Clothed in vibrant hues of blue, red and yellow, the students of DOP Balit IP School recite a poem entitled, “Si Palamboan ug si Palagsulat” that narrates the tale of two brothers’ separate journey to culture preservation and civilization. The oratorical piece was presented during the hand-over ceremony of the two unit-two classroom primary school building under the Classroom Construction for Lumads (CCL) modality of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD’s) Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) program in Barangay Balit, San Luis, Agusan del Sur.

Barangay Balit is home to the Banwaon tribe, a group that is faithful to their indigenous heritage in spite of urbanization. This is shown through the 40-year old IP school where culture-based education is firmly preserved. According to Rene Dator, DOP Balit IP school head, “Nagsugod ang pagpatukod sa usa ka-tulunghaan alang sa mga kaigsuonan natong Banwaon niadtong tuig 1977. Tungod sa taas nato nga respeto sa Lumadnon nga tradisyon, atong giapil ang Indigenous Knowledge System and Practices (IKSP) sa ilang panulun-an sa Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan (EPP) aron magpadayon lang gihapon ang ilang kulturang sumbanan. (The construction of one school for our Banwaon brothers started in 1977. Because we have a high respect for their indigenous tradition, we included the IKSP as part of their EPP subject to continue their cultural pattern).”

Similar to the ethnic garb of the student orators, the school’s additional building also proudly showcases the dominant colors representing the Lumad community; and this is just one of the 94 sub-projects proposed in the CCL modality to be implemented all-over the Region. Datur is grateful for the extended efforts of the Kalahi-CIDSS staff and said, “Wala gayud sila makalimot sa pagfollow-up, pag-overtime, ug pag-immerse diria nga dapit. Sa Binanwaon pa, ‘Madakun ha pasalamat!’ sa inyong kaayuhan sa kabataang Lumad (They never forgot to follow-up, render overtime and immerse in this place. In Banwaon dialect, ‘Thank you very much!’ for your kindness towards the Lumad children).” He also mentioned that they intend the new classrooms for purely academic purposes instilling arrays of the Banwaon cultural heritage, because as highlighted in the poetic oratory, “Kitang tanan, Lumad man o Bisaya, giumol sa usa lang ka kaliwatan.” ###(JOANA RICA P. MILLAMA & MARKO DAVEY D. REYES /Social Marketing Unit/DSWD Field Office Caraga)