“The 251 schools is the best gift of the Aquino administration to the indigenous people,” said Bro. Armin A. Luistro FSC, Secretary of the Department of Education, during the grand opening of the 40 schools for Indigenous Peoples in Region X on June 2 at Luyungan High School, Nasuli, Bangcud, Malaybalay City with the theme: “Katutubong Edukasyon Tungo sa Matagumpay na Buhay.”
The grand opening started with a ritual called pamuhat led by Datu Victoriano Saway at around 10 A.M. in the presence of tribal leaders from seven tribes (Manobo, Tigwahanon, Matigsalug, Umayamnon, Bukidnon, Higaonon, Talaandig), IP students and teachers, DepEd personnel, and stakeholders.
Students from Bukidnon National High School, Bangcud National High School and Quezon National High School Annex Apyao entertained the audience through a series of cultural presentations such as short plays, ethnic dances, and tribal songs. The message of which is to take pride of one’s roots. The guests and stakeholders were invited to dance with them.
DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro, keynote speaker, came around 3 PM. The dignitaries then proceeded for the ceremonial flag raising located at the site where the school building is constructed. Edwin Gurrea, EPS-AP and IP Focal Person, gave the rationale for the creation of the said IP schools.
Josephine Valledor, EPS-IPEd and ALS, acknowledged the presence of IP students, community elders, teachers, stakeholders, media, Schools Division Superintendents from five different divisions and their personnel, regional supervisors from DepEd Region X, and the DepEd secretary.
Edilberto L. Oplenaria, Schools Division Superintendent of the Division of Malaybalay City welcomed the participants to the event.
Dr. Allan G. Farnazo, CESO IV, Regional Director, shared a message. He said, “they (Indigenous People) declared this place as a sacred sanctuary that will house their culture, their aspiration, their tradition.”
“No one will ever dare to thwart this aspiration as theirs and their future children’s dream and aspiration will find fruits in this place,” he added.
Stakeholders were then given certificates of recognition in appreciation for their support and commitment to the project.
Representatives of the 40 IP schools were each given the Philippine flag which will be hoisted in their respective schools during the first day of school on June 13.
Bro. Armin A. Luistro FSC, DepEd Secretary, then shared his message of inspiration. He stressed on the importance of IP education. Prior to that he explained why he sought for forgiveness from the Datus of Bukidnon. This was because the Department has forgotten and forsaken for many years to include the indigenous peoples in the education system. He said it is very important that we go back to our roots.
Luistro added, “DepEd must adjust to the community to prove that education is not only for the civilized but also for our culture, for our indigenous brothers and sisters.”
He also reasoned out why we build schools for IP communities. He said that our IP brothers are connected to nature and one with their place of birth. “Kapag inalis natin sila doon, para nating inalis ang isda sa tubig,” he explained.
He ended by saying “the 251 schools is the best gift of the Aquino administration to the indigenous people,”; compared it to wine served during fiestas, the sweetest and most delicious to end the meal.
Brother, as he wants to be called, called on everyone to support the IP education since it is the indigenous people who bring the banner as genuine Filipinos.
Luistro then welcomed questions from the media in a 15-minute press conference which marked the end of the grand opening of IP schools.
By: Jerry A. Java