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Reaching out the Aetas

Korean students reach out to Zambales mountain Aetas


Korean and Aetas
Korean students and Aetas

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Volunteer students and faculty coordinators from a university in South Korea ended a week-long outreach program in a tribal community inside this free port on Saturday, engaging in an exchange of cultural dance and music, and trying out traditional games with Ayta children. 

The event provided the lighter side of a five-day immersion program at the Pastolan Ayta Village here that saw the foreign visitors repairing, repainting, and completing the tiled floor and electrical wiring of a day care center, as well as the roofing of the village’s multi-purpose hall. 

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto Garcia, who lent support to the project by coordinating with the Ayta leaders, said that a total of 44 student-volunteers and three faculty coordinators from Youngsan University (YSU) in Busan, South Korea, conducted the week-long cultural exchange and outreach program. 

“This is the third time that Youngsan University volunteers visited Subic under their cultural exchange and outreach program,” Garcia noted. 

Aside from fixing the day care center and the multi-purpose hall, the Koreans also replaced the basketball back boards at the community plaza with fiber glass, and concreted the pathway inside the local elementary school campus. 

The Korean students also donated school supplies for Ayta schoolchildren, and taught them arts and crafts, as well as proper grooming. 

The closing-day ceremony last Saturday turned out to be the most fun, as the visiting Koreans entertained the Ayta children with Korean songs, Gang-nam style dance, as well as taek-won do and drum exhibitions. The “party” was carried out under heavy rains. 

Pastolan tribal chieftain Conrado Frenilla said the tribal community was “very happy” for the outreach program. “We really enjoyed their presence here,” he said. 

Pastolan Elementary School principal Hilda Sayson said that the outreach program developed attachment among the Korean and the Ayta students, as they enjoyed each other’s company.  Both the children and the volunteers alike were in tears as they hugged to bid goodbye. 

“Although most of the Koreans cannot speak and understand English or Filipino, language was not a problem in understanding what the other was saying,” Sayson observed. “Apparently, friendship and the willingness to help overcame barriers of communication,” she added.

Meanwhile, in his letter to Garcia, YSU president Gu-Wuck Bu thanked the SBMA for the continuous support the agency has given to the university programs. 

“With our partnership with the SBMA, Youngsan University teacher-coordinators and volunteer-students were able to donate school and community supplies, and render community services to indigent students,” Bu said. 

Bu noted that aside from the community work undertaken at the Pastolan Ayta Village, his group also donated a total of 1,000 chairs for the Pastolan Elementary School, the Cabalan and the Columban elementary schools in Olongapo City; Payangan Elementary School, an Ayta community school in Dinalupihan, Bataan; and another school in Castillejos, Zambales.Friday.