By Arnel Santander
Eleven youth participants from different villages in Upper Pulangi, Bukidnon in northern Mindanao, Philippines recently completed a four-week furniture carpentry course with finished wood products tha included 11 workbenches, four storage chests, seven standard-sized window frames, and 14 wood hammers.
This Hulas Furniture Carpentry Course of Tuen hu Uyag is a four-week training course and is an institutional collaboration between the Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC) and Pusat Pengembangan dan Pelatihan Industri Kayu (PIKA), a Jesuit vocational school for woodworking technology in Semarang, Indonesia.
Two trainers from PIKA stayed for the first two weeks and taught upland youth the theories and practices in basic furniture carpentry and the ability to construct a set of finished goods, such as a work bench or working chair, a small window, a low tools table, and a storage chest. The youth are part of Tuen hu Uyag, an ongoing skills training and values formation program of ESSC. ESSC staff continued and sustained the rest of the training course. Discipline, technique, and standards in furniture-making taking into account the upland condition, local culture, and availability of resources from the forest, were some of the major lessons shared with the youth.
During the concluding activities of the training course, Datu Nestor Menaling, leader of the tribal council of the Pulangiyen community in Bendum, with local government officials of neighboring areas and parents and relatives came together to celebrate with the youth participants.
Datu Nestor challenged the Hulas graduates to succeed in their relationship with the land and the forest because it is the only way to sustain the kind of advancement that the Pulangiyen people aspire. He added that education and skills should help to nurture creation that would give economic security and better social relations.
Previous Hulas graduates Oscar Alba, Jr, Adorie Padrones, Jr, as well as James Timbangan (a teacher at the upland indigenous school operated by the Apu Palamguwan Cultural Education Center) sang inspirational songs that asked people not to judge others just because they are weak or different. Their songs encouraged people to value the dignity of people and that the youth must take responsibility in social leadership for the challenges are great.
Junwel Cabale, a 20 year-old training participant, representing the training group, gave the following response. “Thank you very much to my parents for the support and courage, as well as to the parents of my fellow young learners for allowing their children to be part of the course despite the misconception of people about the peace and security in Bendum. Through this course, I learned to value my earned knowledge, potential skills, and purpose of my being in my community.”