29 years
of
Community Service
MUNTING NAYON
News Magazine
Operated by couple Eddie Flores and Orquidia Valenzuela
News and Views of the
Filipino Community Worldwide
SOUTH COTABATO TRIBES HOPE FOR A BETTER FUTURE THRU EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT



By Edwin C. Mercurio
Lake Sebu-South Cotabato
March 31, 2017

 
 


Lake Sebu, Philippines- While elementary school children sang “Lemlunay”, a T’boli term for “Paradise”, it was heartbreaking to listen to teachers and residents talk about the fish  kills devastating  Lake Sebu.  

Travelling to various community centers the foul smell of rotten fish filled the air. Tribal folks tell stories of ecological imbalance and the loss of bio-diversity in the native communities.

Maria Gandam, Santa Cruz Mission Schools, Inc. President and residents of the this picturesque town explained that the fish kills (Kemehung in T’boli) started after heavy and continuous rains poured in the early part of this year. 
However, residents drew four possible causes of Kemehung. First, they contend that commercial fish cages occupy more than 20 percent of the lakes. Secondly,  in several areas of Lakes-Sebu, Lahit and S’loton water lilies have spread far and wide choking the oxygen level of the lakes’ aquatic resources. Another prevalent theory is the reports of lake residents blaming the government’s  dumping  truckloads of “Mud Balls” Into the lakes without consultation with the tribal communities and fish cage owners. The official explanation they heard came as a surprise. The “Mud Balls” which made the lakes murkier were meant to stabilize the PH level of the lakes. “But the results were devastating,” many of the residents said.

The fish kills devasted  the three major lakes with tons of bloated and rotten fish floating in fish cages.   It is here where the Santa Cruz Mission Schools, Inc. serving seven indigenous communities since 1962 is located.
Visiting the Sta. Crus Mission School in Lake Lahit with Ms. Gandam the stench of rotten fish fills the air. However, Lake Lahit escaped the massive fish kills due to the community’s campaign to prohibit commercial fish pen production and clearing much of the water lilies which chogged other lake areas.
Gandam, explained the significance of Lemlunay as an important reminder to the native students and the community that their ancestral domain is the tribes’ ‘Paradise’, once a thickly forested area where the biggest raptor, the Philippine eagle soar over the forest canopy.
As multinational corporations move upland into the hinterland areas planting pineapple, banana, asparagus and papaya for exports, big logging concessions deforest watershed areas.  The loss of lands to foreign dominated monocrop agriculture have resulted in massive soil erosion and ecological imbalance of this hinterland town, situated some two thousand feet above sea level. 
Visiting upland schools, Gandam spoke to the students about the importance of the forests, the Philippine Eagle,  flora and fauna and their interconnection with their tribe’s survival and culture.

“Bereft of trees and watershed areas, our rivers will run dry.  Without clean and healthy environment “fish kills” will occur more often,” said Ms. Gandam. The mountain springs and Lake Sebu’s seven Water Falls and watershed areas provide irrigation water for the lowland farms of Koronadal, South Cotabato.
Indeed, it is an uphill battle for the tribes of South Cotabato- T’boli, B’laan, Ubo Manobo, Kalagan, Tiruray and Maguindanons. To protect their ancestral paradise – from the influx of modern civilization, destructive foreign monocrop plantations, logging and mining, Gandam sees the need for educational campaigns in schools and the indigenous communities. 
Gandam and the SCMSI staff believe that the educational, environmental and community development components of the Santa Cruz Mission Schools Inc. are highly important.
For this school year alone,  SCMSI has produced 119  graduates of Bachelor of Science in Community Development. Among these graduates are three mothers who were allowed to continue their studies while nursing their babies inside the classroom. Due to poverty and lack of funds for childcare the young mothers bring their clothe hammocks to put their kids to sleep while their classmates take turns in babysitting the kids.
Gandam said SCMSI has only recently allowed the young mothers to continue their education while nursing their kids in school. “It is also one way to show and remind the students that getting married and raising a child while in school is a difficult and serious business.”
The Santa Cruz Mission School teachers and staff not only provide education to the students. They also teach the school children the importance of reforestation, handicrafts making, T’nalak weaving, livelihood projects, community organizing and the importance of maintaining and preserving their unique culture.
Santa Cruz Mission School, Inc. is a unique group of lay missionaries, priests, religious sisters and tribal people. They have committed themselves to help the Tribal Peoples of South Cotabato Mindanao with the basic tools necessary to face the challenges of the modern world.
Gandam said “The goal of the Santa Cruz Mission Schools Inc. is to assist tribal people through comprehensive human development and preservation of their unique culture.

The Santa Cruz Mission School, Inc. has been serving the tribal peoples of South Cotabato for over 55 years. It, however, depends on the Sponsorship Program to continue educating the tribal children. Sponsorship for one child covers the cost of tuition, food and health care.
For inquiries about sponsoring a child contact Maria L. Gandam, School President, Mobile 09066091738. Mailing Address: Santa Cruz Mission School Inc. Purok Nagkakaisa Rivera St. Brgy. General Paulino Santos. P.O. Box 7878, Koronadal City, 9506 Philippines. Email: mlgandam@yahoo.com. Or scmsilakesebu@yahoo.com. Website: scmsi@scmsi-lakesebu.org.
For Medical Missions from US and Canada to Sta. Cruz Mission School, Inc.  and South Cotabato email: edmercurio@gmail.com.

    MoreCulinary Cities of the World: Manila - Culinary Demo in Toronto
    Jojo Taduran

    Hidden Flavours of Philippine Kitchens
     
    Culinary Cities of the World is back! The Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts at George Brown College will present the international cuisine of the City of Manila, capital of the Philippines. Filipino cuisine has evolved over many centuries, to include Malaysian, Indian, Spanish, Chinese, and American influences, as well as other Asian...
     
    MoreOur “Times Journal” days
    Willie Jose

    I will always treasure the unforgettable memories I’ve made while working many years ago at the Philippine Journalist Inc. (PJI),...
    More25th Anniversary Concert of Philippine Rondalla on Oct. 21
    Diane Valencia

    The New Jersey-based  University of the Philippines Alumni & Friends Rondalla (native string ensemble) will celebrate its 25th anniversary of...
    MoreMidnight at Orangeburg
    Julia Carreon-Lagoc

    ...
    MoreFilipino Canadian  Teachers Group Slates 11th Annual Teachers Conference
    Tony A. San Juan

    Summer is almost over and the autumn breeze is moving in the horizon. Back to school jitters have passed and...
    MoreCanadian Cities Teams dominates 30th NABA Inter City Basketball Tourney
    Emar Sy

    Sept. 1 – 3, Manheim-PA: The 30th edition of the North American Basketball Association Inter City basketball tournament was recently...
     
    More`CON AMOR’ FOUNDATION B0ARD MEMBERS VISIT PROJECTS IN PHILIPPINES
    By: Orquidia. Valenzuela,  as reported by Myrla Danao

    Businessman Jaap van Dijke, chairman and two board members, Myrla Danao and Dr. John Deen of Con Amor foundation in...
    MoreArt Creations
    Vicente Collado Jr.

    Welcome!

    Many believe formal training is a prerequisite to quality in painting. Not a few will agree with me one can...
    MoreTHE CHILDREN IN DON MANUEL GK VILLAGE
    Orquidia Valenzuela Flores

    Sixty-three children from age three to six years, in the very poor community of Don Manuel village in Barangay...
    MoreHistory of the Filipino Community in the Netherlands
    Orquidia Flores-Valenzuela

    Every story has a beginning and our story begins when a Cavitena accompanied her aunt to sail to another continent....
     
    Disclaimer

    Contents posted in this site, muntingnayon.com, are the sole responsibility of the writers and do not reflect the editorial position of or the writers' affiliation with this website, the website owner, the webmaster and Munting Nayon News Magazine.

    This site, muntingnayon.com, the website owner, the webmaster and Munting Nayon News Magazine do not knowingly publish false information and may not be held liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential or punitive damages arising for any reason whatsoever from this website or from any web link used in this site.