Ateneo turns over Water Project & Classrooms in Stilts in Simariki
Water for Health, reads the sign painted on
the water tank.
Some 105 families, Indigenous Peoples (IPs)
of Simariki Island, Brgy talon-talon will now enjoy potable water right in
their community. In the past, residents of Simariki had to cross the waters to
Rio Hondo to buy safe drinking water.
The Ateneo de Zamboanga University (AdZU) through
its Center for Community Extension Services (CCES), in partnership with the
Assisi Development Foundation, Inc. (ADFI) turned over a water system project
and a two-classroom building on stilts to the Sama-Bangingi Community last
January 25, 2017 in Simariki, Talon-Talon, this city.
As part of its peace program,
AdZU has been extending assistance to residents of Simariki Island, helping rebuild
the community which was severely affected by the 2013 siege through various
projects on health, education, and livelihood.
The water project, which consists of a rain
catchment system and ZCWD-linked water tanks, forms part of AdZU-CCES’ health
program in the island.
A symbolic ceremony marked the turnover of the
Water for Health Project, with the planting of bakawan seedlings to symbolize unity, solidarity and cooperation
among stakeholders. CCES director Loreta Sta Teresa explained how the sea plant
bakawan is intertwined with the lives
of the Sama tribe, stating how they are strongly connected to the waters where
the bakawan mangroves grow, and how strongly attached they are as a people to
the seas which is their home and also their source of livelihood.
The classrooms, funded by the Ilawan
Foundation, will school 40 kindergarten and grade 1 pupils of the island under
the Indigenous Peoples Education (IPED) program of the Department of Education
(DepEd). IPED is a culture-based education program designed to form students to
become culture bearers who shall help promote their culture and lead their
community in claiming, protecting and exercising their rights to
In his message during the
program, AdZU President Fr Karel San Juan, SJ, cited that the project
highlighted the partnership and friendship forged among AdZU, its partner
development agencies and the Indigenous People (IP) of Simariki. While the
University has helped the community with various projects on health, education
and livelihood, he said that there has also been an “exchange of gifts” between
the University, its partners and the community. In return, Fr San Juan said that
the University and its partners have received valuable life lessons learned
from associating with members of the community.
Other highlights of the event were the “Pag-Dua’ Salamat,”a Sama Bangingi thanksgiving
ritual led by Imam Amilhamja Sali and the reading of a public notice by the
National Commission for Indigenous People (NCIP) pertaining to the delineation
activities for the Ancestral Domain Claim of the island by the Sama Bangingi
that will commence on February 8, 2017. Included here was the issuance of the Certificate
of Ancestral Domain Title to the Sama Bangingi Tribe of Simariki Island.
Also present during the event was Fr Wilfredo
Samson, SJ, AdZU Asst to the President for Formation, together with
representatives from partner agencies: Assisi Development Foundation Inc (ADFI)
and ILAWAN Foundation president Benjamin Abadiano; Rozanno Rufino, coordinator
of the Indigenous Peoples Education Office of the Department of Education (DepEd) –
Zamboanga, Dr. Evelyn Villa and Engr. Eulalyn Fernandez, also of DepEd, Pio
Fuentes of ADFI, Councilor Tungku Hanapi, Indigenous People Representative to
the City Council; Talon-talon Brgy. Chair Casmir Candido, Tribal Chieftain
Nasir Ismula and Amilhamja Ismael of the Simariki Island Sama-Bangingi
Association (SISBA); and guests: Dr. Grace
Rebollos and Espie Hupida from Zamboanga Basilan Integrated Development
Association (ZABIDA), Bernardita Modino and day care workers from the City
Social Welfare Development of Talon-Talon, MISERIOR, Subanons from Leha-Leha
and Bajaus from Masepla and Buggoc; and teachers of Simariki Island School for
IPs, adult learners, parents and pupils.
the same time last year, the AdZU-CCES, with assistance from the Jesuit Mission in Germany, turned
over 29 bancas to the same Sama-Bangingi community in Mariki, as part of its
livelihood project for the community.