APU PALAMGUWAN CULTURAL EDUCATION CENTER (PHILIPPINES)
What Your Gift Will Do
Your gift will support holistic education for indigenous children in Mindanao, Philippines.
The Apu Palamguwan Cultural Education Center (APC) is an indigenous-people-based educational institution located in the village of Sitio Bendum. In 2004, the Department of Education formally recognized and granted APC a permit to operate as an upland elementary school for all children.
The mission of APC is to provide an integrated, holistic, and culture-based education for the indigenous children and youth along the Pantaron Range. We achieve this by promoting and deepening the children’s understanding of their unique culture, while providing knowledge and skills that enable them to confidently relate with mainstream Philippine society. Given this foundation laid in the community, there is hope that the cultural life of the Pulangiyen who are dedicated to restoring and sustaining their forest, water, biodiversity and their agricultural resources, in all their diversity, will thrive.
The partnership with the Pulangiyen people began in 1992, when the community of Sitio Bendum sought the help of Father Pedro Walpole, SJ to set up a school. With Pedro leading, the Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC) assisted the community in setting up the Cultural Empowerment Center in 1992. Young volunteers from the Year of Service (YOS) and Jesuit Volunteer (JVP) Programs began to organize literacy classes with help from community members. They developed a full-fledged elementary curriculum teaching the local culture, with the mother tongue as a subject and as the language of instruction in the lower grades. Cultural knowledge and local community concerns were also incorporated in the curriculum. In later grades three more languages are added to provide contact with national and international concerns. There are now four local village schools connected to the main campus, and the first three years of high school are in operation. The school draws on local residents for both teachers and administrators. This is truly a community based and supported school.
Shirley and Mark Kirchen have been retired since 1999, traveling to places like Beijing, Bangkok, and Anchorage volunteering as teachers of English as a second language and in GED programs for those seeking a high school diploma, as well as serving in a soup kitchen and food pantry when home in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2010 they met Fr. Pedro Walpole, S.J. at the home of Shirley’s sister in Manila.
" We were very impressed with what we heard about the village school Pedro had founded at the village of Bendum in the hill country of Mindanao, so we accepted his invitation to visit the APC school. The unique program of this school is the most effective we have seen for sustaining indigenous language and cultural values, and has now become the main focus of our volunteer efforts and will remain so. We visited the school again in April, 2016 and witnessed significant growth: from a single grade school to the addition of four connecting schools, K through third grade (in temporary facilities) and a new intergrated high school (in a permanent facility); from room and board for 20 students from neighboring villages to the same support for 80. The combined schools support more than 300 children at $1 per day each.
The curriculum is integrated with the cultural traditions of this forest people, preserving their Pulangiyen language and indigenous culture of forest preservation and self-sustaining agriculture. It also addresses engagement with the world at large through the acquisition of speaking, reading, and writing skills in Visayan, the regional language, Filipino, the national language, and English, the international language. The more than $40,000 per year that has recently come in through One World, when added to the community’s own self support efforts and other contributors, has been a vital resource for the ongoing operation of the school. We remain committed to matching all contributions dollar for dollar in the hope of sustaining a vital community of interest for this important program."