The Masungi Georeserve Foundation, together with partners and volunteers, has launched the EduKatutubo program to help nurture and empower indigenous youth to be the next-generation leaders of the Dumagat-Remontados of Antipolo.
The first of a series of workshops focused on self-awareness, confidence-building, values formation, and group dynamics, which are the foundations of good leadership. Over twenty young persons and scholars aged 15 to 30 years old attended the first workshop.
Ann Dumaliang, Project Manager and Managing Trustee of the Masungi Georeserve Foundation, discussed the importance of remembering and retaining traditional values of conserving nature, despite the threats of urbanization and outside influences.
“In the recent months, we have seen how strong values are critical to leadership. Without these, people could fall prey to powerful external forces and make choices that may not benefit their community or the environment in the long-run. It is important that we support young people in bringing about authentic empowerment. We also continue to dialogue with the Dumagat-Remontados in hopes of uniting with them against destructive activities in the watershed,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Reynard Francisco, Chairperson of the Rizal Youth Development Council for the Environment, and Mr. Nicanor Satur, Jr. of JCI-Makati Philippines, himself coming from an indigenous tribe, facilitated the training.
“Through our immersions on the ground, we are aware that third-party interests have actively sought to sow discord between environment and indigenous groups. It is unity, not division, that everyone should work towards. We see education as the path forward,” Francisco says.
The Masungi Georeserve Foundation is fully committed to respecting ancestral rights in project sites and the upliftment of surrounding communities. The Masungi team first met the Dumagat-Remontados of Antipolo after a private land claimant, under firms Rublou Inc. and Green Atom Renewable Energy Corporation, deployed armed guards, fenced large portions of the Upper Marikina Watershed, and implicated the tribe in doing so. The tribe as a whole denied any and all involvement in these actions. However, several members later on appear to have backtracked on this statement. Apparently, large parts of their ancestral claim were allegedly sold to the private claimant, which is prohibited. Despite active efforts to antagonize communities against conservation work, the foundation continues to strive to hold genuine dialogues and harmonize goals with all stakeholders around project sites. ###