The following article was featured in the Manila Times on March 28, 2017 and written by Leander C. Domingo. It features our work in Apayao, to the Bayugao tribe–better known as the Agtas.
LUNA, Apayao: An international Christian charity organization in partnership with local government units and line agencies have tapped the Bayugao tribe (Agta) here to help protect the forest from where they derive their livelihood.
A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Sustainable Forest Management: Initiative for Poverty Alleviation for the Agtas of Luna (Apayao) was recently signed between Vision Help International Care Foundation (VHICF), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Luna and the Apayao State College (ASC).
Lawyer Antonio Sta. Romana of VHICF said the project is a major step to alleviate the living condition of the Bayugao tribes.
The VHICF donated the Bayuga Tribe Elementary School (BTES) in Turod village and has been expanding its assistance in cooperation with government and other private agencies.
“We wanted to help them graduate and come back to their community as responsible citizens,” Sta. Romana said.
ASC president Nieves Dacyon added that the primary objective of the project is to improve the socio-economic well-being of the tribe residing in Barangay Turod in Luna town.
“We would like to enhance food security and nutrition contribution of the forest with primary consideration to the Agtas, improve quality and quantity of forest resources towards climate resiliency and mitigation,” she added.
Dacyon said the Agtas are their best partners on their biodiversity inventory project and forest conservation, being part of the ASC research and extension program and actively share their indigenous knowledge and practices on forest management.
The Agta group which belong to the Bayugao Tribal Community (BTC) is only few compared to the rest of the estimated 60 million indigenous people who are almost totally dependent on the forest.
The BTC’s main source of livelihood is charcoal mining, which is damaging to the environment.
Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer-in-Charge Candido Tuscano said there is much to be done to enhance household security and sustainable forest management for the Agtas in Turod and the other groups found in other barangays (villages) in Luna town such as in Santa Lina, San Gregorio, San Isidro Sur, Marag Valley, Capagaypayan and Zumigui.