February 3, 2013, the small indigenous community of Purok 1 (Macatabo) in barangay Carmen, Baguio District, Davao City, became livelier than usual as they welcomed the visitors from the LifeBank Foundation (LBF) along with EGIP’s partner NGOs, the Philippine Eagle (PEF) and PCEEM Foundation. LBF President Mr. Manny Perlas expressed LBF’s interest in the advocacy of the EGIP Foundation in respect of forest protection and livelihood support and the possibility of joining the programme.
LifeBank Foundation, Inc. (LBF) is a non-stock, non-profit organization based in Iloilo City with the vision of breaking the chains of poverty through microfinance and social services.
EGIP Foundation together with its partner NGO’s organized a one-day programme for the guests. The program officially started with a welcome address and acknowledgement of guests and participants by Purok 1 Tribal Chieftain Datu Paulino Landim. Datu Lamdin recognized the participation of Giovanni G. Tampos Forest Protection Project Coordinator from PEF, Joshua L. Donato Forest Protection Officer from PEF, Ian Caballes Sustainable Agriculture Component Officer from PCEEM, Miriam Colon PCEEM Project Coordinator, the President and Executive Director of PCEEM, Corazon M. Baylon, Dr. Ruben Robillo of the Isaac T. Robillo Memorial Hospital (in charge of the Health Component), Ms Jennifer P. Manial of Mindanawon (the NGO responsible for the education/literacy component), Wiebe van Rij, EGIP Foundation’s overall project coordinator, consultant and incorporator, Bert van Dierendonck, EGIP Foundation president and incorporator and his wife Bing, and of course the guests, Manuel Perlas, President of LBF with wife Ditas Vice-President LBF for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), fellow associate and Board member for CSR Mr. Gerry van der Linden and wife Didit van der Linden.
The introduction was then followed by a combination of various presentations by members of the tribe from different age groups. An array of singing and dancing was rendered by the tribe as a warm welcome and gratitude to the EGIP Foundation, its partners and guests. Mr. Manny Perlas showed that he is not only a humanitarian but also a musical soul. In a gesture of appreciation for the warm welcome, he led the congregation in a simple but perky song.
In order for the guests to understand the projects and its 4 components, a comprehensive report was delivered by different speakers. Datu Paulino Landim for the Forest Protection component, Datu Albert B. Matundo for the Sustainable Agriculture component, Dr. Ruben Robillo for the Health component and Ms Jennifer of Mindanawon for the Education/Literacy component.
After all questions of the guests were properly addressed, the program continued with the Forest Guard Inauguration and Oath Taking. Pres. Bert van Dierendonck & consultant Wiebe van Rij awarded the Forest guards with their patrolling kits composed of boots, raincoat and flashlight. Two digital cameras, 2 binoculars and one GPS unit were also awarded to be used by the subgroups scheduled to regularly patrol the forest area. The Forests guards, proud in their patrolling vests, were chosen from the 55 farming families who are beneficiaries of the project. They will start their patrolling the following week with alternating schedules and subgroups of patrollers.
Pres. Bert van Dierendonck officially closed the program with a message.
After lunch break the guests, together with EGIP Foundation consultant and staff, PEF, PCEEM personnel and a selection of forests guards went on a project area visit. The group in their vehicles stopped at Purok 8 and from then walked to the Panigan River. All were enamored by the verdant mountains they passed and the rich combination of flora and a few fauna that were sighted; not to mention the pristine waters of the Panigan River.
After all that, the visit ended well indeed. The group parted with smiles, a renewed appreciation for Mother Nature, a newfound friendship and a possible partnership.