02 September 2009

Subic Aetas add technical know-how to jungle survival skills

Their renowned jungle survival instincts made them masters of Subic Bay’s virgin forests. But realizing that the “outside” world is much bigger than their forest homes, Subic Bay’s indigenous people are now pursuing technical skills training to enable them to survive in the lowlands.

Supported by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and various organizations, the Subic natives are seeking opportunities for training and employment, intent as they are in establishing their presence in this bustling free port, said SBMA deputy administrator for corporate communications Knette Fernando.

Last Thursday, Fernando lauded the efforts of 36 Aeta students from the remote areas of Pastolan and Kanawan in Bataan, who finished a professional housekeeping course — the first batch to do so at the GP Corporate Personality Enhancement Center in this free port.

Aside from Fernando, those who cheered on the new graduates at the Subic Bay Arts Center commencement rites were Bataan representative Herminia Roman, Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce president Danny Piano, SBMA PRO manager Armie Llamas, GP Center director Gina Prohorrov, and relatives of the graduates.

Prohorrov said the 36 hardworking graduates underwent weekend trainings for four months, covering the aspects of cleaning standards, computer operation, conversational English, work value and etiquette, and customer service.

Among the Aeta students in this batch, 14 took and passed the assessment test of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), earning for them the NC2 certification that qualifies them for employment overseas, Prohorrov added.

“That translates to a 100% passing rate. The rest of the 36 were equally capable but, unfortunately, were not able to make it during the application for the exam because of heavy rains that day,” said Prohorrov.

However, while waiting for the next examinations, the graduates can apply for local employment, she added.

Rep. Roman, meanwhile, thanked the SBMA and Prohorrov “for giving my constituents the opportunity to rise above their present conditions,” adding that she approved of this SBMA-GP project that emphasized self-reliance by way of the “teach-a-man-how-to-fish” approach.

Roman said that she was so moved by the graduates’ testimonials that she vowed to construct and repair roads and bridges in the Pastolan-Kanawan area to improve logistics, and boost economic activities in the remote villages.

She also thanked the “good heart” of Prohorrov, whose GP Center shouldered all the graduates’ expenses in uniform, teambuilding activities, and educational materials.

In the same event, SBMA’s Fernando urged other organizations based in the Subic free port to emulate the example of GP Center.

She added that the SBMA needs more partners for its livelihood and community development programs for indigenous people in the Subic Bay area. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

PHOTO: Aeta students from the Pastolan and Kanawan villages in Bataan proudly pose for their class photo during the graduation rites for a professional housekeeping course at the Subic Bay Arts Center.