On November 8, 2020, members of the Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) Alumni Scholars Association headed by DepEd Teacher Pinky Simbag trooped to Sitio Logdeck, one of the more secluded areas in Barangay Tablu, Tampakan, South Cotabato, to conduct an outreach activity dubbed as Kaflèhèw Fufung (make someone happy).
Most of these former SMI scholars are now gainfully employed after earning college degrees through scholarship programs funded by SMI and coursed through the Blaan tribal foundations or the host barangays within the area of the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project. In School Year 2018-2019 alone, these educational partnership programs produced 54 new college graduates from among the project?s host communities.
As their way of paying it forward to the community, the alumni scholars brought hot meals to the IP children, played games with them, and provided entertainment - some dancing and singing from the senior high school students of Fulè Bato Blaan Foundation - to the delight of their young audience. To promote health and sanitation, they distributed hygiene kits consisting of toothpaste, toothbrush, cotton buds, nail cutter, comb, and soap. To encourage the children to give importance to their schooling, they also gave away school supplies like writing pads, pencils, pens, sharpeners, plastic envelopes, and crayons. The children also received slippers and water tumblers, while some of the boys were given haircuts.
?This outreach activity would not have been possible without the support of various benefactors and partners, particularly SMI, the local government of Barangay Tablu headed by Punong Barangay Delfin T. Magbanua, Municipal Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) Domingo N. Collado, the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office of Tampakan, the Danleg and Fule Bato Blaan Foundations, all the alumni scholars who contributed their time, talent, and money, and the many other private donors including some SMI employees?, said Pinky Simbag, president of the association.
?Most of all, we thank SMI for capacitating us with a lifelong education that we can now use to provide for ourselves, our families, and other members of our communities?, Simbag concluded.
Despite the strict implementation of community quarantine protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SMI alumni scholars were relentless in their commitment to help the children in the remote areas and exerted extra effort to continue their advocacies in promoting the welfare of the Blaans in the municipality of Tampakan. (Contributed by Pinky Simbag with photos from Glovany Cadivida).