TAKING care of our natural resources, endangered wildlife, rainforests and ecosystems, which are all vital to human existence, is one of the virtues this community upholds seriously.

The ATA indigenous people in Purok Istiwitis, Barangay Bagong Silang, Don Salvador Benedicto town, Negros Occidental is a community that has gained the assistance of the Rotary Club (RC) of Metro Bacolod led by President Jeinz Salgado, in partnership with Rotarian Mary Lucille Grey, who likewise helped equip this exceptional community with cooking skills and livelihood at “Kusinata” program.

Being the natural guardians of the North Negros Natural Park (NNNP), Rotarians saw the need to help ensure that they aid them in protecting the ancestral domain since this is where the water source originates.

President Salgado said, "They (the Rotarians) are happy to connect with this community because they are unique with their kind of culture and traditions (likewise) this community loves to learn new skills to uplift their economic well-being (and) to get the needed education and maintain a wonderful spiritual life.”

Asked why RC helped the ATAs, Salgado said the community has access to vast water resources through the waterfalls and rivers but is very far and can only be reached by foot traversing the downhill and hilly terrains.

“This is where we got into them and helped them install the water system (and) we have helped bring spring water near their homes to help address health and uphold women's and children's welfare,” she said.

“In the absence of the father in the family, it is always either the wife or the children who will fetch a pail of water from a distant water source for the family's daily consumption," she also said.

The RC-Metro Bacolod, through a collaborative effort of its officials and members who shared their knowledge and expertise, extended this "Patubig sa ATA sang DSB," wherein the club has put up a water system to this community.

The program led by project coordinator Rotarian Engineer Jay Alpas has become functional and is now being enjoyed.

"We believed that water is life, and this water system helped make their lives easier in doing their daily chores and drinking water as well," Salgado said.

During the holidays, RC-Metro Bacolod also hosted a Christmas get-together for the ATA community, where they enjoyed a meaningful Christmas party with gift-giving in a program dubbed as "IPASKO."

In previous years, this community was also a recipient of medical and dental missions in partnership with the Rotary Clubs of Australia.

"We hope to reach out more to this community to make their lives easy. I also thanked the Local Government of DSB through Mayor Lawrence Marxlen De la Cruz, who also assisted us in going to the said community through the municipal planning officer," she said.