Sultan Kundarat (Agenzia Fides) - To promote human development and education of indigenous Manobo-Dulangan, in the province of Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao: this is the commitment of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, established presence on the big island in the South of the Philippines.
Fr. Renan Aban, who served as Coordinator of pastoral care of the indigenous peoples in the local Episcopal Conference, continues to provide scholarships to elementary school children through the "Oblate Missionary Fund". In the new school year, 60 indigenous children will have shelter, food and school for free.
If the educational program is one of the priorities, the effort of the missionaries also focuses on adult formation and in promoting among the Monobo-Dulangan the awareness of their rights. The aim is to ensure the conservation of the cultural heritage of the tribe. Tribal leaders are more aware of the fact that they do not walk alone, but are accompanied by the Church.
The missionaries adopt a style of "immersion" in the tribal reality. The Manobo-Dulangan live mostly by satisfying everyday needs. Their presence is often completely ignored by the institutions: recent contracts and contracts awarded by the government for the forestry and mining exploitation of land where the Manobo live, jeopardize survival. This happens, highlight the Oblate missionaries, without any reference to the Convention on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the Philippine government in 1997 and without any consent on behalf of the Manobo-Dulangan. The ancestral lands of the Manobo-Dulangan tribe are exploited, the land they cultivate and the forest resources have sharply decreased. Thanks to the support of the missionaries, the voice of the Manobo-Dulangans can be heard by civilian institutions and indigenous peoples can assert their rights, says Fr. Aban in a note sent to Fides. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 21/07/2014)