Bringing the world to the children of the remote mountains.

Bringing the world to the children of the remote mountains.

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The Cordillera Conservation Trust is an Environmental organization whose primary work is in the remote regions of the Cordillera mountains of the Philippines. We have chosen to work in these areas as they are some of the most important ecological areas not only in the Philippines but in the world. Unlike working in many developed countries though environmental work in the Philippines means working more with communities rather than simply conserving the natural resource. Much of our work is primarily working with public elementary schools, teaching children how to build and maintain their own forest nurseries and guiding them in their growth as young environmentalists. One thing we also try and do is give the children the opportunity to explore, their own environment and the world through reading as we have found that a wider world view is often complimentary to the values of environmentalism and is a necessity in building the next generation of ecological stewards. The remote areas we work in normally provide very little resources that will peak the imagination of children normally they are limited to the normal text books in school and nothing else, thus there is little exploration outside what is available. Tha CANVAS program was a brilliant project to compliment our work and provided the means by which we could provide story books directly to each child giving them a imagination resource of their very own.

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For the first set of books we distributed we chose the remote village communities around Mt. Pulag –specifically Danggo and Manaan in Tinoc Ifugao, Lusod, in Kabayan, Benguet and Balete in Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya. These villages have some of the most remote schools we currently work in where each village requires a minimum of 4-5 hours of walking or a scary motorbike ride through some single track footpaths.

 

The communities here still live mainly on subsistence agriculture of camote, rice, and crops farmed in their swidden farms on the slopes of the mountains. Composed mainly of the Kalanguya people of the Cordillera that live on the higher elevations from Tinoc, Ifugao through Kabayan and Bokod in Benguet all the way to Kayapa in Nueva Vizcaya. Most communities are small consisting of no more than 300-500 individuals at any given time. The schools are all multi-grade schools which house approximately 100-150 students each.

 

We distributed the books at the flag ceremony right before the start of class. For many of the children this will be the very first books they will own, in fact this is likely the case for the majority of the children we each handed a book to, the book is the first piece of property that they own themselves and we noticed that they quickly took to writing their names on the inside cover and finding a nice quiet spot to read through their new books. There was a sense of ownership which we found is greatly beneficial and will in fact encourage the reading and re-reading of each of the books.

 

Aside from this we also made some bicycle deliveries to 3 remote elementary schools in Benguet. Baguionas Primary School in Gaswiling, Kapangan, in Balluay Elementary School, Sabangan, and Baayan Elementary School in Tublay, each of these schools are multi-grade schools that house approximately 50-100 students each located in some of the most remote backroads of Benguet. The books were delivered by bicycle volunteers mainly composed of the Lakay Mountain Biking group here in La Trinidad. They carried the books on their bicycles traversing the rough roads and in some cases carrying both their bikes and the books through footpaths that snaked through the mountains on their way to the schools. Like the Schools around Mt. Pulag each book is the first book outside of text books that a majority of these children will own.

 

You can view the youtube videos of those deliveries here:

 

Baayan, Tublay:

Balluay, Sablan:

Baguionas Barrio School, Gaswiling, Kapangan :

 

 

We still need to deliver about 30% of the book remaining with us and this will be done in the next few months to a few more remote schools in Ifugao and Benguet province.

 

Thank you again for providing such a wonderful opportunity to explore beyond the village boundaries for the children of the Cordillera.