Aklan Trekkers


Pagbueoligan Para sa Maytaraw: Aklan Trekkers’ 2nd Upland Outreach Mission Returns to Sitio Maytaraw to Bring Sustainable Support to the Community

For the people living in Sitio Maytaraw, getting the basic services they need is neither common nor easy. Sitio Maytaraw is the farthest village in the town of Libacao, Aklan. It is situated inside the Central Panay Mountain Ranges, close to the boundary of Iloilo and Antique making it one of the most remote and isolated communities in the province and in the country. 

The village is home to the Akeanon Bukidnon tribe. The villagers heavily depend on abaca, root crops, and rice farm. Because of their isolation, Sitio Maytaraw has remained untouched and they haven’t been reached by agencies for decades. On Dec 14-16, 2018, Aklan Trekkers conducted the 1st Upland Outreach Mission called ‘Pagbueligan Para sa Maytaraw’ and on that event, the group identified the needs of the community and concluded that a follow-up mission is necessary. On February 16-17, 2019, the group organized the annual 2nd Aklan Hammock Festival 2019 event in Jamboo Beach Resort in Sitio Nasug, Barangay Bel-is, Buruanga, Aklan to raise funds for the second outreach.

With the success of the 2nd Aklan Hammock Festival event and its commitment to address the needs of the Sitio Maytaraw community, Aklan Trekkers organized the 2nd Upland Outreach Mission. It was conducted on May 27-31, 2019 along with the Brigada Eskwela or National Schools Maintenance Week. We brought over-the-counter medicines, school supplies, bags, books, clothes, light bulbs, battery for solar panels, farming materials (nets, hose, rope, GI wires, and nails), vegetable seeds, vegetable farming manuals, shovels, hand trowels, sprinklers, livestock (chickens, and ducks) and one sack of feeds. The objective of the outreach was not just to bring relief but also to empower the community to become self-sufficient.

Apart from the psychosocial activities, feeding program, and gift-giving, the group also conducted community dialogues, built a school-community vegetable garden and livestock farm with the help of our volunteer resource persons. The group introduced an integrated and sustainable farming method utilizing indigenous resources available in the area. The goal of the project is to minimize the expenses of the teachers, promote healthy foods for the students during their feeding, and to inspire the community members to do the same in their respective backyards which can be an additional livelihood for them.

Following our outreach activities, we retraced our steps along the back trail. At Sitio Pula, Ritchel and I, accompanied by our guide Dodong, diverged from the main group and set forth to Sitio Taroytoy to conduct an ocular inspection of Taroytoy Elementary School in preparation for the 3rd Upland Outreach Mission. Upon arrival at Sitio Taroytoy, we were warmly greeted by the eager teachers. After completing our assessment, we bid farewell to Sitio Taroytoy and resumed our journey back home.

Unlike our first outreach, our journey back to Sitio Maytaraw was a completely different experience. Because of the good weather, we enjoyed the perfect view of gorgeous landscapes and stunning sceneries along the way. We immersed ourselves with the locals during our stay and we’re amazed by their humble and genuine hospitality. Going back to Sitio Maytaraw was another challenge but we were rewarded by the joy of giving and touching lives.

Richard Cahilig
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