APRIL 13 was a big day for Baranggay Datal Anggas, the farthest barangay in my hometown, Alabel, Sarangani Province. No, not because it was Friday the 13th (blood was shed, though (there was a mass circumcision courtesy of the municipal health office)) but because it was the 24th Foundation Anniversary and Abacafe Festival of the barrio.
When we heard about the local government’s Garantisado Serbisyo project, we decided to take part in it by running our own program alongside theirs. The Garantisado Serbisyo includes medical checkup, mass circumcision, turnover of medicines to the barangay nutrition scholar, tax mapping, distribution of voter’s ID, among others. We planned to conduct a fun day with the kids in the barrio, teach them personal hygiene, and serve them nutritious porridge.
With the help of our friends, we were able to raise fund for our project. My co-teachers, Team Bundol Mountaineers aspirants, and my family contributed cash and material donations for our activity.
Everything was set. We were going to ride the cargo truck (Saddam) of the LGU to Datal Anggas. Unfortunately, I received a message that we were going to have a faculty meeting on the same day as our scheduled trip. So, we had to make an arrangement — my fellow Team Bundol Mountaineers had to go with the group while I had to find a way to get to Datal Anggas on my own the following day.
The Road To Datal Anggas
The next day, I had no choice but to ride a motorcycle. A one-way trip to Datal Anggas costs six hundred pesos. Not only is it expensive, it is also perilous. I began my two-hour ordeal at 1:00 PM. It rained in the morning, so the road was all muddy and the ride was a mix of bumps, skids, and occasional walks on a winding and landslide-prone road.
Riding was so difficult that after we reached the last community before Datal Anggas, I asked the driver to head back to town while I went on in my journey on foot.
I had no idea how far Datal Anggas was from where I started walking. I just walked with the goal in mind that I have to reach the area before dark.
Trekking allowed me to take a look at the surroundings. The most part of the area was virtually barren and idle. All I saw was a vast field of cogon grass and sporadic trees, which were mostly leafless. I felt sad about it.
At the far end of the horizon, I saw a thicket. It was probably the last forested land in the area and there is a threat that in a few more years, it will be barren, too. I don’t wonder why it often floods in the town when it rains in Datal Anggas. The soil there is also soft, so there is always the danger of landslides.
See that the clearing in the middle of the forest?
More Teachers And A Dorm
I reached Datal Anggas half past 5PM. Fog was slowly creeping into the community when I arrived.
The team from the municipal government were housed at the Integrated School and at the Barangay Hall.
While preparing our dinner, the school principal joined us. I learned from him that there are only 8 teachers in the school and they are going to offer complete elementary and high school next year. So, there will be 10 classes. How could eight teachers handle these classes? We discussed about multigrade teaching but the principal said that it will be difficult since the classes are big. I also learned that other pupils and students come from far places and yet, the classdorm project there is still unimplemented. Students have to walk for hours to go to school.
The Fun Day
We woke up to bright morning in Datal Anggas.
Mac2x, Jhan2x, and I started preparing the food for the kids. A little later, I started to gather some kids for some games. Many of them were shy. They prefred to stay outside the school’s fence and watch. Others were interested and excited. I started playing with a few kids until they started to grow in number.
Barangay Captain Salimama joined us during the feeding program. I also asked some kids to sing songs in their local dialect. The people of Datal Anggas are a mix of Tagakaolo, Kalagan, and B’laan tribes. I just hope that there is a program that aims to preserve their cultural heritage. I wanted to hear an original traditional song but theirs were translations of a popular and a religious song.
We were not able to stay long to join the people of Datal Anggas in their Abacafe Festival because the truck had to leave before the rain comes.
Abacafe festival is a celebration highlighting the products of the baranggay, which are abaca fiber and coffee. There is also civet coffee in the area. The locals were able to take part in education tour in Barangay Kinilis, Polomolok, South Cotabato, which produces quality civet coffee and in Tagum City as well.
However, the abaca and coffee industies in Datal Anggas need more support. They need help in increasing their production and improving the quality of their products. Furthermore, derivative products from coffee and abaca can generate even more income for the locals, and most importantly, improving the farm-to-market road from Datal Anggas to Barangay Alegria will greatly help the trade. I’ve heard that some people in farther sitios choose to deliver their goods to Davao del Sur because they have better roads.
My trip to Datal Anggas had been a great learning experience for me. I saw with my own eyes the needs of the community there. I hope they will be given help other than just a day of delivery of social services. The area is rich; the people needs to be taught about using the natural resources properly and protecting their natural and cultural wealth.
On our way home, we got stuck several times and were stranded for over five hours. It was like fate wanted us to experience how difficult it is for people to live there and for government employees and teachers to deliver service to the people in the area.