2 Pinatubo Aeta babies now teachers
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—Sitio (settlement) Tarik in the interior village of Villa Maria in Porac town is producing its first Aeta teachers when two of the tribe’s more than 80 scholars studying in Pampanga colleges and universities graduate next month.
Joy Murillo, 24, and Robelyn Santos, 23, are among the Aeta students who are receiving financial assistance totaling close to P500,000 from the provincial government.
They are enrolled at the Don Honorio Ventura Technological State University campuses in Bacolor and Porac, Mary the Queen College, Floridablanca National Agricultural School, Megabyte and Philippine Rehabilitation Institute.
The homes of Murillo and Santos are less than 10 kilometers away from Mt. Pinatubo.
Murillo was born a few months before the volcano erupted in June 1991. Santos was born just as Aetas abandoned their mountain home and sought refuge in evacuation centers.
The two belong to the first 32 Aeta scholars supported by the Archdiocese of San Fernando since 2010.
Their group consists of 26 young women and six young men from the villages of Kamias, Villa Maria, Inararo, Sapang Uwak and Pasbul in Porac; and Camachile and Nabuklod in Floridablanca.
Their educational scholarships are provided by the Mary the Queen College, St. Vincent Foundation and individual donors.
They finished high school when Fr. Ching Fuertes converted his convent in Villa Maria into a dormitory for boys and girls.
Murillo and Santos took up a four-year course in elementary education to be able to teach their fellow Aetas. Their parents are farmers who grow bananas, sweet potatoes and vegetables to support their book and daily allowances.
Aside from taking an education course, the Aeta scholars are also enrolled in information technology, mechanical engineering, trade technological education, social work, industrial technology, restaurant management, agriculture and midwifery.
While studying, they live in Aetahanan, a dormitory in Sta. Rita town.
During the years before Mt. Pinatubo erupted, very few Aetas studied for college. When they enrolled in universities, it was after they volunteered for religious missionary work.
The Mt. Pinatubo eruption forced many Aetas to stay in the lowlands, exposing them to schools. The upland resettlements maintained by defunct Mount Pinatubo Commission put up elementary and high schools.
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