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ACROSS MOUNTAINS AND RIVERS: Uratex donates mattresses, blackboards, and construction materials to IP schools

The month of October promotes the observance and celebration of the rich culture and historical contribution of the Indigenous People (IP) as part of an empowered community in the nation. The country celebrates the National Indigenous Peoples Month to advance the IP’s rights, preserve the indigenous cultural communities, and appreciate their heritage and history.

Among the IP being celebrated this month are the thousands of youth in the uplands of Mindanao. They are the ones who hold hope to preserve and cultivate their culture, knowledge, and values. As an integral part of society, they too, serve as instruments to enrich and ensure environmental sustainability. However, due to their far distance from the urban communities where opportunities such as education, exposure to innovations, and experience of advance technology are available, they are unfortunately deprived of learning and given limited education.

Things are slowly starting to change for the better though, thanks to the combined efforts of the government, private sectors, IP rights advocates, and non-government organizations. With basic education, technical knowledge, and other in-kind gifts and opportunities being offered, the future of the IP youth seems a little brighter.

Among the private sectors contributing to the brighter future of Mindanao’s IP youth are the Uratex Cagayan de Oro (Uratex CDO) employees who drove for five hours, traversed mountains and rivers to reach some of the country’s IP community.

Nestled along the Pantaron Range on the border of Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur provinces, the team found Apu Palamguwan Cultural Education Center (APC). The institution’s goal is to help indigenous communities through promoting and providing education to the upland youth of Bukidnon without detaching them from their natural environment and equip them with life skills and agriculture-related training for their livelihood. The APC houses IP learners who reside in a relatively near distance from the institution. The Uratex team shared the gift of comfort to the educational center as part of its sincere commitment to the mission of contributing to the country and to the community they belong in.

“Each of us helped ensure that the mattresses are carefully transported across the river. We experienced how hard it is to travel from their community just to reach the city. We also noticed how they found it challenging to uphold their culture, and their determination to make every day count. To sum up the day, it was a very fulfilling Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project,” said Ms. Neal Kathryn Cabajes, Uratex CDO Human Resource Supervisor.

The mattresses were received by Mr. Andres Ignacio, the Director for Planning and Geomatics of Environmental Science for Social Change and a representative of APC.

“We are very happy to know that there are companies in the Philippines such as yours that strive to give back to those in greater need of the community. We wish you the best and we hope that you continue this program of sharing back your blessings to the broader society,” APC Executive Director Fr. Pedro Walpole SJ said in his letter sent to Uratex after the donation.

Aside from sharing their blessings with the APC, the Uratex CDO team also did a school donation and services program, where they donated blackboards and construction materials to three elementary schools during this year’s Brigada Eskwela. The team travelled for four hours from the Uratex CDO plant to reach the Miarayon Elementary School in Bukidnon where IP youth are also attending. Other beneficiaries were the Cugman Elementary School and the Lumbia Central School in CDO.

“No rivers or mountains can hinder us from sharing the gift of love and comfort to the people who deserve it most,” ended Cabajes.