Project: Empower, Protect, Sustain
Project CoNNECT: Coping with the New Normal: Enhanced Connectivity Tools for Iraya Mangyan of San Teodoro, Oriental Mindoro
CCIPH hatched the idea for PROJECT CoNNECT, which stands for Coping with the New Normal: Enhanced Connectivity Tools for Iraya Mangyan of San Teodoro, Oriental Mindoro, last September 2020 to directly address and resolve the Iraya Mangyans’ struggles in coping up and learning how to manage the ‘new normal’ in the time of COVID-19.
CCIPH’s long-standing presence and advocacy projects in Mindoro has made us more mindful and sympathetic about the plight of our Iraya Mangyan brethren. Yet the realization of this project was made possible by the own initiatives and persistence of a Mangyan leader, Mr. Winifredo Evangelista, the current chairman of the Mal-anggatan Iraya Paranawan Kakuyayan Office (MIPK) people’s organization. Telus International Philippines, who was approached by CCIPH to become a partner in this initiative, soon came into the picture and affirmed their full support to the project by providing connectivity tools and equipment, including laptops, headsets, printers, Internet installation, tables and chairs, office supplies, and the repair and improvement of the MIPK office, which will serve as the Project hub.
It is hoped that these tools and equipment will enable the Iraya Mangyans to get connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) to allow them to use technology properly and communicate information over the Internet to help improve their lives and livelihoods.
Project CoNNECT, was officially launched on June 22, 2021, at the MIPK office located in Sitio Taisan, Poblacion of the municipality of San Teodoro. This was promptly followed by a three-day basic computer training workshop held from July 5 to 7 for its first batch of Iraya Mangyan learners.
The training workshop is in line with the Project’s commitment to improving the communication, information access, and quality of life of the Iraya Mangyan communities who, before this initiative, did not have the resources and tools to be part of the digital mainstream. The workshop featured a combination of lecture and hands-on activities to provide IP learners with basic computer competencies such as knowledge in using common applications to produce documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and help them properly navigate and use the Internet.
Establishing the connectivity hub in MIPK for Iraya Mangyans of San Teodoro is just the first step in improving these indigenous peoples’ lives. Rolling out and creating another hub for other municipalities is an opportunity that is being eyed. CCIPH is optimistic that it is possible to bring the same connectivity to areas of Iraya Mangyans within Puerto Galera that similarly allow direct access to e-learning and online education to indigenous peoples. Digital hubs are efficient tools for overcoming the digital divide and can improve these indigenous communities’ digital skills and help provide them opportunities to enhance their lives and improve their livelihoods.