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This blog is an amateur photographer's attempt to show how beautiful the world really is. He is drawn to the colors of nature like a moth to a candle light. What are showcased here are nature's grand display of colors at sunrise and sunset, beautiful beaches and off-the-beaten track locations in his beloved Philippines, waterfalls and some of nature's great sculptures, architectural gems, and other views from around SE Asia that he was fortunate to see at one point.

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July 2, 2011

black pencil project: mangyans of mansalay

Mangyan Colors
colors of Mansalay Mangyans

Could we change lives given just a weekend? With the right group of dedicated individuals, we easily can.

Life Changing Box
life changing box

The heavy rains, thanks to Typhoon Falcon, did not stop the group that Friday night. Metro Manila's every corner is flooded but we managed to make the rendezvous and catch the bus headed to a town in Oriental Mindoro, an island south of Luzon. The destination: Mansalay, home of the Hanunoo Mangyans (one of the 7 Mangyan tribes in Mindoro). The mission: distribute school supplies to about 300 or so school children (official list indicates 320).

The group is made up of professionals from various fields, but that weekend we were all volunteers of Black Pencil Project 

"Black Pencil Project is a grass-root, hobby-based, volunteer organization with core advocacies focused on child's primary education in remote and indigenous communities in the Philippines. Primarily founded as a collective initiative, Black Pencil Project fosters shared responsibility using individual's skill and talent through AdvenTourism and VolunTourism programs." - Mon Corpuz, one of the founders.

This particular trip was organized by a group of BPP volunteers - running enthusiasts who initiated the Run For Pencils project. The fundraising initiative aimed to collect pledges for every kilometer a runner covers.

I was fortunate to be invited to tag along and I almost backed out of it due to a conflict with schedule. Looking back at that weekend, I would not miss it for the world, not even with the flood and the huge waves that delayed our island crossing from Batangas pier to Calapan.

Here are some of the photos I took (with more photos soon):

The Photog and Cook
photog and cook
One of BPP founders Mon Corpuz, camera in one hand and ladle in another. He was the chef of the soup kitchen, alternating between taking photos and stirring 3-4 large pots of steaming pasta soup. That weekend we fed more than 200 people lunch, dinner, breakfast the next day, and mid morning snack of macaroni soup. I was one of Mon's assistants but I would often leave him to hunt for photos.

This is where we cook. There are no decent firewood, mostly just wet bamboo and coconut "paklang" (branches). These made a lot of smoke and hurt the eyes.We were all crying by the time we are finished cooking.

Helping Out
helping out
One of the elders helping out, creating a makeshift roof over our "kitchen"

Cooking Rice
cooking rice
Rice is not a staple part of their diet, but that weekend the group brought a sack. The whole community enjoyed hot steamy rice for several meals.

Outdoor classroom #1
outdoor classroom
One of the activities the group did was a coloring exercise, done under the cool shade of a large mango tree (with lots of low hanging fruits you can just grab). The sketches that were used depict Mangyan daily life.

Distributing school supplies: bags and notebook, pencils and pens, crayons and notepads, water bottles and toothbrushes, sports equipment, and everything in between.

school kit
A Mangyan kid takes away her kit. Not all of the children were able to make it to where we camped The river had swelled due to the heavy rains and it was difficult to get across. Some of the kids have to walk for 5 hours to get to where we are.

Bayani Compound
the compound
Our home and activity area for two days. This is where all of us, volunteers and different groups from various sitios, ate and slept. Some of our group stayed on a small hut on a hill just beyond this compound, while some pitched a tent. There are no bathrooms and CRs of course. We had to take a bath in the river and they had to create a temporary CR for us (read: dig a hole and cover it with anahaw leaves)

Mangyan Kids
Mangyan kids
I still don't have the exact number how many of them were able to make it there that weekend but there was enough number to keep the volunteers occupied, from manning the kitchen, telling stories, and organizing/facilitating parlor games.

Group Hug
happy smiling faces
Some of the children with their parents and para-teachers, all beaming and happy.

The pictures may not say it all (I hope to post more) but it was a life changing experience, probably for both the volunteers and the Mangyan kids. The Mangyans are a resilient tribe, making do with what they have. They understood the importance of literacy for their children and have used whatever resources they have, be it a simple hut for a classroom or engaging volunteer teachers, to uphold and sustain this.

I've learned that among the 7 Mangyan tribes, the Hanunoos have their own form of writing. They showed me how to write my own name using their script.

I've learned that their dialect have a lot of words in common with my own (Hiligaynon) and that of my grandparents (Kinaray-a). Somehow I (or they) felt some gap has been bridged as soon as I started using these words and phrases in conversation with them.

As we parted ways that weekend, Imelda, of the the para-teachers, told me repeatedly: "Allan, wag mo kaming kalimutan" (don't forget us). I don't think I ever will.

More photos soon.

Know the dedicated people behind this here.
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thepinaysolobackpacker said...

awww! inspiring indeed! =) congratulations again to BPP for a job well done. so magaleng pala magluto si Mon. hehe
nice captures Allan! =)

lawstude said...

hurray for a worthy cause. master photographer, master giver and a master friend. awww.

Lantaw said...

Thanks Gael, Oman :)

jordee said...

Allan, thanks for this! :) Ganda! Salamat din sa lahat ng tulong mo sa Run for Pencils! :)

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