TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Nov. 18 (PIA) -- It was an early Christmas for the children and the indigenous people living in Biabas, Guindulman as members of the Association of United Development Information Officers (AUDIO) here brought candy packs, school supplies, and boxes of gifts and wearables and relevant government information for the indigenous cultural communities (ICC) on Nov. 17.
During the 2022 Bisita Eskaya Community Immersion and Information Caravan, the indigenous cultural community led by its chieftain Reya Sondon Jovino Datahan, Brgy. Chairman Cleofas Pabon, and village teachers (timamas) also prepared native delicacies and Eskaya cooking and featured their music and dances in appreciation for the information officers’ visit in their community.
This was the second visit of AUDIO members to the indigenous peoples’ community to bring government information on its services to the marginalized sector of the community as well as gather feedback on government programs and projects.
The visit to Biabas came after last year’s visit to another Eskaya community in Taytay Duero.
The information officers from government agencies and local government units shared their ongoing programs and projects that might be applicable to the community, while the community members, in turn, asked questions on how to avail of these programs and projects.
A townhall meeting was also conducted highlighting the National Commission on Indigenous People’s (NCIP) help to the community as the chieftain and the community leaders gathered to interact with the information officers.
Helping them in preserving their culture, alphabet, language, literature and traditions are village volunteer timamas(teachers) who hold Sunday classes for the elementary and high school, according to Reya Sondon Datahan.
While the barangay council has succeeded in giving honoraria for the timamas, the community is also seeking the government’s help in getting additional honoraria for their Eskaya teachers.
Faced with a growing population and barely enough domains for the community to enjoy and continue practicing their lifestyle, the Eskaya leaders also asked the government to cancel Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA) to patches of land to farmers which also happen to be within their domains.
The activity forms part of the AUDIO Bohol Bisita Eskaya Community Immersion and Information Caravan organized and hosted by the NCIP and joined by information officers from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Bureau of Internal Revenue, Philippine National Police, National irrigation Administration, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Information Agency, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Education, and local government units (LGUs).
AUDIO President and DAR Information Officer Maria Lydia Bantugan explained that the activity was not a relief mission but rather to help make government work with its feed-forward, feed-backing of communication so new polices can be crafted from programs and projects that need tweaking and that actually work in the communities.
The community also proposed for the tourism development of Bud Cambatud - a hill that offers a 360-degree view of the ancestral lands and nearby areas to distant mountains, bat caves that host thousands of bats, source of inorganic fertilizer for their farms and nesting site for swiftlets - and Lingganay Puti, a natural formation that allows the village an early warning system against calamities as it produces a ringing sound in the approaching bad weather.
While developing these sites entail funding, the law on IPs’ rights does not allow people other than the IPs to manage and possess the rights to operate their economic enterprise projects.
The Eskayas, however, have people’s organizations that could tap livelihood assistance from the DOLE, Department of Trade and Industry, and TESDA in terms of technical education and vocational training for their people.
The National Housing Authority has recently also announced its funding with a full counterpart of the LGU in nearby Duero for the Eskaya community in Taytay. (RAHC/PIA7 Bohol)