SAN FERNANDO, Bukidnon (MindaNews/20 July) – The municipal government here plans to send at least a hundred scholars to college, mostly from the indigenous peoples as a support to the financially distraught lumad communities, Mayor Laurencia Edma said.
Edma told MindaNews Monday they are eyeing a scholarship program as a flagship program for the town’s youth although she clarified she still would propose a budget to the municipal council.
Edma plans to start the scholarship program in 2011, the town’s first affirmative action for education of the IP youth of the town.
She said although they don’t plan to enroll the students to big universities outside Bukidnon, they hope to send them to school for quality education.
She said they are studying sending high school graduates of the town to study in Central Mindanao University in Musuan, Maramag town and Bukidnon State University in Malaybalay City.
Edma said she plans to pattern the program to government scholarship programs that provide scholarship and allowance support.
About 70 percent of San Fernando’s population belongs to indigenous communities, particularly the Manobo and Matigsalug tribes.
The mayor spoke during a nutrition month outreach program in Tugop village in San Fernando’s boundary with Cabanglasan town.
At the event, Edma urged the residents of the village of 351 households along the Pulangui River to make it a habit to plant vegetables and fruits for the health of the villagers.
She warned that villagers should protect themselves from dengue and malaria-carrying mosquitoes. She said San Fernando is a haven of infectious mosquitoes that claimed lives of town folks.
She said they are prioritizing the development of agriculture in San Fernando as it could help them provide jobs.
“Many of the people in our villages have no work. It is so hard,” she said.
But Edma told MindaNews that to develop agriculture they plan to woo in agricultural plantation companies like banana and pineapple firms to locate in San Fernando’s 24 barangays.
“We vow to exclude the farms planted to rice and corn in this campaign,” she said.
But residents who intend to work as laborers in these farms said it would be a long way from that.
“We only have a foot bridge to cross the Pulangui from here so it wouldn’t attract the investors,” Rowena Deloso, a community leader, said.
“At least we are still far from the ill effects of chemical sprays common in agricultural plantations,” another resident said. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)