Lifted from BVFO’s documents. Modified
Sitio Montelo, April 21, 2006
Sitio Montelo is in the heart of Bayawan valley. Most prominent structure in place is a two-room school building made of concrete, where three public school teachers teach three (3) different grades. The structure is an improvement from the previous one that was razed to the ground by government warplanes during Operation Thunderbolt.
Clustered nearby is one typical cono ricemill, a Cassava buying station, a small sari-sari store selling some basics, and about half a dozen huts or homes. The rest of the community is scattered all over the valley. Near the school building is a one-room thatch hut, a school annex structure actually, built through old Filipino bayanihan custom, which the teachers use for their lodging house.
The three teachers are all female and young. They appeared happy in their place of assignment. They are in a place where people had died on charges of spying for the government, or where people had disappeared for being suspected rebels and rebel supporters.
In a situation where jobs do not come easy especially for fresh graduates, and when one is not in position to choose an assignment, the young ladies must be thankful where they are. Farmers always do their best to keep teachers in such communities otherwise their children will grow up no- read-no- write like some of the parents.
Some of the children have walked eight kilometers away to attend classes. Many of them are expected to drop out after they have learned to read and to write, or as far as the highest level taught in Sitio Montelo. There are farmers who dream of their children going through elementary and public high school. For their children to become professionals someday is considered over-ambitious.
Children are considered to belong to the farms. Parents believe in education for their young ones but if children don’t help in the farm, weeds will overcome the crops and swarms of maya birds will feed daily, leaving them nothing to harvest.
There are farmers in sitio Montelo who reside in more developed places like Brgy Magballo and Brgy Lucotan. Sitio Montelo has neither running water nor electricity. Rebels in Brgy Pingot cut off the power transmission lines that had linked the City of Kabankalan to the coastal area of Hinoba-an in southern Negros Island in the 80s. Hungry farmers, traffickers and unscrupulous traders took away cables, steel towers, bolts and nuts, leaving only concrete footings.
The valley needs more classrooms and teachers, desks and chairs, books, running water, lighting facilities, maybe some nice things like TV sets, sanitary latrines and johns. If the agricultural potentials of the valley can be developed, the community can easily provide most of those things for itself, needing very little assistance from the outside.
Philippine government is down and deep in local and foreign debts, all that in the name of development and progress. Interests to the principals alone that tick by the seconds could hardly be paid. Places like Sitio Montelo all over the archipelago make people wonder where all the money has gone.
For Bayawan Valley Farmers’ Organization to avail of government funding, the ways point through partisan politics and corruption. This has made the country what it is today, where it is today.
Millions of Filipinos have already gone abroad to find work. The billions of dollars that they remit monthly is one of the real things that keep the Philippine economy alive today. More than half of the nation, by strict standard, is below poverty line. Where they are concentrated, no business makes good business; no person is a safe person. Bayawan valley is one place.
[2008 Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration’s (OWWA) report of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) gave the figures at 5 million not to include undocumented or illegal migration of Filipino workers abroad. POEA’s estimate of undocumented Filipinos in Lebanon-Jordan placed the figure at over 50 %.]
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has assured 10 million more jobs for Filipinos by the end of her administration. We cannot imagine how they could do that. BVFO had tried people like Congressman Ignacio T. Arroyo and Vice President Noli de Castro and went as far as institutions like PACAP.//
While everybody’s been talking about development and progress, there’s only cold shoulders everywhere. BVFO had been on the road that proved to be a dead end. It’s been pursuing ideals that, under present circumstances, are nothing but pure idealism.rltj