COTABATO CITY (10 June 2015) – More than six hundred students of Looy Elementary School in South Upi, Maguindanao received on Tuesday, June 9, school bags and school supplies from Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Amin Hataman, the ARMM governor’s son, joined his father in the distribution of these items as well as in school inspection. The giving of school bags and school supplies is a joint-effort of the ARMM government and the STI-Cotabato team as well as media giant ABS-CBN.
Blessy Mae Fantingan, a nine year-old Grade 4 student of Looy Elementary School said: “Masaya po kami at nagpapasalamat dahil tunay na bag na ang aming gagamitin hindi na po plastic bag. (We are happy and thankful because we will now use school bag instead of plastic bag.)”
Looy Elementary School has 13 instructional rooms and 17 teachers. Noli D. Severo, school head, said it is the first time that a high-ranking official of the ARMM government visited the school.
Gov. Hataman also inspected Looy Integrated Technical Vocational High School and vowed to rehabilitate four classroom buildings. “We will allocate P1.5 million for the classrooms rehabilitation of Looy High School,” he said. Some students and teachers cried when they heard the governor’s announcement.
“Kahit maliit lang ang sweldo namin, okay lang, dahil nakikita namin kung gaano ka pursigido ang mga estudyante na makapagtapos (Although our pay is low, we feel fine since we see our students determined to finish school),” Belleardo Ciciro, a volunteer teacher said. There are 85 volunteer teachers in South Upi district in 38 elementary and five secondary schools.
Domingo Bagis, school head of Looy Integrated Technical Vocational High School, explained the difficulties the school and its teachers face. He said the school used to cater to more than 200 students with only four dilapidated classrooms.
“Students here are very diligent, those who live far walk several hours just to get here,” Bagis said. An example is Maikee Roales, a 17-year old Grade 10 student who lives in Sitio Santa Fe. She walks three hours everyday just to attend school.
“Kahit malayo po ang bahay namin dito, walang problema, basta makapasok lang ako sa paaralan, dahil gusto ko pong makatapos sa pag-aaral at matulungan ang pamilya ko (Our house is far but that’s not a problem since I want to finish school and help my family),” Roales said.
Most of the students of Looy Elementary School and Looy Integrated Technical Vocational High School belong to the Teduray tribe. (Bureau of Public Information)