Banaue, popularized by its breathtaking rice terraces which had been part of the Wonders of the World, is one of the few places in the Philippines whose native culture and landscape are still very much preserved. Unlike many places in the Philippines that have been urbanized and modernized already both in terms of the people and their environment, whenever I visit Banaue it feels like I get transported back in time when modern technology sounds like a fairy tale. Since my first visit of the place 7 years ago, I fell in love with the scenery that going there feels like it's always the first time.
During the Imbayah Festival in Banaue last April 26 - 29, our team grabbed the opportunity to visit this mountainous region in northern Philippines and conduct an ocular visit to a couple of day care centers which was referred to us by a close Igorot friend of mine, tatay Noel, who owns the Hiwang Native Houses Inn where we stayed during our visit.
Although we arrived too late to witness the cultural performances of the native Igorots, we immediately made contact with teacher Maria and some of the day care representatives to find out the needs of the children they handle.
One of the first day care centers we went to is situated inside the Gohang Elementary School, not very far from the place we stayed. According to teacher Maria, there are several day care centers in Banaue, and some of them are so remote that outside help is so rare. Each center handles around 20 - 30 children ranging from 2 - 3 years of age.
One of our Affiliates, teacher Nerissa Gonzales, whom I assigned to evaluate the needs of the children, had this to report:
Suggested school materials for incoming Kindergarten pupils at Gohang Elementary School, Gohang, Banaue, Ifugao
The Department of Education (DepEd) states in its mission to protect and promote the right of every Filipino to quality, equitable, culture-based and complete basic education. The government including some of the non-governmental organizations established several learning facilities to provide education to the children even in the most remote areas of the country.
However, it is a known fact that the government cannot provide completely the things needed for a quality education parallel to what is given in the private institution especially when it comes to learning materials. And relative thereto, several group entities, and volunteers extend their help just to provide learning materials for some pupils and schools as well.
And in line with the Indigen’s aim to help our native people through the outreach program, below are some of the suggested school materials to be provided for the incoming Kindergarten pupils and also for their classroom:
A. FOR THE PUPILS
1. School Supplies - school bag, pencil, pad paper, notebooks, crayons
2. Coloring book, work book for tracing
B. FOR THE CLASSROOM
1. Big Story Books - Children are great picture reader. Big story colorful books can easy capture pupils attention and thus this will help them to develop reading habit.
2. Manipulative toys (puzzle, geometric shapes, lego, clay dough). According to one of the great Scientist and Teacher – Albert Einstein, “Play is the highest form of research” and “The more fun going on, the more learning is taking place”, said Glenn Doman.
3. Audio visual materials (TV monitor, DVD/CD player, CDs containing short stories, nursery rhymes, phonics and sounds).
Audio visual aids are very useful for the teaching learning process. It is a great tool to catch the attention of the pupils.
Since classes begin first week of June, we hope to come back to Banaue this month of May and provide donations, however we can, to help these children who belong to one of the poorest tribes of the native Igorots. During rainy season is one of the major challenges for this children. They usually walk from their homes on steep and slippery slopes just to get to the school. And when it's raining, some of them who can't afford to buy necessary protective garments, simply cover their heads with plastic bags.
If anyone of you is willing to donate some to buy for their needs, especially rain coats and footwears during the rainy season, please contact one of our representatives since we plan to come back to the place before school opens next month.
The Hiwang Native Houses
The place I love the most whenever I visit Banaue is this home property of tatay Noel and nanay Gloria, a very humble, kindhearted Igorot whom I treat like my own parents. Tatay Noel bought these native houses from the locals then rented them out to tourists. He is also a collector and re-seller of antiquities so when you visit this place, he will show you his collections which he keeps in a native hut. It's a great experience to sleep in these native houses.
Since the day I met him, we got along so well and trust easily built up, then we have been conversing on how we can maximize his place and hopefully develop some of the areas of his property.
One of our plans is to add more native houses since his 9 huts are not enough during peak seasons. We are also considering constructing a restaurant or seminar hall on the 2nd floor of their house. But of course, these things needs huge budget so I will slowly save portion of Indigen's earnings to invest and build an Indigen Center within tatay Noel's property where we can conduct team buildings, cultural tours and more.
So if you plan to visit Banaue for vacation or tour, this place is highly recommended, which gives you a spectacular view of the Banaue Rice Terraces. If you are an Indigen Affiliate, you can get discount if you book your stay through us. Just let us know if you want to reserve one of the native houses which costs PhP 1,800 - 2,000 per day depending on the season. Each hut is good for 4 persons.