Dumagat teacher dreams for her tribe’s educational success, “no matter the odds against them”

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For every student, being able to graduate from college calls for a celebration – but for a tribal student like Irine Vertudez, it is a genuine triumph over the odds.

Irine, 24, had hoped that with a degree in Information technology, she might find employment and earn more elsewhere. However, she stopped entertaining the thought because she knows that her heart belongs to her fellow Dumagats. She then decided to stay and teach in Bulwagang Pang-Komunidad, a community school in Barangay Sta. Ines in Tanay.

“Since we lack even the most basic needs to learn, like paper and pencils, we fear for the future of education here in our tribal community,” shares Teacher Irene.

Although some of the young Dumagats in the remote area of Tanay, Rizal are now able to attend school, which is an hour away by foot from their homes, many from the tribe do not get to finish elementary. Most of the elder Dumagats even lack basic literacy which makes it harder for them to step out of poverty.

“Planting crops and farming are the main source of living here in Sta. Ines.  But because of the pandemic, the income of most families here was affected. So today is a blessed day as Operation Blessing visited us to distribute these food supplies,” Irine gladly expressed.

Without education, generations of children risk growing up lacking the skills they need to rebuild their lives and their communities.

Irine is determined to let the children avoid this fate. “I want to ensure that they will enjoy the same level of education as I had, no matter the odds against them.”

(Photos by Jo Ivan Llaneta)

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