Letty and her husband belong to the dark-skinned, short in statue and kinky haired individuals called “ AGTA”. They are settled in a hinterland barangay of San Ramon, Iriga City.
Letty’s family were among the 13 families drifted from the Black Village, in Santiago, Iriga City by the National Commission for Indigenous People (NCIP).
Their houses are made of wood, most of them out of thin three trunks that are found around the area. Most of these are not separated by rooms and can barely accommodate an average family of eight people. They just have floor spaces where the family does all their activities like sleeping and eating their meals.
Letty and husband depend on the earth for survival. They are farmers by heart because it is the kind of environment they were born into. They produce few crops such as cassava, camote, rice and vegetables. Letty bared that their harvest is just enough for the family consumption. To augment the family income, her husband work as hired laborer for other farmers in the neighboring barangay.
It is an awe inspiring dream for Letty to send her children to school.” Isa sa aking pangarap ay ang makapag-aral ang aking mga anak. Ayaw kong matulad sila sa aming mag-asawa na hindi nkapag-aral”Letty disclosed. She admits that she cannot give her aspiration outright because of the status she is in.
Children’s education is limited in the tribe. Oftentimes, most children fail to attend sessions due to geographical reasons. The centers and schools are too far for the children to walk everyday.
Likewise, aside from having proper education, health services are a concept that is not popular to them mainly because they have no access to medication. The hilot or “herbolario” ( Quack Doctors) are the most accessible health service providers because their method of assessment is in accordance to their culture.
These concerns for health and education of Letty’s children were responded. Educational assistance were provided by the National Commission for Indigenous People ( NCIP) and DSWD through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.
Letty’s family is one among the Indigenous People families in Barangay San Ramon who became Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries. She was filled with joy and hope because she is now assured of her children’s education.
The family recounts of their life before the Pantawid Pamilya. “ Their life was in extreme poverty”. “ Kahit mahirap, kailangan naming magsikap para maitaguyod ko ang aking mga anak sa kanilang pag-aaral.” Letty recounts.
Seeing her children in school and have a better life in the future is Letty’s big dream.
With the Pantawid Pamilya, Letty became conscious of the family’s health condition. Though there is much to be done, through her and his husband’s attendance to the Family Development Sessions, the health practices and parenting skills of the dela Cruz’ couple will be much improving.
Letty further relates that with the Pantawid Pamilya, she is not only confined at home doing her daily routine and her husband working in the farm. Now, they have learned to integrate with people, join community activities and likewise attend meetings when called.
These IP Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries and the rest in the tribe are now able to correct the common mistake made by outsiders which they think the IP’s still dwell in their primitive world, still dressed in their traditional garb. But now, they have already adapted the fashion in the community.###eejerusalem