotaract Club of San Pascual, Rotaract Club of Nuvali, Rotaract Club of Downtown Batangas City, Rotaract Club of Metro Bacolod, Rotaract Club of Downtown Ibaan, Rotaract Club of Makati Uptown, Rotaract Club of Metro San Pedro, Rotaract Club of Las PiƱas West - HAPPY, Rotaract Club of Quezon City Central, Rotaract Club of Downtown Lemery, Rotaract Club of Marapara, Rotaract Club of Balintawak, Rotaract Club of Lucena South, Rotaract Club of San Francisco Del Monte Malaya Achievers, and Rotaract Club of Iligan South.

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