Latest Stories

Education to restore the Mangyan’s identity



Sixteen-year-old Allan Agaw dreams of getting a college degree like other young Filipinos. But unlike many of them, he wants to complete his studies to be able to give back to his community someday.

“Ukasaya giskul (I want to study),” Agaw says smiling but avoiding eye contact. “Gusto ko sanang mag-engineering para na rin makatulong sa aking pamayanan (I want to take up engineering so I can help my community).”

Agaw belongs to the community of Mangyan, indigenous people (IP) living in the mountains of Mindoro. He is one of about 60 students studying at Paaralang Mangyan na Angkop sa Kulturang Aalagaan (Pamana Ka), an indigenous school built by and for Mangyan.

Pamana Ka was established in 1999 through the assistance of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM). The school site in Sitio Danlog at Barangay Monteclaro in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, was donated by Laki Iwan, a Mangyan gurangon (elder).

Pamana Ka is a result of the gurangon’s dream to have a school where Mangyan children can get an education and be proud of their heritage at the same time.

Script teacher Arevalo with a young Mangyan

“There are Mangyan who, after studying in the lowlands, come back to the community but don’t speak our language anymore,” Bapa Ane Arevalo, a gurangon who teaches Mangyan script, says in Filipino. “It’s as if they’re ashamed of being a Mangyan.”

The Department of Education–Indigenous Peoples Education Office has partnered with the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) to support the school.


AusAID has provided a grant to the DepEd Division of Occidental Mindoro and to Pamana Ka, through FMM, to produce culture-based learning materials and conduct training for public school teachers in Mangyan communities.

Before Pamana Ka was built, Mangyan students studied in so-called “mainstream” schools in the lowlands. But they felt discriminated against and were  treated as second-class citizens by classmates and teachers.

“I remember my teacher back then telling me, ‘Mangyan talaga kayo, wala kayong alam (You really are Mangyan, you know nothing),’” IP science teacher Clara Panagsagan recalls.

Alma Aguilan, an IP mathematics teacher, recounts the humiliation of being laughed at by the whole class for her mispronunciation. The teacher was checking the attendance and, upon hearing her name, Aguilan stood up and said “Prisint (Present)!”

The experience made her avoid participating in class even when she knew the answer to the teacher’s question.

But now, with Pamana Ka, Agaw and other Mangyan students do not have to worry about feeling inferior to lowlanders.

Students stay on campus the entire school year, which starts the first week of September.

There are two dormitories—one for the boys, the other for the girls. All students and staff are “stay-in” because their villages/ communities are in  different parts of the mountains of

TEACHERS (standing) Luyat Mendez, Anelia Ayagan, Juanito Lumawig Jr., Luisito Malanao; (seated) Alma Aguilan, Clara Panagsagan, Naty Ignacio, Enelia Mendez

Mindoro, which makes it difficult for them to travel back and forth.

The different school calendar is part of the IP education curriculum developed by Pamana Ka to accommodate a significant aspect of the Mangyan culture.

The Mangyan are busiest in July and August, the start of the rainy season, which is  when they irrigate their farmlands. Kids usually help their parents in their kaingin or farm.

When classes resume in September, the children bring the results of research or stories from working in the fields with their parents.

“Their education does not stop even when they go back to their respective communities on their vacation,” says Margie Munoy Siqiuco, a former Pamana Ka teacher now in a public elementary school also in the Mangyan community.

Siqiuco says every subject, whether math, science, reading, Filipino, etc., is infused with Mangyan culture and tradition. This is possible because all the teachers and staff at Pamana Ka come from different Mangyan communities.

PAMANA Ka library and “quadrangle”

The elders also play a major role, imparting indigenous knowledge, skills, practices and spirituality to the teachers and students through their stories.

“We have to restore the faith … of the children in indigenous knowledge systems and practices because the Filipino [people] will be throwing away a lot [if we don’t preserve this indigenous wisdom],” says Pamana Ka director Aristea Bautista, FMM.

The curriculum also has a unique subject called lupaing ninuno or ancestral domain. The daily one-hour session, 5:30- 6:30 p.m., teaches appreciation of the Mangyan inherited territory and culture through rituals and agricultural practices.

Students go to the fields to tend their fruits and vegetables, which they also consume. They also have a fish pond and  poultry on  campus.

Juanito Lumawig  Jr., another IP science teacher, believes ancestral domain plays a vital role in the life of a Mangyan and he wishes other people would respect their rights to it.

He says, “Ang kahilingan namin, kasabay ng pagkilala, ay ’yung pagpapahalaga na rin mismo sa aming lupaing ninuno bilang sagradong daluyan ng kaalaman at buhay namin bilang mga katutubo. (Our dream, along with accepting the type of education that we advance, is for everyone to regard our ancestral domain as our sacred spring of knowledge and life.)”

Aug. 9 is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Education , Indigenous people , Learning , mangyans , pamana ka

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  2. Cagayan mayor shot dead after flag-raising ceremony
  3. Obama, family cause a small stir at Easter service
  4. Santiago sees Palace hand in Gigi’s return
  5. ‘Malang’ next crocodile attraction after ‘Lolong’
  6. Gigi Reyes’ only option: tell all
  7. Malaysia Airlines jet turns back after tire burst
  8. Ancient enigmatic carvings in danger of disappearing
  9. New plant to boost supply of clean energy
  10. More bodies from ship; transcript reveals wavering
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  5. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  6. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  7. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  • Group: Bataan cop killed to stop him from exposing colleagues linked to drug ring
  • Chemical Engineer licensure examination
  • Troubled history fuels Japan-China tension
  • Palace: Our concern is to ensure MRT runs smoothly
  • Sports

  • NLEX fights off Derulo Accelero to remain unbeaten
  • Mayweather diehard Bieber eats pride, poses with Pacquiao for photo op
  • Power Pinays rip Singapore to enter quarters in Asian volley tilt
  • PBA D-League: Waves edge skidding Superchargers
  • Ilad’s last-second basket lifts Gems over Bakers
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • Arrest warrants out vs. Deniece Cornejo, Cedric Lee, et al over serious illegal detention
  • Lindsay Lohan says she had a miscarriage
  • Discovery network cancels Everest jump
  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Business

  • Century Pacific Food sets IPO price at P13.75 per share
  • Oil prices down in quiet Asian trade
  • Asian shares mixed in holiday-thinned trade
  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Technology

  • PH has slowest internet in Southeast Asia
  • Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks 25th anniversary
  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Balikatan could spoil peace talks, says militant group
  • DFA officers hold workshop on aiding human traffic victims
  • Canada in communication with PH on toxic wastes
  • Filipinos in Middle East urged not to panic amid MERS-CoV scare
  • Obama on mission to quiet Asia skeptics
  • Marketplace