THEY’RE been bringing cheers to the community for five straight years now, a group of volunteers who expand and contract depending on the year, but always giving more every year.
The Davao Eagle Volunteer Group for the fifth year brought Christmas gifts to almost 300 families from four sitios in two barangays in Marilog District last November 30. For this year, the group partnered with Team Titans Davao and Nat’s Performance, their loads of food, gifts, medicines, school items, and more were all loaded on the team’s convoy of offroad vehicles.
The arrival of the group has always been a grand occasion for the residents of Malikongkong, the sight of offroad vehicles in their mountain village is an added treat for the children who rarely see vehicles beyond an occasional multicab, military truck, or the ubiquitous habal-habal.
Malikongkong once only had mountain trails from sitio Upian until around 2009. The road has since been widened making the Upian River the only area where the offroad vehicles are put to best use. Around seven kilometers from the highway, it is people mostly by Matigsalugs, who populate most of Marilog District along with the Manobo.
Geographically, the greater Manobo settlements are on the left of the highway while the Matigsalugs are on the right, where the river runs as Matigsalug means people of the river.
The first time the group led by Richard T. Cagape Jr. went up there, they were only able to serve sitio Malikongkong. This grew to include sitio Guilon. On this trip, two more sitios were included: Upian and Lapinig.
The list showed 278 families, but more who were not on the list were likewise given gift packs consisting of rice, noodles, sardines, salt, sugar, matches, medicines, utensils and many more. While 476 schoolchildren including 40 preschoolers got new backpacks with school supplies, and water bottles.
The residents, mostly from the Matigsalug tribe, were also treated to hot lugaw, nutribread, and vitamin C fortified juice. They were also given a brief orientation on the use of paracetamol and Vitamin C, which were included in their gift packs.
Aside from the pre-Christmas treat, Davao Eagle also visits the area just before school opening to bring more school supplies and food packs to the hundreds of families.
As before, the Eagle Volunteer Group partnered with Kinaiyahan Foundation Inc., which facilitated the listing of the families from the four sitios.