September-18-2017 12:55 AM
MARIST MISSION IN COMMUNION WITH THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE
(Malutok Palawan, Philippines)
The Marist Brothers in Malutok, Palawan, together with the representative-leaders of the Indigenous Palaw-anon collaborators of the Marist Mission, convened on September 12-14, 2017 for a workshop on strategic planning. Joining the team was Mr. Willie Tingor, community organizer and chairperson of the Indigenous Peoples (IP) Apostolate of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa. For Rosalyn, a para-teacher and Vice President of the Education committee, the experience of sharing the indigenous people’s concerns and the opportunity of being accompanied by the Marist Brothers in charting new directions for the future of the community was significant. “Before the brothers came to our community, we simply received and followed what was given to us. With my experience in this workshop, I feel a sense of owning this program and am challenged to do something more for my community.”
In addressing the call for a “new beginning”, Br. Frank Salcedo, Br. Fred Salubre and Br. Dean Bagsican of Malutok community engaged in dialogue with Mrs. Rosalyn Mahali, Mr. Erino Tarnong, and Mr. Enrito Sumo, the leaders of the indigenous community and with Mr. Willie Tingor, representative of the Vicariate. The workshop process was done prayerfully. Invoking the guidance of “Ampu”, the God of all creation, participants discerned mission priorities for the next three years. The output of the planning workshop identified the guiding visions to pursue from January 2018 to December 2020:
1. Education that Integrates formation of indigenous learners with cultural knowledge, skills, and values.
2. Children and youth imbued with and appreciative of their own cultural heritage.
3. A protected and developed environment.
4. Indigenous spirituality respected and IP’s desire to belong to Catholic religion addressed.
5. Identified IP leaders well trained for the exercise of their leadership responsibilities.
6. Sustainable social enterprise program.
7. Strengthened networking to generate continuing support for mission.
A challenge was raised on how participants collaborate and work together in the formulation and implementation of the Ancestral Domain and Sustainable Development Plan. This plan serves as the blueprint of any indigenous community; for it guides the developmental initiatives to undertake for the best interest of the IPs.
In the Philippines, the Indigenous peoples are considered among the poorest and the most disadvantaged group. They comprise about 15% of the 104 million population of the country. Illiteracy, lack of health benefits, unemployment and the lack of access to basic services are the issues confronting the indigenous peoples particularly in the community where our brothers are present. With the formulation of the strategic mission plan, the Marist brothers and the IP leaders will work in communion to bring about a better life and future for the indigenous community, particularly the future of their children and their children’s children.