Sitio Kiranggol, Barangay Dao, is roughly a 6-hour open-trail climb into the rain forests of San Fernando.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), together with the Department of Education (DepED) and National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), led the joint site validation of a proposed 3-classroom school building to be constructed through the Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services – National Community Driven Development (Kalahi CIDSS-NCDDP). This is part of the Whole of Nation Initiative intervention for Lumads in El Niño affected areas, particularly in the Province of Bukidnon.
Kiranggol (Kiranggel) means a “place of convergence” where other tribes meet to do trade or festivities according to Alde “Botsoy” Salusad, the sitio’s peace keeper and whose family ancestry claims the land.
San Fernando, Bukidnon is home to two indigenous tribes namely the Matigsalugs and Tigwahanons.
Kiranggol has been reportedly marred by past insurgent influences and gold mining. According to residents, the sitio used to have a lot of residents and mine workers – chaos then escalated which drove out the residents and workers but a few came back to the community.
In a conversation with “Commander Botsoy,” he said that the community that now thrives in Kiranggol has only been around for three years. However, the young community already boosts some businesses in the area despite the fact that the sitio is only accessible by trekking through open-mountain-trail – and only by humans. Even horses would have a difficult time traversing the cliffs and the steep peaks.
In Kiranggol, there are sari-sari stores, a karinderya (food house), billiard halls and karaoke houses. Supplies are brought to the place by “haulers” and usually one hauler can carry about a 50 kilogram load at the very least – and will charge about 500 pesos to a thousand (or more) depending on the load. With this, one could expect the higher prices of the commodities just like the 1.5 liter softdrink would that costs P150.
The place is powered by electricity generators or dynamos where people religiously switch on the lights at 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. The community pays about P10 per day for the community electricity while some residents have their own electricity generators.
About two kilometers before reaching Kiranggol, there is also a spot they fondly call as “signalan” or a place with mobile network signal. There, trekkers may stop and rest as well as text or call as this is the only place with mobile network connectivity along the 6-hour walk.
As the team trekked the treacherous trails, DSWD 10 regional community infrastructure specialist engineer Roel Jumao-as spoke with the team on the possibilities of successfully hauling materials when the actual construction of the school building will start. To haul a bag of cement would actually cost around P500 each.
However, Jumao-as is both hopeful and determined on the situation saying, “Kung mabuhat nato ning school-building diri sa Kiranggol, wala’y rason nga dili nato mabuhat sa ubang dapit (If we can build the school-building here in Kiranggol, there’s no reason that we can’t make it in other areas).”
DSWD – Kalahi CIDSS-NCDDP embraced a warm welcome from the Lumad children of Sitio Kiranggol during the site validation for the construction of a three-classroom school building in the sitio. Kiranggol parents and children alike were delighted to know of the project and have high hopes that their community can now have formal education in their sitio.
Mitze Antian, Grade 3; Nistle Genlisa Mae Baculao, Grade 4; and Roseann Antian, Grade 4, are pupils of Dao Elementary School in Barangay Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon. The three dreams of becoming a doctor, a police officer and a teacher respectively.
The grueling five-hour mountain trek to their school makes it difficult for them to dream big. However, they are given renewed hope and vigor to pursue their dreams as the DSWD’s Kalahi CIDSS-NCDDP will construct a three-classroom school building in the sitio. Kiranggol can now have formal education in their sitio.
Mitze says “makabalo na ko magsulat, magbasa, ganahan ko nga naa’y eskwelahan diri sa duol, para makalampus sa pag-eskwela ug mahimong doktor (I can now learn to write, read, I like the idea that there will be a school near here so that I can finish my studies and become a doctor).”
Roseann hopes to become a teacher saying, “Para makatabang ko sa pamilya ug sa komunidad (So I can help my family and the community).”
Nistle said, “Nalipay ko nga di na malayo sa among balay ang eskwelahan, gusto ko makahuman ug mahimong pulis, akong uyu-an kay pulis (I’m happy that our school won’t have to be far from our house, I want to finish and become a police officer, my uncle is a police officer).”
Mira Ombo is a parent of four children; Ling-ling who is now in grade 4, Ian in Grade 1, while Anelyn and Mayan, are in daycare.
Mira says that her main sources of livelihood are “magtanom ug kamote, lutya, ug uban pa, usahay manglampas (planting crops like sweet potato and yautia, and others, sometimes I mow fields).”
Mira also is delighted with the construction of the school building, “maayo kaayo nga naa na’y eskwelahan, nalipay ko, makaayo kini para sa mga kabataan, dili na namo ipadala sa sentro sa Dao ang mga bata para lang maka-eskwela kay naa na diri (this is good that there will be a school, I’m happy. This will be good for the children since we don’t have to send our children down to Dao just to go to school because we’ll have our own here).”
Story of Botsoy
Having read stories about Commander Alde “Botsoy” Salusad tells of a horrifying past. However, a completely different man during the visit gave one that is far from the stories one could have probably read.
Conversations with residents gave another picture of Botsoy, one resident narrates a tale when Botsoy spent an almost sleepless night fixing the leaking water pipes on their water system only to be awaken the next morning seeing the pipes chopped by a drunk person. Instead of showing rage, Botsoy asked the culprit to pay a tribute of a dozen chickens and fix the pipes again.
Botsoy narrated the origin of the name Kiranggol, saying that it was also known as “Maupya” meaning “good” because the early settlers were good people.
Botsoy addressed his fellow Lumads during the site validation and sitio assembly, “Kini na gyud ang katumanan nga atong ipangandoy sa mga bata nga matukuran na gyud ta’g pormal nga eskwelahan diri, gikan sa kalisud nato, pag-NPA nato sa una, pagsurrender nato- mao kini akong pangandoy nga ma-edukar kita, dili nata magsugot nga dili kita ma-edukar (This will be the fulfillment of our dream for the children that there will be a formal school here, from our hardships, when we were still with the NPA until our surrender, this is what I dreamed of, that we will be educated, we won’t allow that we won’t be educated).”
Botsoy continued, “Tungod kay ang mga Lumad wala na-edukar, pirme gyud mailad sa mga daotang elemento, gamay ra nga mga pasalig madala dayon sa mga dautan nga idolohiya, mao nang pangandoy nato nga ma-edukar gyud ang mga Lumad (because Lumads are not educated, we are always prone to bad elements, with just a little promise – we get carried away with bad ideology, that’s why I dream that Lumads will be educated).”
Botsoy is thankful for the upcoming construction of the school building, “magpasalamat ta nangingkamot ang gobyerno nga tukuran gyud ta’g eskwelahan diri, priority kita (we are thankful the government endeavored to build us a school here, we are a priority).”
Sitio Kiranggol chairman Listino Licawan also enthused “kitang tanan magpasalamat kay niabot sila diri sa Sitio Kiranggol, bisan tuod ug layo, mao na siguro kini ang katumanan sa atong mga pangandoy alang sa atong mga kabataan, kinahanglan kitang tanan magtinabangay ug maghiusa para duna’y katumanan sa atong pangandoy (we should be thankful that they arrived here in Sitio Kiranggol, though it is far, perhaps this will be the realization of our dream for our children, we must all help out and unite to accomplish this dream).”
“Kinihanglan nga atong dasigon ang atong pagpa-eskwela sa atong mga anak, kay mao ra’y bugtong nga pangandoy nato para sa atong mga anak, ug labi ang mga ginikanan, akong dasigon nga ma-edukar gyud ang mga anak (we need to encourage our children to go to school, this is the only dream we can have for our children, and to the parents, I encourage you to have your children educated),” concludes Botsoy.(Shaun Y. Uy/PIA10)