Students of the Apu Palamguwan Cultural Education Center enjoy their free reading period at the veranda. (Photo by P Walpole)
The school year for APC began at the end of May 2018 with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm as it expanded its operations to senior high school level, and welcomed many new faces in its faculty and student body. APC now serves over 400 students in all its schools, with more than 200 in the main campus in Bendum, Bukidnon.
The high school now has 150 students, of whom over a hundred live in dalepaan (longhouse) where they learn to build a sense of community life and connect with one other through their ancestry and cultural practices.
Unlike most student housing facilities, the dalepaan provide not only a place for the youth to sleep, but to live and develop relationships, support one another, understand cultural challenges, and apply traditional knowledge into a contemporary context.
The dalepaan are a fundamental shift in terms of understanding an integral culture-based education as they also serve as a venue for further learning and values formation, and allows for more attention to be given to students’ needs, academic or otherwise.
Grade school and high school dalepaan house students coming from villages in the Upper Pulangi area, with a significant number from Cabanglasan, and a few from Agusan.
A greater engagement in the learning process is observed particularly among high school students, as they are taught by dynamic new teachers and increasingly exposed to books and reading materials, with the introduction of a library period where they engage in free reading. Aside from this, sports events other extra-curricular activities are sustained to keep the learning experience rich and varied.
APC is also working on the development of new and long-term facilities while present structures are being maintained. Earlier classrooms are being converted to an administration and library building for better maintenance of school records and books, while the area under the said building has been dug out to provide space for classrooms. Five more classrooms need to be built, along with a science laboratory, and an administration building.
The goal for this year is to manage these developments to ensure student engagement to successfully complete the school year.
APC aims to keep both teachers and students grounded in the culture to be able to sustain the indigenous life in the uplands, even as they pursue knowledge that will allow them to confidently relate with broader Philippine society.