As the year draws to an end and people begin to gather with friends and family during this festive period, APC welcomed the opportunity to meet and share experiences with new groups engaging in education for Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao.
Twenty-four representatives from the Diocese of Ipil came to Bendum for a few days this month in response to renewed interest from DepED and other groups in Mindanao in APC’s culture-based multilingual education (CB-MLE) system.
The group was able to visit and observe classes and went on a guided tour of Bendum’s domain or gaup. The morning finished with two talks. The first was from Grade 2 teacher Leonera Cabale and Social Studies teacher Maura Lipanda on their own experiences at APC, the Pulangiyen cultural values, and the history of APC as they experienced it.
The second was an animated presentation on methods of lesson planning and the use of language and traditional stories to bring Pulangiyen culture to life in early childhood education. Grade 1 teacher Mercy Pakiwag and Kinder teacher Thelma Compade gave this talk.
The afternoon included an open forum with the teachers. There were also talks from Science teacher Zarmin Garcia on the importance of language to conceptual learning, from Math teacher James Timbangan on his use of concepts and examples from the gaup, and from Livelihood teacher Jovy Sagula, who presented the activities taken up in his classes.
The evening saw a cultural celebration and sharing, with guests singing and dancing their traditional Suban-on war dance and songs. From APC, the high school scholars opened the night with a Dugso (prayer dance) and a Pigagawan (courtship dance). The kindergarten students also gave performances.
Visitors expressed gratitude for the chance to visit the forest, to see hardwood trees growing, and to drink the cool water from the community-managed spring. Reflecting on their experience in Bendum, they were particularly affected by the students who were so engaged and curious and teachers who were animated and dedicated to the culture and the students’ learning.
Visitors expressed hope and were inspired by the community’s dedication to protecting and managing the forest and seeing what was once a log deck was now full of trees. They were also impressed with the strength of the community, particularly among the youth, to ensure the survival of their culture.
APC is grateful to all those who were involved in this visit. We would like to express our thanks to all those who visited from the Diocese of Ipil with whom we wish continue a dialogue in the future. We also hope to welcome more groups who wish to understand our ways of living and learning.