A Milestone Achievement: Pigpamlahan Tribal School

IPE 13Mahayag is the farthest sitio of St Peter as well as of Malaybalay City. Located at the foot of Pantaron Range which separates the Province of Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur, Mahayag used to be the passage way of the NPAs from the mountain to the lowland and vice versa. Because of this, the people have lived in fear and insecurity. They languished in poverty and many times they have experienced hunger especially at times that they could not go to their farms. Powerless before these challenges, they began to realize the need to go to school. IPE 12They dreamed of a culture-based school system in their own sitio that could empower them to stand for their rights and pursue their own development. To realize their dream, they sought the help of Bukidnon Tribal Filipinos Foundation, Inc (BTFFI), which in turn, sought the assistance of the Assisi Development Foundation. Hence in 2003, the Pre-School in Mahayag was established .Compelled by the increasing realization of the value of education, they worked for the up-scaling of the Mahayag Pre-School to elementary education in 2008. Through the assistance of ADF, 4 Cs Mapping has been conducted which helped the community in setting up a vision and a community development program that is rooted in their life and culture. More importantly, the 4 Cs mapping officially marked the beginning of Pigpamulahan Tribal School. Pigpamulaan Tribal School emerged as the center for learning and development for the whole community, offering early childhood and elementary education for children and functional literacy for adults. IPE 11Among others, the functional literacy program included sustainable agriculture, handicraft, alternative health, IPRA and Culture of Peace trainings. Through the trainings in Sustainable Agriculture as well as the installation of a water system in Mahayag, the people were able to set up a Community learning Farm, 65 household backyard gardens and nursery and 12 household backyard fish ponds. The backyard gardens and fish ponds did not only provide the families with food but also additional income. Moreover, the nursery also enabled them to plant fruit trees, coffee and cocoa in their own farms. Moreover, the mothers also continue to process herbal medicines and have become regular suppliers of the Alternative Medicine Botica of Barangay St. Peter.

IPE 10Now on its fourth year, Pigpamulahan Tribal School is now temporarily financed by the City Government of Malaybalay and managed by the DepEd, the Mahayag Bulega Organization and the BTFFI. It now caters to 49 Pre-School children, 135 elementary children and 30 adults coming from five (5) communities: Puroks 6, 7 and 9 of Barangay St. Peter, Balaodo and Malilong. Since 2008, the number of households in Mahayag has increased from 40 to 65. IPE 9The Higaonons of Balaodo, which has been the hideout of the NPAs in the area, have expressed their desire to go down to Mahayag so that their children can have access to formal education. In his speech during the first elementary graduation of Pigpamulahan Tribal School, Engr. Domingo Hingpit, the Barangay Chairman of St. Peter thanked ADF and said, “Mahayag used to be the smallest and most backward Sitio of St. Peter but now it has become a model for a community-initiated education and development program in the area.”