Megaworld Foundation volunteers for the Aeta community in Tarlac

by Janel Gabriel and Edwin Diaz

 

Megaworld Foundation held an outreach program at the Aeta community in Capas, Tarlac, last May 8.

Eleven Megaworld employee-volunteers left the Alliance Global Tower at 3:30 a.m., arriving in Tarlac at 6:30 a.m. The Foundation rented three 4×4 vehicles to transport the volunteers to the base of a mountain for a two-hour hike with the Philippine Army, carrying donations in kind and food to Sitio Yangka. Some 150 Aetas benefited from the feeding activity.

Auditor Lesie Layague from Megaworld’s Audit Department, a former Megaworld scholar, said volunteering is her way of giving back. “I volunteered before for the previous activities of the foundation, but this is my favorite so far. We got to socialize with the Aetas, hear their concerns and experience their way of living.”

Poverty has made it rare for an Aeta student in Sitio Yangka to graduate from elementary school. Here, the highest educational attainment is Grade 5. Yangka villagers collect banana blossoms and crops for a living, with an average daily income of P50 to P100.

Layague saw the bigger picture when she immersed herself in the Aeta community. “When I saw their way of life, I realized that food is everywhere. They have crops they can eat,” she said.

Audit executive Honeyln Ilao, also from the Audit Department, said she could relate to the plight of the Aetas—her parents are also farmers in the mountains. Also a former Megaworld scholar, she said, “We live in the mountains. We need to travel far on foot just to sell crops for a cheap price. It’s sad that [the Aetas] work for months and walk for hours but still don’t earn enough income to sustain their daily needs.”

To support the students, Megaworld Foundation gave six elementary graduates school supplies and a grocery package. These graduates have been living in the Dormitory of Aeta pupils, built by Megaworld in Maruglo Elementary School.

Ilao said interacting with the Aetas through feeding and donation-giving was overwhelming. “Actually, I experienced mixed feelings. I’m happy to see their smiling faces, especially when they welcomed us, but also sad to see how hard their situation is.”

She added: “Megaworld Foundation projects supporting the Aeta children’s education are a great help to their community.”

Volunteering is like a breath of fresh air to Layague. “[It’s] something you can’t do on a daily basis, away from the regular working routine. This feels like you’re on an outing with friends.”

Photos by Kevin Icabales

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Comments

    • Marian Ramirez
    • May 21, 2019

    How can I register as a volunteer? Thanks.

    • maricel aguirre
    • May 22, 2019

    Hello,

    I want to be a volunteer & how?

    Thanks

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