Photo Caption: Our future. Children study and play at the Canatuan Elementary and National High School – an institution that TVIRD helped build during its operations in the area from 2004-2014, and from which time the company has been the host municipality’s strongest partner in promoting responsive education. (TVIRD file photo)
A retrospect on TVIRD’s educational program that launched their careers
Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte / July 2021 – She knows what it is to be poor at a young age, being born to poor parents and raised by a single mother who died while she was in her primary years. The harrowing experience of being bullied because of poverty made Joanamarie Gabayan vow to have a stable job in the future.
At 19, she fulfilled her promise to herself and joined the academe where a decent, fulfilling and stable job as a professional teacher awaited her.
Joanamarie, “Joan” to family and friends, earned her degree in elementary education in 2015. She took and passed the professional board examination for teachers then and landed a teaching job the following year – thanks to the scholarship program of TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD) in Canatuan.
Now 25 years old and already married, Joan is currently teaching the Subanon children at Barangay Tabayo Elementary School of this town. Assigned as an Indigenous People Education (IPEd) teacher by the Department of Education (DepEd), she instructs her pupils on basic education that is responsive to their context, respects their identities and promotes the values of their indigenous knowledge, skills and other aspects of their cultural heritage – all in line with DepEd Order 50 series of 2016.
Looking back at her humble beginning, Joan said she is forever grateful to the company that helped her realize her dream. “I could not have reached this far without TVIRD,” she said.
Police Corporal Rasul Agang, also a former scholar of the company agrees with her. A graduate of BS in Criminology at a state university in Siocon town, Corporal Agang is now proudly serving his “kababayans” as a member of the Siocon Police Station. At 27, Rasul said he “walks the talk” of the PNP Motto which is to “Serve and protect.”
A son of a fisherman, Rasul shared that ever since he was young, he wanted to become a police officer. “That was my dream, and I was able to achieve it through the help of the company. I am always proud of being a scholar and part of the TVIRD family, knowing that it is a responsible mining company,” he said.
Rasul cited TVIRD’s ongoing final mine rehabilitation in Canatuan, which started in 2016. The program consists of “re-greening” and restoring the company’s former mine site to its former condition and covers all disturbed areas during its 10-year mining operations from 2004.
Equally thankful is geologist-scholar Ryan Lumabi, also a Subanon from Sitio Canatuan. Ryan currently works as a project geologist at Premium Megastructures Inc. in Misamis Oriental.
“I just want to say thank you very much to TVIRD for making my dream possible. It really was impossible for me to reach my dream given that we were poor. But (they) gave me the opportunity to study and graduate as well as assisted me financially while taking the board examinations,” he said.
Investing in education
“TVIRD believes that education plays a vital role in empowering its Subanon partners; hence, the company must invest on it,” according to TVIRD President Yulo Perez who was then Canatuan General Manager who institutionalized the company’s College Scholarship Program in early 2005.
According to him the program seeks to provide the poor but deserving Subanons with access to education so they will be able to help the tribe’s elders in managing the development of their homeland – all according to their needs and outlook, and within their cultural and traditional framework.
Also included in the grant were underprivileged but deserving non-tribal scholars residing within the immediate community and the host municipality of Siocon.
From 2004 to 2020, TVIRD spent more than Php11-million pesos for its scholarship program. The amount is on top of the construction cost of the first school buildings and library of Canatuan Elementary and National High School as well as the salaries of both school’s first four school teachers.
TVIRD also provided school buses for the pupils and students of both schools. The first bus could accommodate 48 passengers and ferried the children as far as Sitio Kilometer 8, a sub-village of Kilalaban of the neighboring town of Baliguian, and Sitio Paduan of Barangay Candiz in Siocon town.
When TVIRD concluded its Canatuan operations in 2014, it also produced professional teachers, nurses, midwives, civil engineers, agriculturists, geologists, an environmental engineer, a forester and a member of the Philippine Navy.
Geologist Ryan Lumabi mentioned earlier that the education provided to him by the company gave him the fighting chance to reach his dream.
“Mining may cease, and TVIRD may eventually leave Canatuan. But the education it provided will live on in the hearts of its scholars whose lives were touched and changed for the better,” he concluded.