Three years ago in May of 2015, the CMM Team composed of Brs. “Doc” Joel De Jesus, Michael Weiss (from Germany), Noe Roxas, Evare Laborte and Michael Angelo Flores went to Sitio Amaya, Palayan City for Medical Mission with the “Dumagats”. This was conducted in coordination with YMCA c/o Morito Tatel and with Fr. Chito Beltran, who is the Diocesan Priest in-charge for the Bacao Resettlement and Reforestation Program. The “Dumagat” is a semi-nomadic tribe scattered in small groups along Sierra Madre Mountains. They were “sea gypsies” also known as “Baluga” due to their dark brown to black color. In the past they live in coastal areas, but were pushed into to the mountains by other group of Filipino settlers.
Since 2015, the CMM continue to assist the needs of the Dumagat Tribe in Sitio Amaya, specifically in encouraging the tribal youth to continue their studies. We assist them by sending school supplies that is good for one year which partly comes from the order and partly with the help of some generous benefactors. Right now, there are 13 pupils in the tribe (Grade 1 – 3 pupils, Grade 2 – 3 pupils, Grade 4 – 3 students, Grade 5 – 1 student, Grade 6 – 1 student and Grade 7 – 1 student). If properly encouraged and monitored the Dumagat Youth has a lot of potential to bring a bright future to their tribe. The Grade 7 student, Anna Pangilinan, finished Grade 6 with second honor and also the Grade IV student, Jomar, received 2nd honor award.
Last May 27 to 28, 2017, Brs. Ferdinand “Kalo” Caparas and Michael Angelo Flores, went back to Sitio Amaya together with Fr. Chito Beltran and some volunteers. We were able to distribute the needed school supplies of the children and engage into conversation with the members of the Dumagat Community. They are thankful and were very happy with the help we delivered. Right now, there are 80 members of the Dumagat Tribe in Sitio Amaya. Their small community now rest on the elevated ground beside the river. It’s good that they decided to go down from their former settlement up the mountains, which aside from making them more accessible for assistance, it would be possible for the children to go to school.
Like the common problem of other tribal groups in the Philippines, the “Dumagat” were easy prey for oppression and abuse, unless properly educated to defend and claim for their rights towards self-determination and sufficiency. May we continue this endeavor of reaching out to our brothers and sisters living in the margins.