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Simbahayan pledges support for Lumad school

“This is not just any education we see in the mainstream system. They value an education that is tailored for the Lumads, with the Lumads, and by the Lumads,” Simbahayan Director Mark Anthony Abenir said.

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Photo grabbed from Simbahayan Director Mark Anthony Abenir's Facebook account.

The UST Simbahayan Community Development Office inked a partnership with an alternative school for the Lumad to support its campaign to defend the education of indigenous peoples groups in Mindanao in the midst of intensified military operations in the region.

Simbahayan Director Mark Anthony Abenir, along with two faculty members, represented the University as Simbahayan signed a partnership with Salugpongan Ta’Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center, Inc. (STTICLC) during their joint recognition rites and moving-up ceremonies in Maco, Compostela Valley last Friday, April 20.

UST pledged to provide basic educational materials, train volunteer teachers, help in gathering resources for the construction and rehabilitation of Lumad schools as well as support for the campaign and advocacy of the Save Our Schools Network.

In a Facebook post, Abenir said he was “humbled by presence of Lumad students” as they “they have shown to [him] that they [truly] value education.”

“This is not just any education we see in the mainstream system. They value an education that is tailored for the Lumads, with the Lumads, and by the Lumads,” he further said in the post.

STTICLC, which operates 52 campuses across Davao region, follows the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Indigenous Peoples Education Curriculum Framework, in which “cultural pride, self-determination, protection of ancestral domain, and organic sustainable agriculture is an integral part of the curriculum” according to Abenir.

The University agreed to provide the Lumad school with farming tools and supplies supplies needed for the school’s organic farm and agriculture programs.

UST also committed to conduct literacy programs in communities served by STTICL along with providing 500 volumes of books for elementary and high school students, financial assistance and help in the construction of additional classrooms.

 

Lumad schools under martial law

In the same post, Abenir also said that his visit allowed him to witness “first hand the impact of militarization and martial law” on Lumad schools and communities.

“I was there to see how our Lumad brothers and sisters constantly live in looming fear of their lives in the hands of terrorist groups, military, para-military, land grabbers, and mining corporations who lustfully eye over their ancestral lands […] targeting key Lumad leaders and promising youth that have the power to change the prevailing atmosphere of oppression and injustice,” he said.

September last year, UST became a satellite camp for 50 Lumad students from Sept. 11 to 21 as part of the Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya, where hundreds of indigenous peoples groups trooped to Manila to protest the militarization in their ancestral domains.

Lumad groups, in particular, slammed the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte’s threats to bomb Lumad schools following his second State of the Nation Address as well as the killing of 19-year old Lumad student Obello Bay-ao.

Bay-ao, a Grade 7 student of STTICLC, was allegedly shot by members of the Citizen’s Armed Forces Geographical Unit and the military-backed militia Alamara last Sept. 5.

In an interview with Davao Today, STTICLC Executive Director Lolit Muya said that the partnership with UST is an “additional moral support” in the midst of forced evacuations, red-tagging and alleged harassment of Lumad schools, leaders and communities by the military.

“I saw hope in their faces during the ceremony. They were optimistic that with the help of UST, they can continue their studies and achieve their dream to be educated despite the difficulties posed by military operations in their communities,” Muya told Davao Today.

Lumad students and teachers led by the Save Our Schools Network also camped outside the DepEd Central Office in Pasig from Nov. 16 to 28 to demand the scrapping of DepEd Memorandum No. 221, Series 2013 which allowed military personnel to “conduct their activities inside the premises of public elementary and secondary schools to ensure that rights of the children are not violated.”

Human rights and education advocates, however, have criticized the memo as a violation of domestic and international laws on children’s rights such as Republic Act No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.

Save Our Schools Network also claimed that the memo resulted in the forced closure of several Lumad schools.

They have called on DepEd to grant operation permits and recognition to Lumad schools, but their protests have fallen on deaf ears.

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Thomasians join protest vs tyranny, ‘de facto’ Martial Law

Several Thomasian progressive youth groups trooped to Luneta for the United People’s Action that condemned the current administration’s implementation of “de facto” Martial Law in the country, Friday, Sept. 21.

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martial law anniversary protesters
Photo by Christine Tapawan/TomasinoWeb.

For the commemoration of the 46th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, several Thomasian progressive youth groups trooped to Luneta for the United People’s Action that condemned the current administration’s implementation of “de facto” Martial Law in the country, Friday, Sept. 21.

Thomasians lambasted President Rodrigo Duterte’s policies that “curtail and repress the democracy of the Filipino people.”

Anakbayan UST SHS spokesperson Ronel Reyes said that the dooms of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos are being felt under Duterte’s presidency.

“Mariin nating kinokondena ang “de facto” Martial Law na ipinatutupad ni Pangulong Duterte na wala ring pinagkaiba sa ginugunita natin ngayon, ang anibersaryo ng Martial Law ng diktador na si [Ferdinand] Marcos,” Reyes said in a chance interview with TomasinoWeb.

He also added, “masasabi nating may de facto Martial Law kasi ang mga nangyayari ngayon sa’ting bansa ay katulad din sa nangyayari dati.”

Reyes stressed that the Thomasian community’s participation is important as it’s a way to fight for the rights of fellow Filipinos.

“Mahalaga po [ang partisipasyong ng mga Tomasino] dahil tayo ay hindi dapat nakukulong sa apat na sulok ng paaralan, dapat tayong makiisa sa laban ng mga Pilipino; hindi tayo hiwalay. Pinagsasamantalahan tayo ng parehong sistema,” Reyes said.

‘Never Again to Martial Law’

Unfazed by the sudden downpour of rain, the protest still pushed through at around 2 pm. and converged with other different organizations from the University of the Philippines, Far Eastern University, De La Salle University, among others.

Chanting “Never Again to Martial Law,” the students were joined by other activist groups from different sectors and then marched to Luneta for the activities and programs prepared.

Also present in the protest were Lumads that recently visited and held “Bakwit School” in the University last Sept. 10.

READ: UST welcomes, pledges support for Lumads

On the other hand, “Pro-Duterte” groups also staged “counter-protest” at Burnham Green in Rizal Park carrying placards of praise of the administrations programs and policies.

Under the Proclamation 1081, Marcos enacted Martial Law that led to the killings and imprisonment of more than 70,000 people, according to Amnesty International.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) deployed more than 4000 cops around the area for the said event.

Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada suspended classes in all levels, both public and private, citing safety and security reasons for the students.

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UST welcomes, pledges support for Lumads

The Thomasian community along with other progressive youth groups welcomed Lumads as they trooped to the University to voice out their call to end Martial Law in Mindanao, assuring them of support as “Bakwit School sa UST” commenced, Monday, Sept. 10.

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thomasians protesting for lumads
Photo by Jude Camot/TomasinoWeb.

The Thomasian community along with other progressive youth groups welcomed indigenous peoples as they trooped to the University to voice out their call to end Martial Law in Mindanao, assuring them of support as “Bakwit School sa UST” commenced, Monday, Sept. 10.

UST Simbahayan Director Mark Anthony Abenir addressed the cultural minorities and said that UST “as a Catholic institution stands by the poor and the oppressed.”

“Ang UST bilang Katolikong pamantasan patuloy na naninindigan sa kapakanan ng mga mahihirap, ng mga naaapi at ng mga pinagsasamantalahan,” Abenir said as he welcomed Lumads for the second year of Lakbayan.

Despite the heavy downpour of rain, the “Salubungan” activity still pushed through with Lumads and Thomasians entering the Arch of the Centuries.

Meanwhile, UST Central Student Council (CSC) Secretary Robert Gonzales expressed support in ending Martial Law in Mindanao and assured the Lumads of the Thomasians’ continued assistance in rebuilding classrooms and other material support.

“Nakikiisa rin ang mga Tomasino upang ipaglaban at itaguyod ang paglaban natin para sa edukasyon. Tutulong kami sa abot ng aming makakaya upang itaguyod ang Lumad bakwit schools,” Gonzales said.

The UST CSC Secretary also added, “ipagpapatuloy namin ang pagsuporta sa mga paaralan ng mga Lumad sa pagpapatayong muli sa mga silid-aralan at iba pang suportang materyal. Ang paaralan ninyo ay paaralan rin namin.”

Moreover, cultural presentations were conducted including a performance by Tubaw, a reenactment by the Lumad students and a community dance together with Thomasians.

‘Buksan ang puso’t isipan’

Manilyn Gantangan, a grade 10 Lumad student, challenged Thomasians “to open their hearts and minds in what’s really happening in the society.”

“Hinahamon ko po ang lahat ng mga nakikinig na buksan po natin ang ating puso’t isipan at alamin natin ang totoong nangyayari sa ating lipunan,” Gantangan said.

Sr. Patricia Fox was also present and urged Thomasians to “hear what’s happening and listen to their story.”

“I think one of the problems is people are not hearing really about what’s happening there. So I think it’s great that the Thomasian community has accepted them, to listen to them and then get their stories out to others so that people know what’s happening,” Sr. Fox said in a chance interview with TomasinoWeb.

She also added that Lumads deserve “to live in peace and have a good education.”

“Well, I think they’ve got a just demand. Every young person should have a right to education. They have a right to be there to live in peace, to have a good education.” Sr. Fox said.

UST Save Our Schools (SOS) Networks volunteer Hannah Rondilla gave a solidarity message and asked the Thomasian community to heed the call to fight land-grabbing of ancestral lands.

“Makiiisa rin sana ang mga Tomasino upang tutulan ang pangangamkam sa mga lupaing ninuno at ipaglaban ang karapatan ng pambansang minorya para sa sariling pagpapasya,” Rondilla urged.

The said event will continue until September 17 in which various activities including Unity Walk, a peace forum and a grand solidarity night are expected to happen.

Last April 20, UST Simbahayan inked a partnership with alternative school for the Lumad as they commit to defend education and for the rehabilitation of school facilities.

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UST boosts performance in guidance counselor board exam

The University recorded a perfect passing rate in the August 2018 guidance counselor licensure examination.

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Photo by Jester Ramos/TomasinoWeb.

The University recorded a perfect passing rate in the August 2018 guidance counselor licensure examination.

UST improved to a 100-percent passing mark, with all four Thomasian examinees passed.

Last year, no Thomasian made it to the cut.

No Thomasian, meanwhile, made it to the top ten for this year’s licensure exam.

According to the Professional Regulation Commission, 307 out of 471 takers passed the board exam for guidance counselors. Rex Morales

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