“MAHIRAP po pero kinaya namin kaya masaya ako dahil marunong na akong gumawa ng accessories at magtahi ng sarili naming attire,” mused Christian Ditan, a Grade 6 pupil of Lamlifew Elementary School.
“Ang aking karanasan sa loob ng apat na buwan ay ang beadsmaking at paggawa ng sariling damit. Masaya po ako dahil bata pa ako ay marunong na akong gumawa,” said Cristel Joy Mocam, Grade 5 pupil.
Ditan and Mocam are among the 37 B’laan pupils who graduated November 6 from the B’laan traditional craft of beadsmaking and traditional clothing integrated in their Home Economics and Livelihood Education classes.
“Naa diri ang mga intelligent designers (Here we find the intelligent designers),” said Beth Farnazo, program manager of the provincial Indigenous People Development Program under the Provincial Governor’s Office.
“You are considered as genius of our traditional craft. Unlike cross stitching learned by urban schoolchildren, here you do not follow any pattern yet come up with your own design. We must preserve this ability,” Farnazo told children and parents at the graduation ceremony.
The IPDP started in 2004 to look into the development programs for the lumads of Sarangani. Farnazo said in the country, the Lamlifew is the only village school which was given an Educational TV by the Bantay Bata Foundation.
“You have inspired me,” said district supervisor Nora Nerpiol. “It’s my dream to turn this school into an IP school,” she added.
Nerpiol said this because she said now she has found partners in education with the municipal and provincial government.
An IP school integrates the School of Living Tradition such as beadsmaking and traditional clothing into the Department of Education’s (DepEd) regular curriculum and the translation of instructional materials into their native language.
Nerpiol also said the school will be recommended for Coca-Cola’s Little Red Schoolhouse while the provincial government will provide them additional teachers.
“In fact, new teachers from the province are now teaching here even without the new school buildings yet,” Nerpiol said.
Helen Lombos, president of the women’s association who taught the children, said Japanese national Taku Kawamuta, an anthropologist, after seeing photos of the B’laan children at the Sarangani website (www.sarangani.gov.ph), funded the textiles and threads for the children.
“Then the elders (were trained), now it’s the children,” Lombos said.
“Ang kasing-kasing ni Governor Migs Dominguez naa sa atoa. Dili ni mahitabo kung wala ang iyang suporta (The heart of Governor Migs Dominguez is with us. Without his support, this will never happen),” he added.
“Dili sya tribu ug dili sya Blaan pero naa ang iyang suporta sa atoa (He is not a tribesman nor a B’laan, but he is always with us),” Lombos continued.
Farnazo said 30 children also graduated in Upper Lasang, Malapatan town, from School on Living Tradition on mat weaving.
The B’laan dreamweavers of Upper Lasang are assisted by the American Women’s Association of the Philippines, IPDP and Sarangani Province Professional Association.