Aklan Trekkers


Pagbueoligan Para sa Maytaraw: Aklan Trekkers’ 1st Upland Outreach Mission Triumphs Over Challenges to Reach Aklan’s Farthest School, Bringing Positive Change to the Community

Mountaineers know how difficult it is for people to live in remote communities. Because of poverty and the lack of infrastructure, getting the basic services they need is not easy. The village of Sitio Maytaraw is one of these communities. It’s the farthest village in the municipality of Libacao and the province of Aklan.

About Sitio Maytaraw

Sitio Maytaraw is located in Barangay Dalagsaan, Libacao, Aklan, close to the boundary of Iloilo and Antique. It is home to Akeanon Bukidnon, the indigenous people of Aklan living in the uplands of Libacao and Madalag. The village is far away from Libacao town proper. The residents have to endure an hour of a bumpy motorcycle ride, long hours of walk, cross multiple rivers, and scale mountain slopes to get there. The travel time is even longer during rainy days. Because of their isolation, Sitio Maytaraw has remained untouched and they haven’t been reached by agencies for decades. Villagers heavily depend on abaca, root crops, and rice farm.

Map of Sitio Maytaraw, Dalagsaan, Libacao, Aklan

About the Outreach

On December 14-16, 2018, Aklan Trekkers organized the 1st Upland Outreach Mission called ‘Pagbueoligan para sa Maytaraw.’ The outreach was held in Maytaraw Primary School. With the help of JCI-Aklan Kalantiao and donations from donors and sponsors, the group was able to gather funds to bring relief to the community. We donated books, flood survival kits (life vests, floater, ropes, and first-aid kits), seeds, and gardening tools to the school. The group also brought school supplies, toys, over-the-counter medicines, hygiene kits, clothes, and groceries to the community. Prior to the outreach, the group also sent funds for the construction of two restrooms for the school.

Day 1 (December 14, 2018) – We were welcomed by heavy rain on the first day of our outreach mission. The downpour started early in the morning while we prepare our loads for hauling. We insulated our bags and the sacks of goods with plastics to avoid drenching them. When the rain stopped,  we loaded our cargoes to the motorcycles and started our journey to Sitio Maytaraw. It took us two hours of a rainy and rough motorcycle ride to reach Sitio Agbatuan in Barangay Oyang, Libacao, Aklan. This is where all the motorcycles stop and it’s also our meeting point with our porters and guides. They were already waiting for us when we arrived and right after we distributed the loads to them, the group was divided into teams and started our trek to Barangay Dalagsaan Proper. 

Not far away from Sitio Agbatuan is the Burabod Creek where we experienced our first river-crossing. The water on the creek was swelling and the current was so strong, but thanks to our helpful guides, all of us have crossed safely to the other side. After that struggle, we continued our trek and stopped at the small creek, at the bank of Aklan River for our lunch. The creek has a clean water source and it’s the spot where teachers and traveling locals eat their meals. It was also here when we met the teachers of Dalagsaan who were featured on national television. They were returning from Dalagsaan to their homes in the town proper. After our lunch, we continued heading towards our destination. We walked and crossed Aklan River multiple times for more than six hours before we reached Dalagsaan Integrated School in Dalagsaan Proper where we camped for the night.

Day 2 (December 15, 2018) – The rain was still pouring on the second day but it didn’t prevent us to continue our mission. After having our breakfast we prepared ourselves for another long hour of river-trekking. It had rained all night so we expected the river to rise. It was drizzling when we left Dalagsaan. We walked along the riverbanks, hiked on mountains, and traversed muddy terrains following the river upstream. It was a struggle but we were determined to reach our destination. When we were nearing the school, the river became wilder and the water level was going to a critical level. It slowed us down but we didn’t give up. Our skillful guides and the barangay officials were fortunately there to help us. After five hours of grueling hikes and river-crossings, we reached Sitio Maytaraw and we realized that we survived the 24 wild river-crossings. As we are approaching the school, we saw kids eager to greet us with their joyful smiles while patiently waiting. Their happy faces were inspiring sights to see. Overcoming the adversities on the trail just to get to them was all worth it.

With little time to prepare, the group wasted no time doing what we came to do. The group conducted blood pressure check-up,  psychosocial activities for the kids, and a feeding program for the community. We also distributed school supplies, toys, and hygiene kits to the kids, clothes, over-the-counter medicines, and groceries to the community. The people were so happy and seeing their genuine smiles was very satisfying. After the outreach, everyone was exhausted but fulfilled.

Day 3 (December 16, 2018) – After the grueling experience of reaching Sitio Maytaraw from Libacao, Aklan, we thought that traversing to Calinog, Iloilo would be less difficult but it was even worse. We endured 6 hours of a very tiring hike, scaled several mountains, and crossed multiple rivers before we reached Barangay Supanga, Calinog, Iloilo, where the motorcycles that are going to take us to the town were already waiting. We regrouped and took a short rest before we descended. It was getting dark when we left Supanga and for us, the motorcycle ride was a great sigh of relief, thinking that we could just sit comfortably while on our way to the town after a very exhausting hike but it was a completely different experience. We found ourselves amid perilous rides over dark, muddy, and slippery roads all the way down. We didn’t expect such treacherous terrain but thankfully, we arrived at the town safely. 

This was our first upland outreach mission and it was also one of the hardest and fulfilling treks of our lives. Despite all the challenges that we experienced, we endured and overcame the hardships and made a difference. 

Richard Cahilig
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