Voluntourism Philippines.

Sharing Life With the Mangyans of Calintaan

Isolation is a problem faced by the indigenous peoples (IP) in the country.

An example are the Taubuid Mangyans who live in Calintaan, a municipality of Occidental Mindoro. Living in the backwoods means the tribe hardly gets to interact with visitors. They have limited access to commodities.

But recently a group of volunteers reached out to the community. The members of Trails to Empower Kids (TREK) and representatives from the Sorosoro Ibaba Development Cooperative (SIDC) brought boxes filled with shoes, hygiene kits, and school materials.

A little Mangyan boy happily clutches all the donated items he received from TREK and SIDC representatives.
TREK is a group composed mostly of mountain climbers from different organizations. Their advocacy is to help kids and communities who live in the mountains or other isolated areas. The organization is now in its 10th year.

These were distributed in the area’s Balangabong Elementary School-Ulango Extension and its main branch, the Balangabong Elementary School. They were the first visitors of the Taubuid Mangyans this year.

Jheigh Ann Odi, a representative from SIDC, said the experience was overwhelming. She said that it was her first time to provide community service to the Mangyans.

It was not an easy climb what with the rain and rough roads. But her fatigue ebbed upon seeing their journey’s end.
The Mangyan kids write a letter of thanks to their benefactors.
“Everyone in our team was excited on our way to the location. We felt challenged because we know that we will be needing energies going up carrying the packages for the kids. Felt relief when we saw the small community, meaning we reached our destination,” she enthused.

The Mangyans were all too happy to share their culture with dance and song numbers. Odi said that despite the language barrier, happiness of the tribes people was evident.

The Mangyans render a special number for the guests.
The feeling is mutual for the giver and the receiver. “Our hearts were happy too because we felt the joy painted on their faces. It’s a different feeling,” Odi shared.

About the Taubuid Mangyans

It was roughly five years ago when the conservative ethnic group decided to move to the lowland areas after a native clergyman reached out to them. Upon their request, the local government built the Balangabong Elementary School-Ulango Extension. Currently, the school only has three teachers.
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