Teachers endure 40-km journey to reach tribal kids

Report by Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 03 2014 03:15 PM | Updated as of Jun 04 2014 06:54 AM

MANILA - Aside from their already heavy workload everyday, teachers in Barangay Kagbana in Burauen, Central Leyte also have to endure a 40-kilometer journey every week to reach the students of the Mamanwa tribe.

Barangay Kagbana, where members of the Mamanwa tribe reside, is the farthest among the 77 villages in Burauen.

To reach the school in Kagbana, teachers have to travel a total of 40 kilometers from the town proper.

Their journey starts with a two-hour ride on a "habal-habal" -- a motorcycle modified to seat more than two persons -- traversing the bumpy roads of Burauen.

The teachers then have to cross four mountains and three rivers, which takes them about five hours.

While their travel may be exhausting, the teachers say nothing beats seeing the smiles of their little angels -- the children of the Mamanwa tribe.

Pol-pol, a member of the Mamanwa tribe in Burauen, Leyte, is eager to go back to school. Photo by Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News

Teacher Jemma Yepezasion has taught at the Kagbana school for a year. She goes there every Sunday and goes home on Fridays.

Now, she said she is already passing her responsibility to the new teachers since her body can no longer bear the 40-kilometer travel of going to the school.

But according to her, if she still had the choice, she would want to go back to teaching in Kagbana, especially after the school has been damaged by super typhoon "Yolanda."

Yepezasion said about 100 children there are in dire need of food and school supplies.

The Department of Education (DepEd) visited the village of Kagbana to distribute school supplies as well as medicines for the children of the Mamanwa tribe.

The DepEd said they are also aware of the sacrifices teachers in far-flung areas have to endure, adding that they will be given additional pay.

The Mamanwa tribe celebrates the arrival of new teachers in their community through dance. Photo by Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News

Meanwhile, members of the Mamanwa tribe celebrate the arrival of the teachers in their community with a dance performance.

This is also their way of expressing their gratitude to the teachers, who they know endure a lot of sacrifices just to be able to impart knowledge to their children. -- Report from Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News