education in the Philippines

After appeal for help, Albay tribal teacher receives donations for students

Rhaydz B. Barcia
After appeal for help, Albay tribal teacher receives  donations for students
Teacher Shirley Dacuba got teary-eyed when she received the donations and expressed gratitude to the civic groups who extended their help

Shirley Dacuba, a tribal daycare teacher in Sitio Tobgon, Misibis in Tiwi, Albay, is worried thatshe would start classes without the needed learning materials for her students.

Teacher Shirley, mother of 5-year-old girl and a member of the Agta-Tabangnon tribe in Tiwi, has been working as a daycare teacher for two years now.

As classes are set to resume in October, she will be handling 34 daycare students – all children belonging to her tribe. They will hold their classes at the Tobgon Tribal Hall at the Tobgon Elementary School compound.

Dacuba told Rappler on Monday, August 17, that she needs school supplies, children’s books, and a cabinet or bookshelves for her students this coming school year. 

She added that she could not afford to purchase and provide the school supplies and instructional materials for her students who are all from poor families.

“I am just receiving P3,200 honorarium from the barangay and additional P1,000 from the local government unit of Tiwi for a total of P4,200 monthly.  I’m handling 34 tribal daycare pupils this school year. We need books, school supplies, and bookshelves,” she said.

The Tiwi-based tribesfolk are among the 14 million indigenous people all over the country. In the town of Tiwi, there are four tribal communities living in the upland villages of Mayong, Misibis, Tabgon, and Joroan where tribal children and teachers lack facilities, books, school supplies, and other instructional materials.  

Donations coming in

Following her appeal, the Legazpi City Host Lions Club along with its members visited the tribal community and gave school supplies, food supplements, and P5,000-cash assistance intended for the construction of bookshelves. Another group member also donated school supplies for the students. (READ: From Cagayan to Sarangani, students help each other via internet and radio initiatives)

“Our organization will also be giving vegetable seeds for food production of the IP community to support the good nutritional requirements of the families as potent measures in our fight against the coronavirus pandemic through balanced nutrition,” said Ronaldo Ebrada, president of Legazpi City Host Lions Club. 

The Legazpi City Host Lions Club also sourced children’s books from Quintin Jose Pastrana, founder and managing director of the Library Renewal Partnership. 

Pastrana donated 5 boxes of books but had encountered difficulties in transporting them from Manila to Bicol due to the strict quarantine protocols. 

Another group, the Rotary Club of Legazpi Central, also provided face shields and school supplies that Dacuba will be needing for her lessons. The group is also planning to provide a desktop computer for her. (READ: Through #PisoParaSaLaptop campaign, students raise money to cope with distance learning)

Ako Bicol party list executive director Melinda Ibio also provided facemasks and alcohol supplies to Dacuba and her students,  as well as more than 200 IP residing in Tabgon Elementary School where the IP tribal hall is located.

Teacher Shirley got teary-eyed when she received the donations and expressed gratitude to the civic groups who extended their help. 

Her concerns for her students, as well as their school facility, reflect the plight of her fellow tribal teachers in the Bicol region. Though the immediate needs she raised for her students were solved, other concerns still need to be addressed. 

The tribal hall that is being used by Dacuba as a daycare center is quite dilapidated and there are fears that the ceiling panel would fall anytime. It only has a blackboard and a display board with the letters of the alphabet. 

The hall doesn’t have a teacher’s table, and not all students have their own chairs. 

Erlinda Cerenio, an IP chieftain in Sitio Antom who is a concurrent representative at the municipal council, told Rappler that there are at least 230 students in Tabgon Elementary School from daycare to elementary. 

How to help

Before providing humanitarian assistance, donors should first coordinate with Jose Ian Alamares, the community development officer III of NCIP Polangui Service Center.

Those who would like to help the Agta-Tabangnon tribesfolk may contact  Shirley Dacuba at 09106002774 or Erlinda Cerenio, municipal chieftain representative in Tiwi at 09465417789. –