Through the assistance of ESSC, the Cultural Empowerment Center (CEC) was set-up in Bendum in 1993. CEC’s main objective was to provide a venue for child literacy and adult education, community livelihood activities, health program, resource mapping, community management training and documentation of their ancestral domain claims.
In 1997, the community decided to name the literacy program Cultural Education Program. As the community sought to more formalize the education system in Bendum, the name was changed to Apu Palamguwan Cultural Education Center.
For several years, the community has requested the government to send a teacher to address the education needs of the community. However, distance and little student population prevented the government from responding to this need. With the help of ESSC, the community was able to set-up basic literacy classes for the children and even adults. In 1993, a Literacy Building (Tunghaanan) was constructed. The literacy classes later evolved into a more formal education program that sought to provide internal and external recognition of the value of the education process undertaken by the Pulangiyen children and youth.
Resource Mapping was conducted in Bendum in 1992. The purpose of community maps was to enable the community “to articulate their own perceptions of their situation, of their environment, and to tell their own story.” The maps also helped the people “formulate community policies, specifically on the extraction of resources.... Maps were used to make an inventory of resources, to record the presence of plants and fauna and to show the diversity in terms of species and uses.... they provided the basis for dialogue with the government”
Similarly, a research building was established for the joint activities of ESSC and the community on environmental research on soil and water quality. “In Bendum, ESSC engaged in research that has focused on standard weather parameters, stream flow, and land use within the Upper Pulangi Catchment. The project involves the measuring, monitoring and modeling of environmental processes in this tropical upland catchment in relation to land management changes.”
As part of the adult literacy program, livelihood activities were conducted in 1993 to help the learners understand basic math concepts. Initially, the activities were focused on weaving mats. This expanded to the production of abaca in 1994. In 1998, a Livelihood Building (Balay hu Panagebendaya) was eventually built. Its purpose was to consolidate the different livelihood activities of the community and unify their efforts to address seasonal food shortages. Skills training on the production of tribal crafts and traditional products were conducted. Sharing of knowledge and expertise on alternative farming technologies and other practices were also done to help improve the economic condition of the community. In 2000, the Young Adult Skills Training Program was formally set-up to train the young members of the community in developing livelihood opportunities and in helping them define and articulate their indigenous identity and role in the community.