Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 12th: Bayan-Bayanan - Our Mission to Help

The Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School drum & lyre band showing off what they've been practicing over
the past two weeks.

At this point, we are all sleep deprived. Walking zombies...but most of all, sweaty and tired teenager unaccustomed to the burning Philippine sun. The days have become more and more a struggle for us, yet for some reason, we find a way to be energetic and enthusiastic once we're on stage, despite the harsh conditions. Today, our endurance was challenged when we travelled more than four hours to reach a small village in the outskirts of Bataan. The school is called Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School in the town of Dinalupihan, Bataan. Only a few weeks prior to our arrival, their school was damaged by a landslide. As an emergency measure, the students and their classes were relocated to the Halfway Home, the open air stage at the town plaza, and inside the Barangay chapel. This safety precaution was necessary as the rainy season threatens to bring more landslides in the area and even greater damage to the school buildings.

An Aeta girl holding her lyre
Earlier, I wrote a blog post about this school and our family's contribution to their child nutrition and feeding program. I talked about the Aetas and the teacher's effort to motivate them to come down from their mountain homes and go to school by setting up a drum and lyre band. A town drum and lyre competition is coming up in just a few months and everybody is excited to participate. Most of the Aeta kids have already signed up to join the band. So, over the last few months, my parents and I have been busy raising money to buy band instruments, uniforms, and to pay for music instructions.  (Thanks to Tita Myrna Nisperos and my ninong Dr. Danny Franco for the t-shirt uniform contributions).

The school also wanted to help the Aeta parents by setting up livelihood and health awareness training programs. So, we have also been working with Bagong Kulturang Pinoy (BKP) of New York to collect relevant books and set up a public library in their community. Needless to say, this trip was especially important to us. The landslide that engulfed their school was their latest calamity, but it was not enough to dampen our spirits, nor theirs.

Sierra Jamir

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