by Neil Delos Reyes

The writer is a current Jesuit Volunteer assigned at Loyola College of Culion as Academic Coordinator. Neil is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) by profession.

Today, education, which is a universal human right, remains inaccessible for millions of children across the globe. This is mostly true for the Tagbanua Indigenous people (IP) of Culion, Palawan, where for them, having an education, which should have been considered a basic need, is already considered a luxury.

Loyola College of Culion (LCC), through its Jesuit IP Ministry, aims to bridge this gap by providing deserving incoming high school students of the Tagbanua community with scholarships. With this, the indigenous people’s community can be relieved from one of the barriers to their progress and development by being able to provide their children with free education. However, children from underprivileged families, which the Tagbanua scholars are part of, often start school already behind their peers. And with the start of a new academic year comes the rise of one of their biggest challenges: access to school resources.

JVP has been helping the Tagbanua community of Culion for many years now by providing volunteers to Loyola College of Culion and its affiliate institutions. In this latest project with JVP, 9th Grade students of KEYS Manila formed the project of ‘Balik Biyaya’. Olivia Torres, Hao Tay and Julie Lahoz helped our IP scholars by providing them with school resources including notebooks, pens and pencils, dictionaries and other essential materials in order for them to have a smooth learning experience. Last September 22, 2021, Loyola College of Culion, through its Jesuit IP Ministry staff, distributed these school kits to the Tagbanua scholars at LCC Covered Court, LCC, Brgy. Libis, Culion, Palawan.

It is definitely a sight to see the faces of our IP scholars as they receive the school kits. For most people, these materials are mere instruments to take school notes and do assignments, but for our scholars, these are keys that offer glimpses of a better and equitable future not only for them but for their entire IP community. Truly, this is a mission worth continuing.