Diana Mandarawon wakes up at 3 am, while the earth is still covered by darkness and mist. She wastes no time, her every move well calculated as she avoids not to wake-up her younger siblings with the grating of the floor made of slabs. She then goes to the kichen--just a few steps from the only bedroom--and grabs the sack of cassava and bananas.

This morning, just like the past days, the 12-year old daughter of an Ata-Manobo farmer, leaves for school with not a single cent. But Diana does not care if her lunch appears like an endless repetition of the previous meals she had taken in with her classmates and friends at school--viandless cassava or bananas.

Worrying about food or money is the least of her concern. Her problem is how to get to school on time, the reason why she had to wake up as early as 3 am for she can start walking at 4 am. Disregard the fact that she's going to school without notebook, paper, pencil, or books--the girl is consumed by her unquestionable determination to learn.

He cousin, Gina, does not also care if, just like the yesterday, she will be using the free spaces of her overly used notebook to write down today's lessons. Her classmates will not be lucky as she is, as most of them practice writing down their names and solving simple mathematical problems on leaves of bananas.

Diana's village, called Sitio Tambuko in Barangay Palma Gil in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, is about three hours away from Sitio Dulyan, where the community learning center called Salupungan Ta 'tanu Igkanugon is located. The learning center only caters to grade one pupils.



If Diana and Gina, and at least 55 others, want to finish elementary education, they have to travel about 20 kilometers to reach Barangay Sto. Niño. To do this, they have to pay P600 for motorcycle fair for each person.

Asked why she wants to be "educated," Diana said "aron dili mi malimbungan sa mga bisaya (so the bisaya can no longer cheat us)."

Such a desire of someone so young to actually learn of her bloody past. Such a dream of someone so young yet never oblivious of the cruel future that lies ahead. This struggle while the government nearly allowed the implementation of the questionable Cyber Education Program in public schools in the country.



Btw, her village, as most of the villages of Talaingod, was the site of the logging operations of the giant Alcantara and Sons (Alsons) many years ago. Alsons, of course, is the manufacturer of Ecowood Plywood.

Now, Diana and the children of Talaingod are reaping the abuse of their ancestral lands. They are trapped in a depressing and unspeakably disheartening condition of poverty and hunger while the "intruders" lie in the comfort of their own hotels.

And yes, the intruders? They sure can have better view of the destruction they left everytime they fly their planes over the skies of Talaingod.

Learn more about the problems of Diana here.

11 comments:

crazed_heck said...

tragic talaga nangyayari sa kanila na kung tutuusin sila ang mas me karapatan sa mga lands...kawawa naman...

btw, thanks for droppin by my blog...as always, hecktor...

john be anonymous said...

this is the main issue that our government should be serious about, poverty in our country is left and right, good economy is useless if people are starving.

ruff nurse-du-jour said...

My heart goes out for kids, like Diana, who knows how important education and self-actualization is, despite every struggle they have to go through.

Corrupt politicians and heartless opportunist businessmen, ie, intruders should read this one. Or they start opening their eyes for a change.

pat said...

reading about poor kids with no notebooks, pens, baon, etc really depresses me. sad thing is these kinds of passages might never get to the right people.

Bryan Anthony the First said...

i remember that documentary by kara david where pupils and teachers had to walk far distances... iyak ng iyak si kara, naku iyak din ako ng iyak...

sana something should be done about it

bananas said...

crazed, it very, very tragic and this tragedy is being experinced (and lived) by the Ata-Manobo. Up to when, nobody knows...we can only hope it ends very soon, if not in this lifetime, sana next na.

john, amen to u. btw, there is even no economy to talk about, in the first place.

ruff, their hearts are hardened by greed, something that also paralyzed their system, disabling them to see and feel others.

pat, we could only hope that these realities, the realities that they themselves created, get through them...and hit them really bad.

bryan, sana nga lang the government will start addressing this problem ba. this is not so difficult a problem to solve...before they even think of modernizing (through cyber ed) the education system, sana they addess muna the basics and the essentials.

kingdaddyrich said...

maraming ganyang sitwasyon sa bansa lalo na sa mga lugar na malayo sa kabihasnan..

hindi ito binibigyang pansin ng ating gobyerno dahil abala sila sa pangungurakot ng pera ng bayan... tsk tsk tsk

mabuti pa ang mga NGO na nagmamalasakit sa kapwa

kung sino pa ang mas may kapangyarihan at kakayanan na gawin ang responsibilidad nila sa mamamayan, sila pa yung mga nakaubo lang at nagpapataba ng tiyan!

ruff nurse-du-jour said...

greed it is. i dont know what's with "power" that makes it so enticing. i just can't get it. its as if everyone wants to become really powerful in one way or the other, when power is the last thing that this country need, its compassion and respect.

and oh bananas, I didn’t know you’re a nurse too. Or a physician? Care to elucidate further? :-)

Kiks said...

maganda ang ganitong mga entries. minamahal kita dahil don.

natanggap mo na padala ko?

Emeniano Acain Somoza, Jr. said...

Good job. Way to go!

bananas said...

kingdaddyrich, alam mo, ang sabi nga ni bibiyaon bigkay sa akin, kahit na daw di sila pansinin ng gobyerno, ok lang sila...kahit na wala pa silang tulong na matanggap mula dito, basta ba wag lang din silang pakialaman. parang bang "leave us alone, we're fine!"

ruff, nag-aral ako ng nursing after my first degree. third year na ako when i decided to stop. isang taon na lang sana diba? hehhee...no regrets, neways...pero, sa isang banda, sayang ang pera.


kiks, nasan na padala mo? di ko pa po natatanggap kapatid. huhuhu...

eman, salamat. ang galing mo ring magsulat. iba...