The Sigkuran Minorities Project was one of the major projects of the first class presidents of District 3820, spearheaded by the Rotary Club of Downtown Calapan. It aims to provide 40 houses with 40 toilet facilities to the Mangyan Minority tribe living in Sitio Sigkuran, Brgy. Villa Cerveza, Victoria, Oriental Mindoro.
Our Best Class President Arlene Arcillas, who was also a major contributor to the project, lead a team of eight Centro Ladies to visit the site and witness the finished dwellings as well as bring more stuff for the Mangyans.
After a challenging departure itinerary that included leaving hearth and home at the wee hours of the morning of July 12, 2014, a one and a half hour drive to the port and a two-hour ride on the SuperCat RORO ferry, the island of Mindoro greeted the Centro ladies with a bright and sunny welcome.
Dr. Erwin Escal, City Health Officer II of Sta. Rosa City and a native of Mindoro, invited the tired and hungry Centro ladies to a sumptuous brunch of seafood dishes grilled, steamed and fried to yummy perfection. Well-fed and raring to go, the small delegation proceeded to the site of the Mangyans.
Sitio Sigkuran is a small area approximately 10 a kilometers from the main road, accessible through a dirt road which ended at the small Mangyan community that sat at the edge of an upward slope of land. The community was fenced, neat and orderly, as were the Mangyan people who lined up along the makeshift entrance arch, welcoming all who entered and adorning them with pretty leis made from flowers and ribbons. The entrance opens to what appears to be the main ground; there were tents facing a single-storey building that housed two classrooms, an office and a mess hall. Prominently placed at the center of the ground is a flagpole.
At the right side of the ground were half of the donated houses, and situated at a higher ground was another cluster of houses, accessible by means of steps carved from the rocky wall of the slope. In the middle of the cluster of houses were the water pumps also provided by the project.
There was a brief program wherein Best Class President Arlene was honored for her generous donation, to which she obliged with a short speech. A group of young Mangyans offered a dance number to the delight of the visitors. In true Filipino fashion, the Mangyans offered a bounty of their harvest of pineapple, rambutan, marang and lanzones, symbolically presented by their leader named “Sunny”.
As a highlight of the visit, the First Class Presidents and Best Class Presidents cut the ceremonial ribbon unveiling the Rotary sign that was installed by the community. After this, First Class President Doray Lucero and Best Class President Arlene Arcillas distributed candies and biscuits to the Mangyan kids.
The visit was short and sweet for the Centro ladies, with Secretary Che and Treasurer Carol constantly reminding everyone of the due time of departure of the SuperCat. But short as it was, the visit left an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of the Rotary Club of Sta. Rosa Centro members. Images of the spartan houses devoid of any trace of luxury but very clean and orderly, the smiling children who followed the members around, the uniformed soldiers who valiantly built the houses with their bare hands, and the leaders of the tribe whose gratitude to Rotary seemed endless and overflowing.
by: Dir Myrna Valle