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New school in the Philippines a welcome alternative

Catholic Mission's International Programs Coordinator Godwin Yidana was among the guests at the opening of a new alternative literacy school for Manobo-Pulangion children in the Philippines last month.

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Children of the TINDOGA community prepare to welcome Godwin Yidana from Catholic Mission. Photo: RMP-NMR

The new school, established by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR) and funded by Catholic Mission, was opened on March 21 in Quezon at the community of the Tribal Indigenous Group Association (TINDOGA).

Mr Yidana said the type of tuition offered by the school would translate to broader education for the children. 'Alternative learning in the context of this project means that students are taught literacy and numeracy in both their native language and English.' 

The proximity of the school to the local community is also of considerable benefit. 'I’m glad that a school is put up in the community so their children will no longer walk far to school, avoiding accidents on the road,' said Erlinda Angular, a local Manobo-Pulangion woman. 'Most of the community members stopped after the fifth or sixth grade because of poverty and lack of resources.'

Mr Yidana flew from Sydney to join 107 family members of TINDOGA at the opening, along with advocacy groups supporting TINDOGA's ancestral land rights claims in the region. 

The opening of the school sees 58 enrollees, aged 8 to 19 years old, categorised into four levels. The school and the feeding program will be facilitated by Marilou Avenido, a volunteer alternative learning teacher.

Jelly, one of the first cohort, says she is happy and thankful for a closer school. 'I will no longer walk for hours,' she said. 'I promise to study well.'

'We thank the RMP-NMR for the unwavering support despite the continuing threats,' said Ms Angular. 'We are also thankful to Godwin for visiting us, coming in solidarity with our people. It is rare for funders to visit us, especially as we are already far from the city centre.'

'TINDOGA is a very beautiful community,' said Mr Yidana. 'People are united not just in their struggle for their ancestral land, but also in their everyday lives. They work as one; they live their lives as one.'

The project is a relief and rehabilitation initiative for the formerly displaced Manobo Pulangion community. Catholic Mission's work globally includes child-focused community development and sustainability programs that encourage community participation, improve the wellbeing of those in need regardless of race, religion, gender or political persuasion.

This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on the website of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines - Northern Mindanao Sub-Region.

For media enquiries please contact Matthew Poynting on 02 9919 7833 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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