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Up in the mountains of Maitum for Medical Mission, Fun Day

I'm always interested in joining outreach programs especially in remote villages and so I gladly accepted an invitation from the SOCSARGEN Peace Network to join them along with other groups in a medical mission and community orientation on Bangsamoro Framework Agreement  in Maitum, Sarangani Province.

It was not an easy trip. I woke up passed 3 AM and our group left General Santos City at around 4:15 in the morning and then headed for a more than an hour travel via van to the last and farthest municipality in the west coast of Sarangani Province, the Municipality of Maitum.

Together with Sir Ariel,Yadu and peace advocates from the SOCSARGEN Peace Network we arrived at around 6 am in the municipal hall of Maitum. We were all excited to see Tuanadatu.

Later on the group of the International Monitoring Team, Kalinaw Sarangani, 73rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and other groups started to arrive.

Again the trip was not easy, it was an adventure. We had to ride a 6x6 military truck (something I really wanted to experience) and left Maitum proper at around 7 AM to Tuanadatu.

Here's more of our journey to Tuanadatu through pictures:
All prepared. Off to Taunadatu.
The topographical feature of Barangay Tuanadatu is described as above steep to very steep. And as I already expected it was a long bumpy ride to the mountains but I guess all of us on board the military truck were enjoying the trip. The lush scenery of Maitum's beloved forest could be one of the reasons.
I was surprised we passed by a school at the middle of our trip.

Barangay Tuanadatu is situated on the farthest Northwest of Maitum. On the South is Barangay Pinol, and on its East is Upo and on the Northern part is the Municipality of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato and on the West is Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat.  

And this..  
The roads of Brgy. Taunadatu being the farthest barangay of Maitum is plainly soil only 8 kilometers were graveled. 
Taunadatu has a land area of about 2,300 hectares and a more or less 2,800 population. The area is thickly populated by Muslims  and followed by T'boli and Manobo tribes.

One Way. There's no other way to go but up..

We arrived at the barangay proper of Taunadatu passed 8 O'clock in the morning. It took us more than an hour, a very slow travel considering that the place is only about 23 kilometers from the town proper of Maitum.
We then ate our breakfast - Tuna Pastel.
The International Monitoring Team

We then had the chance to have a short discussion with members of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) while waiting for the Community Orientation on Bangsamoro Framework Agreement to start. Present were military representatives members of IMT from Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. They gladly answered our questions such as their participation in the peace process between the government of the Philippines and the MILF. One of them answered that they were here to monitor the implementation of the peace agreement between the two parties (GRP and MILF).

Then some residents of Tuanadatu started to arrive at Tuanadatu Elementary School, I was able to talk to their tribal chieftain. He was friendly and accommodated all that I asked him, I was even surprised that he can talk in english. When asked about the people of the barangay, he told me that almost all of the residents were his relatives regardless of their tribes or religions and that was because of intermarriages between the tribes. They lived harmoniously in Tuanadatu he added.
One of the women elders of the T'boli tribe in Tuanadatu.

Community Orientation on Bangsamoro Framework Agreement

With the elders, men and women of Tuanadatu present, I was also able to witnessed the Community Orientation on Bangsamoro Framework Agreement spearheaded by Kalinaw Sarangani to explain to the residents the features of the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement especially to IP communities like Tuanadatu. Also there who gave their message were Sarangani Governor Migs Dominguez, Mayor Elsie Perrett of Maitum, Ms. Pat Sol- Acting Team Leader of the Non Violent Peace Force, a representative from the MILF, the Battalion Commander of the 73rd IB and Col. Abdul bin Waley Mohammad of the IMT Site 4.
The Bangsamoro Framework Agreement is a peace agreement signed last October 15, 2012 between the government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It is dubbed as the "roadmap to peace"  and calls for creation of a new autonomous political entity which will be called "Bangsamoro" in Mindanao, to replace ARMM.
Kalinaw Sarangani  program manager Jocelyn Lambac-Kanda explains to the people of Tuanadatu the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement
There was also a medical-dental mission conducted during that day and it was headed by Gawad Geny Lopez Bayaning Filipino Awardee Dr. Roel Cagape. Aside from the medical-dental mission where many of the locals was able to obtain medical services and medicines for free and the community orientation on the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement, more than a hundred children had a fun-filled day with games and child-friendly activities prepared by Kalinaw Sarangani where they also distributed school supplies, candies and other surprises. Residents especially the children of Tuanadatu were also treated to a feeding program prepared by members of the 73rd IB who became instant cooks and chefs that day.

The group from the SOCSARGEN Peace Network and St. Michael Parish in General Santos City also distributed gifts for the residents - clothings, canned goods, noodles, rice, etc. were more than enough to make residents of Brgy. Tuanadatu wear their precious smiles.
Again, it was not an easy trip, my hats-off to all the people behind the activity - the 73rd IB of the Philippine Army, Kalinaw Sarangani, GPH-MILF International Monitoring Team (IMT), Local Monitoring Team (LMT)- Sarangani, the provincial government of Sarangani, Maitum-LGU, the team of Dr. Roel Cagape and the SOCSARGEN Peace Network.

All for Peace and the humanity.. may your tribe increase!

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